Catholics are expected to attend Mass every Sunday because “the Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practices,” as it is written in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2181. Our communal participation in the Sunday Eucharist is also “a testimony of belonging and of being faithful to Christ and to his Church.” Thus, Sunday is the primordial holy day of obligation. However, there are other days of obligation every year, such as the Immaculate Conception, the Nativity of the Lord, Mary Mother of God, the Epiphany, the Ascension of the Lord, Corpus Christi, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and All Saints. Some of these celebrations have been moved to Sunday in order to promote the participation of the faithful, while others remain on the specific dates on which they have been established.
This year, we have a unique situation. On Sunday, December 24th, we celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Advent, and on Monday, December 25th, we celebrate the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas). Simply put, “the faithful must attend two separate obligations.” That is what the USCCB’s Committee on Divine Worship has decided. Yes, two separate masses. The Committee also states that “a ‘two-for-one’ Mass cannot occur.” Therefore, Catholics can fulfill their Sunday obligation by attending Mass on Saturday evening or Sunday morning, and they can fulfill their Christmas obligation by attending Mass on Sunday evening or Christmas Day.
We are conscious that situations might arise because of the busy schedules people have these days. It is crucial to plan ahead the Masses that your family will be attending on these holy days. It is also important to talk to your pastor about particular situations that you might fall into which impede you from attending both masses. The Church allows parish pastors to grant, on a case-by-case basis, a dispensation from the obligation of observing a feast day. But most importantly, I hope that you will make every effort possible to celebrate the mysteries of the Lord in Advent and Christmas with the St. Juliana community.