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Holy Day of Obligation: The Assumption of Mary

August 12, 2014

Is Attendance Mandatory? What are the rules?

Friday, August 15 2014 is a Holy Day of Obligation for certain Catholics. Here are the rules:

1) The first precept of the Church states that attendance at mass is mandatory on all Holy Days of Obligation.

2) Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin. (Catechism section 2180)

3) The faithful are bound …to abstain from those labors and business concerns which impede worship (Catechism section 2193 and the fourth precept of the Church)

4) In the following countries the Feast of the Assumption is NOT a holy day of obligation:

Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Philippines, The Netherlands.

5) The State of Hawaii has received an indult that voids the required obligation.  For the other 49 United States, the day is a required Holy Day.

6) The following rules apply if you are traveling:

If you are traveling FROM your home country that has a required Holy Day TO a country that does not, no attendance is required, and

If you are traveling TO a country that has a required Holy Day FROM your home country that does not, no attendance is required. (Can. 13.2)

Background on the Feast of the Assumption:

The Feast of the Assumption was first celebrated in the 6th century.  The Assumption of Mary is the only ex cathedra infallible pronouncement of a pope. Pope Pius XII declared it an infallible truth on 11/1/1950. It is a cardinal dogma that Mary was taken body and spirit into heaven, where she reigns as Queen.

The feast day may originally have been based on a 4th century document “The Account of St. John the Theologian of the Falling Asleep of the Holy Mother of God.” It is assumed (sorry) that Mary died during the reign of Tiberius Caesar, around the year 35 AD. According to the writing, all the apostles were miraculously transported to Bethlehem to witness the Assumption: Peter from Rome, Paul from Tiberia, James from Jerusalem. Paul stated he was snatched away while preaching “no great distance from Rome, in the country of Tiberia.” This is problematical, since Paul did not visit Rome until his imprisonment there in 61 AD. In fact, his conversion on the road to Damascus likely occurred in 37 AD. You can read the account of the Assumption here.



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