From a reader:
Does attending mass on a Monday evening fulfill my Sunday mass obligation? I was out of town and not able to attend mass on Sunday. I have a friend who regularly attend this mass when she does not attend on Sunday.
Sorry… but… Sunday is Sunday and Monday is Monday. Right?
“But Father! But Father!”, some will interject, “We can fulfill our obligation on Saturday evening and Saturday is Saturday, not Sunday. Right?”
Yes and no.
When we interpret the Church’s law, we interpret it in such a way that most favorable to people. Since we Catholics follow to a certain extent in the footsteps of our Jewish forebears, when we think about liturgical time, we accept that a liturgical day begins on the evening, the vigil, before the day. Therefore we say that an evening Mass on Saturday is really already on liturgical Sunday. However, since we interpret law favorably, we can also look at Sunday as extending beyond its own evening, Sunday evening, until midnight between Sunday and Monday. In fact, we can even consider it still “morally” Sunday in a way if you are up late, past midnight. Thus, a priest doesn’t have to stop his car and try to get his Office said while reading in front of the headlights or with the dome light because the minute had is at 11:53 pm. He can finish his Office before going to bed even through it is technically Monday. Let’s leave aside the issue of civil time and solar time.
Whichever way of legitimately calculating time that is favorable to the person is the one we can follow.
That said, I cannot imagine anyway that Monday evening is Sunday. Thus, NO, you cannot fulfill your Mass obligation on Monday evening.
Let’s keep in mind what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says:
2181. The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor. Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.
Note that the paragraph mentions being “dispense”.
According to the Code of Canon Law for the Latin Church in canon 1245, pastors of parishes have the ability to dispense your obligation in individual instances or commute your obligation to some other pious work. That pious work might even be attending Holy Mass on Monday evening. In this case, you can’t just assume that you have the dispensation or commutation. You have to receive it. Moreover, the liturgical year and our obligations are important for our Catholic identity and spiritual lives. We should adjust our lives as much as way can according to the calendar and not adjust the calendar to suit our lives. Nevertheless, Holy Church recognizes that life is messy. That is why she has canons such as can. 1245.
Sunday is the Lord’s Day. It is important. Keep it as a holy day. Be part of the congregation and participate well at Holy Mass. We need to have everyone there.
Let Sunday be Sunday!
And just that we stress not only the obligation but also the benefits of Sunday observance, you might look at John Paul II’s Dies Domini.