5:30 Pushing it?

I’m going out of town this Saturday and am planning on catching an vigil Mass Saturday Evening at 5:30 p.m. (17:30). The church (obviously) is outside my diocese, and the sun will still be out since it’s summer. I was wondering whether it would satisfy my Sunday obligation. I’ve done some research, and it seems like it would. I would like to get a straight answer out of someone, though. Thanks in advance.

If it’s a vigil Mass that has the Sunday readings, the people at the parish must think it fulfills the Sunday obligation.

Our 5:30 vigil mass is always very crowded so let’s pray its legal, or I would be in terrible trouble with three hundred others!:eek:

Thank you all for your responses, and I hate to be too frank. I must however say I’m not really interested in what the Parish thinks but with what is right. I’m used to going to a vigil in town at 6:00 p.m., so 5:30 p.m. to me seems a little fishy. It seems like I should be fine, but I just want to get confirmation on this.

Every parish around here that I know of has a Vigil Mass Saturdays at 4:00.

It doesn’t matter if the sun is still out or not. It depends on what your archdiocese allows. In general practice, vigil Masses are as early as 4pm.

According to Christus Dominus: Concerning The Discipline To Be Observed With Respect To The Eucharistic Fast, The Apostolic Constitution Of His Holiness, Pope Pius XII issued on January 6, 1953.

By Our Apostolic authority We decree and command all the following:

Rule VI. If the circumstance calls for it as necessary, We grant to the local Ordinaries the right to permit the celebration of Mass in the evening, as we said, but in such wise that the Mass shall not begin before four o’clock in the afternoon…

I haven’t found anything more recent than that, but if I do come across anything I’ll post it here.

Not a whole lot about this; however, in support of Mathew’s post:
From the EWTN website (please follow the link for full context):

The general law does not specify the precise time after which Sunday Mass is possible. However, 5 p.m. is the common rule in the Diocese of Rome and in many other places. Any time much earlier is hard to conceive as being Saturday evening in any meaningful sense of the term.
Several readers pointed out that most canonists, based on Pope Pius XII’s apostolic constitution “Christus Dominus” and the Code of Canon Law, No. 1248.1, which speaks of Saturday evening (“vespere”) Mass, say that 4 p.m., and not 5 p.m. as I affirmed, is the recognized time after which Sunday Masses may be celebrated.

This canon also states that Catholics may fulfill their Sunday and holy-day obligations by assisting at any Catholic Mass after this time. Therefore, if a Catholic were to attend a wedding at this time, even if the ceremony lacked the elements proper to a Sunday Mass, he or she would be fulfilling the Sunday precept.

When the Israelites started their next day at sunset, that worked because they were all in generally the same part of the world.

The Catholic Church is universal and goes all over the world. Parts of the world do not have sunset for months at a time! Thus our Church must rely on time and not sunset…

Not relevant.


The readings have no bearing on satisfying the obligation. The obligation only requires attendance at a Mass in any Catholic Rite on the day or the evening before.

Why does 5:30 seem “fishy”?

Once upon a time, in the dim and distant past, the rule regarding vigil masses was that they had to take place after sundown. Now, that only applies to the Easter Vigil (because the procession starts with a fire which must be after dark). Other than Easter, that after sundown rule no longer applies at all.

Now, any Mass on Saturday afternoon at 4:00 or later fulfills the Sunday obligation as long as it is celebrated the same way as that weekend’s Sunday Mass.

A nearby parish I visit has it at 6pm and calls it Mass.

In the diocese here, at one time a Catholic church had a 7 P.M. Vigil Mass.

Interesting. I hadn’t thought of that.

Often there is practical necessity that has to be considered as well. For example, I am the only priest assigned to my parish, and it has a mission that is over twenty miles away. Each Saturday I hear confessions at 4:00 p.m. in the parish church and then offer a 5:00 Mass. After that I drive to the mission just in time to hear confessions at 6:30, followed by Mass at 7:00. Both of these Masses are vigils for Sunday. There is really no way to push this schedule any later, especially when one considers the other things a priest does on Saturday evenings, such as praying Evening Prayer and eating dinner.

I think that explains the Mass schedule in our area. For years we had just one priest for 3 parishes, which meant that one Saturday evening Mass was at 4:30 and the other at 6:30. Now we have 2 priests, 4 parishes, and 1 mission. They’re still on the run a lot!

I understand, but my point was that if it’s too early for the vigil, you will hear Saturday’s readings. If you hear Sunday’s readings, it’s a vigil.

The readings do not have to be those of Sunday. The purpose of the 1983 Canon law changes was to make it easier to fulfill the obligation.

Also, for example of early times in USA, there are 2:30PM Saturday Masses published as fulfilling the Sunday Mass obligation at these two churches:

*]Guardian Angels Cathedral in Las Vegas, NV
*]Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Kansas City, MO

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