Catholic holy days of obligation are the days on which we’re expected to go to Mass. This list includes every single Sunday, along with a few additional days. Some feasts, such as Easter, are always celebrated on a Sunday, so they are always obligatory. But when are you supposed to attend Mass outside of Sundays?
What Are the Holy Days of Obligation?
The Code of Canon Law of the Catholic Church says that there are nine holy days of obligation other than Sundays, but it also says that the local conference of bishops may suppress some of them or transfer them to a Sunday.
Bishops in the United States have suppressed the feast of Saint Joseph and the feast of Saints Peter and Paul as holy days of obligation. In addition, the feast of Epiphany is always celebrated on a Sunday in the U.S.
While Bishops lifted the dispensations from the obligation to attend Mass that were in place for much of the Coronavirus pandemic, one’s Sunday and Holy Day obligation can be dispensed for a just cause. This may include physical illness or having an inability to go to Mass, such as being the only caregiver for someone homebound. Catholics are encouraged to use their prudential judgment and guidance from their Priests in determining such a dispensation. You are always welcome to join the Oblates of the Virgin Mary community online at daily and Sunday virtual Masses.
US Catholic Holy Days of Obligation for 2023
There are five holy days of obligation outside of Sundays this year. The following are holy days of obligation in the U.S. for 2023:
- Ascension of Jesus, Thursday, May 18 — Celebrated on the sixth Thursday after Easter Sunday*
- Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Tuesday, August 15*
- Solemnity of All Saints, Wednesday, November 1*
- Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Friday, December 8*
- Christmas, Monday, December 25*
*An individual bishop may transfer a holy day to a Sunday. This is the case in most US dioceses with the Ascension of Jesus, which is transferred to the Seventh Sunday of Easter. Since the Solemnity of Mary falls on a Saturday and the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary falls on a Monday this year, they may also be transferred to the closest Sunday. Check with your local diocese.
Holy Days Calendar
To make sure you don’t miss Mass on these special days, we created a Google Calendar with the Catholic Holy Days of Obligation for 2023. We invite you to add it to your personal Google Calendar by entering your email address in the form below. You’ll also be subscribed to ongoing emails from the Oblates of the Virgin Mary.
And don’t forget to tune into the live stream of our Mass at St. Clement Shrine at 11:00 a.m. ET on Saturday and Sunday and 8:00 a.m. ET every weekday. Follow us on Facebook or subscribe to our YouTube channel to see our daily, Saturday, and Sunday Mass online in your feed.
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There are a few exceptions to those obligations. If the Solemnity of Mary, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary or the Solemnity of All Saints falls on a Saturday or Monday, the obligation is often lifted and those feasts are celebrated on that Sunday. In 2022, this can be the case for both the Solemnity of Mary and the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
We’d still encourage you to attend Mass on those days, but it would not be considered a holy day of obligation. If you’re ever unsure, check with your parish or your diocese’s website to see how your diocese approaches a specific holy day of obligation.
Hawaiians also handle Catholic holy days of obligation a bit differently. Since 1992, the only observed holy days of obligation (except Sundays) are the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Christmas.
A Christmas Miracle From An OMV Seminarian
Christmas and the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ holds a special place in the hearts of the faithful as we remember and give thanks for God’s greatest gift. One of our Oblates of the Virgin Mary seminarians, Br. Leland Thorpe, has a special connection to the Christmas story.
“The stable in which Jesus was born was likely dirty, and smelly, and entirely unfitting for a king. A few years ago right at Christmas I was in a place of desolation, and felt like my heart was just like that stable.
But after receiving Communion, the Infant Jesus settled into my heart and made me understand he was glad to be there, just like he was glad to be born in a stable.
Dorothy Day said, ‘I’m so glad that Jesus was born in a stable. Because my soul is so much like a stable. It is poor and in unsatisfactory condition because of guilt, falsehoods, inadequacies and sin. Yet I believe that if Jesus can be born in a stable, maybe he can also be born in me.’
That was the grace I received in that Communion, and it’s continued to be a source of hope and strength for me.”
What Catholic feast days or holy days of obligation are most important to your faith? We’d love to hear your stories and discuss special connections in the comments below.