Wedding Mass Obligation

We are attending a wedding at 5 PM on Saturday evening. The readings will not be the SUnday readings. I will go again on Sunday but due to activities it will be very difficult for my daughter to go again. SHe usually goes several times during the week, so she is not just a slacker. Would she be sinning by not going again?

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.

The readings do not matter – A Mass celebrated on the evening of the preceding day fulfills the obligation. Your daughter will not need attend on Sunday (and neither will you, but there is nothing wrong with doing so).


The above poster is correct. This question comes up with regularity. Here are a few answers from these forums:

In a nutshell: ANY Mass celebrated on the Sunday, or the evening before(the time is subject to discussion) fulfills the Sunday obligation. The readings do not have a bearing on this.

In the United States, any Mass celebrated at 4PM or later on Saturday (or anytime on Sunday) fulfills the Sunday obligation.

Canon law is quite clear on this. Canon 1248.1 says that any Mass celebrated on Sunday, or Saturday evening (ie after 4 PM) fulfills the Sunday obligation.

Any Mass.

I would suggest asking your priest. Not all priests agree. Most of our priests do believe that to fulfill Sunday obligation the readings need to be Sunday’s liturgy. This is what I was taught in RCIA also. As a musician, I play for Saturday weddings and, since they have always chosen readings that were not Sunday’s readings, I have never considered my ‘obligation’ fulfilled. I have shown my priest some of threads posted here that say the readings don’t matter. He adamantly disagrees.

Can. 1248 §1. A person who assists at a Mass celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite

Our priests interpret that to mean the Roman, Byzantine, etc. acknowledged by the Pope that use the Sunday readings from their missal, not weddings or funerals that may use readings other than those in the liturgy for that Sunday.

That’s not what the canon says. Simply because the canon broadens the ability to attend Mass in a different Catholic rite or Church sui iuris, does not mean that it limits the attendance at a Mass of one’s own rite/Church.

In canon law, those who interpret and apply the law are forbidden to add requirements which the law itself does not specify. We call this “adding a burden.” If the law says that you can attend any Mass, one cannot add the burden “but only if the Mass has certain readings”

There are plenty of examples of times when the readings at a given Sunday Mass are different from the scheduled readings. Here are some obvious examples:

Feast days which are important to the diocese or parish may be celebrated on a Sunday in Ordinal time, if those feasts happen to fall during the week that year.

The consecration of a new church building may occur on a Sunday. The readings would not be the Sunday readings.

Ordination Mass may be celebrated on a Sunday. The readings would not be the Sunday readings.

Confirmation Mass can occur on a Sunday. The readings would not be the Sunday readings.

Imagine this scenario: A Catholic attends a priestly ordination Mass at the Cathedral on a Sunday at 9:00 AM. The Mass text is that of an ordination. The readings are that of an ordination. Approach the ordaining bishop after the Mass and ask him the question: Do I still need to attend the 11:00 Mass today because I haven’t fulfilled my Sunday obligation since the readings were changed? Imagine the bishop’s response. Would he tell you that you have to attend a second Mass? Of course not!

The Lectionary and the GIRM allow for considerable flexibility in the readings for Mass. There are plenty of examples of when those readings can be changed. The Church would not allow this to happen if such a Mass would not fulfill the obligation. This is just plain common sense. Those who claim that the readings have to be the Sunday readings are ignoring the Church’s own liturgical laws which say that the readings can be changed. Why in the world would the Church allow such changes if those changes would result in Catholics not-fulfilling their Sunday obligation??? Again, it just makes no sense.

We cannot add burdens to the law which the law itself does not specify. Nowhere does the Church say that there is an additional burden added which specifies that the readings must be the scheduled Sunday readings. No priest can add such a burden.

Wow, if that is the kind of :twocents: mis-information :twocents: out there, I would *suggest asking your priest *only if he is a canon lawyer. :eek:

Who is Not A Canon Lawyer (but whose Priest Is)

I think going on Sunday morning also is the right thing so you hear the Sunday readings.
I assume that your daughter cannot get there without you?

As a former Protestant who faithfully attended Sunday services, I would never have used attending a wedding on a Saturday as an excuse not to go to church on Sunday. I also would not have used a Saturday church funeral as an excuse not to go on Sunday. So, what I have heard from several local priests made perfect sense to me.

Please understand that it’s not an “excuse.” If one has fulfilled the Sunday obligation, as the Church defines that obligation, then one need not seek any justification for refraining from attending a second Mass on Sunday–the obligation has been fulfilled. There’s nothing wrong with going to a second Mass, but one should not feel any obligation to do so.

The priests who told you that you need to attend a second Mass are adding a burden to the Church’s discipline which the Church has not placed there. The Church says that a Catholic must attend Mass on Sunday. Nowhere does the Church say that a person must attend more than one Mass on any given Sunday, regardless of the circumstances.

I agree with you but some Canon Law commentaries make the distinction between attending a wedding that includes a Nuptial Mass (IOW, you’re primarily there for the wedding) and attending a Saturday evening Mass that happens to be a Nuptial Mass (like those who always go on Saturday at 7 p.m. no matter what Mass is celebrated).

More precisely, and germane to the OP: One would not commit a *sin *by failing to go to a [second] Sunday Mass.


And where is this stated in canon law?

I’m not asking you to prove it, but I’m asking the question in general.

Again I’ll repeat that if the canon law says that we fulfill the obligation by attending Mass, no one else can come along and add an additional burden which the law itself does not provide-for by saying that the Mass must meet additional requirements which the Church does not specify; and indeed the Church specifically allows for the wedding readings to be proclaimed at a Mass on Sunday.

Canon law commentaries are one thing, but canon law itself is a different matter. We aren’t bound to follow the commentaries, we’re bound to follow the law itself.

Yes, exactly.

I realize that you’re not trying to impose an additional burden. My comments are simply to make the point to other readers here.


This is something that seems to pop up with great regularity, on these boards and in life. I have “discussed” this with an obstinate religion teacher at our Catholic high school who insists that Saturday late afternoon/evening nuptial Masses do not fulfill the Sunday obligation. I pointed him in the direction of canon law, and even that didn’t seem to satisfy him!

Thanks for enunciating this so clearly.

As Father David pointed out, this is simply not required or necessary. Making statements that could induce unwarranted guilt, and cause confusion about actual canon law or church teaching, is unhelpful.

“Several local priests” apparently have been putting their own spin on canon law, and are mistaken.

Attending a Mass on late Saturday afternoon or evening is not the same as attending a simple wedding ceremony which - even if a Catholic wedding - does NOT fulfill the obligation. Should you choose to attend again on Sunday - wonderful. It is not, however, in any way necessary, as the obligation would be fulfilled, IF the wedding was a nuptial Mass, generally at 4 pm or later.

Leading a good Catholic life, and following the laws of the Church, is not easy; laying guilt or extra burdens on people due to one’s own preferences is not helpful or charitable.

I’m not confused are you? I think it would be a good thing to actually hear the proper readings for the given Sunday, if possible. And if her daughter cannot get to Mass without her then her daughter has no obligation. As to wether a “special” Mass on Saturday evening or Sunday not using the proper readings for a given Sunday (for whichever Catholic Rite is being celebrated) satisfies the Sunday Obligation, I differ in opinion and go with Fr. McNamara from Rome who says they should attend a Mass with the Sunday readings to satisfy their obligations.

My question is this:

Where in canon law, or the liturgical laws of the Church does it say that if a Catholic attends Mass on a Sunday (and Sat. evening is liturgical Sunday), and that Mass does not have the Sunday readings, the Mass does not fulfill the obligation? Where does the Church say this???

The problem I have with these interpretations when it comes to a wedding Mass is that there is no doubt that other ritual Masses (the examples I gave earlier like the dedication of a church, ordination, confirmation, etc) do fulfill the Sunday obligation.

What makes weddings different?
A Sunday ordination Mass fulfills the obligation. A Sunday wedding Mass does not fulfill the obligation. That simply makes no sense to me.

If one makes the argument that a wedding Mass cannot fulfill the obligation based on the fact that the readings have been changed, then it stands to reason that attending an ordination Mass where the readings are changed would likewise not fulfill the obligation. Is this not so??? Since that’s the case, why do we expect the priest to announce that the wedding Mass doesn’t count, but I’ve never heard of a bishop announcing that the ordination Mass doesn’t count.

If the Sunday obligation is not fulfilled, I have 2 lingering questions:

  1. Why does the Church specifically provide for wedding Masses on (most) Sundays?

  2. If those Masses do not fulfill the obligation, why does the Church not say this? It seems that failing to mention this is not just a glaring omission, but outright negligence.

One simply cannot take the statement “a Sunday wedding Mass does not fulfill the obligation” and reconcile that to canon law which has no such requirement.

I realize full well that the focus of a wedding Mass is often on the couple rather than on the Mass itself. But this is a very subjective thing. A person can attend a wedding Mass on Sunday faithfully just as one might attend a Sunday ordination Mass without the proper mindset. In either case, the obligation has been fulfilled (albeit in a minimalist sort of way).

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