Has the Catholic Church invented the 30 hour day?


Has the Catholic Church invented the 30 hour day? Does the invention of the 30 hour day make the Catholic Church anti-Science? If you are wondering about this question, let me explain. I can go to a Mass of anticipation on Saturday evening as early as 4:00 P.M. to fulfill my Sunday obligation. I can also, find a Newman Center somewhere that has Mass as late as 9:00 P.M. or 10:00 P.M. on Sunday night. Do the math that is 30 hours! How can that be?


The Catholic Church is the one who decreed you have a Sunday obligation to fulfill. The Church also holds authority to decide how that obligation may be fulfilled. The same Church has decreed that attending a vigil mass in anticipation of Sunday fulfills the obligation.

I don’t see the problem, and I certainly don’t see any scientific claims.




Good question; I suspect there are many people who really don’t understand how Mass on Saturday fulfills the obligation. The question has occurred a number of times in the forums.


That haven’t changed the day. They just changed the obligation to be for more than a day.

Mass obligation isn’t science. It isn’t even really Theology. It’s a discipline. If the Church said that you fulfilled your obligation by attending Mass on any one Sunday in a given month, that wouldn’t mean that there is now only one Sunday a month.


Let me clarify. I was not implying that attending mass on Sunday was scientific. What I was stating, as a retired “Rocket Scientist”, that there are approximately 24 hours in a day. So, “tongue-in-cheek” I was asking how we can fulfill our “Sunday” obligation over a 24 hour period.

I struggle with what we call history. As time goes on the real reason why things are done both from a religious, as well as from a secular point of view, are many times lost. How many times do we hear “separation of Church and State”. Than someone argues that was NOT what our founding fathers meant!

I think all the points made are valid, but what I was pointing out was, when I was younger, Now almost 70, We only had Mass on Sunday. So 12:00 midnight to 11:59 P.M. was considered Sunday. Then the Bishops, belonging at that time, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, decided to make it easier to fulfill the Sunday obligation by copying our Jewish friends and stating that actually we can consider Sunday starting at sundown on Saturday. Not thinking, if that is the case, about sundown on Sunday ending the day.


It was not the Catholic Church that is responsible for the is practice. It is based on ancient Jewish custom of Shabbat beginning at sundown on the day before.


I agree, then using that logic, on Sunday at sundown the day should end. No more 5:30 P.M. Mass etc.?


The church uses liturgical days, not calendar days.

For Solemnities and Sundays, the day begins at after Liturgy of the Hours evening prayer (Vespers) on the calendar day before. Vespers is usually at 4:00 PM. Even though the secular calendar says that it is still Saturday, after 4:30 PM it is liturgical Sunday.

The National Conference of Catholic Bishops didn’t “Copy our Jewish Friends.” The Liturgy of the Hours has always been this way. My understanding is that the only thing which has changed is that the Church now allows Mass in the afternoon or evening where Mass was only in the morning previously.

I am open to correction.



Yeah, exactly… :rolleyes:


Actually Dies Dominici (the Lord’s Day) becomes 32 hours long, if vespere starts at 4pm (per Pius XII).


It’s true that the “day” follows Jewish custom, but one must remember that Shabbat is from sundown to sundown. Which is pretty much what the festal liturgical day was traditionally, i.e, from First Vespers to Second Vespers, even in the Latin Church, (where, e.g, Saturday Vespers was considered First Vespers of Sunday). That differs markedly from the modern innovation of stretching the “Sunday obligation” from 4pm Saturday to whenever before midnight Sunday.


As others have noted, it is an ancient tradition that “liturgical Sunday” begins with First Vespers (Evening Prayer) on Saturday evening. This is also true of other solemn feasts. What changed was the discipline of when mass can be celebrated. Traditionally, mass could only be celebrated in the morning…now the Church has given permission for mass to be celebrated any time of the day including evenings.


That may be, but I believe mass when you were young could not start after noon. So if one were to be obsessive following this logic, one could say the Church invented the 12-hour day prior to inventing the 32-hour day.:ehh:


It is not a vigil Mass, and not anticipated, it is simply the Sunday Mass celebrated on a Saturday.


Well, I think it’s kind of like what I experienced as a buyer for a local government. Bids were supposed to be opened on a particular day at 2pm. Well, it was already past 2pm and contractors were anxiously waiting for bids to be opened, noting it was already past the time. We went to get the purchasing manager, who was supposed to be present at these bid openings and he told us “It’s 2 o’clock when I say it’s 2 o’clock.” So, I think the same thing applies here, regardless of real world time, the Sunday obligation is fulfilled when the Church says it is.


I had always understood that these masses on Saturday evening were celebrated in anticipation of Sunday. What are the features of an anticipated mass that do not apply to the weekly Saturday evening masses at an average parish?


I truly don’t see the big deal. The church says it’s fine, so it is fine.


The Church used to have many masses within Sunday hours in multitudes of parishes staffed by an abundance of priests and now makes do with fewer masses strung out over a longer period to give people every opportunity to worship and receive Christ. Time ought to accommodate eternity- and eternity bends time everywhere that holy mass is offerred.


Interesting, though, that when Masses were confined to Sunday mornings that attendances were in the 70-80% range as opposed to 20-30% we have today over a 32-hr period. Of course, when your parish didn’t have air conditioning, the only choice really was in the morning. And many didn’t have adequate heating in the winter.

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