Many people incorrectly assume that when the Feast of the Immaculate Conception falls on a Saturday, attending the vigil mass that evening will satisfy the obligation for both the Immaculate Conception and the regular Sunday obligation. Opinions on either side of the discussion are offered with varying degrees of logic, evidence, rhetorical effectiveness, and charity.
Fortunately, our opinions are irrelevant.
Only the regional conference of Bishops (the USCCB) has the authority (since 1983) to move holy days or remove them as a day of obligation. While the competent authority in the United States has provided that when the solemnities of Mary the Mother of God (January 1), Assumption (August 15), or All Saints (November 1) fall on a Saturday or a Monday, the day of obligation may be fulfilled by attending the Sunday Mass, no such allowance is made for the December 8 Immaculate Conception.
The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is always a day of obligation, even when it falls on Saturday, because it is the patronal feast of the United States of America. As the following day is the Second Sunday of Advent, and is a higher date in the calendar, the evening masses on Saturday, December 8 are celebrated as the anticipated mass of the Second Sunday of Advent. The obligation for the Immaculate Conception may be fulfilled by attending either the Friday evening or Saturday morning masses.
The USCB further reinforced this in their December newsletter.
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception 2012
The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 2012 is celebrated on Saturday, December 8. As the Patronal Feastday of the United States, this solemnity is always a holyday of obligation (except when transferred to Monday, December 9, as it will be in 2013). The obligation is fulfilled by attending a vigil Mass on Friday evening, December 7, or Mass during the day on Saturday morning.
In the Table of Liturgical Days, a solemnity of the Virgin Mary ranks lower than a Sunday of Advent; therefore, the Immaculate Conception will end on the afternoon of Saturday, December 8. On Saturday evening, Evening Prayer I of the Second Sunday of Advent is celebrated instead of Evening Prayer II of the Immaculate Conception, and Masses are that of the Second Sunday of Advent.
There is, however, one other option for anyone who might have another mass that Saturday (for a Marriage, Funeral, etc). More on that here: http://canonlawblog.wordpress.com/2012/12/02/two-mass-obligations-means-two-masses-but/
- Familiarity and Respect
- BISHOPS URGE CATHOLICS TO PRAY FOR LIFE, MARRIAGE, RELIGIOUS LIBERTY