December 21, 2017

No Dispensation for This Year's Christmas Mass. (You Must Attend Mass Sunday and Monday)

This year (2017) Advent is unusually short, Sunday being the only day in the fourth week. In the General Roman Calendar, December 24th, Christmas Eve, is the last day of Advent as well as (beginning with the vigil Mass) the first day of Christmas time. This raises the question as to whether the fulfillment of one's Sabbath obligation may also fulfill the Christmas obligation to attend holy Mass.

The answer is no. A February newsletter issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship observed that a "two-for-one" Mass cannot occur in the very rare circumstances when two of the six holy days of obligation, such as when the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary or the Christmas solemnity of Our Lord's Nativity fall the day before or after Sunday.

The committee stated, "When consecutive obligations occur on Saturday-Sunday or Sunday-Monday, the faithful must attend Mass twice to fulfill two separate obligations." The possibility of such a "simultaneous fulfillment of obligations was duly answered in the negative by the Sacred Congregation for the Clergy and approved by Blessed Pope Paul VI in 1970." Although it is not wholly conclusive, this clarification has weight since it was backed by the Vatican and the Pope.

The USCCB's divine worship committee expressed the hope that Catholics would want to go to Mass two days consecutively stating, "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." Indeed, dear readers, the Mass is the Church's greatest prayer, the source and summit of our Faith. It offers us unfathomable grace and is a miracle beyond compare, joining us intimately with Christ. Let us pray as one Church united on heaven and on earth this Christmas.

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