Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Immaculate Conception: not obligatory in 2013

One of the things a parish priest does--at least, this parish priest--is to look ahead to various feasts that will be special for the parish, in order to do some planning.

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.
 
Clear?
 
Or do you find this confusing?

4 comments:

Will said...

Actually, the reasoning at the bottom makes some sense. The Solemnity is outranked by the Sunday and we're obligated to go to Mass on Sunday anyway. If I were the Pope, I might rethink that, and keep the obligation attached to the transferred feast, but I think the logic is sound enough. But the first thing I'd change is Ascension Thursday Sunday.

Eileen Krauss said...

Dear Fr. Fox,
That is as clear as mud.
Oh well!
Take care.

David Oatney said...

Since it is the National feast day, I would think that in the United States we would be able to observe it on Sunday...but that would make things entirely too easy, I suppose.

Nick D said...

It makes sense, in the convoluted way that some things make sense but not really even though they do. Make sense? :P so the obligation is to the 8th. So the 8th is when we need to go to Mass, not when the actual liturgical celebration takes place (on the 9th)