Missing Christmas Day Mass

I have a couple of questions that I am hoping will be answered.

First, is Christmas Day mass obligatory?

Second, if it is, and you cannot make it to mass because one has to work (say at a hospital) then is it still a sin?


Yes, Christmas is a Holy Day of Obligation. Try to get to Mass on Christmas Eve. My husband and I have both needed to work on Christmas Day and have always managed to get to Mass. Look up the Masses at other Parishes and try to make it work. If you don’t think it is possible then discuss it with a priest so you can determine if you are relieved of your obligation. This is sometimes the case.

Yes, Christmas is a holy day of obligation.

If you are not able to go to Mass, then you are dispensed from the obligation. It’d be a shame to not be able to make it to Mass on Christmas, though. (I mean, it’d be a shame for your employer.) If you can make it to a Vigil Mass for Christmas, I would recommend that.

Yes, Christmas Day Mass is obligatory.

If you have to work on Christmas, go to the Christmas Eve Mass if possible as the above posters stated. If, for some reason you cannot make the Christmas Eve Mass, then the obligation is dispensed since you are not able to make it to Mass.

However, most churches offer a Christmas Eve Mass at around 5pm.

I’ll add my own question.
Other posters have suggested that if you can’t make Christmas day Mass then to a Christmas Eve mass instead.
However, if you CAN make the Christmas day Mass does a Christmas Eve Mass fulfil your obligation or should one also go to Mass on Christmas day itself?
(I’ve always assumed that Christmas day is optional if I go to Midnight Mass, but I’ve never heard for sure.)

Mass at Midnight is actually the first Mass on Christmas Day. It is not considered to occur on Christmas Eve but rather on the feast itself.

I do not believe the Vigil Masses fulfill your obligation.

Vigil Masses DO fulfill the obligation.



Dispensation is never automatic for foreseen events – only for unforeseen events. Foreseen events require PRIOR dispensation from your parish priest or it IS a sin.

A Vigil or Anticipated Mass always fulfills the obligation (privilege :wink: ) for the next day, and there is no Church-sanctioned preference of one over the other. Only one Mass is necessary.

Priests will often offer dispensation if they see that one can not reasonable make it to mass.

\However, if you CAN make the Christmas day Mass does a Christmas Eve Mass fulfil your obligation or should one also go to Mass on Christmas day itself?\

There are some Christmas Eve masses that are celebrated FOR the feast. I believe the American recension of the Ordinary Form has such provision.

The daily mass would not because it is for the day that it is on but the Vigil Mass will because it is for the upcomming feast on the following day – that is the entire point of a “Vigil” mass.

Yes Christmas is a Holy Day of Obligation. no it is not a sin to miss Mass on any Sunday or Holy Day for good reason such as illness, caring for a sick person or infant, necessary work etc. Do not overlook opportunities to attend Mass at other times or places than your regular parish, either, or of course the previous evening. In many hospitals, or even in malls and airports, there may be a Mass offered on a holy day.

However, if we know ahead of time that it may be difficult or impossible to attend Mass, we can’t just excuse ourselves (only a priest can do that). Instead, we are to make every reasonable effort to make it to Mass. Thus, the reason why priests are allowed to give dispensation in the first place.


In other words, attending Mass on the morning of Christmas Eve is not the same as attending the Vigil Mass on Christmas Eve in the evening. This is how Canon Law puts it: “Can. 1248 §1 The obligation of assisting at Mass is satisfied wherever Mass is celebrated in a catholic rite either on a holyday itself or on the evening of the previous day.”

Check at work as there may be a Christmas Mass offered. Many hospitals, especially the larger ones, offer Mass on Sundays and holidays.

I agree … see if you can go anytime from 4pm Christmas Eve to anytime Christmas Day … including at the hospital. If you can’t, you will not be sinning.

I don’t agree that you need a priest’s dispensation for this just because it is foreseen … you have a legitimately grave reason (hospitals need employeed to run well because people get seriously sick even during Holy Days, and you should not jeopardize your job because you have to care for yourself and a family if you have one).

If someone does have evidence that you can’t miss for a foreseen reason (even a very grave one) and need a dispensation, I’d like to see it.

You might also consider investigating the laws in your state. In CA, there are laws in place that require businesses to release their employees so that they may attend religious services…not for the whole day, mind you, but long enough for you to get to Mass.

Yes, Christmas and January 1st are both Holy Days of Obligation. There are usually many different Christmas Masses to choose from generally beginning about 4:30 pm Christmas eve in many parishes running all evening to Midnight Mass then again on Christmas morning thru usually noon Christmas day.

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