QUAERITUR: goofing around with the calendar on an Advent Sunday

From a reader:

Dear Father,
First of all,  thank you for your blog.  It’s a wonderful resource for a "revert" like myself, and I read it often.  I have a question about what happened at today’s Mass, which seemed a bit "off".    I’m not a liturgical nitpicker by any means, but today instead of the Second Sunday of Advent liturgy, the readings and Gospel were those of tomorrow’s great feast, the Immaculate Conception.  The vestments, however, were purple.  That did seem of synch to me. 
Also, am I correct in assuming that Sunday’s liturgy takes precedence over any feast, unless the feast itself falls on the Sunday?  There have been years when the Immaculate Conception falls on a Sunday, and then of course  these readings and Gospel are used.  However, there seemed to be an over-emphasis on Mary (whom I love and honour dearly), and not much on the Second Sunday of Advent.
I’d be interested in reading your thoughts on this.  At this parish there’s generally a lot of improvisation and ad-libbing in the liturgy.  I guess they haven’t gotten the memo:  Say the Black, do the Red!

Unless there is something particular happening, some directive from the bishop, this was very strange.

Sunday was the 2nd Sunday of Advent.  Today, 8 December is the Immaculate Conception.  On Sunday evening, we would have used 1st Vespers of the Immaculate Conception and, I suppose the anticipated Mass for Immaculate Conception, but then the vestments would have been white.

Someone didn’t get the memo.

Perhaps they need a reminder?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in ASK FATHER Question Box. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Alessandro says:

    The 7th December was II sunday of Advent, with 2nd Vespers of Sunday of Advent which take precedence over the solemnity of Our Lady Immaculate, 8th december all from the proper of the Immaculate conception of Our Lady.
    If the Bishop Conference asks for a particular indult the Holy See can grant to celebrate on a Advent Sunday the solemnity of Mary Immaculate (in Italy it is always the case). But this year the 8th December is Monday, so no need of indult or mixing up liturgies.

  2. The 7th December was II sunday of Advent, with 2nd Vespers of Sunday of Advent which take precedence over the solemnity of Our Lady Immaculate, 8th december all from the proper of the Immaculate conception of Our Lady.

    Not in the U.S., apparently. The 2008 St. Joseph Guide for the LOH — with a history of faithful adherence to applicable norms — prescribes the 1st Vespers of the Immaculate Conception for evening prayer (vespers) on Sunday, December 8 this year.

  3. Correction:

    The 2008 St. Joseph Guide for the LOH —with a history of faithful adherence to applicable norms—prescribes the 1st Vespers of the Immaculate Conception for evening prayer (vespers) on Sunday, December 7 this year.

  4. Martin_B says:

    Sorry Father, but this time I disagree with you: [Why the purple vestments?]

    Yesterday evening the 2. Vespers of the 2. sunday of advent should have been said because:

    61 If the same day were to call for celebration of Evening Prayer of that day?s
    offi ce and Evening Prayer I of the following day, Evening Prayer of the day with
    the higher rank in the Table of Liturgical Days takes precedence; in cases of equal
    rank, Evening Prayer of the actual day takes precedence.\”

    (according to their order of precedence)
    1. Easter triduum of the Lord?s passion and resurrection.
    2. Christmas, the Epiphany of the Lord, the Ascension of the Lord, and Pentecost.
    Sundays of the seasons of Advent, Lent, and Easter.
    Ash Wednesday. Weekdays of Holy Week from Monday to Thursday inclusive.
    Days within the octave of Easter.
    3. Solemnities of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and saints listed in the General Calendar.
    Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls).\”

    Because of the precedence of the advent-sunday I do also think, that the Solemnity did not beginn until midnight and therefor any mass on sunday could not have been a vigil-mass for the solemnity.

  5. pdt says:

    From the USCCB website:

    7 December
    Second Sunday of Advent

    – Reading 1: Is 40:1-5, 9-11

    – Responsorial Psalm: Ps 85:9-10-11-12, 13-14

    – Reading II: 2 Pt 3:8-14

    – Gospel: Mk 1:1-8
    Violet vestments (iaw USCCB Calendar)

    8 December
    Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

    – Reading 1: Gn 3:9-15, 20

    – Responsorial Psalm: Ps 98:1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4

    – Reading II: Eph 1:3-6, 11-12

    – Gospel: Lk 1:26-38
    White Vestments (iaw USCCB Calendar)

  6. pdt says:

    (Reposting to get the links to work)

    From the USCCB website:

    7 December
    Second Sunday of Advent

    – Reading 1: Is 40:1-5, 9-11

    – Responsorial Psalm: Ps 85:9-10-11-12, 13-14

    – Reading II: 2 Pt 3:8-14

    – Gospel: Mk 1:1-8
    Violet vestments (iaw USCCB Calendar)

    8 December
    Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

    – Reading 1: Gn 3:9-15, 20

    – Responsorial Psalm: Ps 98:1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4

    – Reading II: Eph 1:3-6, 11-12

    – Gospel: Lk 1:26-38
    White Vestments (iaw USCCB Calendar)

  7. Flambeaux says:

    If I read the Ordo from Angelus Press correctly, it was 2nd Vespers of Second Sunday of Advent with a commemoration of Immaculate Conception of the BVM.

    But I freely admit I’m a rank neophyte at all this.

  8. I am somewhat sympathetic to the pastor of the parish in the original post–I get all mixed up about these things, when it is a holy day of obligation that moves through the week, and I can’t remember what we did the last time it fell in this same conjunction with another feast — i.e., five or six years ago.

    I mean, beyond the liturgical issues, also the practical–scheduling Masses. So, several months ago, when I was scheduling an event for a retired priest’s 90th birthday, I tried to find out if we’d be able to have an anticipated Mass for Immaculate Conception; and I looked up the very same information Martin B has, above. So I figured, no vigil Mass; so I figured we’d have two evening Masses tonight, instead, one at 5:30 and one at 7 pm (at two parish churches). Good solution, eh? Only I forgot about bingo, at one parish–since that starts at 7 pm — and that’s where the 7pm Mass normally would be–I flip-flopped those two Masses…causing some confusion.

    The Ordo says nothing about a vigil Mass for Immaculate Conception on December 7; but the dean told me we could have done it. Last night, I prayed second Vespers for 2nd Sunday of Advent and hoped for the best.

  9. Matthew says:

    Some post-ers may be forgetting that the feast of the Immaculate Conception is the patronal feast of the USA and thus would take precedence over 2nd Vespers for Sunday. [Right.]

  10. After reading the letter, my initial reaction is that the Pastor thought he could “transfer” the feast to Sunday? Perhaps this is in a part of the country that transfers other Holy Days to Sundays? I’d hate to think he he intended to do his own personal transferring of a Holy Day?

    The choice of vestment color seems odd. [Exactly.] Perhaps a well meaning sacristan sent the white ones to be laundered thinking they wouldn’t be used until Christmas, and there weren’t any white sets to be had?

  11. Rounding it out, for Sunday, December 7 the 2008 FSSP Ordo specifies the 2nd Vespers of the 2nd Sunday of Advent (w/comm of 1st Vespers of Immaculate Conception).

    I assume it was fairly common last (Sunday) evening for (OF) parishes to offer (as mine did at 6 pm) vigil Masses of the Immaculate Conception.

    Is there an OF/EF difference of precedence here?

  12. Victor says:

    In our parish, yesterday the new altar servers were invested – and for the first time in the history of our parish, there were girl servers, too! There are many in my parish who regard this a sign of progress (but not me)…
    In order to honour this huge historical event, and because, as he said, “rose is the colour of anticipation”, he wore the rose-coloured stole. Don’t ask for sense, ’cause there is none.

  13. Brian Day says:

    Or it could be an innocent mistake. [Yes! That could be. Still, the conversation is interesting.] I’ve seen it at my parish where the wrong readings/Gospel were proclaimed during a Sunday Mass.

    Were the prayers proper to the Mass from the second Sunday of Advent or from the Immaculate Conception? If the prayers were from II Advent, then I would tend to think that someone opened to the wrong page.

  14. Dr. Eric says:

    Someone didn’t get the memo that pdt posted. Father wore blue this morning. [ARRRRRGH!] He also ad libs the offertory and asks us to hold hands during the Our Father among other things.

    I’m not against blue as a liturgical color for Marian Feast Days. [Can anyone please show me a document that permits blue for Marian feast days? Not the old anecdote, “in Spanish territories…” or “… But Father! But Father!…. X, Y, Z did it!” , but a document?] The clergy of Catholic Churches who use the Byzantine Rite (Ukrainian, Ruthenian, Melkite, Romanian, etc…) use blue for Marian Feasts. [They’re not Latins.] But as it stands right now, blue is not permitted in the USA as a liturgical color for the Roman Church.

  15. Steve says:

    According the Table of Liturgical Days referenced by Martin_B above, the [proper] Solemnity of the principal patron of the place ranks as a Proper Solemnity and #4 on the list. The Immaculate Conception is already a Solemnity by its own right which ranks it higher at #3. however, a Sunday of Advent ranks #2 on the list.

    Based on that, I would think that the Sunday of Advent should have taken precedence, and a Sunday night Mass should have been that of Advent. Likewise, Second Vespers of Advent would have trumped 1st Vespers of the Immaculate Conception.

  16. “The clergy of Catholic Churches who use the Byzantine Rite (Ukrainian, Ruthenian, Melkite, Romanian, etc…) use blue for Marian Feasts.”

    I understand the norms for liturgical colors in the Eastern Churches to be less specific, basically coming down to two — dark or bright. The dark are used during Holy Week and some Sundays in Lent, and for funerals. Nearly everything else uses bright vestments.

    Beyond that, the color scheme varies, at least in my experience, although vestments designated “dark” tend to be red.

  17. Fr. Fox: Only I forgot about bingo, at one parish—since that starts at 7 pm—and that’s where the 7pm Mass normally would be—I flip-flopped those two Masses…causing some confusion.

    Which raises the pressing question why the various precedence tables cited leave out the important and practical question of the classification of bingo days!

  18. Geoffrey says:

    I went to Mass at 5:30pm on Sunday and it was the Mass of the Second Sunday of Advent. I pray the Liturgy of the Hours privately and observed Second Vespers of the Second Sunday of Advent… it was later in the evening when I saw the note in the St. Joseph’s guide… oops! But I thought Sunday vespers would have outranked it…

    And I am sure I will be seeing blue at Mass today! :-(

  19. canon1753 says:

    I was told repeatedly by proper authority that you could not have a vigil of the Immaculate Conception last night. I also did the 2nd Sunday of Advent EPII.

  20. Liam says:

    The fact that IC is the national patronal solemnity does not make it trump Advent 2; patronal solemnities are classed below Sundays of Advent in the OF calendar.

  21. pdt says:

    Our church regularly has 2 Sunday vigils (4 & 6 Saturday) and 5 Masses on Sunday. There’s no way they could constitute the Sunday evening Mass as a vigil for the Immaculate Conception or we’d surely have people trying for two-fers which we know is improper.

    However, what message do we send when we tell the same congregation that requires 7 Sunday Masses that we will have only 3 for the obligatory holy day?!

  22. FatherAJ says:

    The Director of Liturgy for our diocese sent out a letter saying: “The Sunday evening Mass of the December 7 will be the Mass of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception; pastors are asked to make this clear to the faithful in advance since there is an obligation to attend two Masses: one for the Second Sunday of Advent and one for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. Liturgy of the Hours: Because an Advent Sunday takes precedence over a solemnity, Evening Prayer II of the Second Sunday of Advent is celebrated on Sunday evening, December 7. The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception begins with the Office of Readings and Morning Prayer on Monday Decemmber 8, and concludes with the celebration of Evening Prayer II of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.”

  23. My link was stripped out. It should point to page 142 of this book:


  24. Maureen says:

    White vestments with blue trim, today at noon.

    I do have to say that, before I read this site, I thought of those as Father’s blue vestments, not as white ones. So maybe there’s some confusion?

  25. Newminster says:

    You could always solve the problem using the Scottish system.
    If a Holyday of Obligation falls on a Saturday or a Monday then just forget the obligation bit for that year!
    Presumably the hierarchy don’t think we can be bothered to turn up two days running.

  26. Father Totton says:

    We usually do follow the Scottish System here in the states – except on our Patronal Feast (Immaculate Conception) I cannot figure out why one would suggest that this somehow trumps Sunday after the little hours are finished. I use the Paulist Ordo (Let’s not get started on the Paulist Order!) and it does not indicate that one may use First Vespers of the Feast Day – it defaults to Second Vespers of the Sunday. I checked my EF Ordo (published by FSSP) and it gives Second Vespers of the Sunday as well, with the Commemorations of First Vespers of I.C.) Fortunately, I do not have a regular Sunday evening Mass. Given the confusion and such, I opted not to have a vigil Mass (I wish I could opt to do away with the vigil altogether, but alas, I am not Pope!) but offered three Masses today – a 630 EF, an 8am OF and 730pm OF. So far, nobody has complained.

    I do remember a few years ago, things got really crazy on Christmas, for it fell on a Monday, and we did have an afternoon Vigil Mass – only a few hours after the last Sunday morning Mass. I had clearly forgotten the 430 Mass when I was getting ready for the Midnight Mass – somebody called my attention (this was about 3pm) to the fact that “Mass begins in an hour and a half) – I was a bit confused.

  27. priest up north says:

    I am glad that many of you are as confused as me. I was not aware that the designation as National Feast Day alone would make Immaculate Conception Vespers I trump 2nd Sunday of Advent Vespers II. On the other hand, I would have thought the “Paulist Press” Ordo used in the dioceses of Minnesota (that I am made to use) would have made this clear. Thus, I scheduled no anticipated Masses on Sunday for IC, and I individually prayed Vespers II for 2nd Sunday of Advent. Such was the best interpretation I could discover…perhaps errantly.

  28. Patronal solemnity or not, Advent Sundays trump…Second Vespers of Advent II.

    I can understand allowing an anticipated Mass, but then again, people who would do that are the same people who would allow a Holy Family anticipated Mass on Saturday night, December 25.

  29. Alessandro says:

    For SAMUEL J. HOWARD: please could you post the precise references (year, page..) to the AAS and the decisions of the SCR regarding the indult for blue vestments so I can take a look of those? please please.

  30. My apologies, it’s actually pre-1908 so it’s the Acta Sanctae Sedis.

    Blue is also an unliturgical color, and accordingly is not to be used.(Footnote 71)

    Footnote 71. S.R.C., Veronen., 16 mart. 1833, ad 4–Decr. Auth., n. 2704; Congregationis Oblatorum B.V.M., 23 febr. 1839, ad 2–Decr. Auth., n. 2788. It may be noted, however, that an Apostolic indult was granted to the Spanish Kingdom to use blue vestments for the feast of the Immaculate Conception and for votive Masses of the Immaculate Conception. The indult, however, did not extend to other feasts of the Blessed Virgin, even though they might in some way be related to the Immaculate Conception, such as the Apparition of Lourdes or the Feast of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.–ASS,XXXIV (1902), 555-556.

    The Rev. Erwin L. Sadlowski, M.A., J.C.L., Sacred Furnishings of Churches, Canon Law Studies 315, (Washington, D.C.: Catholic U of America P, 1951), pg. 141-142. Reprinted Kessinger Publishing, 2006. ISBNs 1428656081, 9781428656086

    Available in limited preview via Google Books: http://books.google.com/books?id=mPmQmMN1kYkC

    Decree 2704 can be read here: http://tinyurl.com/58uv5x

    Decree 2788 here: http://tinyurl.com/5dsn73

    Both of those replies say blue cannot be used.

    The ASS reference is also on line: http://tinyurl.com/5vrwfy

    This is not the original indult, but a response to a dubium that references the original concession:

    DUBIUM quoad apostollcum indultum pro Regno Hispanico adhlbendi sacra paramenta colorís caerulei quoties etc.

              A Sacrorum Rituum Congregatione expostulatum fuit, utrum Indultum Apostolicum, quod concedi solet pro Regno Hispaniae, ut sacra paramenta caerulei coloris adhiberi possint quoties celebratur Missa Immaculatae Deiparae Conceptionis, sive festiva sive votiva,comprehendat etiam Missas Apparitionis Beatae Mariae Virginis Immaculatae, vulgo de Lourdes, et Manifestationis Immaculatae Virginis Mariae a sacro Numismate vulgo delia Medaglia mirocolosa? Et Sacra eadem Congregatio, ad relationem subscripti Secretarii, exquisito voto Commissionis liturgicae, rescribendum esse censuit: Negative. Atque ita rescripsit. Die 15 Februarii 1902.
                        D. Card. FERRATA, S.R.C. Praef.
                        +Diomedes Panici, Archiep. Laodicen., Secret.

    [This commentary from the same volume, I have not checked as carefully as I did the above, nor have I inserted italics as in the original text. –SJH]


    “Si Missa, tam de festo, quam votiva, Immaculatae Conce- ptionis Deiparae pro regno Hispaniae fert ex indulto colorem caeruleum, qua de causa eumdem ferre non debet colorem Missa, tam de festo, quam votiva, Apparitionis Immaculatae Deiparae, vulgo a Lourdes dictae, nec non Manifestationis eiusdem Immaculatae a sacro Numismate nuncupatae? Nonne utrumque hoc festum de Immaculata Conceptione est, ut plurima ex illius officio ac Missa illud mutuare compertum sit? Nonne ergo iure attendi poterat ad propositum dubium afflrmativa responsio? Nonne ergo videtur oppositum responsum negativum minus cohaerens?

    “En difflcultas, quam fortasse obiicere lectores possent, multoque magis qui dubium proposuerunt, negativum responsum perpendentes. At animadvertendum ex opposito est : a) Quinque, non plures esse praeceptivos Romanae Ecclesiae colores in sacris paramentis adhibendos, album, rubrum, viridem, violaceum, nigrum (Rubr. Gen. Missal. Tit. XV 1?, n. 1) ; ergo color caeruleus manet extra legem. b) Cum itaque ex solo privilegio regnum hispanicum caeruleo colore utatur, mirum esse non debet negativum responsum. Privilegia enim tantum tribuunt quantum sonant, maxime in praesenti casti, qui est pro- fecto contra ius commune, ac proinde privilegium strictae interpretationi subiicitur. e) Porro, quamvis Apparitio et Manifestatio Immaculatae Deiparae mysterium Conceptionis Immaculatae respiciant, nihilominus ab eo valde differunt, fesio perpenso. Immaculatae enim Conceptionis festum respicit praeservationem Deiparae ab omni originalis culpae labe: dum alia dno habent pro obiecto eiusdem Deiparae Immaculatae apparitionem, vel manifestationem, quae in illo certe festo comprehendi nequeunt. rf) Ad summum potuisset ad duo haec festa S. R. C. privilegium extendere coloris caerulei. Cum nihilominus privilegia extendi per se non debeant de casu ad casum, neque per auctoritaiem suam agere id censuit sacrum Tribunal, sed legi communi standum esse voluit.

    “Eapropter regnum hispanicum impetratis gaudere debet, Missas Immaculatae Conceptionis, non solum in die festo, sed aliis etiam diebus, quibus votivae licent, celebrando in colore caeruleo; sed ab hoc colore in omnibus altis eiusdem Immaculatae Deiparae festis, seu iam concessis, seu quae concedi in futurum possent, albo colore utetur, secundum ius commune, sicuti reliquae Ecclesiae.”

Comments are closed.