Sunday, December 9, 2012

Missing Mass

I remembered that her birthday was on September 8th
For someone who tries pretty hard to plan our activities around the liturgical year I fall into the "epic fail" category quite frequently.  Take this week for example.  I'd been excited about Saint Nicholas' feast day pretty much since I forgot it last year and scrambled at the last minute to throw something together.  And I thought about it creeping up on me all week... until the fifth... when I woke up and completely forgot that there was anything at all to remember until fairly late that night.

So maybe I shouldn't be surprised that a holy day of obligation snuck up on me, despite having ample warning (like the fact that it's in the same spot on the calender every single year... and the fact that I know that December 8th is a holy day of obligation...).

For some reason I thought that it had been announced last week, that in our diocese Sunday attendance fulfilled our obligation this year and while I'm not proud to admit it I was muscling my way through a really, really difficult Mass when I imagined the aforementioned announcement, in which two of my three children had decided that attending a High Mass was the optimal time to go bat-poo crazy and start acting like little savages.  And so when I heard the priest say something like: "because heaven forbid people have to go to two masses in a row" a part of me responded with a little cheer and "Score!  I won't have to wrangle these two little monsters into near silence two days in a row!"

You see, the girls have apparently spoiled me with their usually good behavior these past few months and I obviously don't handle the monster-ness as well as I imagined that I did when I wasn't staring it in the face.

Anyways, after spending the morning out and about in a snowstorm I returned home and saw that about 75% of my facebook friends had posted about how today was a holy day of obligation in their diocese.  And I felt oddly nervous and started googling.  I looked at the cathedral homepage and found nothing.  I looked at another parish in our area and again, no luck.  Finally I found a link to the cathedral bulletin and read that I was in fact, completely wrong.  Not only did the bulletin say that the day was a holy day of obligation, it specifically said that the vigil mass didn't fulfill the requirement.

And of course, the two masses of the day were well past at 8 am and 10 am.  And Paul was gone.  Did I forget to mention that?  Gone and cell phone-less since Mae swiped and hid his cell phone earlier in the week and while we know it's in the living room we just can't find it (I found a credit card she took out of his wallet the same day stuffed down the side crack of the couch during the search, however..).

Here's Maggie "I don't need a nap" Rose
shortly before we started getting ready to go
back outside.  She'd hidden herself under the
play horse after we got home from our errands
and fell asleep there.
After having a nervous breakdown on the blog's faebook page I made what could have very well been a less than stellar decision.  I'd already really wanted to go to confession before my I-missed-mass-on-a-holy-day-of-obligation realization.  But with finals week roughly 48 hours away, Paul had headed back to the library leaving me alone and car-less with all three kids.  So I decided to bundle the babies and walk the mile (give or take a bit) to the nearest parish.  I rolled the girls into their puffy snow suits and zipped Patrick into a outfit that makes him look a bit like a starfish.  Then I put Mae into her harness (yup, complete with a leash) and put Patrick into the Moby wrap and we headed out.

Or at least, we made it to the kitchen when I heard the door knob turn.  Paul had gotten my email and come home (his response to tell me he was coming home had never come through).  I was incredibly relieved.

Since everyone was already bundled up and the girls were looking forward to a snowy walk we decided to walk anyways, and headed outside to find that the snow had completely melted in the previous hour (Paul's comment that we were "a little over dressed" surprised me until I realized that the storm had passed).  We trudged to the nearest parish, waited in a very long confessional line, where I was very grateful that Paul was there to help me keep the girls in line (literally and figuratively) and then attended a beautiful advent mass.

The priest did announce that this particular mass met the obligations for both days, which led to a debate between Paul and I since I'd just finished reading Father Z's post on the subject (and made me wonder if that was the announcement that I half heard during the last mass that left me so confused).  Then we walked back in the dark (reason #1 that I was really, really glad that Paul was there... in my earlier email to him I'd asked him to please come pick us up after Mass if he didn't make it, because walking home in the dark on our own would have been pretty scary).

When we arrived home Mae Bae collapsed dramatically on the ground... as if we don't walk roughly the same distance on a daily basis:

We managed our advent prayers and readings, ate leftovers and bundled the bunnies into bed since someone (pictured above in pink snow pants) had stood on a chest and turned off the heater before we left for Mass (I usually turn it way down... but not off!) and the house was slow in heating back up.

I was excited when Patrick woke up at 9:30 after sleeping through Mass and dinner and the beginning of my work time, but he refused to cooperate with the idea of being awake and holding a "look-he's-a-month-old-now" photo shoot.  However I did manage to snap this:

I have a feeling next year December 8th might stand out a bit more clearly in my head... or maybe not... somehow it's always the feast days that I'm absolutely sure I'll remember that I forget at the last moment.  Maybe my new advent resolution should be keeping my calendar up to date and actually checking in to see what it says!

I hope you all had a blessed feast day!  Now to get ready for Sadie's first ice skating recital!  I'm sure I'll have pictures to share later on (although I'm not sure how many considering her "routine" is roughly ten seconds long!).


  1. Please don't worry about it as it was not your fault.

    I went on a rant to my husband about how confusing bishops tinkering with holy days makes the whole thing. This was how he explained it to me:

    The Feasts set out as Holy Days of Obligation are January 1 (Mary, Mother of God), January 6 (Epiphany), Ascension, Corpus Christi, Assumption, All Saints, Decemeber 8 (Immaculate Conception) and December 25 (Christmas). The bishops usually transfer the Epiphany, Ascension and Corpus Christi to a Sunday, though it depends on the Bishop. If January 1, August 15 and November 1 fall on a Saturday OR Monday, then they are not obligatory. December 8 and December 25 are the main non-changeable feasts.

    He also said that yes, attending Mass last night could count as both masses - that it meets the canonical requirement in a sense but not what is "intended" by the holy day of obligation.

    I swear, you'd think the bishops were trying to make Holy Days as complicated as possible!!!

  2. If you honestly forgot, it is not a sin. Sin requires consent of the will.

  3. There is so much confusion about Holy Days of Obligation, what with removing the obligation to attend Mass if it falls on a Saturday or Monday, transferring the celebration to Sunday... (The Assumption is the one that I forget ...)

    We went Friday evening for the Holy Day and attended a Nuptial Mass at 6 last evening; we usually attend the Saturday evening Mass anyway.

    Frankly, some priests don't even get this one right, as Dec. 8 is one of those few days where one cannot do a "twofer". My daughter had to go last evening for the Holy Day, and went again this morning for Sunday. You do what you can do!

    And, keep in mind.... you, personally, have nothing whatsoever to worry about, as caring for infants is a "just reason" to miss Mass, according to the Catechism.

    God bless!


  4. Please, please, please don't you dare feel guilty about forgetting. You just had a baby, c-sec no less, you were sick before the birth and have two other little ones. You shouldn't even feel guilty if you remembered and were too worn out to go. I homeschooled 6 children for 27 years. There will be lots of opportunities but resting your body for now is important.
    I can't believe the priest would say one Mass covered both, however :-(

  5. No need to go to confession when you honestly did not KNOW. We cannot commit a mortal sin without intent.

    You learned a good lesson - in the US the Immaculate Conception is always a HDO and one that can never be a 2-for-One :) Bookmark Dr Ed Peter's Canon Law Blog, he sums it all up in his brilliant way.

  6. Now, I am late on this, but I would just like to clear the ground up, on this matter.

    Under the title of the Immaculate Conception, the Blessed Virgin Mary is the Patroness of the United States. Because of this, if December 8 (i.e., the Immaculate Conception's natural date of observance) lands either on a Saturday or on a Monday, then the obligation to attend Mass for the Immaculate Conception remains. Moreover, in those instances, as well as the instances, where Christmas (December 25) lands either on a Saturday or on a Monday, then you MUST attend two Masses: You must attend one Mass for the Holy Day, as well as another Mass for the preceding/following Sunday (In short, only attending one Mass CANNOT fulfill both obligations).

    Christmas (December 25) is ALWAYS a Holy Day of Obligation, regardless of which day of the week that it falls on.

    There is one small caveat to consider, with the Immaculate Conception: If December 8 lands on a Sunday, since it would land on a Sunday of Advent, then the Sunday of Advent takes liturgical precedence over the Immaculate Conception, at all of the Sunday masses, that weekend. As a result, the Immaculate Conception MUST be transferred over to the next day (Monday, December 9). However, the obligation to attend Mass is NOT transferred with it. It is when this occurs, and ONLY when this occurs, that the obligation to attend Mass for the Immaculate Conception remains/that the obligation to attend Mass for the Immaculate Conception is dispensed, for a particular year (This is also the ONLY instance, where the Immaculate Conception is transferred from December 8 to December 9).

    In short, the Immaculate Conception is always a Holy Day of Obligation, WHENEVER it is observed on December 8 (As long as December 8 does NOT land on a Sunday (Please see above)).

    The Holy Days of Obligation that fall under "The Saturday-or-Monday Rule" (i.e., If a certain Holy Day of Obligation falls either on a Saturday or on a Monday, then the obligation to attend Mass for that Holy Day is dispensed, for that particular year) are Mary, the Mother of God (January 1), the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (August 15), and All Saints (November 1).

    In the ecclesiastical provinces of Boston, Hartford, New York, Newark, Omaha, and Philadelphia, the Ascension continues to observed on the Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter, and is always observed as a Holy Day of Obligation, in those ecclesiastical provinces. The rest of the United States (outside of the six previously mentioned ecclesiastical provinces) has transferred the Ascension to the Seventh Sunday of Easter. Hence, for them, the Ascension simply carries the Sunday obligation. Either way, the Ascension ALWAYS holds an obligation of Mass attendance.

    If a Holy Day of Obligation lands on a Sunday (with the exception of the Immaculate Conception and the Ascension (in the ecclesiastical provinces that continue to observe the Ascension on the proper Thursday)), then the obligation to attend Mass for the Holy Day coincides with the Sunday obligation, and there is only one Mass that you would need to attend. Then it is a "two-fer," but when it comes to the Holy Days of Obligation and "two-fering," that is the ONLY acceptable time for a "two-fer."

    1. Moreover, it is when this occurs, and ONLY when this occurs, that the obligation to attend Mass for the Immaculate Conception is dispensed, for a particular year (This is also the ONLY instance, where the Immaculate Conception is transferred from December 8 to December 9).


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