Do you go to Mass on Holy Days of Obligation? I go to Mass every single Sunday, but holy days lost their importance to me over the years . The thought of going out at night after being busy all day was not pleasant, and I found reasons to justify staying home. The fact that the church called them days of obligation didn’t make a difference to me, and maybe annoyed me, just a little. Besides, I go to daily Mass when I can, so that makes up for it, right?
I didn’t grow up that way. My parents taught me better 🙂
A couple of years ago I started to feel an uneasiness when I would skip Mass. Someone recommended to me that I should make a list of the Holy Days and learn a little about them so that I could better appreciate their significance. Do you know what I found?
First – We celebrate 8 holy days in the USA, but there are only a couple of days a year that the church asks us to attend Mass on a weekday. (3 in 2015, including Christmas) Many holy days have been moved to Sunday so as not to inconvenience us.
Second – Holy days are supposed to help us to grow in faith. It’s a precept of the church that asks for an “indispensable minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in the growth in love of God and neighbor .” (CCC, 2041)
Third – It hasn’t been that hard to go to Mass and I feel good when it’s done.
Here is a list of our 2015 Holy Days of Obligation. I invite you to sit close and pay attention to this rhythm of the church year which reveals Christ to us. (Note: Holy Days with an (*) are not celebrated on Sunday in 2015.)
*Mary, the Mother of God – always January 1st: This ends the octave of Christmas and celebrates this beautiful woman who said yes to God and became our Mother forever. I will love her and honor her on this day and thank her for her care for us in this world. (And yes, the New Year’s Eve Vigil Mass counts toward our obligation!)
Epiphany – always on Sunday around January 6th: The wise men sought the King. They didn’t come empty-handed, but brought their gifts to Jesus. Do we seek the Lord and bring our gifts to him? Do we use our gifts to better our world?
Ascension of the Lord – Thursday, May 14, 2015 (Moved to Sunday in most of the USA): Jesus returns to the Father and takes his glorified place at the Father’s right hand, and he promised to intercede for those who draw near to God through him. He has gone before us to Heaven!
The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) – Sunday, June 7, 2015 This is one of my favorite feast days. “Could it be that Jesus’ love for me is so fantastic and large that he would agree to let me eat his own body and drink his own blood? Who am I, that he would love me so much, to want to be that close to me? ME? And yet, this is what we believe and we live with every Eucharistic celebration.” –from my 1st blog post. See http://wp.me/p3zUxG-n
Assumption of Mary – Saturday, August 15, 2015: (Always celebrated August 15, but if this occurs on a Saturday or a Monday there is no obligation to go to Mass) Mary gave her unconditional consent to become the Mother of our Savior, and by doing that she cooperated in our salvation as well. In her assumption we celebrate and can look forward to our own resurrection and eternal life.
All Saints – Sunday, November 1, 2015: It’s uncertain to the exact origin of this day, but here is something I didn’t know…It was a practice in the earliest church to honor a martyr on the anniversary of their martyrdom. During the terror of the emperor Diocletian, there were too many martyrs to allow each one to have their own day, so a common day was designated to celebrate the life and martyrdom of all martyrs to the faith. We currently celebrate the day for ALL saints. On this day I’ll remember all the martyrs whose sacrifice allowed me to know our Lord.
*Immaculate Conception of Mary – Tuesday, December 8, 2015: This day celebrates the conception of Mary in the womb of her mother, St. Anne. I refer you to http://www.catholic.com/blog/tim-staples/the-immaculate-conception-in-scripture for some helpful insights to this teaching.
*The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas) – Friday, December 25, 2015: I hope that you have your own very meaningful understanding of this truly “blessed event.”
I found this quick little reference for http://www.beginningcatholic.com/catholic-holy-days-of-obligation.html and http://www.catholic.com (Catholic Answers website) and http://www.usccb.org