Go HERE for an important follow-up post.
I am getting a lot of questions about fulfilling the Mass obligation on the upcoming Saturday afternoon, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.
Would it fulfill my obligation for the Solemnity to attend vigil Mass on Saturday afternoon/evening even though the vigil is considered to replace Sunday Mass? In other words, could I attend vigil Mass Saturday evening to fulfill my obligation for the Solemnity and then attend Sunday morning Mass to fulfill my obligation for Sunday?
The Code of Canon Law for the Latin Church says:
can. 1248 1. The precept of participating in the Mass is satisfied by assistance at a Mass which is celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the holy day or on the evening of the preceding day.
As I read this, yes, you fulfill the obligation for both by attending the one Mass on Saturday evening. The law does not specify that you have to attend Mass according to a certain formulary to fulfill the obligation. It says you have to attend Mass. Period. Given that we must interpret law in such a way that we favor people and give them more flexibility rather than less, I would say, yes, you fulfill the obligation. First, you are attending Mass on the Holy Day, which is Saturday. Second, since it is in the evening, the law says you fulfill your obligation for the Sunday.
That said, prevailing interpretation of canon law goes against my opinion. I refer you to the great Prof. Ed Peters, for example, with whom – on this point – I disagree. I think the USCCB goes with the prevailing opinion. I disagree… but I will defer.
I believe the opinion that that one Mass on Saturday does not fulfill the obligation for both overcomplicatiplexifies the simple text of the canon. Again, I defer to proper authority on this one.
That said… do not get me wrong… it is far better to go to Mass in the morning on Saturday, fulfill your obligation, and then go to Mass on Sunday morning and, thereby fulfill your obligation and keep your Sunday as Dies Domini.
I don’t happen to like the Saturday evening Mass being used regularly as the Mass of obligation. The Church permits the obligation to be fulfilled on Saturday evening. Fine. Let it be so. But it seems to me that it is better to let Saturday be Saturday and Sunday by Sunday.
His scriptis, I would, if I were you, plan to go to Mass on Saturday morning and again on Sunday. Let us defer to those who are the better interpreters of canon law.
Finally… everyone…. GO TO CONFESSION!
There. I got that off my chest.