Sunday Obligation and the Derby


I know that you are excused from the Sunday obligation if you have to work. My wife is a nurse and is scheduled to work this coming Sunday. The question is are you required to go to the Saturday vigil Mass if possible. This Saturday is derby day here in Louisville. A big day in Louisville. My family has an all day get together for derby. The big race is right at vigil Mass times. Many parishes around here cancel their vigil Mass including ours. Catholic schools here even cancel classes the day before for the Oaks. Would my wife be required to go to a vigil Mass at another parish.


Well, of course you should go to Mass Saturday evening if you must work on Sunday.




Yes, you are supposed to try to get to Mass. Unless, every church in the surrounding area has cancelled their Mass in the surrounding area, you are required to go, even if inconvenient.


Assuming you mean Louisville KY, to be helpful, here is a link for Mass times in the Diocese
Hopefully all 40+ Vigil Masses are not cancelled :slight_smile:


From my memories of Kentucky on Derby Day, it is entirely possible that the vast majority of Saturday evening Masses have been canceled. The OP did not overstate the situation at all :slight_smile: Louisville lives and breathes the Derby.


I did some quick checking and pulled bulletins from 4 random parishes in the Louisville Archdiocese. All of them listed vigil masses on the 4th, so I’m glad that the good priests of that diocese realize that the concerns of this world should not over run the concerns of the other world. :smiley:

If there is not a mass offered in a reasonable distance it’s one thing to miss it, but one cannot say entertainment X will interfere with mass so X wins (not directed at you babochka).


I randomly pulled up one parish website, St. Peter the Apostle. They’ve already posted next week’s bulletin, but the parish calendar indicates that the 4:30 pm Mass for this coming Saturday has been canceled.

I agree that if she has to work on Sunday and there is no Saturday Mass within a reasonable distance, she is dispensed from the obligation.


:heart:I have been impressed by the distance many families will travel for a Mass in their native language or for a Tridentine Mass, but what is a “reasonable distance” ? :confused:What amount of time to travel is “reasonable”? How much effort is expected? Does Derby Day or Bowl Games or Vacations or Golf obligations or anything else modify what is “normally expected” If one works 12 hour shifts, how far is one expected to go? How much does one expend to keep the Sabbath Holy and follow the First Precept?:hmmm:

Horse racing is the Devil’s work!


That’s a matter of personal judgement. “Reasonable” can depend on many things like state of fatigue after working (or need to rest before a shift), availability of public transportation, one’s budget for fuel, the reliability of one’s car, the weather, family obligations such as elder or small child care, and a whole lot of other factors.

One need not fall into scrupulosity. God is not a tyrant.


I am quite surprised that some of the Saturday Masses are cancelled because of a horse race. I understand the Derby is a big deal (as one of my friends always requests off work to watch the Triple Crown of Races for each race on tv) but I would have thought perhaps that the churches would scheduled Saturday Mass for after the Derby (6 pm or 7 pm perhaps) no matter if you watched it on tv or in person. Then again, not all people are interested in the Derby and wish to attend Saturday Mass for whatever reasons they have (personal preference or because of work schedule etc).


Canon 1247
On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass; they are also to abstain from those labors and business concerns which impede the worship to be rendered to God, the joy which is proper to the Lord’s Day, or the proper relaxation of mind and body.

Canon 1248

  1. The precept of participating in the Mass is satisfied by assistance at a Mass which is celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the holy day or on the evening of the preceding day.
  2. If because of lack of a sacred minister or for other grave cause participation in the celebration of the Eucharist is impossible, it is specially recommended that the faithful take part in the liturgy of the word if it is celebrated in the parish church or in another sacred place according to the prescriptions of the diocesan bishop, or engage in prayer for an appropriate amount of time personally or in a family or, as occasion offers, in groups of families.

Since a “grave cause” is needed to excuse one from this obligation it would be a serious or mortal sin to willfully skip Mass on Sunday or a Holy Day of Obligation, as the Church has always taught. Reasons such as the necessity to work to support one’s family, child care, personal sickness or the care of the sick, necessary travel etc. would excuse a person on a particular occasions. Those who have continuing reason to be excused should consult their pastor.

If a priest is not available in an area and only a Liturgy of the Word or a Communion Service is offered the Mass obligation does not “transfer” to such services. As canon 1248 notes, participation is recommended for the spiritual value, especially if Communion is distributed.

The proper way to celebrate Sunday is spoken of at length in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
2182 Participation in the communal celebration of the Sunday Eucharist is a testimony of belonging and of being faithful to Christ and to his Church. The faithful give witness by this to their communion in faith and charity. Together they testify to God’s holiness and their hope of salvation. They strengthen one another under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

2183 “If because of lack of a sacred minister or for other grave cause participation in the celebration of the Eucharist is impossible, it is specially recommended that the faithful take part in the Liturgy of the Word if it is celebrated in the parish church or in another sacred place according to the prescriptions of the diocesan bishop, or engage in prayer for an appropriate amount of time personally or in a family or, as occasion offers, in groups of families.”

A day of grace and rest from work

2184 Just as God “rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done,” human life has a rhythm of work and rest. The institution of the Lord’s Day helps everyone enjoy adequate rest and leisure to cultivate their familial, cultural, social, and religious lives.

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. 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.

The charity of truth seeks holy leisure- the necessity of charity accepts just work.

2186 Those Christians who have leisure should be mindful of their brethren who have the same needs and the same rights, yet cannot rest from work because of poverty and misery. Sunday is traditionally consecrated by Christian piety to good works and humble service of the sick, the infirm, and the elderly. Christians will also sanctify Sunday by devoting time and care to their families and relatives, often difficult to do on other days of the week. Sunday is a time for reflection, silence, cultivation of the mind, and meditation which furthers the growth of the Christian interior life.

2187 Sanctifying Sundays and holy days requires a common effort. Every Christian should avoid making unnecessary demands on others that would hinder them from observing the Lord’s Day. Traditional activities (sport, restaurants, etc.), and social necessities (public services, etc.), require some people to work on Sundays, but everyone should still take care to set aside sufficient time for leisure. With temperance and charity the faithful will see to it that they avoid the excesses and violence sometimes associated with popular leisure activities. In spite of economic constraints, public authorities should ensure citizens a time intended for rest and divine worship. Employers have a similar obligation toward their employees.

2188 In respecting religious liberty and the common good of all, Christians should seek recognition of Sundays and the Church’s holy days.


Okay, yes, the text says…but why do I see so many Christians going to the Malls or BoxStores on Sunday? Are they not forcing people to work? :hammering:Are they not putting the good businessman who closes on Sunday at a competive disadvantage? What about Holy Days, the Church obligates us the same as on Sundays but does not schedule the same number of Masses, are they less important? What about the Feast of St. Joseph, is the United States too poor?.. Or just not recovered from celebrating St Patrick?:irish3::shamrock2:
Certainly, a more convincing argument can be made for seeing God’s creatures display their innate abilities than imbibing in too much beer while watching brain concussions form?
How are those parishes around Churchill Downs different ? Perhaps it’s only a traffic problem…or perhaps 90% of the parish depend on horse racing…or making mint julius…or rather Juleps!

Derby Day? If horse raising is the Devil’s work…what do Christians do every Sunday at Retail Stores and Sports Bars?:twocents:

Should our pension programs divest themselves of Wal-Mart stock?:yukonjoe:
Here’s an idea:idea: Let’s wait and give Christmas Gifts on the Epiphany…Think how much we could save on all those after Christmas Sales before the USA Holiday of January 6th!
That Twelve Days of Christmas Song might get new recognition!
Derby Day! Kentucky! Maybe too many of us were taught by Ursuline Sisters of Mount St JOseph…Why?
Don’t Worry…Bee Happy!

Besides, maybe only Two Commandments matter anyway…:shrug:


Go to St. Martin at 1230, excellent parish and Mass.


What we call the Saturday evening Mass is technically a “vigil Mass.” Vigil comes from the Latin word to “keep watch.” The prayer candles in church are known as “vigil lights” for the same reason: They symbolically keep watch over our prayer intentions. Christians are “vigilant”—always watching—for the Day of the Lord, a reminder that every Sunday of the year is a little Easter, as the early Fathers of the Church noted.

Holy Saturday night inaugurates “the mother of all vigils” at nightfall with the lighting of the Easter fire and the sharing of the light of Christ from the paschal candle. Darkness is a necessary component of the Easter Vigil because the coming of Christ’s light dispels it. Vigils sprang up before many great feasts of the church, including Christmas, Epiphany, Ascension, Pentecost, the Immaculate Conception, the Assumption, and the eight feasts of the apostles, Saint John the Baptist, All Saints, and, curiously, the feast of Saint Lawrence.

The weekly vigil Mass accompanied the liturgical reforms of Vatican II, acknowledging the pastoral needs of workers and others who cannot keep the Sunday obligation. Pope John Paul II noted in 1998: “Because the faithful are obliged to attend Mass unless there is a grave impediment, pastors have the corresponding duty to offer to everyone the real possibility of fulfilling the precept. . . . From a liturgical point of view, in fact, holy days begin with First Vespers. Consequently, the liturgy of what is sometimes called the ‘Vigil Mass’ is in effect the ‘festive’ Mass of Sunday.”

Many ancient cultures perceived a “day” as lasting from sundown to sundown, including our Jewish ancestors. This perspective is recognized in the Creation story, in which “evening came, and morning followed—the first day.” Perhaps from the desire to distinguish between the Hebrew Sabbath on Saturday and the Lord’s Day on Sunday, the Hebrew day is not mentioned in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which notes only the canonical permission to celebrate the vigil Mass (CCC 2180). The permission itself can be found in the 1983 Code of Canon Law, which states that “the precept of participating in the Mass is satisfied by assistance at a Mass which is celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the holy day or on the evening of the preceding day” (canon 1248). This canon gives the most direct answer to “why” by legitimating the practice. The rationale of “why” is justified by the primacy of the Easter Vigil in our


to live in a place with your CHOICE of a bazillon churches to pick from. one of 5 things that I wished I lived in a city for.


Why “curiously”(St. Lawrence)? Doesn’t Gridiron refer to football rather than horse racing?:confused:


Saint Martin of Tours Louisville, Kentucky where the Spire Shines During the Month of June In Memory of The Souls in Purgatory!

Sunday Masses:
4:00 pm Saturday Vigil Mass
8:00 am (limited music)
10:00 am with Full Choir
12:00 pm Tridentine Mass

Not associated with the “Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests”


Going to the races is not a justifiable reason to miss Mass so if she works on Sunday she should attend Mass Saturday evening.

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