By Catholic News Service
MIAMI — If you go to Christmas Mass on Saturday, do you still have to go to Sunday Mass the next day? Is Jan. 1, the solemnity of Mary, a holy day of obligation this year?
Normally, when there’s a few days’ gap between Christmas Day and the Sunday following, Mass attendance is not that confusing. But this year Christmas falls on a Saturday, and there is no gap between Christmas Day and the solemnity of Mary — normally holy days of obligation — and the subsequent Sunday Masses, where attendance also is obligatory.
Father Richard Vigoa, director of the Miami Archdiocese’s Office of Worship explained what will and will not be holy days of obligation in the coming days:
Catholics fulfill the holy day of obligation for Christmas, the commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ, at Christmas Eve vigil Masses and at any Masses celebrated on Christmas Day.
Christmas is a holy day of obligation regardless of the day of the week it falls. As a result, Catholics are obligated to attend Mass for Christmas, either at a Christmas Eve vigil Mass or Christmas Day Mass, and on Sunday, Dec. 26, the feast of the Holy Family, which will be celebrated solely on Sunday this year.
— Friday, Dec. 24: Vigil Masses for Christmas.
— Saturday, Dec. 25: ALL DAY Christmas Masses; if there is an evening Mass, it is not for Sunday as a vigil but a Christmas Day Mass.
— Christmas: Holy day of obligation: Christmas is observed from 4 p.m. Dec. 24, through 11:59 p.m. Dec. 25. There are no provisions for earlier vigils this year. There are no anticipatory (“vigil”) Masses for Sunday. All Masses, including evening Masses, must be for Christmas Day.
— Sunday, Dec. 26: Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph: The feast day is observed from midnight to 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 26 only. Mass must be attended on Sunday to fulfill the Sunday obligation.
— Friday, Dec. 31: Vigil Masses for Jan. 1.
— Saturday, Jan. 1: Usual Masses, but the vigil from Saturday may be the solemnity of the Epiphany, celebrated Jan. 2 this year.
— Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God: Falls on a Saturday this year and is not a holy day of obligation.
— Sunday, Jan. 2: Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord.
The worship director for the Archdiocese of Detroit also weighed in on what will and will not be holy days of obligation in the weeks ahead, saying that while Catholics won’t be required to attend Mass Jan. 1 this year, she hopes people will view it as a privilege to attend Mass as often as one can.
“Because God loves us so much, he wants us to come because we love him,” Mercy Sister Esther Mary Nickel told the Detroit Catholic, the archdiocesan news outlet. “We have an obligation (to attend Mass on Sundays and most holy days) because of our baptism, but it’s actually a great privilege to return love and thanksgiving to God for all the many gifts he gives us.”
Sister Nickel said the “unusual” liturgical calendar this year presents an opportunity for Catholics to grow closer to the Lord in prayer.