and §2: .
Sunday, on which by apostolic tradition the paschal mystery is celebrated, must be observed in the universal Church as the primordial holy day of obligation. The following days must also be observed: the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Epiphany, the Ascension, the Body and Blood of Christ, Holy Mary the Mother of God, her Immaculate Conception, her Assumption, Saint Joseph, Saint Peter and Saint Paul the Apostles, and All Saints.With the prior approval of the Apostolic See, however, the conference of bishops can suppress some of the holy days of obligation or transfer them to a Sunday.
This would seem that the majority of the holy days have been transferred and/or eliminated when faced with the "Monday" rule. It makes no sense to me to move these days.
Here is the list of holy days in the USA:
- Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God (note 1)
- Ascension (only in the ecclesiastical provinces of Boston, Hartford, New York, Newark, Omaha, and Philadelphia; the others have transferred this celebration to the following Sunday)
- Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (note 1)
- All Saints' Day (note 1)
- Feast of the Immaculate Conception
The understanding of holy days of obligation has become so convoluted, the average Catholic has lost sight of what a holy day is and what it signifies. What is the major difficulty in assisting at Mass during the week? Is it that much of a burden to ask a Catholic to assist at Holy Mass several days outside of Sunday? Apparently to the USCCB, it is. And what is the reasoning?
Here it is....
§1: Sunday is the day on which the paschal mystery is celebrated in light of the apostolic tradition and is to be observed as the foremost holy day of obligation in the universal Church. Also to be observed are the day of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Epiphany, the Ascension and the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, Holy Mary Mother of God and her Immaculate Conception and Assumption, Saint Joseph, the Apostles Saints Peter and Paul, and finally, All Saints.
§2: However, the conference of bishops can abolish certain holy days of obligation or transfer them to a Sunday with prior approval of the Apostolic See.
Complementary Norm: In accord with canon 1246, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops decrees that the holy days of obligation to be observed in the United States are the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God; the Solemnity of the Ascension; the Solemnity of the Assumption; the Solemnity of All Saints; the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception; the Solemnity of Christmas. The Solemnity of the Epiphany shall be transferred to the first Sunday following January 1; the Solemnity of Corpus Christi shall be observed on the second Sunday following Pentecost.
Approved: General Meeting, November 1983
Reviewed: Holy See (Congregation for Clergy), Letter from Apostolic Pro-Nuncio (Prot. No. 1091/84/8) February 13, 1984
Promulgated: Minutes of November 1983 General Meeting, March 1984
SUBSEQUENT ACTION: Canon 1246§2
DECREE OF PROMULGATIONOn December 13, 1991 the members of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops of the United States of American made the following general decree concerning holy days of obligation for Latin rite Catholics:
In addition to Sunday, the days to be observed as holy days of obligation in the Latin Rite dioceses of the United States of America, in conformity with canon 1246, are as follows:
January 1, the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter, the solemnity of the Ascension
August 15, the solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
November 1, the solemnity of All Saints
December 8, the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
December 25, the solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Whenever January 1, the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, or August 15, the solemnity of the Assumption, or November 1, the solemnity of All Saints, falls on a Saturday or on a Monday, the precept to attend Mass is abrogated.
This decree of the Conference of Bishops was approved and confirmed by the Apostolic See by a decree of the Congregation for Bishops (Prot. N. 296/84), signed by Bernardin Cardinal Gantin, prefect of the Congregation, and dated July 4, 1992.
As president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, I hereby declare that the effective date of this decree for all the Latin rite dioceses of the United States of America will be January 1, 1993, the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.
Given at the offices of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, DC, November 17, 1992.
Most Reverend Daniel E. Pilarczyk
Archbishop of Cincinnati
Monsignor Robert N. Lynch
In accord with the provisions of canon 1246§2 of the Code of Canon Law, which states: "... the conference of bishops can abolish certain holy days of obligation or transfer them to a Sunday with prior approval of the Apostolic See," the National Conference of Catholic Bishops of the United States decrees that the Ecclesiastical Provinces of the United States may transfer the Solemnity of the Ascension of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ from Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter to the Seventh Sunday of Easter according to the following procedure.
SUBSEQUENT ACTION: Canon 1246§2
The decision of each Ecclesiastical Province to transfer the Solemnity of the Ascension is to be made by the affirmative vote of two-thirds of the bishops of the respective Ecclesiastical Province. The decision of the Ecclesiastical Province should be communicated to the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and to the President of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.
This decree was approved by His Holiness Pope John Paul II by a decree of the Congregation for Bishops signed by His Eminence Lucas Cardinal Moreira Neves, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, and dated July 5, 1999.
As President of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, I hereby decree that the effective date of this decree for all the Latin Rite dioceses of the United States of America will be September 8, 1999, Feast of the Birth of the Virgin Mary.
Given at the offices of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, DC, August 6, 1999, Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord.
Most Reverend Joseph A. Fiorenza
Bishop of Galveston-Houston
Reverend Monsignor Dennis M. Schnurr
So, what can the average Catholic glean from all of that? Well, let's take a look. We can take away that as the years have progressed from 1983, the idea of a holy day of obligation is too obligatory for Catholics. So, the movement of some to Sunday and the abrogation of some in light of Saturday and Monday being too close to Sunday (The Monday Rule), was supposed to make being Catholic easier. Since when is being Catholic supposed to be easy? I don't remember Jesus saying anything about being a believer, which should be easy. Yet, by eliminating holy days (read: transfer to Sunday or abrogate) Catholicism in the USA has become easier, because the obligations have been reduced.
Ultimately what I see from this that rather than continuing to hold Catholics to a higher standard, the USCCB has found a common denominator and reduced the obligations of being Catholic to the bare minimum. This begs the question, how does this help us, as Catholics, to grow in holiness? How does this help us as Catholics, remain faithful. If celebrating a holy day of obligation gives us pause on our lives, by asking us to assist at Holy Mass, in an obligatory manner, how can that be seen as a bad or undesirable thing? There is nothing too busy about a Catholic's life in America that says that one cannot assist at Holy Mass several days outside of Sunday.
In my opinion, it is a travesty that our Catholic life is being stripped away from us. In my opinion, a Holy Day is still a Holy Day and it should be treated as such. The nagging and begging question still remains, am I doing all I can (not should, not required) to save my soul? The answer for me is no. So, I need holy days of obligation to help me. These days should not be seen as a hindrance to the faith, but rather as a help. And if our faith can be helped, why is our leadership taking that help away?
Bottom line, holy days of obligation help. The minimum says that we need not go if they fall on certain days, but why wouldn't we go? Why wouldn't we get all the help we can? I certainly need it, but the USCCB doesn't agree, by virtue of their actions regarding this issue. Interesting.