QUAERITUR: Does the Easter Vigil fulfill Easter Obligation?

I got a question by e-mail:

Dear Fr. Z,

It has been suggested to me on a number of occasions that the Easter Vigil does not fill one’s Sunday obligation.

I don’t see why this should be the case as any other Vigil in the OF would does fulfill the obligation. I wonder whether certain friends are trying to make themselves feel extra pious! Am I right to be unconvinced by their pronouncements?

I can’t see why it wouldn’t.  The 1983 Code says that we fufill our obligation by participating at Mass in a Catholic rite on the day of obligation itself or on its vigil. 

I think the Vigil of Easter is, so to speak, the Vigil of Easter, if you get my meaning.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Of course, the Easter Vigil is, how to say, the Mother of all Liturgies… It is assumed that everyone is going to Mass every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation, and the Easter Vigil fulfills this obligation for Easter Sunday (though also going to the Dawn Mass is great).

    But maybe this is not what the friends meant. Perhaps they were indicating that it is going to Confession at least once a year if one is in grave sin (to take it to the absolute minimum), and then to Holy Communion, and this, traditionally around Easter time, that will fulfill one’s Easter Obligation. Or am I being thrown off by the title of the post?

  2. Mark M says:

    Absolutely, Father! I’ve always been taught this. Do we have any further reasons why it might be thought otherwise?

  3. This is as good a place as any to raise a related question that pops up now and then, and which I don’t recall seeing on WDTPRS: If a day of obligation falls on Saturday or Monday, will mass on the concurring evening satisfy the obligation for both that day and Sunday? Assume the obligation has not been waived by the bishops.

    What about a Saturday night nuptial mass? Does it satisfy Sunday obligation?

    I say yes to both questions, because the canons covering the matter (1247, 1248) say nothing to the contrary. But what do other readers think?

  4. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    I see the reason for the question, though. Some people think that a Saturday afternoon or evening Mass cannot fulfil the obligation for a day *unless* it is the Mass of the same day. They think that the obligation is attached to a particular commemoration or propers rather than to a particular time; in fact, any scheduled time from 4.00 p.m. on the day before through to the end of the day will cover the obligation. This issue can come up in the case of Masses which follow different calendars. Can I fulfil an obligation to attend on Trinity Sunday at the Byzantine Church, when the latter does not mark the Trinity on that day? The answer is yes.


  5. Different says:


    There is no two for one obligation fulfillment. Take the example of when Christmas is on a Monday: One cannot attend a 5PM Christmas Eve Mass (Sunday) and fulfill one’s obligation for both that Sunday (Christmas Eve) and the following day, Christmas. There are indeed a variety of ways one could fulfill the two obligations (for instance Christmas Eve morning Mass for Sunday and Christmas Eve evening Mass for Christmas Day), but all of them require the attendance of two Masses. Two days of obligation = two Masses.

    At least, that’s the way, I’ve always been told.

    PTKP is right-on, on this one…does anyone know where 4PM as a “dividing line” comes from? Is it just commonly accepted? I’m pretty sure Canon law doesn’t mention an exact time. So, would a 2pm Mass work for a vigil?

  6. Fr Allan Hawkins says:

    I have always held (and been taught) that Good Friday is the anamnesis of the Cross and Passion of the Lord, that Easter Day is the joyful commemoration of his Resurrection — while the Great Vigil of Holy Saturday night is neither of these things, but rather the celebration of the whole mystery of the Christian Passover. As such, it is the very heart of the Church’s liturgical life — and replaces neither the observance of the Friday or the Sunday.

  7. brendan says:

    I wonder if this writer is confusing 2 separate rites. Prior to 1956(?), the Easter Vigil service was held in the morning, therefore you were required to return for the Sunday Easter Feast. However, when the rules were changed to evening (I’m referring to the period between 1956 and 1969), the Easter Vigil service was scheduled to begin at or near 11PM, so that the Mass would begin as close to midnight as possible. Therefore, the Easter Vigil service would fulfill attendance at Easter. After 1969, the local church I belonged to at the time, had an early evening Mass, mostly for children, as well as elderly who could not attend the late night service.

  8. michigancatholic says:

    This is all totally confusing to me, especially since the only Mass of obligation involved on Easter weekend is Easter Sunday. I have always assumed that one could go to the Vigil for one’s Easter mass, using the same practice as on all the other days of obligation, even Christmas (unless I’m wrong on that one too!)

  9. Liam says:

    Attendance at Mass after 4pm on Saturday fulfills one preceptual obligation for Sunday, regardless of the propers. The precept is not linked to the propers of the Mass celebrated after time.

  10. big benny says:

    Fr Hawkins,
    How can you say that the Easter Vigil is not the joyful commemoration of the ressurection? It clearly is….. exultet, alleluias, ringing bells at gloria etc.

  11. Where does 4pm come from?

  12. Mark M says:

    PKTP: Ah, but the real question is thus:

    If you live in a country where, for example, the Ascension has been transferred to a Sunday, but you go to the Extraordinary Form on the Sunday (under which the Ascension had actually been on the Thursday, and you end up just going to the nth Sunday in Eastertide), have you fulfilled that obligation?

  13. Jeff says:

    Fr. Z: Can 1248 par. 1 is rather clear: The obligation of participating in the Mass is satisfied by one who assists at Mass wherever it is celebrated in a Catholic rite, whether on a holyday itself or on the evening of the previous day.

    Liam and David: The time I believe is determined by the local Ordinary. And according Eucharisticum mysterium and the Sep 1984 reply of the CDW the Mass in the evening must be the Sunday Mass.

    Mark: Yes I believe you fulfill you obligation. In the case you mentioned the Ascension itself if not of obligation, but attending Mass on Sunday. In this case the orations and reading are transfered from Thursday to Sunday and the obligation remains attached to Sunday. So attending Mass on the 6th Sunday after Easter would still fulfill you obligation.


  14. Jeff says:

    Canon 1248, par. 1: The obligation of participating in the Mass is satisfied by one who assists at Mass wherever it is celebrated in a Catholic rite, either on a holyday itself or on the evening of the previous day.

    I think this makes it rather clear that the Easter Vigil fulfills the Sunday obligation.

    The time for the evening Mass is determined by the local Ordinary, and this has usually been 4 PM. For example the Archdiocese of Denver in its Handbooks says: The notion of Sunday as the day of celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord must not be diminished. Sunday Masses are not to be celebrated until the time of Evening Prayer on Saturday, which is generally understood to begin no earlier that 4:00 PM. Each parish, mission, or institution may schedule Saturday evening anticipated liturgies for the Sunday obligation.

    I am not exactly sure where they got 4 PM either, unless it is in a Church document or reply to a dubium somewhere.

    When is comes to what Mark M says, I think that the obligation that is associated with Ascension is not required, but the obligation is still associated with Sunday, therefore attending Mass on the Sunday following what would have been the Ascension would still satisfy your obligation, whether you were to attend the EF or a Greek Catholic liturgy, even though these places aren’t celebrating the Ascension.

  15. Irulats says:

    Jeff: A member of my family is attending requiem Mass (Ordinary Form)for a friend tomorrow, at 1:30pm, after the normal Masses for Palm Sunday. Does this fulfill his obligation, as this Mass seems to be out of line with GIRM 380?

  16. I believe that it was not uncommon in pre-Vatican II times for the Easter Vigil to be celebrated much earlier in the day than is currently the case (i.e., after sunset). In such a case, attendance of the Vigil Mass would not have been a fulfillment of one’s Sunday obligation. But then, in those days, Saturday evening vigils were pretty much not done anyway, so that may be what prompted the question.

  17. Fr. Terry Donahue, CC says:


    A commentary on the Code referred to the following passage as the source for the 4pm time for the start of “evening”:

    “If the circumstance calls for it as necessary, We grant to the local Ordinaries the right to permit the celebration of Mass in the evening, as we said, but in such wise that the Mass shall not begin before four o’clock in the afternoon, on holy days of obligation still observed, on those which formerly were observed, on the first Friday of every month, and also on those days on which solemn celebrations are held with a large attendance, and also, in addition to these days, on one day a week…”
    (Pope Pius XII, Christus Dominus, VI, January 6, 1953, http://www.ewtn.com/library/PAPALDOC/P12CHDOM.HTM)

  18. Jeff says:

    First of all let me apologize for the double post, I thought I lost the first one and so wrote the second one.

    Irulatas: Aside from the Mass violating GIRM 380, which says a Mass for the Dead is prohibited on Sundays during Lent, my questions would be does your family member have the option of attending another Mass on Sunday, one that is the Palm Sunday Mass? What I am unsure of is, does just attending Mass on Sunday fulfill the obligation, or do the texts of the Mass have to be followed? I can’t seem to find a clear answer.

    Normally members of the faithful do not have control over the texts of the Mass. If a Catholic in good faith attended Mass on Sunday with the intention of fulfilling their obligation I would say this is sufficient, even if the texts weren’t the Mass for the day. The fault there lay with the priest. However in the case of a member of the faithful who knows before hand the texts won’t be the Mass of the Sunday, this presents a challenge. If they didn’t have any other place to attend Mass, then I think it would fulfill the obligation, however what if they had the opportunity to attend Mass elsewhere. I cannot provide an answer to that question.

    I have found out where 4 PM comes from. In 1953 the Apostolic Constituion concerning the Eucharistic fast, gave the Ordinary of the place authority to permit and anticipated Mass in the evening (which may not be before 4 PM and may not be as late as midnight).

  19. Annabel says:

    Immaculate Conception is one (and I believe there is only one other, but can’t recall what, maybe Christmas) that if it falls on a Monday or Saturday is NOT fulfilled. In other words, if Immaculate Conception falls on Saturday, we must go to Mass Saturday (vigil or otherwise) AND Sunday. A priest explained in a homily once that while bishops often allow other feasts to get “attached” to Sunday, the Church considers these two so important that that is never done……?

  20. Different: I have always heard the same thing you have, two obligations require two masses. That is, I have always heard that from parish priests. But somewhere over the years I have found the question addressed by a couple of canonists, I think one was in the Homiletic and pastoral review, who said what I said above.

    Anybody know how to submit a dubium?

  21. Fr Allan Hawkins says:

    big benny:

    “How can you say that the Easter Vigil is not the joyful commemoration of the ressurection?” I don’t think that I did say that. What I said was that, on Holy Saturday, we celebrate the totality of the Christian Passover — which, of course, includes the wonder and joy of the resurrection. That is precisely why there is the Great Vigil, rather than, simply, the successive commemorations of Calvary and the Empty Tomb.

  22. Scott H. says:

    Methinks there is some confusion in all of this. The Sacred Triduum, prior to Vat II had Holy Saturday liturgy with the “blessing of the fire” etc. This was required to start after sundown whenever that occurred locally. This service would not suffice for attendance at Easter Sunday Mass. I would urge Fr. Z and other priests cognizant of the practice and tradition to speak up about this issue to clarify the understanding of the importance of Holy Saturday observance and Easter Sunday celebration of the Resurrection of Our Lord.

  23. Jeff says:

    Looking at the text of the Code of Canon Law

    Canon 1248, par. 1: The obligation of participating in the Mass is satisfied by one who assists at Mass wherever it is celebrated in a Catholic rite, either on a holyday itself or on the evening of the previous day.

    An interesting point is “Catholic rite,” this would refer to both the OF and EF, as well as Eastern rites. There is a different Calendar for each and some have even different feast days, thus different prayers and readings. Thus it seems that you satisfy your Sunday obligation by going to Mass after 4 PM on Saturday, or on Sunday, regardless of the Mass being celebrated.

  24. The Easter Vigil is THE Easter Liturgy. We use the preface for Easter, conclude with the “Ite Missa Est, Allelua!” If it were not Easter, there would be no Alleluia, no Gloria, etc… Also, as with any Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation, the vigil Mass suffices to fulfill the obligation. We can all dispute weather allowing any vigils was good, but they were and are allowed and it is the Easter Vigil. No question at all!

  25. This is what I was told by a canonist and what I have followed. If one attends a regularly schedualed Mass for a Sunday or Holy Day of Obligation the obligation is fulfilled. However, a wedding schedualed for a Saturday evening does not fulfill the obligation strictly speaking. The Mass is not being said to fulfill the obligation. It would not be said if there were no wedding. However, when I’m asked this question I usually ask why they want to know this. I also handle it on a case by case basis. Sometimes people have travelled a great distance to be at a wedding and have a great distance to travel home or a plane to catch. In this case, because they have a legitimate reason, I dispense them from Sunday Mass. Strictly speaking they don’t need a dispensation but it easies their consciences. Other people ask because they don’t want to have to get up and go to Mass again or because they don’t want to do more than the minimum. To them I tell them that there is a Mass Sunday evening they can go to or late Sunday morning. I will even give them times at other parishes. Staying up late and drinking or only wanting to do the minimum are not reasons to miss Mass. But it has to be assessed on a case by case basis.

    Attending the Easter Vigil fulfills the obligation of Mass attendance for Easter Sunday. That it has different texts is not an issue. Many Holy Day Vigil Masses have different texts. The Saturday Evening Mass for Pentecost has a different text than that of Pentecost Sunday. The same for the Assumption. Christmas has four different texts. As long as the Mass is in celebration of the same liturgical day the obligation is fulfilled.

    As to satisfying one obligation with two Masses, that can never be done. And it seems rather selfish to me. I would wonder, if someone has that attitude why do they even bother? Is it so difficult to go to Mass two days in a row? In my experience people who want to do this are pretty much Catholic in name only. They’re trying to get away with something. There seems to be a lack of generosity of heart. It’s as if the obligation to attend Mass is onerous.

    However, if Christmas were on a Monday and one went to a Sunday evening Mass thinking it was for Sunday only to find out it was for Christmas, then one would not commit the sin of misssing Sunday Mass provided they went to another Mass to fulfill their Christmas obligation. But if one went to fulfill the obligation for both one would miss Mass either of Sunday or Christmas. Further there would be an underlying attitude that would need to be examined.

    Being Catholic isn’t about fulfilling the requirements. It’s about following the example of our Lord and giving our all. Considering what He has done for us, how could we not?

  26. Scott H. wrote: “Methinks there is some confusion in all of this. The Sacred Triduum, prior to Vat II had Holy Saturday liturgy with the “blessing of the fire” etc. This was required to start after sundown whenever that occurred locally. This service would not suffice for attendance at Easter Sunday Mass. I would urge Fr. Z and other priests cognizant of the practice and tradition to speak up about this issue to clarify the understanding of the importance of Holy Saturday observance and Easter Sunday celebration of the Resurrection of Our Lord.”

    In the Pian reform the Vigil was to begin so that the Mass itself began around midnight. It was allowed to begin the Vigil earlier if necessary, but not before sundown. The Mass itself, however, could not begin before midnight in this case. There was no “Easter Vigil Mass” in the sense that we use the term now since the first Mass of Easter did/could not begin until midnight, whether or not the Blessing of the New Fire, Reading of the Prophecies, Blessing of the Font, etc., happened immediately before the Mass or not. The usual practice was to begin at 10:30 or 11:00 p.m. on Saturday night so that the Mass properly speaking began at or around midnight. Prior to the Pian reform the service was held Saturday morning and did not fulfill the obligation of attending Mass on Easter Sunday. In fact, it took place during Lent which did not end until noon.

    So, if you went to the Easter Vigil in the Pian reform you fulfilled your Sunday Obligation because the Mass did not begin until midnight or thereabouts. If you went before the Pian reform (and very few did) you did not fulfill your Sunday obligation.

    As we have it, where “the obligation of participating in the Mass is satisfied by one who assists at Mass wherever it is celebrated in a Catholic rite, either on a holyday itself or on the evening of the previous day” (CIC 1248, 1), attending the Easter Vigil does fulfill the obligation of attending Mass on Easter Sunday.

    Jeff, after posting CIC 1248, 1, you commented: “An interesting point is “Catholic rite,” this would refer to both the OF and EF, as well as Eastern rites. There is a different Calendar for each and some have even different feast days, thus different prayers and readings. Thus it seems that you satisfy your Sunday obligation by going to Mass after 4 PM on Saturday, or on Sunday, regardless of the Mass being celebrated.”

    Your statement is true as to the form of the Mass… the Ordinary or Extraordinary. But not as to the Mass being celebrated. It must be the Mass of the day of obligation (as explained to me by a canonist). Thus a Nuptial Mass or Requiem Mass does not fulfill the obligation.

  27. Scott H. says:

    Thank you Fr. Bailey. That is my understanding, and you explained it in a much better way! May God bless you during this upcoming Holy Week.

  28. David O'Rourke says:

    Three points:

    1) The usual Saturday eveing Mass is NOT a Vigil Mass. It is the normal Sunday Mass celebrated on SUNDAY which begins with First Vespers of Sunday on Saturday afternoon. Much of the above confusion seems to be caused by the unfortunate abuse whereby the Mass celebrated on a saturday afternoon or evening is erroneously referred to as a Vigil Mass.

    2) Before 1956, the Easter Vigil was celebrated early Saturday morning with shortened First Vespers of Easter being sung immediately after Communion before the Post Communion of the Mass. The Canonical time for First Vespers of Easter was 12:00 Noon as was the hour for Vespers all through Lent. Hence Lent with it’s fasts and penances ended at Noon on Holy Saturday.

    3) The Pian Reforms to the Holy Week Liturgies in the mid 1950’s suppressed First Vespers of Easter and transferred the Vigil from early Saturday Morning to Saturday night, usually with the Vigil stating at about 11:00PM and the Mass starting at about Midnight but the Vigil could start as early as 8:00PM as I remember. In anycase, the decree promulgating the changes made clear that the Vigil satisfied the Easter Sunday Obligation even if the Mass came before Midnight but that one could receive Communio both at the Vigil Mass and again on Easter morning as the Vigil Mass and the morning Mass were two different liturgies.

    The Novus Ordo changed the Easter Vigil considerably but with it’s Prophecies it retains the character of a Vigil and is demonstrably different in form from the normal Saurtday evening Msss erroneusly referred to as a Vigil. For the record, most Vigil Masses are still celebrated the morning of the day before the feast

  29. David: As interesting as it is, it is not relevant to the point here.

    Since the Vigil of Easter is celebrated on the, yes, the vigil of Easter, that in the evening before Easter, the liturgical vigil of Easter day, people fulfill their Easter Mass obligation by attending it.

    The Church’s law says that we fulfill our obligation when we participate AT MASS in a Catholic rite “either on a holyday itself or on the evening of the previous day.

    It doesn’t make a difference that the Masses have different texts.

    Pretty clear.

  30. I never really paid attention to it, because I attended both days. It would suffice as doig the obligation, but who wants to o the minimum?

  31. Jeff says:

    Fr. Scott,

    You raise a point I have considered, but I did some research on the internet and in various commentaries. In general the law is permissive, read only restrictive in terms of penalties. The canon does not add additional requirements beyond attending Mass on a holyday to satisfy an obligation. Thus attending a Mass after 4 PM on Saturday would fulfill an obligation.

  32. Gregor says:

    I second Jeff’s opinion: The law says to hear Mass. Mass is the Sacrifice of Calvary. What propers are used is of absolutely no importance as far as the fulfilment of the precept is concerned.

    Fr Bailey, I think you are placing too much importance on the intention when you say “The Mass is not being said to fulfill the obligation.” My old manual of moral theology from the 1950s is quite clear that as long as I attend Mass on a Sunday and have the intention to hear Mass, I fulfil my obligation even if I have the express intention not to fulfil my obligation. That is because the obliagtion is objective in nature: I must hear Mass.

  33. Jeff and Gregor, thank you for your comments. I want to be clear that what I expressed is not my opinion but the response I received when I asked a caononist presently of the Archdiocese of Washington, DC. My personal feeling is that any Mass would fulfill the obligation, however my personal feeling or opinion isn’t sufficient. I’m not a canonist myself so I went to a canon lawyer because I didn’t want to mislead people. It took him a while to get back to me so I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a “blow off” response.

    I don’t understand why it is even an issue. As I said, it seems to me that those people who are concerned about it fall into one of two camps: Those for whom going to Mass again would be a genuine difficulty and want to do what is right, and those who only want to do the minimum. As to the first camp they are, I believe, excused. As to the second, I just don’t get it. Doing the minimum does not assure salvation. The minimalist camp is, I think, on a very slippery slope. That scares the heck out of me.

  34. Federico says:

    Fr. Z: It doesn’t make a difference that the Masses have different texts.

    I don’t agree. The 1983 code did not abrogate from prior liturgical and disciplinary laws where the subject matter of these was not completely reordered and displaced, or where not in conflict with the 1983 code (cc. 2 and 4). As a result, sections of Eucharisticum Mysterium dealing with this matter (particularly paragraph 28) still apply.

    Let me quote a relevant section:

    Where permission has been granted by the Apostolic See to fulfill the Sunday obligation on the preceding Saturday evening, pastors should explain the meaning of this permission carefully to the faithful and should ensure that the significance of Sunday is not thereby obscured. The purpose of this concession is in fact to enable the Christians of today to celebrate more easily the day of the resurrection of the Lord.
    All concessions and contrary customs notwithstanding, when celebrated on Saturday this Mass may be celebrated only in the evening, at times determined by the local Ordinary.
    In these cases the Mass celebrated is that assigned in the calendar to Sunday, the homily and the prayer of the faithful are not to be omitted.


  35. Gregor says:

    Federico, you have to differentiate. If the question is: “what propers are to be selected”, then yes, of course, the propers matter, and they ought to be those of the Sunday.
    If the question is: “I have assisted at a Mass on the evening before a Sunday, but the propers were not those of the Sunday – have I still fulfilled my obligation?”, then the answer is the one Fr Zuhlsdorf has given.

  36. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    To Mark M.:

    As far as I can tell from the Code, the following principles apply:

    (1) The obligation is fulfilled if you attend any Mass with any set of propers from 4.00 p.m. of the previous day to the end of the day.

    (2) I believe that, where a holyday of obligation has been transferred, you can fulfil it either on the proper day OR the day of transfer unless, of course, the transfer is exclusive. Bishops Conferences have immediate jurisdiction on such matters. Usually, they will say that the holyday may be observed on some nearby Sunday, which would mean, I presume, that you can fulfil it on either the Sunday or its proper day in the universal calendar. It seems to be irrelevant, though, does it not? Sunday is always a holyday. So, if the obligation is transferred to a Sunday, you must go on that Sunday anyway, and you obviously don’t need to go on the Ascension Thursday, although you still may do so. Whether you will get the propers for Maundy Thursday on that day is irrelevant.

    (3) The question of what the holydays are is completely determined by the ordinary in question, but the application of the law depends on the jurisdiction of the subject.

    Hence it is possible that a Ukrainian Byzantine Catholic might have to go to Church for more or fewer holydays than his Latin brother in the same City. But he would fulfil the obligation by going to church on the day or transferred day of the obligation AT ANY MASS OF ANY RITE. Let’s turn it around. In some places in the Latin Church, All Saints Day is a holyday. It does’t exist as a single feast on the Byzantine calendar. But if I’m a Latin Cathlic and live in that place, I can fulfil the obligation at the local Byzantine Catholic church. I will not be getting the All Saints’ Day Mass but, as long as I attend that Byzantine Divine Liturgy between 4.00 p.m. on 31st October and midnight on 1st November, I’m covered.

    Usually, jurisdictions are territorial. However, the New Code allows for personal jurisdictions, in which the persons in a certain territory who are registered in that jurisdiction are its subjects. Others living in the same territory are the subjects of the local bishop. We now have one of these: the Apostolic Administration of St. John-Mary Vianney, confined to the same territory as the Diocese of Campos, in Brazil. In that territory, there are two jurisdictions (in effect, two ‘dioceses’ occupy one territory). Those registered in the A.A. are subjects of Bishop Rifan. Others, even if they regularly attend at Masses of the A.A., who are not registered in it, are subjects of Bsp. Guimaraes of Campos.

    Now, suppose Bsp. Rifan makes All Saints’ Day a holyday of obligation, and suppose that it is not one in the Diocese of the Campos; in fact, the feast in the Diocese of Campos has been transferred to the next Sunday. This means that those registered in the A.A. must attend Mass between 4.00 p.m. on 31st October and the end of 1st November. They can attend a Mass of All Saints during these times in a chapel of the A.A. However, they also fulfil the obligation by attending Mass in the same hours at a parish church of the Campos Diocese, even though they will not be getting the All Saints liturgy. In fact, they can even attend during the same hours at a local Byzantine Catholic church, even though it has no All Saints’ Day and so, once again, they will not be getting an All Saints’ Day Mass. The obligation attaches first to a person and then to worship during certain hours; it does not attach to attendance at a Mass with any given commemoration or propers.

    (4) Hence the first consideration is who you are subject to. If you are a member of the Latin Church and you have not registered in a personal diocese which exists in the territory where you are, you must follow the rules of the Latin ordinary. If you are travelling, you follow the rules of the ordinary who has jurisdiction over member of your ritual church where you are. So, for example, an Englishman travelling in Ireland may have to attend on St. Patrick’s Day.

    The Eastern churches have rules for this. Usually, if an Eastern Catholic is out of an area where his ritual church has a jurisdiction, he is subject to the local Roman ordinary; but not always–there are some interesting exceptions. For example, Romanian Byzantine Catholics, who have their own jurisdiction in the U.S.A., are under Ukrainian Byzantine jurisdition when they are travelling in Canada. This is because the Romanian Byzantine Church asked the Ukrainians to care for its subjects in Canada.


  37. Federico says:

    No, Gregor, I am afraid I disagree (of course, one of my professors reminds me of the maxim two canonists, three opinons).

    You cannot read Church law in isolation. Canon 1248 does not provide sufficient information to tell whether one has fulfilled one’s obligation.

    What is evening? Well, it’s up to the ordinary, but you can’t tell this from the canon — you have to look to instructions, decrees of executive power.

    What Mass? Again, you can’t tell from the canon. The instructions, in the context of this favor given by the Church to Her faithful, tell us it must be an anticipatory Mass according to any form of any liturgical practice of any Catholic Church sui iuris.

    After all, priests are not required to celebrate anticipatory Masses. They are free to celebrate the Mass assigned to Saturday until midnight (with exceptions: I know of at least one case where the physical church has an indult that fixes the calendar therein every day).

  38. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    Dear Federico:

    All this means is that, when a Sunday Mass is to be celebrated on the preceding Saturday evening, the Sunday texts must be used. That is, it is not a separate vigil Mass with different lections. But this has nothing to do with fulfilling the obligation. Attendance at ANY Mass in those hours will fulfil this obligation. Were this not the case, a Latin faithful could not fulfil the obligation at an Eastern Divine Liturgy, which has very different lections and will sometimes commemorate completely different feasts. For example, there is no Trinity Sunday in the Ukrainian Church. They celebrate all the saints on the Sunday after Pentecost. So, if you attend a nuptial Mass after 4.00 p.m. on a Saturday, or a funeral Mass, or a Vigil Mass, it will still fulfil the Sunday obligation.

    “The obligation of assisting at Mass is satisfied wherever Mass is celebrated in a Catholic Rite either on a holyday itself or on the evening of the previous day” (Canon 1248.1).

    I see from a nearby Canon that the problem I imagined with the Campos A.A. is imaginary, since episcopal conferences set the holydays for all the jurisdictions in a country or episcopal region of countries, although the problem would arise in the case of an international personal jurisdiction (a Campos A.A. covering many countries).

    What I had to see still holds true for the Eastern churches, however, since they are completely exempt from the 1983 Code (Canon 1).

  39. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    Dear Federico:

    Evening begins in my culture at 6.00 p.m. However, precedents in canon law take into account the liturgical hours, and this has long been set as 4.00 p.m., probably to give a full hour for none of the Saturday, at 3.00 p.m.

    Since this is the season of pharasees and lawyers (!), I would add that the Mass must be *scheduled* to begin at 4.00 p.m. or later. If it is scheduled to begin at 4.00 p.m. but actually begins a bit before 4.00 p.m., I would think that at least the Canon must start no earlier than 4.00 p.m. The reason is that the obligation only strictly obtains from the beginning of the Canon (or is it the Epistle? I keep forgetting on this one).


  40. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    In agreeing with Fr. Z. on this one, I might point out another, more pastoral, consideration. If you look at the *previous* Canon to the one rightly quoted, if you look at Canon 1247, you can see that the law here is an attempt to encourage a certain behaviour. The Church wants us to respect a holyday by assisting at Mass and also avoiding manual labour, or else work that might impede our religious duties. But the Canon goes even further: it wants us also to relax the mind and body.

    Supplementary to this is the fact that the Church tends to be permissive in law, allowing what she can reasonably allow to her children.

    So, I think that the prime concern of the Church here is that we attend Mass, not that we attend any particular Mass, and that we otherwise behave in a certain pious way. I was taught that it was ‘impious’ or at least ‘inappropriate’ to go to watch an ‘action film’ on a Sunday. This is not in the law but it is in the same spirit here. One was supposed to reserve Sundays and other holydays for cultural activities, pious work, relaxation, recuperation, and so on. Even God rested once. Hard manual labour, money-making extra work, and cheap entertainment are really not for Sunday.

    So, while I think that it is more in keeping with the day to prefer the liturgy of the day, attending any Mass will satisfy the Church.


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