Mass times and fulfilling Holy Day of Obligation

Is going to a 12:00pm mass on Saturday considered fulfilling your Holy day of Obligation?

No it wouldn’t, it’s not sufficiently late in the day enough. 4pm is generally the cutoff, any earlier than that doesn’t work.

As always, EWTN has an excellent summary on this topic.


Thank you for the info!

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If the holy day is on Saturday, yes.

If you mean your Sunday obligation, no.


I think it depends on where you live. Most of us will tell you that our diocese says it has to be celebrated after 4 p.m. And many of us base our understanding of Canon 1248 on the 1953 document that said “evening Mass” couldn’t start before 4 p.m. But it appears that there are some areas of this world where Canon 1248 is interpreted as “any time after noon.” You have to obey what your diocese says.



The Code of Canon Law is clear: in order for a Mass to fulfill the obligation it must be either the day-of of the evening-before the day itself (in this case, Saturday for Sunday).

Nowhere, not anywhere at all, does Canon Law say that a Mass either “afternoon” or “in the afternoon” fulfills the Sunday obligation. The Mass must be in the evening.

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 added. Note that the Latin word in the Code is “vespere” evening. In Latin, after noon is “post meridiem”

Now, there are some people who will claim that a Mass afternoon satisfied the obligation. The Code says otherwise.

Also, the Code is universal. It does NOT matter where one lives, the same canon applies to all Latin Rite Catholics everywhere.


I fully agree with you about the meaning of that canon.

But there are places in the US where the first Sunday Mass is celebrated at 2:30 pm. When that happens at the Cathedral it’s obvious that people somewhere are interpreting the canon differently.


If it is a Sunday or holy day Mass then the readings and antiphons will be clearly stated as being for the Sunday or holy day rather than for the Saturday, and one can rely on the Diocese interpretation of how early in the afternoon.

I’ve seen in particular children’s Christmas and Easter vigil Masses held earlier in the afternoon, presumably so parents will have time to get kids home, give them dinner and get them to bed and so the adult vigil Mass can still be held later at the normal time of 6 or 7 pm.

Here’s a screenshot of the schedule for Masses at the Guardian Angel Cathedral, Las Vegas

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I don’t know about this particular Cathedral, but in some city Cathedrals and churches there is also a need to get parishioners home before dark because the neighborhood is not one where it’s good to be out in the evening, hence some earlier Masses.

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No doubt you’ll hear some blow back from the canonists in the crowd…i think the Bishop having early vigils is acting in the interest of his sheep…but, as the saying goes "the only difference between a Catholic with a copy of the Canon Code and a terrorist, is that a terrorist can be negotiated with!":grin:

That’s nice.

Here is the text of the Code of Canon Law

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.

I was not aware (no one in Seminary bothered to teach me anyway) that a parish bulletin takes legal precedence over the Code of Canon Law.

See what I’m getting at here?

The Code of Canon law has more authority than a mere church bulletin?

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I guess it depends on who you ask.

The earliest I’ve seen it on Saturday evening was at 4 p.m. I was under the impression that was the earliest it could be.

To be clear to everyone: my comments here are NOT directed at you, but at the idea that some canonists think they can go through the Code with a pen, cross-out one word and replace it with an entirely different word with an entirely different meaning, which results in an entirely different meaning of the canon----and think they can actually do this.

That has been the times used by the Church for “vespere” since at least the period of World War II.

The problem is that Latin words cannot (sometimes) be accurately translated into the modern-day clock.

The ancient Roman clock was divided into 12 hours of day and 12 hours of night. The length of those hours varied from one day to another—in the summer, an hour of daylight was longer than in the winter.

In the modern clock, we have fixed hours, so 60 minutes is 60 minutes of the same length, no matter what time of year.

The Latin word “vespere” translates as evening in English, but only roughly. Nevertheless, it does mean the end of the day, the time when the lamps are being lit, so it’s not full darkness (try lighting a lamp in the dark before matches were invented, one still needs some daylight). Still, it is at the end of the day, not the middle.

With all due respect, if you believe it’s a hill worth dying on, wby not as a priest, raise the issue with the Bishop. Do you think it’s a big enough gaff that those residing in the diocese should respectfully point out the errors of his ways?

Our church has an 8 AM Saturday Mass for the Spanish Community. No one seems to question that what so ever. A church 30 minutes away has 8 AM Saturday Mass for the Korean Community. So are these 2 Masses valid or not?

Once again the Church’s traditional wisdom shines forth. Traditionally, all Masses were said before noon. This meant there was never worry if, say, a given feast had First Vespers and started the night before; or if there were a Vigil, etc…everything was always done before noon.

The confusion and trouble started with the evening permissions, especially the Saturday evening…funny there was an alleged need for Saturday evening and not Sunday evening.

If there were simply morning Masses, this would never be an issue.

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