ASK FATHER: Fulfilling the Mass Requirement for December 8 2014

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.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Someone please be the Garrigue says:

    25th December falls on a Thursday this year. I guess that means it’ll be transferred to the Sunday after. ;-)

    “Spell check suggestion: did you mean holy day of publication ?”

  2. majuscule says:

    It’s so confusing! I plan to attend my regular Sunday Mass on Sunday morning. Then on Sunday evening I will attend a Vigil Mass for the Immaculate Conception. Then on Monday evening another Mass on the holy day of obligation.

    Just to be safe.

    No, actually because I love going to Mass and I thank God that we are offered these opportunities in our parish!

  3. Cantor says:

    Should be interesting this year. I’ve moved to a rural community where two churches are served by one pastor — and his day off is Monday! Perhaps he’ll have to transfer his day off to Tuesday.

  4. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    I’ll comment on this, as it touches more things than just Mass obligations.

  5. mamajen says:

    My diocese takes this a bit further and states on their website that since a Sunday of Advent takes precedence over a solemnity, attending a Sunday evening mass cannot satisfy one’s Monday obligation (because the mass would be “for” Sunday). They don’t mention the two-fer idea, they seem to say that it can’t count for Monday under any circumstance. As I understand things, the statement is incorrect…but the point is moot for me since there are no Sunday evening masses available anyway.

  6. Imrahil says:

    Well, rev’d Father, I agree.

    That said, I’m all for an authentic interpretation to declare that you cannot fulfil two obligations with one Mass. Until such is issued, though… by the letter of the law, and the principle of benign interpretation… you can.

  7. Gregg the Obscure says:

    I’m traveling on Monday, so I’ll have a opportunity to observe the feast in an unfamiliar place (after having assisted at an Advent Sunday Mass on Sunday). I was delighted to see that there’s a church near where I’ll be staying that has confession for 10.5 hours each weekday! To me that means they must be worth a visit for Holy Mass and a cash contribution too.

  8. pelerin says:

    Why is this beautiful Feast not a universal holy day of obligation? It is in Ireland but not in England, Scotland or Wales.

  9. texsain says:

    I have a further question: my wife works on Monday, as most of us do. However, as a nurse her hours are 7 am to 7 pm. In reality this means about 6:45 am to 8pm. There is not a Mass on Monday that she is able to make. Obviously, the ideal is to go to a Sunday evening mass and satisfy both obligations.

    However, I’m assuming that if she goes to Sunday Mass in the morning (or on Saturday evening), she must also go to a Mass on Sunday evening, even if it is the same Mass (readings and such). (I might take this time as an excuse to attend both the extraordinary and the ordinary forms of the Mass!)

  10. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    mamajen, your diocese is wrong. the ‘kind’ of Mass it is makes no difference whatsoever.

  11. Mightnotbeachristiantou says:

    I have questions. It this an obligation for Americans? Is it for those who are in America, but not Americans? Is it for Americans that are not living in America? Is it for Americans that are traveling and are not in America?

  12. Gerard Plourde says:

    This appears to be a case where it is more important to attempt to honor the spirit of the law rather than the letter. Like Fr. Z, I would urge that one attend Mass on both Sunday and Monday if at all possible.

  13. Joe in Canada says:

    Mightnotbeachristiantou: it is geographical, in this case for Catholics of the Roman rite in America. If an American Roman Catholic travels to Canada, where it is not a holy day of obligation, he or she follows the Canadian law and is not obliged. If a Canadian is in the States, he or she is obliged.

  14. Charles E Flynn says:

    For those of you who cannot bear the suspense:

    Two identical obligations require two distinct satisfactions, by Dr. Edward Peters.

  15. Rev. Paul L. Vasquez says:

    Actually, the letter first:
    CAN. 1247† On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are obliged to participate in the Mass. Moreover, they are to abstain from those works and affairs which hinder the worship to be rendered to God, the joy proper to the Lord’s day, or the suitable relaxation of mind and body.
    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.
    CAN. 1247 Die dominica aliisque diebus festis de praecepto fideles obligatione tenentur Missam participandi; abstineant insuper ab illis operibus et negotiis quae cultum Deo reddendum, laetitiam diei Domini propriam, aut debitam mentis ac corporis relaxationem impediant.
    CAN. 1248 § 1. Praecepto de Missa participanda satisfacit qui Missae assistit ubicumque celebratur ritu catholico vel ipso die festo vel vespere diei praecedentis.

    Now the sacred canons have their own rules for their interpretation, among which is Canon 17:
    CAN. 17† Ecclesiastical laws must be understood in accord with the proper meaning of the words considered in their text and context. If the meaning remains doubtful and obscure, recourse must be made to parallel places, if there are such, to the purpose and circumstances of the law, and to the mind of the legislator.
    CAN. 17 Leges ecclesiasticae intellegendae sunt secundum propriam verborum significationem in textu et contextu consideratam; quae si dubia et obscura manserit, ad locos parallelos, si qui sint, ad legis finem ac circumstantias et ad mentem legislatoris est recurrendum.

    As Dr. Peters says in his response (, it is not enough to assert there is a genuine dubium legis. First is the attention to the canon in its text and context. Then there is recourse to parallel passages, the purposes & circumstances of the law, and the mind of the legislator. The fontes for c. 1247 has 7 sources listed alone. Long and short of it, I don’t think the text is that obscure, but even if it were, one would have to check all the other stuff. Dr. Peters has a little example that goes to both the context and mind of the legislator when he discusses canon 1246§2, regarding the faculty of the conferences of bishops to suppress or transfer Holy Days of Obligation.

  16. Rev. Paul L. Vasquez says:

    Ooops. Mr. Flynn typed the citation before I finished my post. :-)

  17. Charles E Flynn says:

    @Rev. Paul L. Vasquez,

    I am usually in the other position in such situations. :-)

    It appears that nationwide, churches will have to take down their “attend one, fulfill one free” signs.

  18. Fr AJ says:

    Our diocese informed us that the US Conference of Bishops sent notice that the Second Sunday of Advent takes precedence over the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception therefore it is not permitted to have a vigil Mass for the IC Holy Day on Sunday evening.

    Of course this refers to liturgical matters and does not speak to the obligation.

  19. Bressani56 says:

    I’m afraid Dr. Peters has missed the point.

    Trying to prove Fr. Z wrong, he wrote:

    “Can one Mass satisfy two obligations?” Sure, provided the obligations are of a different character.

    But Dr. Peters never gives any documentation to back this up.

    My understanding is that “a Canonist says so” is not good enough when it comes to important matters…

  20. rob_p says:

    Bressani, if you look a little closer I think you will find that he does cite a source besides himself.

    To deal directly with the question itself; canon law in Can 19 directs us to use general principles of law to determine when there might be a doubt as to the meaning of the law. Can 534 is of similar construction and requirement. It requires your pastor to celebrate a mass for the people of the parish on each Sunday and holy day of obligation. It seems to me that if Fr. Z’s analysis were correct then a pastor would only be bound to celebrate mass once for the people of his parish on both Sunday and Monday this year.

  21. AndyMo says:

    I just wrote about this the other day:

    Specifically, that what Mass is said on a particular day is irrelevant to the fulfillment of your obligation (that an evening Sunday 12-7 Mass, while of the 2nd Sunday of Advent, can fulfill your Immaculate Conception obligation).

  22. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Thanks for your kind words, Pater.

    mamjen, you inspired me to write another blog post. The salient point is this:

    Priests are supposed to say the ‘correct’ Mass for the time they are celebrating, but the choice of which Mass to say is a matter of liturgical law, while Mass attendance obligations are a matter of canon law. The faithful have virtually no control over a priest’s choice of Mass, or about how he celebrates it, and so they should not be, and are not, held hostage by a priest’s choice of rites in fulfilling their own attendance obligations. This point was made during the revision of the canon law and the Mass attendance norm was revised with this concern in mind. As a result, the CLSA Comm (1985) 854 said, “Participation in any Eucharistic celebration fulfills the obligation” and, in even more detail, the CLSA New Comm (2000) 1445 says: “The precept [of attending Mass] may be satisfied at any Catholic Mass, i.e., not only when the texts are those of the Sunday or holy day. For example, attendance at a wedding Mass . . . on a Saturday [evening] fulfills the Sunday obligation.” Okay?

  23. Bressani56 says:

    Dr. Peters,

    I’ve read your post, and I fail to see the relevance of Mass intentions and Mass stipends. With all due respect, that really has nothing to do with the issue we’re discussing here.

    Neither does “which Mass” is said. It just doesn’t affect or have any bearing on the question at hand.

    You’ve written:

    “Can one Mass satisfy two obligations?” Sure, provided the obligations are of a different character.

    Unless you can cite some sort of official documentation for that opinion, I’m afraid you’re going to have to concede this one to Fr. Z …

  24. Gratias says:

    On Dec. 7 I will be attending the new FSSP TLM at 7 pm. So I am going with the two for one view (Bill and Hill if you can tolerate a joke). This is a new mass we have in Los Angeles after decades of dedicated begging by Una Voce Los Angeles (thank you Renee Widmer, George Sarah and so many others). If you are one of the 4,000,000 Babtized Catholics in Los Angeles please do come, it is in West Hollywood at St. Victors’s Church just one block away from the Sunset Strip. There will be a convivial pot luck afterwards to meet and greet but if you do not bring anything still come by as we have plenty of breaking bread and wining. Father Fryar is one of the FSSP top priests and this will be only his second Sunday Mass in Los Angeles which has such a need for reverence.

  25. mrshopey says:

    What makes me think there is an obligation to attend two separate Masses (because of two separate obligations) is because when a Holy Day falls on a Sat or Mon, the obligation is usually removed EXCEPT the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. That is because she is the patroness of the U.S.
    The obligation for All Saints Day was removed because it fell on a Sat. But it will always be transferred for the Immaculate Conception because she is our patroness!

  26. Imrahil says:

    And what makes me think that one Mass satisfies the two obligations – something I indeed always took for granted was not the case, until our rev’d host gave his opinion – is the mere letter of the law. “Intrinsic grounds”, as lawyers (and certainly moral theologians) would probably call it.

    Who was at one Mass in the evening of the first day was there at the feast day itself w.r.t. the first, and on the eve w.r.t. the second, hence, he fulfills what the law says w.r.t. both.

    Though: it’s a bug, not a feature. This is to all probability an unintended consequence, a loophole, which the legislator, like my humble self until Fr Z mentioned the possibility, failed to realize.

    The text as it stands is not doubtful – it accords to Fr Z. The mens legislatoris is not doubtful either – it accords to Dr Peters. Is there, now, a rule that mens legislatoris overrides law as actually written down – in the direction of giving an additional precept to the faithful (small and welcome as it is)? I don’t think there is.

    So, although I generally hesitate to say that about non-obliging things but here’s something you really really should do even though you needn’t.

  27. Imrahil says:

    Of course, the answer to the actual question is a forceful “Yes!” without any need to go into Fr Z’s and Dr Peters’s dispute.

  28. robtbrown says:

    Bressani56 says,

    I’ve read your post, and I fail to see the relevance of Mass intentions and Mass stipends. With all due respect, that really has nothing to do with the issue we’re discussing here.

    Actually, it does. He’s just anticipating a question that was not asked.

    A priest who says mass on Sunday can satisfy two obligations of a different type: The Sunday obligation and the obligation that a stipend can only be accepted for his intention as a celebrant at mass.

    He notes, however, that one mass cannot satisfy two different obligations when they are of the same type, e.g., that for Sunday mass and for the Feast of the IC.


    1. Sunday Obligation and IC Obligation: Two different obligations of the same type. Two masses are necessary.

    2. Sunday obligation and Obligation that a Stipend be connected with a mass: Two different obligations of different types. One mass satisfies.

  29. CruceSignati says:

    We only have two Holy Days of Obligation in Canada: Christmas and the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. It kind of makes me sad that there aren’t more…

  30. The Masked Chicken says:

    It was my understanding the Church, in its coolness, encases each day in a temporal field, so that, within that field, everything appears to be occurring on that day. Thus, Vespers for a Solemnity is within the field of the next day. If this is so, then Sunday is within the Dec. 7th field and the Immaculate Conception is within the Dec. 8th field. I cannot see how one can, simultaneously, be in two days at once.

    The Chicken

  31. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    A priest buddy of mine notes one of my blog posts on Mass attendance being re-posted over at some website and occasioning debates there. Some pious type warns interlocutors about the scandal of Christians disagreeing before unbelievers, or words to that effect. My clerical friend writes, “What Protestants don’t understand is that these kinds of debates are an indoor sport for Catholics.”

  32. The following is an English translation of a Notitiae article republished in the Bishops Committee on Liturgy Newsletter from November 1974. It’s obviously from before the ’83 code, but I think it answers the question:

    “In reply to inquiries it received, the Congregation for the Clergy clarified the matter of simultaneous fulfillment of holyday and Sunday obligations by attendance at the evening vigil mass.
    By way of example the following dubium was presented: ‘Whether the faithful who attend Mass on Saturday, 15 August, would fulfill the double precept of hearing Mass on Saturday, feast of the Assumption, and Sunday, 16 August’?
    The Congregation responded “Negative” to the above case and all analogous cases.
    The indult by which the faculty is given to fulfill the obligation of attending Mass on the evening of a Saturday or of a feast day of obligation is generally granted in view of rendering easier the fulfillment of such a precept, without prejudice of keeping every Lord’s Day holy.”

    [I would very much like to see the text of this. Is there a seminarian out there who could walk to the library and look this up? Snap a shot of the pages and send them to me, first by dropping a line through my email link in the top menu. Tell me you have them and I’ll respond. Then you can reply and include attachments. Also, after reading this, I did some digging. At one point Dr. Peters cites a source of letters from the Cong. for Clergy: “CLD X: 190, you can check out a 1971 reply”.]

  33. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Update: A canon law student sends me word that, in November 1974, the Congregation for the Clergy addressed the possibility of satisfying two Mass attendance obligations in a single rite. The dicastery answered, Negative. The picture looks like “Thirty Five Years of the BLC Newsletter” p. 450, and he indicates it is lifted from an earlier Notitiae. No wonder no one even raised the question under the 1983 Code.

    Fr. Z is now allowed the privilege that, in the old days, was accorded the privilege of the Advocatus Diaboli (namely, being the first the venerate the statue of the newly canonized saint), he will now be the first to tell people, two Mass attendance obligations means attending two Masses.

  34. Dr. Peters: Advocatus Diaboli

    And indeed I will! I’ll announce it with a Stratocaster from high atop the thing!

    However, I would really like to see that text in Notitiae first. It’s not that I am doubting the veracity of anyone mentioning it obliquely… but… I’d really like to see the text.

  35. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Quite right. Me too, of course. I’m into reading things for myself. Meantime, BCL News looks pretty solid …

  36. TWF says:

    Joe in Canada:
    A Canadian visiting the US on December 8 is NOT bound by the holy day of obligation. Travelers are not bound by the particular law of the places they visit. This would be quite a burden! Can you imagine having to carefully research the particular law of each and every diocese you visit? I travel between different dioceses on a regular basis – in any given month I may attend mass in 2 or 3 different dioceses. These dioceses I visit are spread across three countries and particular law regarding holy days of obligation, abstinence, etc does vary…but as a traveler I am not bound. I observe the norms of my home diocese.

  37. Charles E Flynn says:

    According to the holdings shown in WorldCat, very few libraries have the “Bishops Committee on Liturgy Newsletter” issues from 1974. A few that do: Catholic Theological Union, Fuller Theological Seminary, and Notre Dame University.

  38. mamajen says:

    Thank you, Dr. Peters.

    Here is the entirety of the statement my diocese posted. A Google search indicates that many other dioceses use the same statement:

    Regarding the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception: December 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, will fall on a Monday this year. In accord with the USCCB decision of November 1991, confirmed by the Holy See in July 1992, the precept to attend Mass on this Solemnity is maintained, even when it falls on a Saturday or Monday.

    Therefore, Monday, December 8, 2014 WILL be a holy day of obligation for the faithful in the United States.

    The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception begins with Morning Prayer on Monday, December 8, and concludes with the celebration of Evening Prayer II. Because an Advent Sunday takes precedence over a Solemnity in the Table of Liturgical Days, any Mass celebrated on the evening of Sunday, December 7 would be the Mass of the Second Sunday of Advent, NOT an anticipated Mass for the Immaculate Conception.

    Now I think I read far too much into it when I made my original comment and unintentionally misrepresented what my diocese actually said–it doesn’t explicitly say that one cannot fulfill the obligation on a Sunday evening. But how many lay people are aware of the liturgical vs. canonical distinction? I think most would interpret it the way I did initially. I wish they would be a little clearer to ensure that everyone is aware of their options.

    I found this on the Diocese of Alexandria website, which works much better:

    According to the Office of Divine Worship of the USCCB, Sunday Dec. 7, the Second Sunday of Advent, out ranks the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. Any Sunday evening Mass is to be that of the Second Sunday of Advent.

    Therefore, it will not be counted as anticipated Mass of the Immaculate Conception this year.

    However, if a person were to attend Mass on Saturday evening, Dec. 6 or Sunday morning, Dec. 7 to fulfill the Sunday obligation and then again on Sunday evening, Dec. 7 to fulfill the obligation for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, even though the readings and Mass texts were of the Second Sunday of Advent, the obligation for the Immaculate Conception would be fulfilled.In summary, there are two obligations and, therefore, two Masses are required.

  39. truthfinder says:

    TWF and Joe in Canada:
    I believe it is actually whichever is the easiest law. Therefore, if you are American and come up to Canada, you are not bound to attend a Dec. 8 Mass here. Indeed, that could be just as difficult because some priests take their day off that day. So the obligation is whatever is the easiest of the obligations: you’re home diocese or the diocese in which you are visiting.

  40. jhayes says:

    Mamajen, even the Diocese of Alexandria writeup is confusing because it gives the impression that to satisfy both obligations on Sunday one Mass must be in the morning and the other in the evening.

    Seems to me that both Masses could be in the evening and the only time restriction is that one of them has to be after the hour at which a Vigil Mass is permitted (4 pm?)

  41. jhayes says:

    I wrote after the hour at which a Vigil Mass is permitted (4 pm?)

    However, the CIC says “evening”, so it’s a question of defining “evening”

    Your diocese may require that Vigil (anticipated) Masses not be scheduled before 4 PM (or some other hour) but, after writing this, I recalled that Dr. Peters argued back in 2008 that any Mass after Noon will satisfy the obligation for the following day

    So, attending a wedding Mass at 2PM on Saturday would satisfy the obligation for Sunday.

  42. C. says:

    Any 1974 dubium would/could be superseded by the 1983 code, no? The earlier law for vigils would have to be compared to the current.

  43. frjim4321 says:

    I think our congenial host argues this point most convincingly.

  44. Latinmass1983 says:

    I don’t know how similar this could be considered to be, but it seems that in the old days (pre-1962) the head of a Chapter (of Canons) who had the obligation to say the Mass pro populo and on that same day it also fell on him the obligation to say the Conventual Mass, he had two say two Masses in order to fulfill the two obligations (instead of saying only one Mass). He oculd do this either by saying one Mass himself himself on one day and the other Mass the next day, or one he said himself and then had somebody else say the other Mass for him.

  45. jesusthroughmary says:

    @ Truthfinder, 6 Dec 2014 at 3:20 pm –

    No. One is obligated to follow the laws of the place where he has canonical domicile, even if he is physically present in another place where the laws are different. A Catholic who lives in Niagara Falls, NY is obligated to attend Mass for the Immaculate Conception even if he is in Canada from 7-9 Dec. Conversely, a Catholic who lives in Niagara Falls, ON has no obligation to attend Mass for the Immaculate Conception even if he is in the USA from 7-9 Dec.

  46. Batjacboy says:

    Just for your interest, here’s the posting in my parish bulletin (which has a Traditional Latin Mass every Sunday):

    Holy Day of Obligation Notice

    The Immaculate Conception, celebrated on Monday December 8, is a Holy Day of Obligation. Please plan accordingly. The Vigil on Sunday, December 7, DOES NOT fulfill this obligation.
    (Emphasis in original).

  47. Fr. Vincent Fitzpatrick says:

    I was going to chime in with a link to Dr. Peters’s blog, which answers these questions. Since that has already been done, here is another link:

  48. Fr. Vincent Fitzpatrick says:

    CruceSignati says:
    6 December 2014 at 8:30 am
    We only have two Holy Days of Obligation in Canada: Christmas and the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. It kind of makes me sad that there aren’t more…

    I don’t see why you are sad. Everybody knows that every time the practice of the Faith is made less demanding, millions more people join or re-join the Church.

  49. Sonshine135 says:

    Okay, my head hurts now, but I do appreciate Fr. Z and Doctor Peters going at it. You always learn something.

    From a laity perspective, I first don’t buy into going to Mass two days in a row as an “undo burden” especially when I would go every day if the church were a bit closer and the time a little earlier. Secondly, even if I went to a funeral today, I’d still go to Mass for the IC, because how are my kids going to meet their obligation? Third, the readings for today’s Mass are different from yesterday’s Mass (or a Funeral Mass for that matter), so while we might be (and I have doubts we are) meeting the letter of the law with a “SuperMass”, I think we are ruining our chance to reflect properly on the importance contained in the readings for both days.

    Then again, I am a liturgical snob anyway. Just go to Mass both days people. Advil is kicking in now.

  50. Daniel W says:

    Dr Ed Peters implies that an instruction on mass obligations, written to address the situation before the clarification of the current code, should be taken as automatically binding for the 1983 code and obligations arising from it.
    I don’t swallow that argument, as the new code was written precisely with the intent of giving less occasion to mindless casuistry regarding mass attendance. Mindless discussion as to what “evening” means, or the type of mass said etc, are examples of such casuistry and an indication that the whole point behind the deliberately broad wording of the law is being missed.

    Dr Peters also indicates we should find the old instruction (meant for the situation before the current code took effect) as definitive, especially when consistent with major canon law commentaries: “That about wraps it up then.” However, on the issue of continence for deacons, he ignores both authoritative instructions relating to the CURRENT code and the major commentaries when they go against his opinion. To support this, Peters argues that the text of the code is clear regarding continence being obligatory for clerics.

    According to Dr Peters logic then, Fr Z seems correct to insist we follow the clear meaning of the current code about mass attendance. The text is clear and unambiguous and should not give rise to doubt or casuistry, so I have little interest in what the previous instruction says. Scruples only arise in people who are still operating with the mentality of the old code. It’s the same with road rules, old dogs like me find it hard to learn new tricks when the authorities change traffic signage.

    There is only one obligation, the obligation to sanctify the day through participation at mass. I go to two Masses when the days are consecutive, but I think going to two separate masses on Saturday evening to satisfy two obligations because that is the only time you can go to be absurd and precisely the sort of casuistry the economical wording of the current code is designed to avoid. Thank God St JPII was not stuck in the past.

  51. johnmann says:

    My completely non-authoritative take: There seems to be genuine legal ambiguity which should be resolved in favor of the more permissible interpretation. The absence of more opinions from lawyers isn’t authoritative. The idea that if one Mass can satisfy both obligations, there would be no need to abolish some Monday obligations but not others isn’t entirely true nor does it necessarily tell us much about the mind of the Church. Mass attendance isn’t the only obligation. One is to refrain from work that hinders worship. That obligation would remain for the Immaculate Conception regardless of when one attends Mass. Moreever, it’s entirely possible that the Church wanted two celebrations to be the norm but still allow for satisfying the obligation with a single Mass.

    On the other hand, when there’s old law that doesn’t contradict current law, one should try to reconcile them to the extent the circumstances still apply. With respect to Mass obligations, I can’t think of a relevant difference in pre and post 1983 circumstances that would warrant ignoring the answer from the Congregation for the Clergy cited in the comments.

  52. Daniel W says:

    The logic involved in “if one Mass can satisfy both obligations, there would be no need to abolish some Monday obligations” is very poor logic indeed. The “abolishing” of some “Monday” obligations means you don’t have to sanctify the day by attending Mass at all. Therefore a person who is not free to go to Mass on Monday, but free to attend all Sunday, does not have to attend two masses on Sunday – the vigil mass of which would not even be the mass of the Immaculate! This intimates something of the mind of the legislator, because we are told that attendance on both days is more burden than need be imposed for those feasts. It would seem to indicate that obliging double attendance on one day is even less the mind of the legislator.

  53. jhayes says:

    Francis says:

    Pope Francis recalled the confession many years ago, of a woman who was tormented by the question of whether a Mass attended on a Saturday evening for a wedding was valid as it had readings different to that on the Sunday. This was his answer: “Madam, the Lord loves you so much. You went to Church and there you received Communion, you were with Jesus… Do not worry, the Lord is not a merchant, the Lord loves us, He is close”

    and, earlier:

    [God’s love] is free – the Pope continued – just as a mother’s love is for her child. And the child “allows himself to be loved”: “this is the grace of God.” “But many times, just to be sure, we want to control the grace”. He said that “in history and also in our lives we are tempted to transform grace into a kind of a merchandise, perhaps saying to ourselves something like “I have so much grace,” or, “I have a soul clean, I am graced”:

    “In this way this beautiful truth of God’s closeness slips into a kind spiritual book-keeping: ‘I will do this because it will give me 300 days of grace … I will do that because it will give me this, and doing so I will accumulate grace’. But what is grace? A commodity? That’s what it appears. And throughout history this closeness of God to his people has been betrayed by this selfish attitude, selfish, by wanting to control grace, to turn it into merchandise”.

  54. Jhayes:

    Maybe I am being scrupulous, but I would never reference a confession in that way. I talk about hearing confessions, and people being happy to be forgiven, but I never talk in any way about anything anyone said.

  55. jhayes says:

    Fr. Fox, it doesn’t appear tnat he said anything that would allow the woman to be identified.

  56. Jhayes:

    Well, I understand; and I am not faulting the holy father. It’s just that I figure if people hear me saying anything about anything said in the confessional by anybody, I wonder if that’s a turn off for them or cause for anxiety. So I just avoid all peril of that.

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