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. In 2021, the Feast of the Assumption falls on a Sunday, August 15. Since all Sundays are obligatory, it’s not included in the list this year.
Throughout much of 2020 and continuing into 2021 for the foreseeable future, bishops have lifted the obligation to attend Mass in person due to the Coronavirus pandemic and have instead encouraged virtual Mass celebrations. We invite you to join the Oblates of the Virgin Mary community online at daily and Sunday virtual Masses.
US Catholic Holy Days of Obligation for 2021
This leaves us with five holy days of obligation outside of Sundays. The following are holy days of obligation in the U.S. for 2021:
- Solemnity of Mary, January 1
- Ascension of Jesus, May 13 — Celebrated on the sixth Thursday after Easter Sunday*
- Solemnity of All Saints, November 1*
- Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, December 8
- Christmas, 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 All Saints falls on a Monday this year, it may also be transferred to the previous 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 2021. 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 Feast of the Assumption 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 2021, this is the case for the Solemnity of All Saints.
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.