In these USA Monday, 8 December, is a Holy Day of Obligation because Our Lady under the title of Immaculate Conception is the Patroness of our nation.
So, several readers have asked about fulfilling the Mass obligation. Here’s is one:
If I have already fulfilled my Sunday mass obligation for December 7, if I go to mass again on the evening of December 7, will that fulfill my obligation for December 8th even if it is not the “official”
anticipated mass for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception?
Ah… my old nemesis!
I posted on this scenario in the past and differing opinions were offered. I find in this instance that the otherwise brilliant and distinguished Dr. Ed Peters, canonist extraordinaire is wrong about this one. At least I think there is a doubt to be raised about this situation. A principle of interpretation of law in our Church is that when an obligation or burden is imposed, then we have to interpret the law strictly, that is, in such a way as we favor the people upon whom the burden is placed.
And so, for Sunday and Monday one has two obligations. The obligation to hear Holy Mass for Sunday (every Sunday is a Holy Day of Obligation), and the obligation for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.
Can one Mass satisfy two obligations? I think so. Others don’t. The situation is at least doubtful, so I think we get the benefit of the doubt. At least I don’t remember ever seeing an official clarification about this point from the Pont. Comm. for Legislative Texts of from the Cong. for Divine Worship. I hope that, if there is one, someone will send it to me.
And so, I answer that one fulfills one’s Sunday obligation anytime from the evening of Saturday, 6 December, through midnight on Sunday, 7/8 December.
The obligation for the Monday, 8 December, Immaculate Conception, is fulfilled anytime from Sunday evening through Monday, 8/9 December at midnight.
Therefore, if one attended Mass at 5:00 PM on Sunday, 7 December, in order to fulfill one’s Sunday obligation, I think one would also fulfill the Monday Obligation.
However, just to introduce a wrinkle into this reckoning, if one went to the 5:00 PM Mass and then stuck around for the 7:00 PM Mass also, then there is NO QUESTION that one has fulfilled both obligations. Rigid canonists might say that 2 obligations require 2 Masses. That is not, however, what Canon Law says.
Can. 1248 §1. A person who assists at a Mass celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the feast day itself or in the evening of the preceding day satisfies the obligation of participating in the Mass.
A person who has gone to Mass on Sunday evening has simultaneously gone on the day itself and in the evening of the preceding day. It happens to have been one Mass.
That said… I am NOT advocating slithering out of going to Mass on Monday. I want each and everyone of you to make plans to find a Mass on Monday for this beautiful feast. My fellow Americans… we are obliged to hear Mass. Make that plan! Do more, not less. And do more love, even if it’s hard.
And, remember, people in a state of grace may receive Holy Communion at both Masses, in the course of one day. You can receive twice a day, provided that the second time in in the context of Holy Mass. Danger of death, of course, changes everything.
In Madison, we have an Extraordinary Form Pontifical Mass at the Throne at 7 PM at the Bishop O’Connor Center.
Distinguished canonist Ed Peters has chimed in with a really interesting response at his fine blog In The Light Of The Law. He takes me to task to educate me on my point about “doubt”. We may be talking past each other here, but I am glad he drilled into what I wrote. This is how the blogosphere ought to work! Why? Because we want the truth! And… we can handle the truth!
Check out Dr. Peters.