Practicing Catholics will be required to go to Mass twice between December 23 and 25 to fulfill two separate obligations.
“Because of how Christmas falls on the calendar this year, Catholics are obligated to attend Mass for the Fourth Sunday of Advent – either Saturday night, December 23, or Sunday, December 24,” said Tony DeGol, Director of Communications for the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. “They are also obligated to attend Mass for the Solemnity of Christmas – either after 4:00 p.m. on Sunday night, December 24, or on Christmas Day, December 25. Attending just a vigil Mass on Christmas Eve, Sunday, December 24, will not fulfill both obligations.”
In most cases, parishes are following their normal weekend Mass schedule for the Fourth Sunday of Advent on Saturday evening and Sunday morning. Mass schedules for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning are available on the diocesan website and Facebook page, or the faithful may consult individual parishes, DeGol added.
This year, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, on Monday, January 1, 2024, is not a Holy Day of Obligation in the Catholic Church.
“When that particular Solemnity falls on a Sunday or Monday, the obligation to attend Mass is abrogated,” DeGol explained. “Catholics, of course, should fulfill the normal Sunday obligation on December 30-31 when the Church will celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. They are welcome to attend Mass on January 1 to honor the Blessed Mother, but they are not obligated to do so.”