What of Holy Days?
Many Catholics wonder what will happen to Holy Days of Obligation -- the few days of the liturgical year other than Sundays when Catholics are required to attend Mass. The obligation to attend Mass on New Year's Day was abrogated this year in the West Coast archdioceses of Los Angeles and San Francisco.
A November 30 communication to the priests of Los Angeles from Monsignor Terrance Fleming, the archdiocesan Moderator of the Curia/Vicar General, announced that Cardinal Roger Mahony was "dispensing parishioners in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles from the obligation to attend mass on Tuesday, 1 January 2002, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, which is normally a Holy Day
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops lists January 1 as a Holy Day of Obligation in the United States. (The liturgical calendar is on the USCCB web site, liturgy section.)
According to the General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar §55, "Only with the approval of the Apostolic See may a celebration be removed from the calendar or changed in rank".
The Los Angeles announcement to priests did not mention authorization from the Holy See for this change.
Archbishop William Levada of San Francisco also abrogated the January 1 Holy Day of obligation. Adoremus received several reports that bishops of other West Coast dioceses acted similarly.
For the past several years Catholics have been increasingly confused about the obligatory feasts - and whether they are to attend Mass on these feasts. Permission granted to US bishops to change the day of the celebration of the Feast of the Ascension to a Sunday, and to remove the obligation to attend Mass on All Saints and the Assumption if they fall on a Saturday or a Monday has contributed to confusion and misunderstanding.
The result has been to diminish the meaning and importance Catholics attach to the Church's obligatory celebrations.
In addition to Sunday, the days to be observed as holy days of obligation in the Latin Rite dioceses of the United States of America, in conformity with canon 1246, are as follows:
January 1, the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God;
Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter, the solemnity of the Ascension;
August 15, the solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary;
November 1, the solemnity of All Saints;
December 8, the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception;
December 25, the solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Whenever January 1, the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, or August 15, the
solemnity of the Assumption, or November 1, the solemnity of All Saints, falls
on a Saturday or on a Monday, the precept to attend Mass is abrogated.