When December 8 falls on a Sunday…?

When December 8 falls on a Sunday…? October 11, 2019
Wikipedia/Public Domain

With this solemnity falling on the 2nd Sunday of Advent this year, that may cause some confusion.  A reader dropped me a line recently:

Can a parish celebrate the Immaculate Conception on Dec 7-8th instead of the 2nd Sunday in Advent Liturgy?? My pastor wants to do this. I did not know for sure if it is proper??

Short answer: no.

A few dioceses have written about this, to clear up any confusion.

Here’s one explanation, from the Diocese of San Jose: 

December 8 is usually the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the patronal feast day of the United States. Because it’s such an important feast for the U.S. church, it is the only holy day of obligation in the U.S. that remains a holy day of obligation even if December 8 falls on a Saturday or Monday.

But what happens when December 8 is a Sunday?

In the Table of Liturgical Days, which you’ll find at the end of the Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year and the Calendar (see the front of your Roman Missal), Sundays of Advent rank higher than any other Solemnities. According to #5 of the Norms on the Liturgical Year, those Solemnities then get moved to the next Monday.

So Monday, December 9 is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, right? Right! And, because it’s our national feast day, it’s a holy day of obligation, right? Not quite.

According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the obligation is attached to the calendar date, not to the transferred feast. So December 8 remains a holy day of obligation, which just also happens to be Sunday, the “primordial feast day” (Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year and Calendar, 4), or as it said in the previous translation of that document, “Sunday must be ranked as the first holy day of all.”

But, still, you know it’s good to participate in Mass on December 9, even if it’s not a holy day of obligation.

More recently, the Diocese of Madison offered this: 

Eight days into the 2019-2020 liturgical year, Sunday, December 8, is the Second Sunday of Advent, and the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, patronal feast of the United States, is transferred to the following day. The obligation to attend Mass, however, does not transfer.

Because of the transfer, the optional memorial of Saint Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin on December 9 is omitted in 2019. It would not be difficult to mention him, however, in the homily or the petitions on the Immaculate Conception, as he was a faithful servant of Mary in spreading her message from Tepeyac Hill in Mexico City.

Summary: 

Sunday, December 8, 2019 is the Second Sunday of Advent.

On Monday, December 9, 2019, the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception will be celebrated.

It will not be a holy day of obligation. (Since it is a solemnity, the Glory to God and the Creed still will be included in the Mass.)

The Feast of Saint Juan Diego (December 9) will not be observed in 2019.

Now you know.


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