Day 114 – Mrs. Flusche’s Basic Primer on Holy Days (Part I)

Wednesday, July 8, 2020 –

By special request, I am going to do a short series on the Holy Days of Obligation. I am still trying to think of the best way to divide up the information, but I will start with a very brief overview of what “Holy Day” means and a comprehensive list of the current Holy Days.

Of course, there will be some Canon Law thrown about and whatnot, and hopefully we can go over a brief history of each day as we progress. We will also need to go over specifics to the United States because…um…well…we have less than what is listed in the current code of Canon Law. It gets slightly complicated from there. EEK!

How many days will Mrs. Flusche’s Basic Primer on Holy Days last? Who knows! Let’s get started…

Okay, so what is a “Holy Day of Obligation?”

The short answer is that they are the days in which the faithful are obliged (expected) to attend Mass and abstain (refrain) from unnecessary work. All of the current Holy Days are also Solemnities, which means they are feasts of the highest rank in the Catholic Church.

Sunday is, of course, the primordial holy day (from the beginning of time) in which the Paschal (Easter) Mystery is celebrated. However, the Church has also denoted us other particularly important days which necessitate an obligation of the faithful. This is because of their significance in helping us draw nearer to and understand the Paschal Mystery.

Throughout Church history, the number of days has changed. However, according to current Canon Law #1246, here is the complete list not including Sundays**:

  • December 8th: Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • December 25th: Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)
  • January 1st: Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God
  • January 6th: Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord
  • March 19th: Solemnity of Saint Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Thursday of the sixth week of Easter: Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord
  • Thursday after Trinity Sunday: Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi)
  • June 29th: Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles
  • August 15th: Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • November 1st: Solemnity of All Saints

**NB: this is the complete list for the Universal Church. The USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) has moved a couple to Sundays, suppressed a couple, and now the list for us in the United States, not including Sundays, is six (although, weirdly the Ascension is listed even though it was moved to a Sunday…??):

  • December 8th: Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • December 25th: Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)
  • *January 1st: Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God
  • Ascension of the Lord – In the Diocese of Arlington, the Ascension of the Lord is celebrated is celebrated in place of the Seventh Sunday of Easter
  • *August 15th: Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • *November 1st: Solemnity of All Saints

*In the United States, when the solemnities of Mary, the Holy Mother of God (January 1), the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (August 15), or All Saints (November 1) falls on a Saturday or on a Monday, the obligation to attend Mass is abrogated (meaning, it does not apply).

But wait, there’s more! That, however, will be for another day. Tomorrow we will go into why the number listed in Canon Law is different from the USCCB list. Spoiler alert: it has to do with more Canon Law! Whoopie!

Blood of Christ, which paid for our salvation, save us!

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