Holy Days of Obligation

Canon 1246, §2 - Holy Days of Obligation

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

Why?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains holy days of obligation this way:

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 [CCC 2185].

We are not just individuals, but also one Body of Christ - the Church. So, as a universal Church, we celebrate the Eucharist and this time as "holy" for God's sake and our own. The Church has laid it down as a "basic" element of a practicing Catholic to attend Mass and Holy Days of Obligation - it is one of the precepts of the Church.