EWTN Catholic Q&A
RE: Saturday Mass
Question from Lori on 08-27-2013:

Ms. Arnold seemed to state categorically that the Church has issued no limits on what time a Saturday vigil Mass qualifies as fulfilling the obligation for Sunday Mass. In the diocese where I live, 5 PM is said to be the time for the Saturday vigil Mass and no other time is allowed.

Answer by Catholic Answers on 08-28-2013:


I'm afraid you are mixing two different concepts.

A diocese sets the time for vigil Masses to occur within its geographical boundaries. In many dioceses in the U.S., that time is generally around 4 or 5 PM. What this means is that a parish may not hold a vigil Mass at any time before that time set by the diocese.

But this has nothing to do with when a Catholic may fulfill his obligation to attend Mass on Sunday or the afternoon of the day before Sunday (or a holy day). A Catholic is not required to fulfill his obligation at a vigil Mass; he may fulfill that obligation at any Catholic eucharistic liturgy, including a wedding Mass or a funeral Mass (either of which may begin earlier than 4 PM on a given day).

The only clear restriction is that a morning Mass on the preceding day does not fulfill the obligation. The Mass must begin after noon.

Recommended reading:

Does a nuptial Mass fulfill the Sunday obligation?

Michelle Arnold
Catholic Answers