You May Be Wondering…

Q: This year the 4th Sunday of Advent (December 23rd/24th) comes right before Christmas. Do we have to come to Mass twice?
A: Yes. This is on Jesus’ gift list this year.

Q: How can we fulfill our Holy Day obligations?
A: We have six options. Come to Mass:

(1) Saturday PM & Sunday PM (Christmas Eve)
(2) Saturday PM & Monday (Christmas Day)
(3) Sunday PM & Monday
(4) Sunday AM & Sunday PM
(5) Sunday AM & Monday
(6) Sunday PM Twice (see comments below)

Q: Will the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God also be a Holy Day of Obligation?
A: No. New Year’s Day is not a Holy Day of Obligation in 2018.

18 Responses to “You May Be Wondering…”

  1. Matthew Says:

    Sorry, Father, you are mistaken. If I attend a 5pm Sunday vigil Mass for Christmas I have ALSO fulfilled my Sunday obligation. The obligation is to be present at the Sacrifice, not hear a set of readings.

    • Fr. Victor Feltes Says:

      According to canonist Dr. Edward Peters (, there is no doubt of law amongst canonical commentaries that our two distinct Holy Day obligations require fulfillment at two Masses. He reports that in November 1974 the Congregation for the Clergy addressed the possibility of satisfying two Mass attendance obligations in a single rite. The dicastery answered, “Negative.” My diocese, La Crosse, teaches likewise.

      • Jon Says:

        Ditto Matthew.

        Father, I don’t think you have replied to Matthew’s concern. We are not disputing that one must attend two different Masses to satisfy the two obligations. However, your list of options is too restrictive. Mass on Sat evening or anytime Sunday can fulfill the Sunday obligation, including Christmas vigil Masses on Sunday evening. Additionally Mass on Sunday evening or anytime Monday can fulfill the Christmas precept. One needn’t hear “Sunday readings” and “Christmas readings” to fulfill the different obligations.

        Perhaps Ed Peters himself could weigh in to clarify? He expressed agreement with an old blog post on this topic by Jimmy Akin, which favors my and Matthew’s view.

      • Fr. Victor Feltes Says:

        Good catch. One could attend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to fulfill both obligations. Thank you.

      • Jon Says:

        Father, I think (strictly-speaking) two different vigil masses could also satisfy. In other words, liturgy celebrated hangs free of the canonical precept: two Sunday evening Masses would (again, strictly-speaking) do the trick. That would be an odd thing to do, but the law seems to allow it.

        (NB Peters’ piece explicitly does not address this, but Akin’s does, which Peters endorsed in the combox.)

      • Fr. Victor Feltes Says:

        You’re right. Attending two Christmas Eve Vigil Masses is physically possible and possibly the only way for a rare person to fulfill their obligations. I’ve added it among our options.

    • Jason Says:

      Matthew. Did you really think Fr was mistaken? Upon which Canon did you base your assertion? Is your liturgical education deeper than Fr’s?

      • Fr. Victor Feltes Says:

        I’m glad he spoke up. There were two Mass options I had overlooked that some people may find helpful.

    • Tom Says:

      Sorry you’re wrong. Sunday is a day of obligation and Christmas is a day of obligation. One mass for each obligation. You have to attend two masses. Please see this post:

  2. Lee Says:

    Is it really such a heavy burden to attend Mass two days in a row?

  3. blaise felder Says:

    We get to receive the greatest gift to humanity (The Eucharist), then we get to celebrate The Light coming into the world and receive Him again!? Then we get to receive Him again at Christmas mass!? Presents and Real Presence showered onto us like kids on Christmas morning! Who has it better than us? ALLELUIA. Thanks be to God!

  4. George H Says:

    I don’t guess that we can abandon the “obligation” language, sadly..

    Leaving aside the need to clarify what the expectations are, which I concede is needed, I think it’s really kind of sad that we have to say, “Oh, you’re obligated to go to Sunday Mass”, “Oh, you’re obligated to go to Mass.” When do we get to start saying, “You have an opportunity to celebrate and worship the Lord your God on Sunday, and look, yet another opportunity on this Solemn Feast Day.”

    I am, admittedly, obligated. I don’t go because I’m obligated. I go because its a joy and its something I want to do as I learn to love the Lord my God – something which I’m not so good at most of the time.

    As Lee was saying, is it such a burden? I mean compared to, oh, being mocked, scourged, beaten, crowned with thorns, carrying your own instrument of torture and execution through the streets (a walk of shame, by the way), being nailed to that instrument, and hanging in agonies I can’t imagine for three hours it seems like a cake walk. I’ll take eighty years of weekly and Holy Day Masses in place of that Solemn Feast Day.

  5. Friday Musings | Living Apologetics Says:

    […] disappoints, I don’t agree with other major aspects of her doctrine.  Such as the idea that I owe God particular things in worship participation.  Rather than talking about the blessing of receiving the grace of God in […]

  6. Joe K Says:

    I’m with Lee, Blaise and George !!

  7. Carlos Matias Gonzalez Lizzano Says:

    New Year’s Day is not a Holy Day of Obligation in 2018. Does it apply to the western church all over the world or only for the USA. I will be overseas for the new year

    • Fr. Victor Feltes Says:

      This is true for the United States but the answer may vary elsewhere according to the decrees of national bishops’ conferences.

  8. Dr.Cajetan Coelho Says:

    The Holy Mass needs to be made the center of our lives.

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