Holy Days of Obligation seem to always be tripping Catholics up! There are six in the United States: Solemnity of Mary (January 1), Ascension Thursday (40 days after Easter, except where it’s been transferred to the Sunday), Assumption (August 15th), All Saints Day (November 1st), Immaculate Conception (December 8th), and Christmas (December 25th).
But are they obligatory this year? That’s always the big question since some dioceses have transferred them to the Sundays or they fall on a Saturday or a Monday and are suppressed. But not all of these days follow the same rules. For instance Christmas is always and forever a Holy Day of Obligation even when it’s on a Saturday or a Monday. But All Saints is another story and don’t even get me started on the rules surrounding the Ascension.
If it’s confusing for you and I, imagine how confusing it is for your parishioners!
So let’s plan ahead for the next Holy Day of Obligation: The Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8th. That’s a Saturday this year. It’s still a Holy Day of Obligation though since she is the patroness of our country. So what’s your plan at the parish?
Are you thinking about the other obligations families have over the weekend? Have you structured your Mass times so there are enough of them for everyone to attend Mass?
Consider a Vigil Mass followed by an Advent activity as the parish for families on Friday evening! Maybe an early morning candle-lit Mass could be done to honor the Blessed Mother with a pancake breakfast following! You could also offer confession before or after as part of your congregation’s preparation for Christmas.
Start advertising for this day now so people can add it on to their calendars to ensure they meet this obligation. Invite your parishioners to dig a little deeper so that it’s more than just an obligation, but a tradition of their family during Advent.
It’s our job to invite them in, provide the opportunities for an encounter, and help our parishioners work on transforming their lives! What will your parish do to help?