The Next Holy Day of Obligation

What is the next Holy Day of Obligation on our liturgical calendar in the United States?

Friday, August 15, Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Looks like a perfect opportunity to use a vacation or personal day and so have a long weekend (so that you can fulfill your religious obligation, first of all!).

Even if you will have to work that day, plan ahead so that you can get to Mass also. Most parishes have a different schedule on Holy Days that makes it possible for all to attend at an hour that doesn’t require taking time off work. But we also need to be flexible and be willing to be inconvenienced a bit in order to fulfill our religious obligations, which are among the most important obligations we have. And really, there are very few Days of Obligation each year in our current liturgical calendar.

Missing a Holy Day of Obligation is objectively a mortal sin (just like missing a Sunday). Save those legitimate situations which can excuse us from our obligation (such as serious illness or dangerous weather – there are others, but I list the two most common here), we all need to be in church that day to give thanks to God for the great gift of Our Lady’s Assumption into heaven, body and soul, where she now intercedes for us to her Son and summons us to follow where she has gone.

The remaining Holy Days of Obligation this year are:

Friday, August 15th (Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary)
Monday, December 8th (Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary)
Thursday, December 25th (Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ – Christmas)
Thusrday, January 1st, 2015 (Mary, Mother of God)

There is one day that is missing from this list – November 1st, Solemnity of All Saints – which is one of the ones that is not a Day of Obligation when it falls on certain days. (It is a bit confusing – you can see a full explanation here.)

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4 Responses to The Next Holy Day of Obligation

  1. hashtagcatholic says:

    I always take All-Hallows’ Eve, All Saints’ and All Souls’ as my vacation– even when All Saints’ falls on a Saturday or Monday. It’s a nice tradition.

    This year I have a day set aside to request off for August and hope I’ll be able to use it. In December, I usually can’t take the whole day for the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception but am able to take an extra hour for the longer Mass at lunch time.

    Sometimes I imagine what it would be like to have these as official off days.

  2. jzpd says:

    In Canada we have two Holy Days of Obligation – Christmas and Mary, Mother of God. All others are transferred to Sundays. Good Friday is a statutory holiday in this country. This set up does make it much easier for the faithful to participate, who would otherwise be denied time off work – not everyone is granted a vacation day when they request one.

  3. Father Jerabek, I’ve written frequently about the Holy Day of Obligation problem around here (diocese of Fort Worth). The main issue is that the number and times of Masses offered is significantly decreased from Sunday Masses–and yet, theoretically, everybody who goes to Mass on Sunday is supposed to be coming to Mass on the weekday Holy Day too.

    For example, it is not difficult at all to find a Saturday evening vigil Mass on those rare occasions when one cannot attend Mass on a Sunday (or not so rare for the nurses I know, for instance, or for the elderly who often attend the vigil Mass to make sure they are able to get there). But in our diocese the trend has been to cancel all of the vigil Masses for the Holy Day and offer Masses on the actual day only. From where I live, the closest vigil Mass for a Holy Day that I know of is 45-60 minutes away in evening rush hour traffic.

    Okay, so plan to go on the day itself, right? Our family usually does this instead of taking the chance on getting to the one vigil Mass on time. But the difficulty is that most of the parishes in our area offer two Mass times on Holy Days, one at 8 or even 9 a.m., and the other sometime between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. Given how spread-out this diocese is geographically, this places a serious burden on workers, who cannot attend a morning Mass so late, and may not be able to leave work in time to be at an evening Mass so early.

    My question is a simple one: if the obligation to attend Mass on a Holy Day is as binding and serious as the obligation to attend Mass on Sunday (as I know it is), then why do parishes which normally have five, six, or even seven Sunday Masses scheduled (including the Saturday vigil) schedule only two Masses for the Holy Day, and both of these at times that makes it difficult to impossible for many workers to attend, especially those of lower income and status who will be fired if they miss work and who have no ability to insist on a particular day off? To me, it is a serious problem when the burden of sin attaches to missing Mass that day, yet so little effort is made to ensure that there are actually enough Masses at enough times during the day for people to be able to go. Pointing to, say, one parish in the area that schedules a noon Mass as the “solution” for working people does no good; sure, people whose workplaces are close enough to that parish might be able to go to that noon Mass, but people who work thirty or forty minutes away from it would need two to three hours off in the middle of the day to go to Mass, something employers are not inclined to view kindly in these economic times.

    • This is a serious problem, and besides writing to the pastor and to the Bishop, all we can do is encourage our fellow Catholics to take their obligation seriously and also make their voice heard as well. Even in areas where there is a “good” schedule of Holy Day Masses, I have noticed that many parishes scale that back significantly for January 1st, perhaps the worst-attended Holy Day Mass there is in the entire year. This probably reflects frustration on the part of pastors who do not want to celebrate a bunch of Masses for mostly-empty churches. But they also have an obligation to help people understand their obligations as well, and then make it possible for them to fulfill them.

      The best solution is the one that I continually propose to anyone who will listen: organize some of your vacation time around Holy Days and in that way also enter more fully into the observance of the Liturgical Year, making it a more solemn feast in your home and even a day of rest as well. This is obviously not possible for everyone, and recognizing that, parishes need to try to schedule things at convenient times. But I wish more people who could, would “sacrifice” some of their vacation time for this sort of thing, even if it means just taking the morning or afternoon off. Time given to God is never wasted.

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