Feasts and days of Obligation


What is the difference between feasts and days of obligation? Also, aren’t there different types of feast days? Will any days of obligation ever change? Please share what I need to know about these.


Here a good link:


God bless you on the journey!


Very good indeed! Thanks.


There are different types of feast days. There is much confusion because “feast” means two different things. It is a general term for all days when we commemorate a saint, or Mary, or occurrence in the Lord’s life; and it is a specific term given to commemorations of a certain rank.

General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar

The 1969 General Roman Calendar is the reflection of Vatican II calls for reform. The structure of commemorations was simplified, cults of saints were suppressed, and commemorations were removed, moved, and added to the calendar. The reformed calendar no longer refers to Double, Greater Double, Major Double, etc. but ranks them as “[Optional] Memorial”, “Feast” or “Solemnity”, in ascending order of precedence. A feria day still refers to a weekday celebration which does not commemorate anything special.

Holy Days of Obligation always tend to be Solemnities, or the commemoration is promoted to that rank because of its local importance. That’s important to remember, looking at any general calendar, that commemorations may be promoted, demoted, added or removed based on their relevance to a given province, diocese, parish, religious institute, or religious house, to name a few.

Sundays are always considered solemnities. In the reformed calendar, they always outrank commemorations of saints, but sometimes commemorate occasions such as the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica, or All Souls Day.

Commemorations determine which readings and propers are used in the Mass, as well as the psalms and propers that are used in the Liturgy of the Hours, the universal prayer of the Catholic Church.

For a local list of your Holy Days of Obligation, ask your pastor which calendar is best for your parish. Often, a parish will give out calendars during the Christmas season, these are usually good references for the liturgical year, and include information on when you should be fasting and abstaining from meat. A book called the “Ordo” is published every year, which gives incredibly detailed information about the vestment colors, Mass readings, propers, LOTH propers, and other seasonal considerations, as well as a necrology of clergy from the area. A copy of the Ordo can usually be found in your sacristy.


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