Office of Worship
Fourth Sunday of Advent and Christmas Eve
This year we celebrate Christmas on a Monday. Since Christmas falls on a Monday, it presents a challenge of how to schedule the Masses for the Fourth Sunday of Advent, which falls on December 24, Christmas Eve.
While every parish will have to determine how best to schedule their Masses for the benefit of the faithful, remember that the Code of Canon Law limits the number of Masses a priest may celebrate. In the Diocese of Wichita, our faculties allow us to celebrate Mass twice on a weekday and thrice on a Sunday or Holy Day of Obligation when pastoral necessity requires it. Since the faculties given in the Diocese of Wichita already great the extension that is allowed in the Code of Canon Law, #905, Bishop Kemme cannot grant a further dispensation to allow for the celebration of more than 3 Masses on the Canonical Day of December 24, 2023.
On December 24, a priest cannot celebrate more than three (3) total Masses in one canonical (calendar) day (12:00 (Midnight) to 11:59 pm). Therefore, three Masses on Sunday, December 24, is the limit, regardless if it is a Mass for the Fourth Sunday of Advent or an anticipatory Mass for The Nativity of The Lord (Christmas).
Unlike some Holy Days of Obligation in the United States, the obligation to attend Mass on Christmas is not automatically dispensed when Christmas falls on a Monday. Therefore, there are two obligations for the faithful to attend Mass: on Sunday, December 24, for the Fourth Sunday of Advent, and on Monday, December 25, for the Nativity of The Lord (Christmas).
The first obligation (Fourth Sunday of Advent) is fulfilled by going to any Mass from 4 p.m. on December 23 to 11:59 p.m. on December 24. The second obligation (Christmas) is fulfilled by attending Mass from 4 p.m. on December 24 to 11:59 p.m. on December 25.
Two obligations mean two Masses. A dubium concerning the possibility of simultaneous fulfillment of obligations was answered in the negative by the Sacred Congregation for the Clergy and approved by Blessed Pope Paul VI in 1970. The response was published in the November 1974 Newsletter.
As pastors charged with leading the faithful into the mysteries of Christ through the radiant medium of the Sacred Liturgy, let us prepare and encourage those entrusted to our care to celebrate these holy days with great expectation and joy appropriately! If you need further clarification or assistance, please contact the Office of Worship.
Important Dates for the 2024 Liturgical Year
December 8, 2023 – Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception – Holy Day of Obligation
December 25, 2023 – Solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord – Holy Day of Obligation
January 1, 2024 – Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God—Obligation Abrogated for 2024
January 8, 2024 – Monday – The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord is Celebrated with only one reading before the Gospel.
February 14, 2024 – Ash Wednesday
March 30, 2024 – Holy Saturday – The Easter Vigil can begin after 8:00 p.m.
March 31, 2024 – Easter Sunday
April 8, 2024 – Since March 25 is the Monday of Holy Week, The Solemnity of the Annunciation is moved to April 8, 2024.
December 8, 2024 – Falls on a Sunday. The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is transferred to Monday, December 9, 2024. There is no obligation to attend Mass. The Memorial of St. Juan Diego is abrogated.