Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Thursday 26 November |
Saint Leonard of Port Maurice
home iconChurch
line break icon

What is a holy day of obligation? When are they?

Philip Kosloski - published on 08/14/17

Though holy days are a characteristic of the universal Church, local custom can bring about changes to the list.

Throughout the liturgical year there are various feast days that do not fall on Sunday, but which the Church asks the faithful to celebrate with attendance at Mass.

These days are called holy days of obligation and the Church equates the importance of these days to a Sunday.

A precept of the Church explains, “On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass.”

One of the chief reasons behind these holy days is to highlight a specific aspect of the life of Christ or to give honor to the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the communion of saints.

These days are for the spiritual benefit of Christ’s flock and are opportunities to receive grace.

Holy days of obligation are currently governed by the local bishops’ conferences and can vary from country to country. For example, December 12 (feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe) is a holy day of obligation in Mexico (Our Lady of Guadalupe is also the patron of the country). Meanwhile, Dec. 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, is a day of obligation in the United States (and Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception is the patron of the US).

In 1991 the USCCB issued new norms regarding holy days of obligation and listed the following:

January 1, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of GodThursday of the Sixth Week of Easter, the Solemnity of the AscensionAugust 15, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin MaryNovember 1, the Solemnity of All SaintsDecember 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate ConceptionDecember 25, the Solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus ChristWhenever January 1, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, or August 15, the Solemnity of the Assumption, or November 1, the Solemnity of All Saints, falls on a Saturday or on a Monday, the precept to attend Mass is abrogated.

Since the proclamation of these norms, the Solemnity of the Ascension has been transferred to a Sunday in most dioceses in the United States.


ASCENSION,JESUS

Read more:
When is the feast of the Ascension?

These days can be changed or added to according to local custom. For example, in Malta the Church celebrates the Shipwreck of St. Paul in Malta on February 1o as a holy day of obligation and Ireland celebrates (not surprisingly) the feast of St. Patrick as a holy day.

Tags:
CatholicismDevotions and Feasts
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in eight languages: English, French, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
LUXOR FILM FESTIVAL
Zoe Romanowsky
20-year-old filmmaker wins award for powerful...
Luz Ivonne Ream
What’s the secret of this couple’s 64 years o...
PADRE PIO
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio's favorite prayer of petition
CHRIST THE KING
Edifa
Why do we say that "Christ is King"?
CHRISTMAS AD
Cerith Gardiner
This heartwarming TV ad focuses on what reall...
Cerith Gardiner
This Irish blessing is what we all need to he...
Zelda Caldwell
SpaceX’s ‘Resilience’ commanded by astronaut ...
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.