Holy Day of Obligation question

In my diocese, the Solemnity of the Ascension is still observed on Thursday. This year, I will be traveling home from a business trip on that day, starting the day in a diocese where the Ascension is observed the following Sunday, but arriving home in the evening. I will not be able to attend a Mass in the morning due to my business meeting, and in any case, that Mass would not be for the Ascension but rather for an Easter weekday.

Am I required to attend an evening Mass when I get home, since the Holy Day is being observed here? I believe the local Newman Center has a 10:00 p.m. weeknight Mass which (assuming I make all my flights) I would be able to attend.


Oh my…this is a big dilemma. I don’t understand the dioceses that transfer Ascension THURSDAY to a Sunday…

Are you traveling on the wednesday before, the night that would be a Vigil Mass? I am assuming you will be gone since you mentioned a meeting that is held Thursday morning.

Maybe you should talk to a priest…He might be able to help you.

As for Newman Center…


The location has changed slightly, because they are building a new church. You may have to call them to make sure the 10:00 PM Mass is for the Holy Day (Which I would hope it is, for the college students)

I’m also in the Lincoln diocese…so glad its still on Thursday here…as the ascension is 40 days after Easter…not 46 or 47 :stuck_out_tongue:

p.s. your user name…named after Bishop Flavin? :thumbsup:

I’ll be out of town all that week, returning on Thursday, so there wouldn’t be a vigil Mass to attend on Wednesday night.

Yes, my username is a tribute to Bishop Flavin…one of the giants. I consider myself blessed to have known him.

Can you attend a daily Mass at the location of your business meeting? That would fulfil the requirements according to Canon 1248.1.

I’m sure one of our canonists will correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that c. 1248 isn’t addressing the situation that you’re attempting to apply it to. the question that c. 1248 addresses is “which Mass(es) on an observed feast day ‘count’ toward the requirement of assisting at Mass?” – and the answer is ‘all Masses.’

However, the OP will not be in a diocese that is celebrating the feast day, this year: on Thursday, he’ll be in a diocese that has transferred the feast, and on Sunday, he’ll be in a diocese that has not transferred it. In other words, he is unable to attend any Mass in a diocese that is celebrating the feast day. Therefore, since it is beyond his control, and not something that he’s trying to do to avoid the requirement, the obligation ceases. It is not a big dilemma. :wink:

However, it would still be a commendable practice to attend daily Mass on Thursday, as a pious attempt to observe the feast personally.

It would be reasonable to attempt to make the Newman Center Mass. However, if it does end up impossible for you to meet the obligation you would not sin in missing it. If it bothers you much, you could ask your priest for a dispensation from the obligation. (I wish my diocese kept Ascension on Thursday.)

Can. 1248 §1. A person who assists at a Mass celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the feast day itself or in the evening of the preceding day satisfies the obligation of participating in the Mass. (emphasis mine)

There is no differentiation of a jurisdictional nature. A Mass in Diocese B fulfils the obligation for any other Diocese (or Eparchy if its Eastern).

ANY Mass, even a wedding or funeral, fulfills the obligation.

When travelling, you enjoy the benefit of the more permissive diocese between the one you’re in and your home diocese. However, in this case, you’d be returning to your home diocese so you’d be obliged to attend when you return if it’s available. Obviously, if there’s no Mass available, there’s no obligation.

I have checked websites of parishes in the city where the meeting is…and the only parish within walking distance of the hotel doesn’t have an early morning Mass. I wasn’t planning on renting a car, but maybe I will if I can find another parish with an early morning Mass…assuming the Easter weekday Mass would fulfill the requirements of the Canon.

Yes, but your obligation only extends to where you actually are (cf c.12 and c. 13 #2). Since the OP will not be in a diocese celebrating Ascension on Thursday, and will not be in a diocese celebrating Ascension on Sunday, the obligation does not follow him; in this case, the obligation does not bind.

Father Z is not a canonist, but see this discussion of his on this very subject:wink:

Your participation at any Mass , no matter what the readings or prayers are , fulfills the obligation for a holy day of obligation .

Say on Christmas Day the priest for some strange reason celebrated the Mass for St Sabina your obligation has been fulfilled .

Within reasonable limits. Obviously it wouldn’t do to have the OP drive to a 10 pm Mass if very tired from the trip home.

Ascension Thursday is still some ways off. If the OP wants peace of mind, he should ask his priest for a dispensation before he leaves. I’m sure in this case it would be granted, and in any case the obligation is automatically dispensed for grave reasons.

2181 The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor. Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.

(Catechism of the Catholic Church).

For Jediliz, this is one reason why many days of obligation have been transferred to the nearest Sunday. Modern realities of life in the world. A day of obligation is also supposed to be a day of rest from work like Sunday:

2185 On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are to refrain from engaging in work or activities that hinder the worship owed to God, the joy proper to the Lord’s Day, the performance of the works of mercy, and the appropriate relaxation of mind and body.123 Family needs or important social service can legitimately excuse from the obligation of Sunday rest. the faithful should see to it that legitimate excuses do not lead to habits prejudicial to religion, family life, and health.


Clearly there are not many employers willing to accommodate a Thursday off.

Unless his pastor tells him, “you don’t need a dispensation” (which he doesn’t). :wink:

(Catechism of the Catholic Church).

Note that this is speaking of the Sunday obligation. At the risk of sounding like a simpleton: on Sunday, it’s Sunday in every diocese of the world! :wink: Therefore, there’s nowhere in the world where the Sunday obligation does not bind (ok – in places where there’s no Catholic Mass celebrated; but that’s a different story)! In the OP’s case, though, he won’t be in a diocese that celebrates Ascension, either on Thursday (away) or Sunday (at home). Therefore, no obligation binds. (And hence, no dispensation is necessary.)

He said he’ll be in his home diocese later in the day. The obligation would bind when he steps back into his home diocese. If there’s a Mass available and he doesn’t have a serious reason to abstain, he’s obliged. He can anticipate the obligation and go to Mass anywhere that day or vigil on the preceding day.

I’m still mulling over this part, wondering about how the obligation binds in this case. Nevertheless…

He can anticipate the obligation and go to Mass anywhere that day or vigil on the preceding day.

This part caught my attention, and it’s making me scratch my head. I’m not certain that “going to Mass anywhere”, especially “on the vigil”, meets the obligation for the Ascension (canon 1248 notwithstanding), given the notion of location (vis-a-vis diocesan observation). It’s an interesting question, though…

My take is that in general, and in this case, the obligation to fulfil is for the jurisdiction that you are canonically bound to (e.g., your Diocese and your Parish). I think this holds regardless of temporary travel plans.

Now, that said, canon 1248 makes it clear that the obligation can be fulfilled by any Catholic Mass of any rite anywhere in the world.

Interestingly, that’s exactly the case that Fr Z argues against in the posting that I cited earlier.

I think this holds regardless of temporary travel plans.

In particular, c. 13 makes it clear that (in this case) the obligation is territorial, not personal.

Now, that said, canon 1248 makes it clear that the obligation can be fulfilled by any Catholic Mass of any rite anywhere in the world.

Agreed, although I’d assert that your take on it isn’t what this canon has in mind. (After all, in the case of doubt, we’re supposed to take into account the mind of the legislator, right?)

It doesn’t seem to make sense, though: Thursday, while he’s in the other diocese, he doesn’t have an obligation to attend Mass; yet, while there, he attends Mass in order to anticipate the obligation that will bind when his plane touches down in his home diocese? In other words, he’s attending Mass to meet an obligation that he isn’t yet bound to observe?:hmmm:

Well then…in due obedience to canons 12 and 13, I stand corrected.

I still think this is a corner case and if it were me, I’d err on the side of caution (i.e., I’d try as best as I could to attend Mass on that Thursday, either on the vigil or during the day in the foreign land or at night after I arrived back home).

It’s not that unusual. We fulfill an anticipated obligation whenever we attend a vigil.

Which makes complete sense. It would be impossible to fulfill an obligation (other than Sunday) in a locale that celebrated the solemnity on another day, particularly if you’re in one of those places that doesn’t have daily Mass, or only one Mass at an inconvenient (for a business traveler) hour, that isn’t remotely related to the solemnity.

I would think it extends to the day during the travel. The way air travel goes these days, the thought of driving to a 10 pm Mass after a day of negotiating airports, cramped flights, delays, etc., would nearly kill me. And perhaps some innocent bystanders as well if I fall asleep at the wheel.

God doesn’t command us to the impossible nor does He ask us risk harm to our selves to get to Mass.

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