This year, since the Fourth Sunday of Advent falls on the Eve of the Nativity, what does this mean for our Mass obligations?

As per the norm, Catholics are obliged to attend Mass on Sunday to keep holy and commemorate the Christian Sabbath. This can be done this year by attending Mass on Saturday at 5.30 or Sunday morning at 8.45 for the Fourth Sunday of Advent.

The Feast of the Nativity is a holy day of obligation as it calls the Christian faithful to celebrate a particular dimension of the mysteries of Jesus Christ [and His Church] – namely the Incarnation. Therefore, we are obliged to attend holy Mass either on Sunday evening for the Vigil of the Nativity (4.00 pm, 6.30 pm, or 9 pm) or Monday morning Mass of the Nativity at 9.00 am.

Since we are obliged to celebrate these two important mysteries we cannot fulfill the obligation for the celebration of Sunday and the Nativity obligations with just one Mass (say, Sunday evening).

 

  • Option 1: Saturday evening 4th Sunday of Advent 5.30 Mass + Sunday evening Vigil of the Nativity (4pm or 6.30 pm or 9 pm)
  • Option 2: Saturday evening 4th Sunday of Advent 5.30 Mass + Monday morning Nativity Mass at Dawn (9 am)
  • Option 3: Sunday morning 4th Sunday of Advent 8.45 am Mass + Sunday evening Vigil of the Nativity (4pm or 6.30 pm or 9 pm)
  • Option 4: Sunday morning 4th Sunday of Advent 8.45 am Mass = Monday morning Nativity Mass at Dawn (9 am)