With Christmas falling on a Saturday this year, there might be some questions about the obligation to attend Mass that weekend.
“This is a good thing to clarify for people,” said Father John Hammond, a Vicar General and the Judicial Vicar for the Diocese of Nashville.
“Christmas is a Holy Day of Obligation, and Catholics are obliged to attend Mass,” Father Hammond explained. “December 25 falls on a Saturday this year, which means that the obligation can be fulfilled on Friday afternoon (December 24) at a Christmas Eve Mass, or at Mass either at Midnight or at any time during the day on December 25.
“Sunday, December 26 is also a day of obligation like all Sundays are,” added Father Hammond, who also is the pastor of St. Patrick Church in Nashville. “This obligation is fulfilled either on the afternoon of Saturday, December 25 – though I believe that most parishes are not celebrating the usual Saturday evening Mass, it being Christmas Day – or at any time of day on Sunday, December 26.
“This means that Catholics who are obliged to attend Mass would do so twice over the course of December 24-26: one Christmas Mass and one Sunday Mass (Feast of the Holy Family),” he added.
The obligation is different for the weekend of January 1-2.
“January 1, the Feast of Mary Mother of God, is not a Holy Day of Obligation this year because it falls on a Saturday, and certain feast days are not obligatory when they fall on Saturday or Monday,” Father Hammond said. “This is one such feast. Christmas is not such a Feast and is always a day of obligation on any day of the week including Monday and Saturday, as in this year; but Mary Mother of God is a feast which does not create the obligation to attend Mass when January 1 falls on a Saturday or a Monday.
“Therefore, while it is certainly praiseworthy to attend Mass on January 1 and parishes may have Masses for the feast day, there is no obligation to attend Mass for the feast,” Father Hammond said.
“Sunday, January 2, is a day of obligation like all Sundays are,” he said. “This obligation is fulfilled either on the afternoon of Saturday, January 1 or at any time of day on Sunday, January 2.”