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I know that the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is a seemingly immoveable feast. Unlike the other holy days the obligation is not transferred when it falls on a Saturday or a Monday (so you have to go to Mass two days in a row, and daily communicants whip out their tiny violins to play a festive round of Stabat Mater).

But this year, the Immaculate Conception is on a Sunday, and the readings and everything are transferred to Monday but there is no addition obligation to attend Mass. So, my question is, what is so much more superlative about having the requirement to attend Mass abrogated every few years on one day for one feast and why is the Immaculate Conception more important than other Marian Feasts or All Saints Day (or Corpus Christi or Ascension Thursday, which are always transferred to Sundays in my diocese)?

Is it only acceptable to celebrate a Christ/Trinity oriented feast day on a Sunday (Like Divine Mercy Sunday, Trinity Sunday or Christ the King of the Universe)?

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2 Answers 2

what is so much more superlative about having the requirement to attend Mass abrogated every few years on one day for one feast

Code of Canon Law which guides Feast Days says the following:

1246 §1. 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.

§2. 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.

So the cannon law makes it clear that the bishops council has the authority to suppress some of the holy days of obligation or transfer them to a Sunday. And that is exactly what United States Conference of Catholic Bishops chose to do on December 13, 1991.ref That is they chose to remove the precept to attend Mass if a holy days of obligation (excluding Nativity) falls on a Saturday or on a Monday.

Why did they choose so? That cannot be answered by us. Only the bishops can. They might have considered the culture, local tradition etc., before deciding so.

It is to be noted that not all Conference of Catholic Bishops chose this. For example in India we do have to attend mass on two consecutive days even if a a solemnity falls on a Saturday or on a Monday.

why is the Immaculate Conception more important than other Marian Feasts or All Saints Day (or Corpus Christi or Ascension Thursday), which are always transferred to Sundays in my diocese)?

Actually Immaculate Conception is less important than Advent Sunday and that is the reason it is transferred to the next day. But All Saints Day / Corpus Christi / Ascension are more important than Ordinary Sundays and hence the local bishops conference can decide to move them to the next Sunday of the Ordinary Time.

Is it only acceptable to celebrate a Christ/Trinity oriented feast day on a Sunday?

Yes. As the saying goes, "Our Lord's Day is the Lord of All Days". But there are exception to this rule. The ranking of the days according to their priority are:

  • The Paschal Triduum and Easter Sunday
  • The solemnities of Nativity of the Lord, the Epiphany, the Ascension, and Pentecost
  • Sundays of Advent, Lent, and Easter season
  • Ash Wednesday
  • Weekdays of Holy Week up to and including Thursday
  • Days within the Octave of Easter
  • Other Solemnities
  • Sundays of the Year

So as per the above list Sundays of Advent have more priority than the the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, hence solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is moved to the next day.

There is an exception to the third item on the list above. That is if the Solemnities of a particular calendar falls on Sundays of Advent, Lent, and Easter then the local bishop can choose to celebrate them instead of the Sunday. The order of such solemnity are:

  • The solemnity of the principal patron of the place, city or state
  • The solemnity of the dedication or anniversary of the dedication of one's own church
  • The solemnity of the title of one's own church (the mystery or saint to which it is dedicated)
  • The solemnity of either the title or the founder of a religious institute

For example, if a diocese's patron saint is Mary under the Title of Immaculate Conception (like my diocese), the feast of Immaculate Conception is celebrated on December 08 in that diocese alone when the rest of the Church celebrated the Advent Sunday.

(Just of of curiosity: //festive round of Stabat Mater// Isn't Stabat Mater suppose to be a sorrowful song?? )

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"Stabat Mater" is the sequence for the feast of the Seven Sorrows of Mary, which the traditional Catholic Church celebrates on the Friday preceding Palm Sunday and again on September 15. (I don't know offhand whether this feast survived the post-Vatican-II modernization.) –  Andreas Blass Dec 9 '13 at 1:23

Well it's not any Sunday but a Sunday in advent. So the Sunday takes precedence over a solemnity.

Can't understand why it doesn't move to Saturday though. Introduction to Divine Office says that's what should happen.

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Welcome to the site. As you're a new visitor, I'd like to recommend the following posts, which are meant to help newcomers "learn the ropes": help page, How we are different than other sites? and What makes a good supported answer? –  David Stratton Dec 8 '13 at 15:36

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