Monday, 16 January 2012

Does a Vigil Mass fulfil your Sunday obligation?

I ask this question very obviously from the standpoint of one who resides on the traditional side of the Catholic Faith.

Which is it to be?

Most Catholics would, of course say, YES! It certainly would fulfil one's obligations.
And, you know what? I lean towards agreeing with them, but only at an angle of about 20 degrees.

I believe that, if no Mass is available on a Sunday, then a Vigil Mass the night before must be regarded as valid in terms of obligation.

But..if an EF Mass was available on the Sunday....Saturday night would be out.

Unless, of course, I was a shift worker and could not make the Sunday Mass.

We are faced with this situation some Sundays in Menevia Diocese and I think it is perfectly legit to attend on the evening before under these circumstances.

Some disagree; I would really like to know where the Latin Mass Society stands on this point.

Do they accept a Vigil EF Mass or not?


  1. CCC 2180:The precept of the Church specifies the law of the Lord more precisely: "On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass."117 "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.

    The Catholic Church - "She makes the rules so you don't have to." (and neither does the LMS)

    In other words - yes it does.

  2. I believe it does although I never went to a Vigil mass until recently. We now live where the weather can get bad and if we know the roads will not be safe on a Sunday, we attend the vigil mass. I must admit my conscience bothers me a bit and so I try not to make it a habit. I do have a hard time accepting this although I understand it is okay to do.

  3. I am worried about this. And I speak as one who has been to vigil MAsses, and whose relatives go to vigil Masses.

    It is my understanding that Mother Church first did this to help emergency workers and the like so they could keep their Sunday obligations.

    However, it is now widespread in the sense that some people prefer to go to Mass on Saturdays.

    Our local parish [nearest Church] only has a Saturday MAss, and i always felt a bit weird telling neighbours, friends, and others locally that we would be going to Mass on Saturday...

    I do think as a Church "we" should promote Sunday Mass and the vigil Mass should indeed be for those who CANNOT make the Sunday.

    A few people have asked various priests for a Sunday Mass again, but apparently it is a Diocesan decision...

  4. Hi Richard, a bit off topic here. Maybe the water boarding is causing it, but the percentages in your poll don't seem to be adding up...
    Maybe it's just my maths?

  5. I'm not a vigil Mass person myself, but there is the very ancient practice of the Sabbath beginning at sundown on the previous evening. If it was good enough for Jesus...

  6. Charlie - hmm.....not sure why they don't add up. Nothing wrong with your maths (and nothing wrong with mine either, blame the pollsters!)

    PTP/Parapedimos - the fact is that for centuries the church said that only Sunday Mass attendance fulfilled one's obligation (never mind what Our Lord did).
    I am interested in the stand people (and organisations)take.
    That is why I posed the question to the LMS.
    I reiterate, the fact that my conscience is only clear when I attend a vigil Mass because there is not a Sunday Mass available.

    Gareth and Vintage Hare, many thanks (and thanks all so far).

  7. An interesting question is: When does the "evening" begin? Does a Nuptial Mass at 2 pm on a Saturday, fulfil the Sunday obligation, for instance? The American Commentary on the Canon Law Code suggests
    4 pm, so that a 4 pm Mass or later would be OK, even if it were the Mass of the Saturday.

    The British Commentary on the Code says that anything after midday counts as "evening of the preceding day."
    So a 12.01 Mass on Saturday would satify the Sunday obligation. We have had one or two priests who advertised such Masses as being for Sunday and packed their churches out with parishioners from elsewhere who were doing their Saturday shopping and taking advantage of the better bus services on the Saturday too. Such priests did not make themselves popular among their neighbouring confreres, by all accounts. But the collections were great!

    The British canon lawyers are more laxist than the Americans, but is it a safe opinion to state that any Mass after 12 noon is OK? I think not. Given that Sunday Mass attendance is a grave obligation which binds under pain of mortal sin, one would not want to risk giving erroneous advice.

  8. Of course we read in Scripture "of the evening and the morning was the first day made"! The problem, for me arises when parishes have a vigil Mass at,say, 4.00pm on Saturday evening and then a Sunday evening Mass at, say, 7.00pm. They seem to have a day of 27 hours! A rather long "Sabbath"

  9. Richard,
    I have some reservations on this issue (Saturday Vigil Mass)However, they do fulfill the Sunday Obligation, which I believe is from the point that: The First Vespers Of The Sunday are said on the Saturday Evening (Evening Prayer 1)Yes they were intended for people who found it difficult to attend Sunday Mass such as: travelers/workers or where there were a shortage of priests etc! Like many of your Good Readers due to circumstances on occasions I do attend them, but I feel very uneasy about attending them also!
    This Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle ise wicked with them, especially the Jarrow area! Many moons ago in St Bede's Jarrow there was the early workers Sunday Mass, which was celebrated at 6.25am!
    The advent of the Saturday Evening Mass brought in the Ecclesiastical/Liturgical Band Wagon, which many Priests jump on, where ,which was formally Liturgically/ Canonically Illicit became licit as in the case of Female Altar Servers/Extra-Ordinary Ministers Of The Eucharist etc!

    God Bless And Help Us All!


  10. Richard

    My point is that the Church is crystal clear on this. Faithful Catholics and organisations have no business holding a different view. I am sure the LMS would not dream of contradicting the Church. (Although there may well be rules about when EF Masses can be said of which I am unaware).

    However we are free to prefer (as I do) attending Mass early on Sunday morning.

  11. What Part Time Pilgrim said.

  12. In doing the research for my own post on the matter, I wasn't able to come up with a lot of specific details on Vatican thinking. However, I gather that the Church's preference is still for Sunday worship and rest, functioning in parallel to the Jewish Sabbath, and the Saturday evening "anticipated Mass" was made available as a concession for people who are forced by circumstance to work or travel on Sundays.

    BTW, not all Saturday evening Masses are "vigil Masses"; that term only properly obtains to Masses held the evening before certain major solemnities and feasts, Masses which have propers specific to them: Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, St. John the Baptist, Ss. Peter and Paul, and the Assumption. Most Saturday evening Masses are "anticipated Masses", and as such take the propers of the Sunday they anticipate.

    @ F Marsden: Since "evening" is a relative term, depending on time of year and latitude, the local bishops generally define liturgical evening for their dioceses. The only universal norm is for the Easter Vigil, which must begin at night ... astronomical twilight or later is best; all the other vigil Masses merely say "before or after Vespers (Evening Prayer I)"; i.e., pretty much between 5 and 7 pm. So it's best to check with your local chancery or parish office to see how early a Saturday nuptial Mass can start and still count towards the Sunday obligation.

  13. Uh, Richard ... did you move to California? The time stamp on my comment is two hours behind my local time. }8^O

  14. Only Jews have their dutiful religious observance on Saturday.

  15. Most commentaries on the canon say after 4 p.m. and base that on the 1953 Apostolic Constitution Christus Dominus that first allowed 'evening' Masses on limited days (until then Masses couldn't be celebrated after 12 noon). That document allowed Mass to be celebrated in the "evening" and forbid them from starting before 4 p.m.

    In 1957, with the Motu Proprio Sacram Communionem-- On Laws Of Fasting And The Evening Mass, at the strong request of the US bishops, permission was given for bishops to allow daily evening Masses.