HOLY DAYS OF OBLIGATIONS
August 14/15, 2021
An obligation/duty is a moral or legal requirement which by necessity binds us to do something according to the laws of our faith/nation. So, where do the holy days of obligation come from? Scripture? Tradition? Yes!
Beginning with the Lord’s resting on the seventh day (Sabbath), thus sanctifying (making holy) the passage of time; Christians make holy Sunday, not as the Sabbath but as the Lord’s Day, the first day of the week, when Jesus rose from the dead (Apostolic tradition). Each and every Sunday is a commemoration of that first Easter Sunday as well as the memorial of the first day of creation, and the “eighth day”, on which Jesus after His “rest” on the great Sabbath inaugurates the “ day that the Lord has made.” (CCC1166).
The Church has determined that Sundays and certain other solemnities throughout the year should be days of obligation, i.e. making holy for God our time/days. This is a serious obligation for Catholic Christians and requires our worship at Holy Mass. Moreover, the faithful are to refrain from engaging in work or activities that hinder the a) worship owed to God, b) joy proper to the Lord’s Day, c) performance of the works of mercy, d) appropriate relaxation of mind and body, and e) all of the above especially as a family. (Canon Law1247). The rest must offer spiritual enrichment, greater freedom, opportunities for contemplation and fraternal communion.
Historically, holy days of obligation were generally the same as holidays which meant there was no work that day, and thus became a day of rest, prayer and Mass attendance. The entire day was dedicated to God, not just an hour of worship.
Today, there are eight holy days of obligation, but two to three have been transferred to Sundays and certain others are celebrated also on Sundays if they occur on Saturday or Monday. (Canon Law 1246s2). These are the holy days of obligation: MARY, MOTHER OF GOD – Jan.1, but moveable; EPIPHANY– 1st Sun. after Jan.1; ASCENSION– 7th Sun. of Easter; BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST– 2nd Sun. after Pentecost; ASSUMPTION OF MARY– Aug. 15, but moveable; ALL SAINTS- Nov.1, but moveable; IMMACULATE CONCEPTION OF MARY– Dec. 8; and CHRISTMAS – Dec. 25.
The Church provides that Catholics can meet the Mass obligation by celebrating Mass on either the holy day or its Sunday, or on the evening before at the vigil Mass just as it is done every regular Saturday- Sunday.
In worshiping GOD on Sundays and holy days of obligation, we obey the first three commandments, and with GOD’s grace, He aids us in fulfilling the next seven. Or, as Jesus puts it: you shall love the Lord your GOD with all your heart, soul, and mind; this is the great and first commandment; and the second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself; on these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.