Last year, the Immaculate Conception fell on a Saturday. This year, December 8 is Sunday! Now what?
Sunday is always a holy day of obligation. The Code of Canon Law 1246, Paragraph 1 says: “Sunday, on which by apostolic tradition the paschal mystery is celebrated, must be observed in the universal Church as the primordial holy day of obligation.” In the United States, Immaculate Conception is also always a holy day of obligation because it is our country’s patronal feast day. So which holy day is celebrated on Sunday, December 8?
The Table of Liturgical Days found in the “Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year and Calendar” (UNLYC) answers this. This table, found in your Roman Missal, ranks the various kinds of liturgical observances and shows which ones take precedence when more than one occurs together.On December 8, 2019, we celebrate the Second Sunday of Advent with its readings and prayers. Our participation that Sunday fulfills the obligation of the solemnity, which we celebrate on December 9, 2019. Click To Tweet
The Sundays of Advent rank higher than solemnities.
When a solemnity falls on an Advent Sunday, the solemnity is moved to the following Monday (see UNLYC, 5). However, the US bishops clarified that the obligation associated with that solemnity does not move but stays connected to the proper calendar date.
Therefore, on December 8, 2019, we celebrate the Second Sunday of Advent with its readings and prayers. Our participation that Sunday fulfills the obligation of the solemnity, which we celebrate on December 9, 2019.
This post was first published in “GIA Quarterly: A Liturgical Music Journal.”