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Holy day of obligation

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Holy day of obligation

In the Catholic Church, holy days of obligation (also called holydays, holidays, or days of obligation) are days on which the faithful are obliged to attend Mass.

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The obligation is attached to the holy day, even if transferred, as sometimes happens in the Roman Rite, to another date because of coinciding with a higher-ranking celebration. However, in some countries a dispensation is granted in such circumstances.

Latin Church

The holy days of obligation for Latin Catholics are indicated in canon 1246 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law:

Can. 1246. §1. Sunday, on which by apostolic tradition the paschal mystery is celebrated, must be observed in the universal Church as the primordial holy day of obligation. The following days must also be observed: the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Epiphany, the Ascension, the Body and Blood of Christ, Holy Mary the Mother of God, her Immaculate Conception, her Assumption, Saint Joseph, Saint Peter and Saint Paul the Apostles, and All Saints.

§2. With the prior approval of the Apostolic See, however, the conference of bishops can suppress some of the holy days of obligation or transfer them to a Sunday.

Placed in the order of the civil calendar, the ten days (apart from Sundays) that this canon mentions are:

  • 1 January: Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God
  • 6 January: Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord
  • 19 March: Solemnity of Saint Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Thursday of the sixth week of Eastertide: Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord
  • Thursday after Trinity Sunday: Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
  • 29 June: Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles
  • 15 August: Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • 1 November: Solemnity of All Saints
  • 8 December: Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • 25 December: Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)
  • The number of holy days of obligation was once much greater. With the motu proprio Supremi disciplinae of 2 July 1911, Pope Pius X reduced the number of such non-Sunday holy days from 36 to 8: the above 10 dates (1 January was then the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ) minus the feasts the Body and Blood of Christ, and Saint Joseph. The present list was established in 1917.

    In many countries the bishops had obtained, even before the time of Pius X, the Holy See's approval to diminish the number of non-Sunday holy days of obligation, making it far less than 36. Today too, Episcopal Conferences have availed themselves of the authority granted them in law to reduce the number below the ten mentioned above.

    Non-Sunday holy days of obligation all have the rank of solemnity. Accordingly, if in Ordinary Time one of them falls on a Sunday, the Sunday celebration gives way to it; but the Sundays of Advent, Lent and Eastertide take precedence over all solemnities, which are then transferred to another day (but the precept is not). Very occasionally, the Feast of the Sacred Heart may fall on St. Peter and Paul's feast day, in which case it takes precedence over it; the precept then applies to the feast of the Sacred Heart.

    Working holy days

    While episcopal conferences may suppress holy days of obligation or transfer them to Sunday, some of them have maintained as holy days of obligation some days that are not public holidays. For most people, such days are normal working days, and they therefore cannot observe the obligation "to abstain from those works and affairs which hinder the worship to be rendered to God, the joy proper to the Lord's day, or the suitable relaxation of mind and body". However, they remain bound by the obligation to participate in Mass. For these days, referred to as "working holy days", churches may have a special timetable, with Mass available outside the normal working hours and on the previous evening.

    In Ireland the only holy days of obligation that are also public holidays are Christmas and Saint Patrick's Day, so that it has five working holy days. Similarly, Slovakia has only four holy days of obligation that are also public holidays: Christmas, Solemnity of Mary Mother of God, Epiphany and All Saints', leaving it with five working holy days. In the Netherlands, the bishops conference decreed that, with effect from 1 January 1991, the feasts of the Assumption and All Saints, each of which it had previously decided to celebrate on the following Sunday, were to be of obligation as regards Mass, but not for abstaining from work.

    Observance by country

    In Vatican City, but not in the rest of the Diocese of Rome, Sundays and all ten days listed in canon 1246 are observed as holy days of obligation. This is also the case in the Diocese of Lugano (covering the Swiss canton of Ticino), but perhaps nowhere else.

    Some countries have as holy days of obligation feasts that are not among those listed in canon 1246. Ireland has Saint Patrick's Day. Germany has St. Stephen on the "Second Christmas Day" (26 December), Easter Monday and Pentecost Monday (Whit Monday).

    In countries where they are not holy days of obligation, three of the ten feast days listed above are assigned to a Sunday as their proper day:

  • The Epiphany to the Sunday that falls between 2 and 8 January; If January 6 falls on Sunday there is no B date,
  • The Ascension of Our Lord to the following Sunday;
  • The Body and Blood of Christ to the following Sunday.
  • If they are thus assigned to a Sunday, they are not included in the following national lists of holy days of obligation, since in every country all Sundays are holy days of obligation.

    Argentina

  • Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
  • Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Feast of the Immaculate Conception
  • Christmas
  • Australia

  • Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Christmas
  • Austria

  • Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
  • Epiphany
  • Feast of the Ascension
  • The Body and Blood of Christ
  • Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • All Saints' Day
  • Feast of the Immaculate Conception
  • Christmas
  • Bahrain

  • Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
  • St Thomas
  • Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Birth of our Lady
  • Christmas
  • Belgium

  • Feast of the Ascension
  • Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • All Saints' Day
  • Christmas
  • Brazil

  • Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
  • The Body and Blood of Christ
  • Feast of the Immaculate Conception
  • Christmas
  • Brunei

  • Feast of the Ascension
  • Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • All Saints' Day
  • Christmas
  • Canada

  • Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
  • Christmas
  • China

    In the Diocese of Hong Kong, Christmas is the only holy day of obligation.

    Colombia

  • Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
  • Feast of the Immaculate Conception
  • Christmas
  • Czech Republic

  • Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
  • Christmas
  • In Czech Republic, holy days of obligation are, by Czech Bishops' Conference, reduced to only two days, which are also public holidays in the Czech Republic:

    Since the other holy days of obligation mentioned in the Code of Canon Law are not public holidays, the Czech Bishops' Conference does not make attendance at Mass obligatory for Catholics, but only recommends it, as it does also on the feast days of Saints Cyril and Methodius (5 July) and Saint Wenceslas (28 September). Attendance at Mass is of course obligatory on all Sundays.

    Croatia

  • Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
  • Epiphany
  • St Joseph's Day
  • Ascension
  • Feast of Saints Peter and Paul
  • Feast of Corpus Christi
  • Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • All Saints' Day
  • Feast of the Immaculate Conception
  • Christmas
  • Denmark

  • Feast of the Ascension
  • Christmas
  • Dominican Republic

  • Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
  • Epiphany
  • Feast of Corpus Christi
  • Christmas
  • The following day is also a holy day of obligation in all of the Dominican Republic:

  • Feast of Our Lady of Altagracia
  • Feast of Our Lady of Mercy
  • El Salvador

  • Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
  • Epiphany
  • Feast of Corpus Christi
  • Christmas
  • England and Wales

  • Feast of Saints Peter and Paul
  • Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • All Saints' Day
  • Christmas
  • (See Liturgy Office)

    There are different regulations for Scotland and for Ireland.

    Finland

  • Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
  • Epiphany
  • Feast of the Ascension
  • Christmas
  • (See Catholic Church in Finland: Practical Matters)

    France

  • Feast of the Ascension
  • Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • All Saints' Day
  • Christmas
  • Germany

  • Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
  • Feast of the Ascension
  • Christmas
  • The following days are also holy days of obligation in all of Germany:

  • Easter Monday
  • Pentecost Monday
  • St. Stephen (Second Christmas Day)
  • In addition, almost all dioceses have one or more of the following holy days of obligation:

  • Epiphany
  • The Body and Blood of Christ
  • Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • All Saints' Day
  • The solemnities of Saint Joseph, Saints Peter and Paul and the Immaculate Conception of Mary are observed nowhere in Germany as holy days of obligation – these days are also not usually transferred to a Sunday (though for Sts. Peter and Paul, this is theoretically possible). Attendance at the liturgical service (which is not Mass) on Good Friday, a public holiday, is also generally observed, although it is not a holy day of obligation.

    (See Feiertagsregelung)

    Greece

  • Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
  • Epiphany
  • Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Christmas
  • Instead of being transferred to the following Sunday, the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord, though not a holy day of obligation in Greece, is kept on the Thursday of the sixth week of Easter, in order to celebrate it on the same day as the Orthodox Church of Greece.

    Hungary

  • Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
  • Epiphany
  • Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • All Saints' Day
  • Feast of the Immaculate Conception
  • Christmas
  • Iceland

  • Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
  • Feast of the Ascension
  • All Saints' Day
  • Christmas
  • India

  • Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Christmas
  • Indonesia

  • Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
  • Epiphany
  • St. Joseph's Day
  • Feast of the Ascension
  • Corpus Christi
  • Feast of Saints Peter and Paul
  • Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • All Saints Day
  • Feast of the Immaculate Conception
  • Christmas
  • Bishops' Conference of Indonesia has not issued regulation about holy day of obligation, so ten holy days on Can. 1246 § 1 applied.

    Ireland

  • Epiphany
  • Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • All Saints' Day
  • Feast of the Immaculate Conception
  • Christmas
  • The following day is also a holy day of obligation in all of Ireland:

  • St. Patrick's Day
  • (See "Working holy days", above)

    “Ireland” includes the entire island of Ireland, i.e. both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

    Italy

  • Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
  • Epiphany
  • Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • All Saints' Day
  • Feast of the Immaculate Conception
  • Christmas
  • Japan

  • Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
  • Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Christmas
  • Korea

  • Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
  • Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Christmas
  • “Korea” includes the entire Korean Peninsula.

    Kuwait

  • Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
  • St Thomas
  • Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Birth of our Lady
  • Christmas
  • Lebanon

  • Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
  • Epiphany
  • St. Joseph's Day
  • Feast of the Ascension
  • Corpus Christi
  • Feast of Saints Peter and Paul
  • Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • All Saints Day
  • Feast of the Immaculate Conception
  • Christmas
  • Malta

  • Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
  • St Joseph's Day
  • Feast of Saints Peter and Paul
  • Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • All Saints' Day
  • Christmas
  • The following is also a holy day of obligation:

  • The Shipwreck of Saint Paul in Malta on 10 February
  • Malaysia

  • Feast of the Ascension
  • Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • All Saints' Day
  • Christmas
  • Mexico

  • Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
  • The Body and Blood of Christ
  • Christmas
  • The following day is also a holy day of obligation in all of Mexico:

  • Our Lady of Guadalupe
  • Netherlands

  • Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
  • Feast of the Ascension
  • Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • All Saints' Day
  • Christmas
  • (See "Working holy days", above)

    New Zealand

  • Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Christmas
  • Nicaragua

  • Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
  • The Body and Blood of Christ
  • Feast of the Immaculate Conception
  • Christmas
  • Norway

  • Feast of the Ascension
  • Christmas Day
  • Panama

  • Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
  • Feast of the Immaculate Conception
  • Christmas
  • Paraguay

  • Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
  • Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Feast of the Immaculate Conception
  • Christmas
  • Peru

  • Feast of Saints Peter and Paul
  • All Saints' Day
  • Feast of the Immaculate Conception
  • Christmas
  • The following day is also a holy day of obligation in Peru:

  • The Feast of Saint Rose of Lima
  • Philippines

  • Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
  • Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)
  • Poland

  • Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
  • Epiphany
  • The Body and Blood of Christ
  • Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • All Saints' Day
  • Christmas
  • Portugal

  • Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
  • Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • All Saints' Day
  • Feast of the Immaculate Conception
  • Christmas
  • Qatar

  • Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
  • St Thomas
  • Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Birth of our Lady
  • Christmas
  • (See "Working holy days", above)

    Saudi Arabia

  • Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
  • Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Christmas
  • Serbia

  • Epiphany
  • Christmas
  • Scotland

  • Feast of the Ascension
  • Feast of Saints Peter and Paul
  • Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • All Saints' Day
  • Christmas
  • There are different regulations for Ireland and for England and Wales.

  • Feast of the Ascension
  • Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • All Saints' Day
  • Christmas
  • Slovakia

  • Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
  • Epiphany
  • Feast of the Ascension
  • The Body and Blood of Christ
  • Feast of Saints Peter and Paul
  • Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • All Saints' Day
  • Feast of the Immaculate Conception
  • Christmas
  • All the holy days of obligation listed in the Code of Canon Law except the Solemnity of Saint Joseph are maintained in Slovakia, although only Solemnity of Mary, Epiphany, All Saints' Day and Christmas are also public holidays. See "Working holy days", above.

    Additionally, the Slovak Bishops' Conference recommends Mass attendance on the following solemnities, because of their nationwide importance:

  • Saints Cyril and Methodius (celebrated on 5 July in Slovakia - public holiday)
  • Our Lady of Sorrows - Patron Saint of Slovakia (15 September - public holiday)
  • South Africa

  • Feast of the Ascension
  • Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Christmas
  • Spain

  • Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
  • Epiphany
  • St Joseph's Day
  • Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • All Saints' Day
  • Feast of the Immaculate Conception
  • Christmas
  • The following day is also a holy day of obligation in all of Spain:

  • St. James's Day (Patron of Spain)
  • (See Calendario Litúrgico Pastoral)

    Sri Lanka

  • Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
  • Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Feast of the Immaculate Conception
  • Christmas
  • Sweden

  • Epiphany
  • Feast of the Ascension
  • Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • All Saints' Day
  • Christmas
  • The following day is also a holy day of obligation in Sweden:

  • Pentecost Monday
  • Switzerland

  • Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
  • Epiphany
  • Feast of the Ascension
  • The Body and Blood of Christ
  • Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • All Saints' Day
  • Christmas
  • The following days are also holy days of obligation in Switzerland:

  • Easter Monday
  • Pentecost Monday
  • St. Stephen's Day (Second Christmas Day)
  • In the Diocese of Lugano (covering the canton of Ticino), the following three days are also holy days of obligation:

  • St Joseph's Day
  • Feast of Saints Peter and Paul
  • Feast of the Immaculate Conception
  • This probably makes the diocese of Lugano the only diocese in the world (except for the Vatican City part of the Diocese of Rome) where all ten holy days of obligation are observed.

    Ukraine

  • Epiphany
  • Presentation of the Lord
  • Feast of the Annunciation
  • Feast of the Ascension
  • Transfiguration of the Lord
  • Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Exaltation of the Holy Cross
  • Presentation of Mary
  • Christmas
  • These regulations also apply on the Crimean peninsula, including Sevastopol,

    United States

    Roman Catholic Church

  • Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
  • Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord
  • Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Solemnity of All Saints (All Saints' Day)
  • Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)
  • Ascension is only a holy day of obligation in the ecclesiastical provinces of Boston, Hartford, New York, Newark, Omaha, and Philadelphia; the others have transferred this celebration to the following Sunday.

    Furthermore, when 1 January (Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God), 15 August (Feast of the Assumption), or 1 November (Solemnity of All Saints) falls on a Saturday or a Monday, the precept to attend Mass on that date is abrogated.

    In years when 8 December falls on Sunday, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is normally transferred to 9 December, as it is outranked by the Second Sunday of Advent; the transfer however does not apply to the precept. Where the 1962 extraordinary form of the Roman Rite is in use, the Immaculate Conception, as a First-Class Feast, outranks the Second Sunday of Advent and so remains on 8 December.

    In Hawaii, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and Christmas are the only Holy Days of Obligation, as decreed by the Bishop of Honolulu in 1992, pursuant to an indult from the Holy See and as approved by the national episcopal conference. (See United States norm complementary to canon 1246)

    Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church

  • Epiphany
  • Feast of the Annunciation
  • Ascension of the Lord
  • Feast of Saints Peter and Paul
  • Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Christmas
  • The faithful are still obliged to attend Liturgy even if the holy day falls on a Saturday or Monday.

    Eastern Catholic Churches

    The Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches lays down the following norms for Eastern Catholic Churches:

    It is for the authority competent to establish the particular law of a sui iuris Church to constitute, transfer or suppress feast days and days of penance for that sui iuris Church, after, however, seeking the views of other sui iuris Churches and observing canon 40 §1.

    Holy days of obligation common to all the Eastern Churches are, apart from Sundays:

  • 6 January: the Epiphany
  • Thursday of the sixth week of Easter: the Ascension
  • 29 June: Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles
  • 15 August: the Dormition of Holy Mary the Mother of God
  • 25 December: the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ (Christmas)
  • A particular law of a sui iuris Church can suppresses some holy days of obligation or transfers them to a Sunday, if it is approved by the Apostolic See.

    The Christian faithful are bound by the obligation to participate on Sundays and feast days in the Divine Liturgy or, according to the prescriptions or legitimate customs of their own sui iuris Church, in the celebration of the divine praises.

    Protestantism

    Protestant churches teach that Christians have a duty to worship God in church every Sunday. The Westminster Confession of Faith says:

    This Sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering of their common affairs beforehand, do not only observe an holy rest, all the day, from their own works, words, and thoughts about their worldly employments and recreations, but also are taken up, the whole time, in the public and private exercises of His worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.

    References

    Holy day of obligation Wikipedia


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