EWTN Catholic Q&A
Holy day of obligation
Question from Grace on 12-05-2012:

This Saturday, December 8, is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, a holy day of obligation. My parish usually offers a 7 PM vigil Mass the night before the holy day. The only Mass they are offering this year is the 9 AM Mass on the holy day itself.

I take care of my 91 year-old mom. We are unable to attend any 9 AM Mass! Will Masses on Sunday count for the solemnity? If not, will I be committing a mortal sin for missing Mass?

Answer by Catholic Answers on 12-05-2012:


First, please allow me to answer the basic question for everyone. I will answer your particular circumstances after that.

The general rule is that one Mass does not cover two obligations. Even in parishes where they will be offering a Mass for the solemnity during the day on Saturday and in the evening of that day as a vigil for Sunday, Catholics cannot treat the evening Mass on Saturday as covering both obligations. Basically, you have to go to two Masses that weekend, one for the Immaculate Conception and one for Sunday. Neither can the Sunday Mass on December 9 be counted for the Immaculate Conception.

In your case, care for a homebound person is a just reason to miss Mass on a Sunday and on a holy day of obligation. However, your wording leads me to believe that there is some possibility that your mother might not be homebound but that you simply don't want to take her to Mass at 9 AM for some reason. If your mother is Catholic and is able to attend Mass with your assistance, then both of you need to go to Mass, even if you must find another parish in your area with a more convenient Mass schedule. If your regular parish is the only one within reasonable travel distance and if there is some medical reason why your mother is ambulatory but cannot attend a 9 AM Mass, then that is a just reason to miss Mass.

Michelle Arnold
Catholic Answers