Double Take: Two Masses in Two Days

Categories: Features

This year, since Christmas falls on a Monday, many people are asking, “If I only go to a Christmas Vigil Mass on Sunday, December 24, have I also fulfilled my Sunday obligation?” The simple answer is: no.

For Catholics, going to Mass on Sunday is absolutely necessary for our spiritual health. As we read in the Cathecism, “the Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice” (CCC, 2181). Just as we need food and sustenance to live, we need the Eucharist in order to flourish as human beings and children of God.

The same is true on certain holy days of obligation,* when we experience the fullness of the mysteries of salvation. In some cases, a local conference of bishops will transfer the celebration of a feast or holy day to another day, or they’ll dispense the faithful from their obligation, which usually happens when a holy day falls on a Saturday or a Monday.

But that is not the case for Christmas this year. Unless excused for a serious reason, such as an illness, or the care of someone who is sick, Catholics over the age of reason are expected to attend Mass two times, meeting the obligation for the Sunday, as well as Christmas. This may sound difficult, especially considering how hectic this season can be, but it’s really not that much to ask.

There are 168 hours in a week, and the Church is calling us to spend two of them worshiping the Lord. Unlike some of our Protestant and Evangelical brothers and sisters who do this on their own, as Catholics we believe that we are called to do this on our own and as a community. This is because we encounter the Lord as individuals and also among our fellow believers. As Christ is present in the Sacred Host, the Word proclaimed, and the person of the priest, he can also be revealed in the presence of those around us.

Additionally, when we participate in the Mass, whether on a weekday, Sunday or holy day, we are obeying the Lord, who told his disciples at the Last Supper, “do this in memory of me.” What better way to honor the Lord, then by doing this on the day the Church celebrates his birth?

In order to fulfill your obligations for the 4th Sunday of Advent and Christmas this year, be sure to check your local parish schedule and compare it to the options listed below.

Option 1
Vigil on the evening of Sat., Dec. 23 (4th Advent)
AND
Vigil or Midnight on the evening of Sun., Dec. 24 (Christmas)

Option 2
Vigil on the evening of Sat., Dec. 23 (4th Advent)
AND
Morning of Mon., Dec. 25 (Christmas)

Option 3
Morning of Sun., Dec. 24 (4th Advent)
AND
Vigil or Midnight on the evening of Sun., Dec. 24 (Christmas)

Option 4
Morning of Sun., Dec. 24 (4th Advent)
AND
Morning of Mon., Dec. 25 (Christmas)

*There are six holy days of obligation in the United States: Mary, Mother of God (January 1); the Ascension of the Lord (40 days after Easter); the Assumption of Mary (August 15); the Solemnity of All Saints (November 1); the Immaculate Conception of Mary (December 8); and Christmas (December 25).