Holy days of "obligation"

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Dr_Paul

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I have often wondered why certain feast days have been designated at Holy Days of “obligation”, implying (or reflecting the fact) that many feel unduly burdened by “having” to go to mass on a day other than Sunday. I consider the ability to celebrate these special times in the Church calendar as Holy days of “privilege”. I feel blessed that there are enough priests in our diocese that I can go to daily mass. While we are all busy, and going to mass during the week can be an inconvenience to many, where are our priorities?! Given the moral decay of our current society, we cannot understate the tremendous grace that is received by attending mass during the week (especially important feast days in the Church calendar). By either removing the designation as a Holy day of obligation or “transferring the celebration” to the next Sunday (Like celebrating Holy Thursday on a Sunday), it seems to me that the Church is (knowingly or unknowingly) feeding into this “unduly burdened” mentality.
 
Dr Paul:
I have often wondered why certain feast days have been designated at Holy Days of “obligation”, implying (or reflecting the fact) that many feel unduly burdened by “having” to go to mass on a day other than Sunday. I consider the ability to celebrate these special times in the Church calendar as Holy days of “privilege”. I feel blessed that there are enough priests in our diocese that I can go to daily mass. While we are all busy, and going to mass during the week can be an inconvenience to many, where are our priorities?! Given the moral decay of our current society, we cannot understate the tremendous grace that is received by attending mass during the week (especially important feast days in the Church calendar). By either removing the designation as a Holy day of obligation or “transferring the celebration” to the next Sunday (Like celebrating Holy Thursday on a Sunday), it seems to me that the Church is (knowingly or unknowingly) feeding into this “unduly burdened” mentality.
Welcome to the United State of America aka New Vatican
 
Honestly, I don’t think it’s that. I really think that it’s not difficult to remember to go to church on Sunday. Everyone remembers that, you can go more than once, you can even go Saturday evenings, it’s part of what you put aside as time to really cherish. During the week your routine is different and not all churches or parishes have Mass schedules that accomodate those who work during the day. Most schedule daily Mass for the elderly quite frankly, at 9:00 AM or 3:00 PM which isn’t going to fly at most offices. So when you call it a Holy Day of Obligation, it sure makes it easier for me to convince my boss that I need that day off or that I’m going to be taking lunch at a funny time. I can’t do it every day, but for those occassions that the church tells me explicitly really make a difference, I make it.
 
I guess my disappointment is that rather than encouraging the faithful to attend mass on select special days of the Church year (such as today, Ascension Thursday), by removing the “obligation” or moving to a more “convenient” time, the Church seems to me to be sending a message that these Holy days are not as important today relative to our other secular obligations. I would very much welcome more of an effort to explain the privilege in being able to go to mass on these days in addition to or instead of removing the obligation. I agree that many people would have difficulty in getting to mass every day. Making these days special does make it easier to explain to others why we need time away from work.

I have heard it said that everyone needs at least one hour of prayer a day…unless you are very, very busy. In that case, you need 2 hours.
 
I agree. I was disappointed when they moved today’s “obligation” to Sunday. I look forward to Holy Days as days I get to spend extra time in church without feeling like I am neglecting work or family. I know I shouldn’t be forced to go, but it is easier to remember and make the time when I know I have to do so.
 
From what I’ve read, the decision to move Holy Days to Sunday or make them non-obligatory was not so much because of the burden on the laity but rather the burden on the priests. Some priests have to care for more than one parish, and some may even have a long drive to each of their parishes where they must say Mass. The travel burden was a bit much for them. Maybe someday when we have more priests . . . .

However, I must say that I see the transfer/removal of Holy Days as very problematic. It gives the message that they really weren’t that important anyway. People were already blowing them off as it was.

David
 
God bless you Dr. Paul!

Just remember, not everyone who sits next to you in the pew on Sunday is in the same “place” you are spiritually. Each is on a journey and we don’t all “get it” at the same time. Just pray for the poor man or woman who sees coming to Mass as a “burden.” I hope you’ve never been in their shoes and I pray you never will be. They need us and our example to carry to load they are obviously straining under.

Peace and all good,

Thomas2
 
Unlike in Europe, days like the Ascension aren’t legal holidays or bank holidays and people have to work. In addition the US isn’t a Catholic country so the hierarchs try to softsoap the differences in the interests of oecumenicalism.

Those are the real reasons for the differences between the US and Europe.
 
I think it’s a shame that some Holy Days are being celebrated on the following Sunday. For those of us who are faithful practicing Catholics, it could really be a way to witness to others. Perhaps ask a co-worker who has fallen away to drop in on a lunch-time Mass with us…

We have had a big problem with our children’s school having big band concerts & competitions on Holy Days. I have complained. They’ve got Ramadan, Kwanzaa, & Yom Kippur on the calendar, & with a huge Italian population, why do they not consider Catholic Holy days when planning these things?
 
When did holy days such as the ascension start getting moved? The calender I got from my church lists this Thursday as a holy day of obligation, yet when I called for a mass schedule I was told that the ascension was moved to Sunday.
 
The previous poster who noted the change due to the overburdening of Priests is dead on. The celebration has only moved to Sunday in those provinces wherein there just aren’t enough Priests. (Like Alaska or other sparsely populated, not extremely Catholic areas.) These men have to oftentimes service a variety of churches by themselves. I wish they wouldn’t take away the requirement to attend Mass on a Saturday or Monday for a Holy Day though.

Pray for vocations!
 
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BillyT92679:
The celebration has only moved to Sunday in those provinces wherein there just aren’t enough Priests. (Like Alaska or other sparsely populated, not extremely Catholic areas.)
Not (entirely) true. I would hardly say that the Archdiocese of Detroit is sparsely populated.

Don’t get me wrong, you are probably correct in reference to Alaska (they have transferred the Ascension to the seventh Sunday of Easter). But in many places, lack of priests is not the only reason.
 
David Ancell:
From what I’ve read, the decision to move Holy Days to Sunday or make them non-obligatory was not so much because of the burden on the laity but rather the burden on the priests. Some priests have to care for more than one parish, and some may even have a long drive to each of their parishes where they must say Mass. The travel burden was a bit much for them. Maybe someday when we have more priests . . . .

However, I must say that I see the transfer/removal of Holy Days as very problematic. It gives the message that they really weren’t that important anyway. People were already blowing them off as it was.

David
David, I think your post is right on. The only thing I wish would occur would be to offer the Holy Day Masses where possible on the actual day, even if they are also transferred to Sunday in ones’ diocese. I can make a few daily’s a month with my work schedule, but I would like these Holy days to remain, with the appropriate readings, Gospel, and Homily to honor the day. I know it would inspire me to find a way to take the extraordinary effort, if necessary, to juggle my schedule to attend a few extra days a year (even if I’m not “obligated to” where I live).
 
Thanks msproule for posting the link to my Q on the Ask an Apologist board. I was just going to do that as I started reading through this thread!

I agree that on the one hand, transferring a HDO from a Thursday to a Sunday is almost depriving those of us who know about them of going on the actual day. And on the other hand, it is providing more people with the opportunity to get the gist of the Holy Day itself.

I read through the link that was posted in the response to my question and in reading the entire Subsequent Actions (the first link) as well as the entire Pastoral Statement (the second link) I realized the following:
  • Moving HDO’s, changing them, etc. is nothing new
  • There are people with a lot more time to reflect on these matters than me and make the decisions based upon what they believe is best for Christ’s flock.
  • I don’t know everything, so I humbly accept what they have decided and will, to the best of my ability, appreciate our Church and be open to ways that God will use me as His witness.
I like to think that these realizations apply to anything I see on these boards - communion in the hand or on the tongue, abstaining from meat on all Fridays or just during Lent, etc.

Yes - there are things I agree shouldn’t be done (like I never understood how the Orans posture/holding hands during the Our Father came into being!) but in order to bring about change in our local parish, we need to follow directions from our Holy Father in Rome and trust our Holy Father in Heaven that we will not be led astray.

=)
Fiz
 
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msproule:
Not (entirely) true. I would hardly say that the Archdiocese of Detroit is sparsely populated.

Don’t get me wrong, you are probably correct in reference to Alaska (they have transferred the Ascension to the seventh Sunday of Easter). But in many places, lack of priests is not the only reason.
The practice of transferring the feast of the Ascension began in the Western Provinces as a pastoral practice whereby Rome granted an indult for the transferring of the feast. when the indult expired, the USCCB requested an extension. Rome didn’t like the incongruity of practice and asked the USCCB to, instead, come up with a norm for the country. They didn’t realize that this was opening up a can of worms, as the U.S. Bishops could not agree upon a standard. The bishops in the Western dioceses (and some other places) wanted the transfer. The bishops in Eastern and metropolitan areas mostly saw no need for it. (Cardinal Bevilaqua of Philadelphia even threatened to seek an indult to not have to obey the indult). Then it was realized that there would be problems with parishes in one area having Masses on Thursday and other parishes delaying the feast until Sunday. So the compromise was that individual Provinces could come to agreement as to when to have the Masses for the feast. At least, it would be regionaly agreeable, then.

Interestingly, there are other feasts which we transfer in the U.S., including the Epiphany and Corpus Christi. And there are “Holy days of Obligation” on the universal calander which are not such in the U.S. (St. Joseph’s Day, Annunication Day).
 
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