This year, the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas) falls on a Saturday and is immediately followed on Sunday by the Feast of the Holy Family. In cases of consecutive feast days, there are often questions regarding which Mass is to be celebrated on Saturday evening. In the case of Christmas and Holy Family, both are days of precept, but Christmas occupies a higher place on the Table of Liturgical Days. Therefore, if pastors schedule Mass on the evening of Saturday, December 25, the Nativity Mass during the Day is celebrated. Notwithstanding, most parishes in the archdiocese do not offer a Mass on Christmas night.

In these types of situations, questions can also arise concerning the fulfillment of the obligation to attend Mass. In the opinion of most canonists, each obligation (in this case, one for Christmas and another for Holy Family) must be fulfilled with a separate Mass. The fulfillment of the Mass obligation does not depend upon the Mass prayers and readings, but rather, on the time of day at which one attends Mass. For example, the obligation for the Nativity may be fulfilled from the evening of Friday, December 24 through Saturday, December 25. One may attend the Vigil Mass of the Nativity, a Mass during the Night, or a morning/afternoon/evening Mass on December 25. The obligation for the Holy Family may be fulfilled from the evening of Saturday, December 25 through Sunday, December 26. That is, one may attend an afternoon/evening Mass on December 25 (even though these are rarely scheduled), or a morning/afternoon/evening Mass on December 26. The following chart may be helpful:

Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)Holy Family
Obligation may be fulfilled from the evening of Friday, December 24 through Saturday, December 25Obligation may be fulfilled from the evening of Saturday, December 25 through Sunday, December 26
Obligation may be fulfilled at:

• Vigil Mass or Mass at Night of the Nativity

• Morning/afternoon/evening Mass on December 25

Obligation may be fulfilled at:

• Afternoon/evening Mass on December 25

• Morning/afternoon/evening Mass on December 26

The situation with the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God on Saturday, January 1, 2022 is more straightforward. In the United States, the obligation to attend Mass on the Solemnity of Mary is abrogated when this celebration occurs on a Monday or a Saturday. In this case, because the Solemnity occurs on a Saturday and is not a day of precept this year, the Vigil Mass of the Epiphany is celebrated at evening Masses.