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Holy Days of Obligation

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Definition:   Special days celebrated to commemorate certain events in the lives of Mary and the saints. Attendance at Mass every Sunday and Holy Day is mandatory as one of the five precepts of the Catholic Church. Failure to attend Mass on the required days is a mortal sin, which if unconfessed causes a person to go to hell. There are currently ten such “feast days,” including the immaculate conception of Mary, the assumption of Mary, All Saints Day, Christmas, and the Solemnities of Joseph, Mary, Peter and Paul, and Corpus Christi. Canon law allows each country (with the permission of the Pope) to reduce the number of mandatory holy days. In the U.S., the bishops require mandatory attendance for six holy days.

Discussion: The Bible places no mandatory attendance rules upon the consciences of Christians. In fact, mandatory observance of special days is described as worthless and enslaving by the apostle Paul (Gal. 4:9-10). The arbitrary nature of the required days (they change from country to country and generation to generation) demonstrate how the Catholic Church places its traditions above the authority of the Word of God (Acts 15:10-11).

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