Q: This year, December 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, falls on a Saturday. Is it still a holy day of obligation? What do you celebrate on Saturday night: Immaculate Conception or the Second Sunday of Advent? Can you satisfy the holy day obligation and the Sunday obligation in one Mass?
A: The obligation to attend Mass on December 8 remains even if it falls on a Saturday. Here is a list of holy days of obligation in the United States and their exceptions. Therefore, December 8, 2007 is still a holy day of obligation even though it falls on Saturday this year.
In liturgical time-keeping, days tend to begin with sunset the day before and end at sunset the day of. Technically, they begin after Evening Prayer the night before and end with Evening Prayer the day of. Sundays and solemnities will include the Evening Prayer the night before as part of the solemnity.
- On the evening of Friday, December 7, 2007, one may celebrate an anticipated Mass for Immaculate Conception which would satisfy the obligation for Immaculate Conception.
- During the day on Saturday, December 8, 2007, the Masses would be for Immaculate Conception, and anyone participating in these Masses satisfies the obligation for Immaculate Conception.
- The evening Mass on Saturday, December 8, 2007, is the anticpated Mass for the Second Sunday of Advent. This evening Mass satisfies the Sunday obligation or the Immaculate Conception obligation, but not both.
To satisfy both the holy day obligation and the Sunday Mass obligation, one must participate in two Masses--one between Friday evening and Saturday evening, and one between Saturday evening and Sunday evening, regardless of the readings or prayers used at either Mass. It's not the readings or prayers that fulfill the obligation but the time of day. I know, it's wacky, but true.
Got a different answer? Share it by clicking the Comments link below.