The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, already special to our country, is also this parish's patronal day. And, as it happens, the next day--December 9--is the anniversary of the consecration of this church, which is also a very special day for the parish. Thus, two in a row.
So, I looked ahead in order to see what days of the week they fell, in order to think about how we could commemorate both.
In doing so, I discovered December 8 falls on a Sunday--and because the Sunday of Advent takes precedence, the observance of the solemnity moves to Monday. Then, in the pages of the liturgical calendar published annually by Paulist Press, I read something that struck me wrong:
"USA: not a holy day of obligation."
Hold on, I says to myself! All this business of holy days being sometimes obligatory, and sometimes not, has confused the faithful hereabouts for years! So some time back, I took it upon myself to drill into my head the actual facts, so that whenever anyone asked, and doubted the answer, I was really certain of the matter.
And the answer I found was that whenever a holy day of obligation falls on a Saturday or a Monday, it's not obligatory--except for Christmas, and the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. (You can read this here.)
So, I'm thinking, this must be an error. So, I call downtown and leave a message for our archdiocesan director of worship. She calls back, I'm tied up, so she leaves a message: no, not an error. But since I didn't get to talk to her, I didn't know her reasoning. Bullheaded, I press on. I know what I'll do--I'll check with the bishops' conference!
To the website! Search, search! I don't find anything, so I fire off an email: "please explain this!"
Well, I should have looked a little further; because not long after I hit the "send" button, I did find the answer, in a back issue of the newsletter the bishops' office of divine worship sends out. Here is that answer:
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception in 2013
In this year of 2013, December 8—normally the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception—falls on the Second Sunday of Advent. In accordance with no. 5 of the Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year and the Calendar, the observance of the Solemnity is transferred to Monday, December 9. Such a transfer is seen as a pastoral concession to the desire of the faithful to observe a beloved Feast even though it is impeded liturgically by a higher observance. The obligation of the faithful to attend Mass remains attached to the day itself (December 8), however, and so it does not transfer with the liturgical observance.
Or do you find this confusing?