Yes, you have to go to Mass twice this weekend for the feast of the Immaculate Conception

Mosaic tiles depicting the Immaculate Conception and various saints are seen in the Trinity Dome at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. The feast of the Immaculate Conception is celebrated Dec. 8. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

WASHINGTON -- Just last year, Catholics were required to attend separate Masses two days in a row for the Sunday obligation and Monday's Christmas Mass. Now, they have a similar opportunity this year with the feast of the Immaculate Conception falling on a Saturday -- Dec. 8.

The vigil Mass on Saturday evening is not a "two-for-one" Mass for both days.

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Last year, the U.S. bishops gave Catholics a heads-up about the back-to-back Sunday and Christmas liturgies 10 months in advance in a newsletter issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Divine Worship. It also referenced what would occur this year and will recur when Dec. 8 falls on a Monday.

The newsletter specifically noted that the Saturday vigil does not count for both the holy day and Sunday in the very rare circumstances when two of the church's six holy days of obligation -- the feast of the Immaculate Conception or Christmas -- fall the day before or after Sunday.

"When consecutive obligations occur on Saturday-Sunday or Sunday-Monday, the faithful must attend Mass twice to fulfill two separate obligations," the committee said.

"When consecutive obligations occur on Saturday-Sunday or Sunday-Monday, the faithful must attend Mass twice to fulfill two separate obligations," the committee said.

There is dispensation from a holy day Mass obligation when other holy days fall on Saturdays or Mondays but this does not apply to Christmas or the feast of the Immaculate Conception.

The U.S. bishops voted in 1991 to lift the obligation to attend Mass on holy days of obligation that fall on Saturdays or Mondays for three of the six holy days: the feast of Mary, Mother of God, Jan. 1; the feast of the Assumption, Aug. 15; and the feast of All Saints, Nov. 1.

Most dioceses have transferred observance of the feast of the Ascension from the Thursday 40 days after Easter to the following Sunday.

The bishops' committee has looked ahead to when these consecutive liturgies will happen again. In the next 12 years, Christmas will fall either on a Saturday or a Monday four times and the feast of the Immaculate Conception will fall on either of those days three times, including this year.

The Dec. 8 feast day has a long history in the United States. The U.S. bishops commended the nation to the patronage of Mary under the title of the Immaculate Conception in 1846. Pope Pius IX approved their decision Feb. 7, 1847. Eight years later, the pope declared the Immaculate Conception of Mary, that she was conceived without original sin, to be an article of faith. It became a holy day in the U.S. in 1885.

The feast was celebrated in some monasteries before the beginning of the eighth century and became more widespread in the 18th century.

The divine worship committee's newsletter emphasized the benefit of going to Mass on holy days even when they occur before or after a Sunday, stressing: "It would be hoped, of course, that Catholics foster a love for the sacred liturgy and hold a desire to celebrate the holy days as fully as is reasonably possible."

Or as one person responded on Twitter to this reporter's announcement about the Dec. 8 obligatory Mass attendance on Saturday: "That's correct! Daily Mass can be rewarding."

Mary Therese LEMANEK
6 days 10 hours ago

"Must attend. Have to go. Obligation". The tenor of ecclesial language suggests a burdensome chore that is understood strain the majority of faithful. Maybe refraining from a focus on the admitted reality that many do a two-fer or simple skip it all, highlight the beauty and the grace of liturgy. Invite and leave the rest to God.

Vincent Gaglione
6 days 7 hours ago

A "Holy Day of Celebration" works for me. Your point is well-made and well-taken.

Vincent Gaglione
6 days 7 hours ago

Confusion arises because there is never printed, well maybe not never because there may be some parishes that do so, a complete explanation of the the obligations for the various feast days as described in this article. This morning I went on to my NY archdiocesan website and found a clear explanation. It should only be printed every year in parish bulletins, eh?

Jean Miller
6 days 7 hours ago

"Invite and leave the rest to God" Perfect! That says it all.

Lucie Johnson
6 days 6 hours ago

Those days of obligation are odd... they differ from country to country. It bothers me that countries have different days of obligation. Should not such obligations be universal? I remember learning of 4 days of obligation as a child in Belgium,,, and December 8 is not one of them. The Immaculate Conception is not a day of obligation in Canada, Belgium, Australia, Denmark, Mexico, and many other countries.

John Walton
6 days 5 hours ago

Cardinal Raymond Burke celebrating 10:00 a.m. mass at Immaculate Conception Church, Cleveland OH, Saturday December 8th. I will be there.

Kathy Berken
6 days 2 hours ago

"Invite and leave the rest to God" is the best pastoral response to this. And perhaps the only one necessary.

Dr.Cajetan Coelho
5 days 17 hours ago

Happy feast to all.

Dr.Cajetan Coelho
5 days 17 hours ago

Happy feast to all.

Dr.Cajetan Coelho
5 days 17 hours ago

Happy feast to all.

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