Holy Days of obligation…. the Catholic Church seems to be the only one (among so many others) that has Holy Days of Obligation.
We have feasts, solemnities, memorials…
Which of these are obligatory?
Well, the most important is Sunday.
Every Sunday is a Holy Day of obligation.
Here’s what the Catechism says.
2192 “Sunday … is to be observed as the foremost holy day of obligation in the universal Church.”
1389 “The Church obliges the faithful to take part in the Divine Liturgy on Sundays and feast days and, prepared by the sacrament of Reconciliation, to receive the Eucharist at least once a year, if possible during the Easter season.”
There you go. That’s the end of that, right?
No. Nice try.
2177 “The Sunday celebration of the Lord’s Day and his Eucharist is at the heart of the Church’s life.”
This is so important it’s one of the PRECEPTS OF THE CHURCH.
The first precept: “You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor.”
According to the Catechism, there are five precepts, though just a quick search of the Internet shows some think there are more. (The Church really doesn’t demand much from us.)
Alright, so Sunday, get to it. Go to Mass. Easy.
What about these Holy Days they speak of?
These days vary in the different Rites and by country.
In the United States, it even varies by diocese.
According to EWTN, beside Sunday (every Sunday), the Holy Days of obligation in the U.S. are:
1) January 1, the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
2) Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter, the solemnity of the Ascension
3) August 15, the solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
4) November 1, the solemnity of All Saints
5) December 8, the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
6) December 25, the solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ
The Canon lists 10 for the universal Church, including the six above plus:
The Epiphany, Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, St. Joseph and Sts. Peter and Paul.
(I was at Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ by accident… a nice accident. I didn’t even look at my Catholic calendar and just went to Mass that day.)
Anyway, in Hawaii, the only Holy Days are the Nativity (Christmas) and the Immaculate Conception of Mary.
Interesting, but local rule by Bishops and conference is another topic.
If any of the Holy Days occur on a Saturday or a Monday, they are typically transferred to the following or preceding Sunday (so you don’t have to go two days in a row).
I have a few saints I depend on for prayer and help regularly, and I like to go to Mass on their memorial days. It’s another, special chance to say thank you for their hard work on my behalf.
I know St. Joseph was behind me finding my current job. St. Matthias is constantly coming up on my petitions. My guardian angel as well, during the feast of the guardian angels.
There are all sorts of Marian holidays and celebrations all over the calendar. Depending on your priest, he may choose to celebrate those memorials on selected weekdays or the major memorials.
I think if you’re close with your priest, you can ask and he’d oblige you.
These days all start to mean something with a serious Catholic calendar (that you look at!). But all the dates can be found online as well.
Check out earlier Learn something posts:
I missed Mass on May 12.
I could have made it to the 6 p.m. Spanish Mass at a Parish near mine.
But… I would have been in my Army uniform and smelly. I had spent four hours riding in the back of a HMMWV and three additional hours driving from my unit to my home.
I would have had 20 minutes to shower/change/get ready and leave for Mass… and I would have been late to Mass. At least 10 minutes late.
Or I could have not changed or showered and been on time.
To a Spanish Mass… which I’ve gone to before.
And it’s almost like going to a Latin Mass for me. I don’t know what’s going on.
The Spanish Mass is the ordinary rite, but it’s… in Spanish.
I don’t speak Spanish.
So… I didn’t go.
I figured this would be a good time to see what the Catechism said about this.
2192 “Sunday… is to be observed as the foremost holy day of obligation in the universal Church.” “On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass.”
Bound to participate in Mass. Wow. That’s pretty clear.
Bound to do so. We need to, have to, must do so.
2178 This practice of the Christian assembly dates from the beginnings of the apostolic age. The Letter to the Hebrews reminds the faithful “not to neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some, but to encourage one another.”
Dates from the beginnings of the apostolic age.
It’s been going on for a while. This isn’t some “new rule” the Church just thought of.
We know the Church doesn’t work like that, anyway.
Our traditions have generally existed since the beginnings, we just don’t always have them written down. We don’t always have them in concrete.
That doesn’t mean they aren’t legitimate.
This is my favorite:
2179 “A parish is a definite community of the Christian faithful established on a stable basis within a particular church; the pastoral care of the parish is entrusted to a pastor as its own shepherd under the authority of the diocesan bishop.” It is the place where all the faithful can be gathered together for the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist. The parish initiates the Christian people into the ordinary expression of the liturgical life: it gathers them together in this celebration; it teaches Christ’s saving doctrine; it practices the charity of the Lord in good works and brotherly love:
Let me break in here. “The parish initiates the Christian people into the ordinary expression of the Eucharist.”
Ordinary, in this case, means what we should see as normal, usual. It’s the usual practice that we should receive the Eucharist, that we should receive Christ.
We shouldn’t receive Christ at home (unless necessary). We shouldn’t say an act of spiritual communion if we can make it to Mass.
The usual, normal, ordinary way, is the way we should do it. That’s in the Mass.
You cannot pray at home as at church, where there is a great multitude, where exclamations are cried out to God as from one great heart, and where there is something more: the union of minds, the accord of souls, the bond of charity, the prayers of the priests.
You cannot pray at home as at church.
Hm. You cannot pray at home as at church. You can not pray at home as at church.
I just have to repeat it to make it stick.
… from one great heart…
There is power when we gather together that we don’t have when we’re alone.
This doesn’t mean that our personal prayer doesn’t matter.
But prayer together matters too. It’s important.
A religion necessitates this community aspect. We must gather.
Jesus asked us to gather together.
“He who is not with me is against me; and he who does not gather with me scatters.” (Matthew 12:30)
2180 The precept of the Church specifies the law of the Lord more precisely: “On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass.” “The precept of participating in the Mass is satisfied by assistance at a Mass which is celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the holy day or on the evening of the preceding day.”
2041 The precepts of the Church are set in the context of a moral life bound to and nourished by liturgical life. The obligatory character of these positive laws decreed by the pastoral authorities is meant to guarantee to the faithful the very necessary minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in the growth in love of God and neighbor:
The obligatory character of these positive laws decreed by the pastoral authorities is meant to guarantee to the faithful the very necessary minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort.
The minimum. These laws are the minimum we need for sanctity. That’s what we want, after all.
2042 The first precept (“You shall attend Mass on Sundays and on holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor”) requires the faithful to sanctify the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord as well as the principal liturgical feasts honoring the mysteries of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the saints; in the first place, by participating in the Eucharistic celebration, in which the Christian community is gathered, and by resting from those works and activities which could impede such a sanctification of these days…
This paragraph continues with the second and third precept. Those aren’t topical right now. I’ll get to them someday.
1382 The Mass is at the same time, and inseparably, the sacrificial memorial in which the sacrifice of the cross is perpetuated and the sacred banquet of communion with the Lord’s body and blood. But the celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice is wholly directed toward the intimate union of the faithful with Christ through communion. To receive communion is to receive Christ himself who has offered himself for us.
Makes sense to me.
Of course, there are reasons one can miss Mass. But it should be a rare occasion.
A dire need.
I plan to add this to my next confession.
See my previous Learn something post:
-Finished Lord of the Flies
-still reading History of the Wife
-still reading Heaven’s Song
-Pixar’s 22 rules of storytelling
-Why we are made to bear children
-a lot of gardening books
But my reading (and my writing) kind of fell off last month. I don’t have a good reason. I’ve been watching a lot of TV which I hope to quite now that it’s summer.
I’ll be weeding, reading and writing.
At least that’s the plan.
Part of my plan is to join the Daughters of Isabella. I had never even heard of them until I read Sunday’s bulletin.
It’s the women’s auxillary to the Knights of Columbus. It’s just what I’ve been looking for.
I bet most of the women I see at daily Mass are a part of it. I’m especially excited because I never made it to the ‘youth group,’ and it never excited me that much anyway.
I just miss my old parish’s youth minister and activities.
I also have so exciting it’s nerdy plans about my garden.
I was washing the food processer and I realized I’ll be growing everything I need to make pico de gaillo.
You know, the diced tomato, pepper and onion mix. Like a salsa only not liquidy.
Which reminded me that I can make salsa, too!
And I already thought about pickels. Maybe some steamed tomatoes.
Pestos with fresh herbs!
I also plan to share the extra food I grow with everyone at work. Everyone loves tomatoes and cucumbers, right?
Also, I am not taking part in Jen’s quick takes this week because I don’t have anything nice to say… well, not something nice and important enough to warrant a blog post.
I’ll be back in it next week… I still haven’t shared my experience at a new church in San Diego!
In an honest effort to change the bad habit I’ve started this year (I wrote about it yesterday), I set my alarm for a bit early this morning and made it to daily Mass.
And I have a story, that I’ll share another time. But I wanted to put together this list. These are not in order… except the order that I thought of them.
Ten reasons to go to daily Mass
- Knowing the Mass inside and out. It’s soooo easy to follow along during a Sunday Mass. There are so many people around, that if you say the wrong words during Mass no one notices. On a weekday, there are old women and some men. They notice.
- Reflection on the origins of the Mass. I think about this a lot, especially after reading Scott Hahn’s The Lamb’s Supper. In a daily Mass, there’s a lot less singing (usually), there’s a lot less extra glamorous stuff. It’s just the cut and dry Mass, the focus always on the Lord. It’s beautiful. It might take a while to get used to, but it’s worth it.
- Quiet time starting your day. Or ending it. It’s hard to get away. Mass makes it easy.
- It’s short. Usually about 30 minutes. A little longer if it’s a school Mass. Worth it to see kids learning the right way to participate in the Mass.
- Making friends and connections. We pray for each other at Mass. And when we see each other, we remember.
- Create personal devotions. I love the Rosary. I love it so much, I have one hanging in nearly every room of my apartment (along with other sacramental items), I have one in my jacket pocket. In the summer, I keep one in my bag and in my car. Every morning before daily Mass, a Rosary is prayed aloud at church. It helps me keep that tradition. Other devotions can be “caught” from others, too. I see people praying the Holy Father’s intentions and other global prayers. Beautiful.
- Get to know your priest. Daily homilies are much more personal, and usually more spontaneous than Sunday homilies. It’s because they are short and there aren’t a lot of people in the “audience.” My priest often shares personal experiences during the week that he doesn’t touch on Sundays.
- Get to know the Bible. You’ll hear the entire thing if you went every day. If you can’t go every day, you’ll at least get more familiar with the geography/places of the Bible and the writing itself. It’s complicated and good to hear it aloud frequently along with reading it privately.
- Be with the Lord. Even if you can’t receive communion, you can still be with him. Christ is present in four ways in the Mass: in the Eucharist, in the priest, in the Word of God and in the assembled people of God.
- Reminder to share the Gospel. I always feel great after leaving Mass. It’s kind of like feeling good after working out (or anything you love). A beautiful thing happens in the Mass, and we get to be a part of it. When we go daily, it serves as a reminder to us that we are a part of that beauty even outside the church doors.
There are probably more reasons. I know there are. But that’s a start.
Brothers and sisters:
Every priest stands daily at his ministry,
offering frequently those same sacrifices
that can never take away sins.
But this one offered one sacrifice for sins,
and took his seat forever at the right hand of God;
now he waits until his enemies are made his footstool.
For by one offering
he has made perfect forever those who are being consecrated.
Where there is forgiveness of these,
there is no longer offering for sin.
Our sacrifices don’t take away our sins. Christ’s sacrifice does.
If you wanted to really find a basic tenet of Christianity, there it is.
“For by one offering, he has made perfect forever those who are being consecrated.”
Lord, have mercy on us.
In other news…
I have bee house sitting/babysitting for the past week.
It’s been… not the worst experience in the world, but I want to be home. I want my own bed and my own cats and my own refrigerator.
It’s funny what we miss when we’re away from home.
So I was at St. Paul’s Catholic Church today (and last Sunday). And most of what they do, I’m OK with.
But then!!! (explanation points are like jazz hands, I’ve heard)
The entire congregation stands as the Eucharist is taken back to the tabernacle after communion. We stand, and we watch. I cross myself.
It’s very pre-Vatican II/Latin Mass style. And I love it.
There’s a reverence there that you don’t have when you’re sitting.
It’s the type of thing you’d do if the president was leaving the room, and yet, Christ is so much more than our leader. He’s our savior.
Oh, Lord… have mercy on our lack of respect for your role.
God Bless. Happy Sunday!