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Holy Days of Obligation


What is a Holy Day of Obligation?

Holy Days of Obligation are major feasts of the Church’s year on which – in addition to Sundays – Catholics are obliged to go to Mass. They are also to abstain from such work or business that would inhibit the worship to be given to God, the joy proper to the Lord’s Day, or the due relaxation of mind and body (The Code of Canon Law 1247).
The Church has retained a number of its feasts, the major ones are known as Solemnities. Some of these Solemnities are known as ‘Holy days of Obligation’, when those who are able are expected to attend Mass.

Holy Days of Obligation in Ireland 2016

The Epiphany of the Lord – Wed, 6th Jan, 2016
St. Patrick – Thurs, 17th of March 2016
The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary – Mon, 15th Aug, 2016
All Saints – Tuesday, 1st November 2016
The Immaculate Conception of the Bl Virgin Mary – Thurs 8th Dec 2016
The Nativity of the Lord – Sunday 25th Dec, 2016

All Sundays – The Baptism of the Lord, The Ascension of the Lord, The Most Holy Trinity, The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi), Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe (Christ the King) are all celebrated on Sunday’s.

In Ireland since October 1996, the Irish Bishops’ Conference removed the obligation on the feasts of Ascension and the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi), and the consequent transfer of these two feasts to the following Sundays in accordance with universal liturgical law. This decision has been confirmed by the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship.

 Holy Days Worldwide

The Roman Catholic Church in the Latin rite has 10 obligatory holy days. With its approval the Apostolic See allows national Bishops’ Conferences to abolish the obligation of some of these or transfer them to Sundays.

  • Immaculate Conception
  • Christmas Day
  • Mary Mother of God
  • Epiphany
  • St Joseph
  • Ascension of Jesus
  • Sts Peter and Paul
  • Body & Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi)
  • Assumption of Mary
  • All Saints

The rule of precedence
If a Holy Day Solemnity falls on a Sunday in ordinary time, it replaces the Sunday liturgy. But if the Sunday is one of Advent, Christmas, Lent or Easter, then the Sunday should take precedence.

Participating at Mass: Canon 1248
This canon explains what is required to satisfy the obligation of participating at Mass:

  • 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.
  • 2. If participation in the eucharistic celebration becomes impossible because of the absence of a sacred minister or for another grave cause, it is strongly recommended that the faithful take part in a liturgy of the Word if such a liturgy is celebrated in a parish church or other sacred place according to the prescripts of the diocesan bishop or that they devote themselves to prayer for a suitable time alone, as a family, or, as the occasion permits, in groups of families.