It’s time to end the liturgical calendar chaos

The current arrangement in the U.S. shows the incoherence of “pastoral practice” disconnected from theology, including liturgical theology, dogma, and spiritual theology. Such “pastoral adaptation” doesn’t help the faithful to resist secularization: it accommodates it.

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We just celebrated the Solemnity of the Assumption. Why was it a holy day of obligation?

Because it was a Tuesday.

Why wasn’t it last year?

Because it was a Monday.

Why won’t the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God (a.k.a, New Year’s Day) be a holy day next January 1? Because it falls on a Monday. This year, because it fell on a Sunday, it was a holy day of obligation.

And you thought they should be holy days because it might actually have something to do with the significance of whom we were celebrating!

If you are confused, don’t be: it owes to the lunacy of the liturgical calendar for the United States. A 1991 “decree” of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops declared Mary, Mother of God, the Assumption, and All Saints Day to be holy days of obligation (the “obligation” being to attend Mass) unless they fall on a Saturday or Monday, in which case they’re not.

Why this “Saturday-or-Monday time out” rule? The answer depends.

One “practical” answer is that some bishops considered “double-header” days of obligation, i.e., a holy day and Sunday, to be too burdensome, on the faithful to go to Mass and on fewer priests to celebrate them. So, they chose to eliminate some “burdens.”

If you want to get even more technical, some liturgists didn’t like a solemnity and a Sunday abutting each other. In the Church’s Liturgy of the Hours, solemnities (which include each Sunday) begin with Evening Prayer I the night before (e.g., Saturday Evening Prayer for Sunday) and end with Evening Prayer II on the solemnity (e.g., Sunday Evening Prayer). Liturgists didn’t like the overlap, even though an ecclesiastical mechanism, the “precedence of feasts,” adjudicated any conflict.

Of course, “theoretical” solutions rarely explain the “real” motives behind them. From what this author remembers, there was a debate between two factions among the bishops—those that wanted to continue “pastoral adaptations” to account for people’s behavior, i.e., ignoring the holy days by not going to Mass versus those who thought accommodation of secularization had gone far enough, to the loss of distinctive Catholic practices (like Friday abstinence) and the spiritual values they embodied. In the name of good ecclesiastical comity (for it would certainly be “unbecoming” to have a raucous old fight between bishops like, say they did back at Nicaea) this compromise was cobbled together.

Canon law now requires everybody to observe Christmas on December 25—even if it falls on Monday (like this year)—which exposes the illogic of the “burdens” and “abutting solemnities” arguments. The clergy and faithful are obviously expected to celebrate and participate in Mass for the Fourth Sunday of Advent (including the Saturday Night anticipated Mass and Sunday morning Masses) as well as Christmas Masses later that Sunday (the Christmas Vigil late on that Sunday afternoon and Midnight Mass at 12:00 am Sunday-to-Monday) as well as a schedule of Christmas Masses. (The really fervent or formalists might even throw in time for some Christmas Eve confessions.) On top of that, priests actually can pray the Breviary without confronting dueling “Evening Prayers.”

It’s a good thing the bishops decided to be “pastoral” and not impose a similar cross the following week for Mary, Mother of God (January 1). After all, God does not test us beyond our endurance!

(Of course, another excuse for the partial “abrogation” of some holy days and the reason some bishops wanted to remove them all was that requiring people to attend Mass on a working weekday was also considered “burdensome.” Given the fact that virtually nobody works on January 1, the abrogation of the obligation for that feast exposes the fallacy behind this arrangement).

Another interesting adaptation of the bishops in the United States was the “geographying” of Ascension Thursday. Again, because some bishops wanted to cancel the obligation while others to retain it, the compromise thrown together there depends on location: if the bishops of a particular ecclesiastical province (a metropolitan archdiocese and its suffragan dioceses) want to keep the Solemnity of the Ascension on its historic Thursday, fine; if not, they can move it to the next Sunday (effectively eliminating the Seventh Sunday of Easter).

Now, some bishops have proclivities for celebrating Mass on borders. Let’s pose a theoretical question: if the bishops of Camden and Wilmington decided to have Mass on Ascension Thursday in the middle of the Delaware Memorial Bridge, would it be a holy day or not? It is in New Jersey; it isn’t in Delaware. Does the obligation depend on the direction from whence the “presidential procession” came?

The Ascension is, of course, not the only casualty of the “transfer-solemnities-to-Sundays” mentality of the “pastoral adaptationists.” Epiphany and Corpus Christi have long been disconnected in the United States from their proper dates. The only difference is: neither of those solemnities had ever been holy days in the United States (though they were in much of the rest of the Church).

Such transfer legerdemain, of course, causes other damage. January 6 is “12th Night.” January 2-8 is “Ninth” to “14th Night.” Ascension is the 40th day after Easter; its significance in the Easter Season of Feasts is downplayed when shifted to the 43rd day. The original period between Ascension and Pentecost provided the pattern for the popular devotion called the “novena,” another victim of “liturgical renewal.” Even more importantly, it undermines a spiritual principle: when Jesus told His Apostles to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit, He didn’t say how long nor caveat it “provided it’s convenient.” Ascension should teach us to keep the Lord’s schedule; its adaptation teaches us to trump His by ours.

Of course, you can solve the whole problem and go to Hawaii where, by special rescript, Christmas and Immaculate Conception are the only holy days of obligation in the fiftieth state, so it can mirror Pacific Island practice.

By the way, Immaculate Conception seems to have been saved from the “Saturday-or-Monday” rule by the principle that every country should have a holy day of obligation in addition to Christmas. So, as our patronal feast, December 8 is obligatory, regardless of whatever day it falls on and whether Catholics in the United States actually understand whose conception they are celebrating.

Taking a step back, this mishmash of liturgical adaptation actually offers at least two lessons relevant to our contemporaries.

First, despite regular bemoaning by Pope Francis, numerous Vaticanistas, and multiple Synodal types channeling the “Spirit” against “clericalism,” the American ecclesiastical calendar cacophony is pure and simple clericalism. It makes almost no liturgical sense, it undermines the meaning of the feasts, and it arguably advances their further marginalization by adapting to secular time rhythms. To adapt language from Justice Byron White’s memorable dissent in Roe v. Wade, this whole edifice stands on an “exercise of raw clerical power.” Liturgical and spiritual integrity is sacrificed to compliance to canonical discipline driven by whether the precept to attend Mass applies. Many of those whose mentality at the time of Vatican II would have bemoaned Catholics’ “rote” adherence to Mass attendance out of “fear” have, in fact, reduced our holy day arrangements to just a matter of canon law.

Second, the current American arrangement shows the incoherence of “pastoral practice” disconnected from theology, including liturgical theology, dogma, and spiritual theology. That “pastoral adaptation” doesn’t help the faithful to resist secularization: it accommodates it. It doesn’t bolster the breadth of their faith; it just assures them they’re not “committing a sin.” (Maybe it also assuages some scrupulous bishops who might think lax parochial practice cooperates in sins of non-attendance).

The author is fully aware that his rant is likely to change nothing. The current arrangement has perdured for thirty years and, with Mass attendance plummeting among younger Catholics and still not recovered from the “field hospital’s” COVID battlefield retreat, today’s “pastoral types” will conclude this is “realistically” the “best we can do,” so live with it.

I won’t be so impolite as to point out that the bishops of the United States, who gathered in council in nineteenth-century Baltimore, prescribed six holydays of obligation. They did that for a country which was still at that time mission territory, also arguably lacked priests, and was bereft of modern means of transportation (cars and interstates) to get to church. Mentioning that historical fact might get me accused of being indietristi, a “backwardist” who doesn’t “accommodate pastoral needs” regardless of what history might teach us about those accommodationist strategies’ fruits.

Two parting thoughts: others have documented and I have elsewhere summarized that, despite the myth of Saturday-night-for-Sunday Masses as “vigils” and “mirroring Jewish practice of the day beginning at sunset,” the actual history of the origin of that practice had nothing to do with those arguments. They, arguably, were first were practiced in the 1960s, after Pius XII had liberalized the Eucharistic fast, to “pastorally accommodate” skiers in northern Italy who wanted to maximize slope time in more remote areas removed from Alpine villages (and their churches). Is it fair to ask whether this “accommodation” has in fact subordinated the Lord’s Day to the weekend?

Paradoxically, when Congress enacted the Uniform Holiday Act of 1968 that shifted several federal holidays from historical dates to fixed Mondays, much of the “history” was lost, the gravamen for observing those holidays becoming “long weekends” and “sales.” (Let’s be honest: how many Americans mark Washington’s Birthday AKA “President’s Day” as anything connected with the 45 men who have led this country?) One must ask whether another dirty little secret is, in contrast to Monday federal holidays making long weekends, evicting some holy days from Saturdays or Mondays also served to keep the “weekend” from getting too sacred?

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About John M. Grondelski, Ph.D. 18 Articles
John M. Grondelski (Ph.D., Fordham) was former associate dean of the School of Theology, Seton Hall University, South Orange, New Jersey. He publishes regularly in the National Catholic Register and in theological journals. All views expressed herein are exclusively his own.


  1. Why does the Church place an unrealistic burden by declaring that January 1st is a holy day of obligation (ie., Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God)? Does the Church not understand that, with all the hopes and dreams associated with the promise of a new and better year, it is a very, very HIGH BURDEN placed on Christians to celebrate the new year at midnight and then to attend Mass later in the day. That holy day needs to be reassigned to another day.

    • reassigned to another day? nah — we only “reassign” sexes. We should abolish it (Who knows what we are celebrating anyway? Mary? The circumcision? World Peace Day? New Year’s Day? I made it to church despite my hangover day?) and not be deterred by the rigorists who might claim 1700 years of Christians managed to keep it, why can’t we?

    • Dear EMP,
      I’m sure carrying the cross was a difficult task, too; but Our Lord bore it with distinction. Imagine if all of God’s Holy Day Feasts are premised by how easy and convenient they were to attend . . . they wouldn’t really mean much would they? No. It’s precisely because Frodo found the ring almost impossible to bear that we are amazed (and appreciative) that he had the capacity to shoulder the burden. I know of good Catholic families that drive over 4 hours one-way to attend Sunday Mass at our Chapel. For them, to honor and love God is the highest privilege and grace – not a burden and an inconvenience. They have their priorities straight. Too many things are cast off today that are not convenient: children, spouses, neighbors, obligations. We should not add God, the Church or our Beloved Lady to the list. We should strive to have the kind of love for God that the martyrs possessed. As progress is made in the faith and in ones love for God, we don’t mind doing difficult things for His sake. In fact we yearn to show Him our Love precisely by embracing the crosses in life. The Feast Day of Our Lady need not change. It’s your heart that needs amending. You’re speaking as a person that attends the NO Missae. I would encourage you to cast off that person and attend a Catholic Latin Mass. Strive to have no regrets in this life; purgatory is for that. Pax Christi te.

    • Excellent article and analysis, Mr. Grondelski. If one follows the pre-Vatican II calendar all of these falsifications, contradictions, and errors disappear.

    • Surely you jest, EMP. I can only take your japery as sardonic since I must assume that you realize that the January 1 holy day represents not only the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God but also the Circumcision of Jesus whereupon the Most Holy Name of Jesus was formally given to Him as ordained by God the Father and announced to the Virgin Mary by the Archangel Gabriel as well as the first shedding of His Most Precious Blood as sign of His Passion and Crucifixion. To an orthodox Catholic January 1 is no “very, very HIGH BURDEN” but rather a day of great, and indeed overpowering, joy and thanksgiving at being able to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass instituted by God Incarnate and Eternal Wisdom Who is the Conqueror of Sin and Death.

    • The best way to make your hopes and dreams for the New Year come true is to get yourself up, go to Mass on January 1st, and ask God for a blessed and fruitful year ahead.
      Going to Mass can’t be harder than staying all the way up to midnight watching a slow-moving clock.

    • EMP: I hope your post was a joke or satire of, sorry to say, whiney, Catholics. Going to Mass January 1st is not an unrealistic burden at all. It’s not even a slight imposition. In fact, it’s a great opportunity to start the year off right. There are many places in the world where people don’t have a priest or have to walk miles to Mass every Sunday. Going to bed at 2 am and waking up a 9 am for a 10 am Mass is not a burden (that’s 7 hours sleep) to sit in a comfy church to hear a Mass devoted to Our Lady is not a burden. In fact, it sounds lovely. After Mass you could have a nice brunch with your family to toast Our Lady and offer the New Year to her.

      Also there a vigil Masses the evening before. Maybe you could look at how you celebrate New Year’s Eve (a secular holiday) and align it with our faith.

    • I wonder why we don’t scrap January 1, put Epiphany back on January 6, and make that a holy day of obligation. January 1 was the feast of the Circumcision, which had no real property, except in the Book of Common Prayer, where a collect was written and inserted in 1549.

    • January 1 is the octive day of the Nativity of the Lord. For centuries under different titles it has been considered a holy day to be celebrated with Mass.

      So parties come before sanctifying the first day of the new civil year with Mass?

      Let’s stop the accommodation to the warped culture.

      Your suggestion makes sense…if we further want to secularize the culture and Catholic practice.

  2. Why don’t the bishops commission CARA to do a survey of Catholics who attended Mass on August 15th, 2023 and report back to the rest of us the findings. While they’re at it, they might also ask Joe Pewsitter what the meaning of the Assumption of Mary is. Bishop Barron could add that factoid to his assessment of how well Catholics are catechized.

  3. I trust that the first comment was very “tongue-in-cheek.” What a wonderful way to begin a new year–celebrating its arrival with being at Mass. Is it necessary to party on the eve of the new year? Come home early the night before, get a good rest, go to Mass, have family over, and then watch the parade and football.
    The author of the article makes a good point. Is it any wonder that our churches are half empty on Holydays? Keeping track of what is and what isn’t a Holyday plays right into the hands of the USCCB who left us with this mess.

    • Amen, Father.

      If folks choose to not go to Mass on a holy day when the Church asks us to worship God remembering an event in the life of the Lord, His mother or the saints that’s fine. It is a choice. Choices have consequences.

  4. Good points, Professor.

    I submit that daily Mass attendees aren’t bothered one bit by the mass confusion suffered by the masses who cannot keep their holy days in order.

    Users of the 1962 Missal have ancient history at their fingertips. Included free of charge is the rolling calendar of movable feasts.

    Happy Friday—always a day of PENANCE because the Lord died for our sins on this day like any other day, except that it was exceptionally and specifically unique. Thank God for all our days and for all of His to which we’re invited.

    • Well said Meiron. Everything WRONG “liturgically” starts ends with ONE Freemasonic Infiltrate : Bugnini.

      But lets face it, if he hadnt been there to do the dirty work, Freemason Cardinal Infiltrate Villot and Cardinal Baggio would have easily found someone else.

      The beauty of the intricate liturgical art forged by the Holy Ghost over thousands of years is incomprehensible to Novos Ordo Modernists who are starting to wake up to the harsh reality of Total Apostasy…

  5. Until recently I thought we should have MORE Holy Days of Obligation: Epiphany on the 6th, Annunciation, St. Joseph, etc.
    But I have come to see that the real problem in the US is that unlike other countries which were not so long ago considered “Catholic”, and where these big feast days remain “bank holidays” for everyone, for us, they are regular work days and a Holy Day of Obligation has come to mean, “I have to go to Mass”.
    The Code says:
    Can. 1246 §1. 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. The following days must also be observed: the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Epiphany, the Ascension, the Body and Blood of Christ, Holy Mary the Mother of God, her Immaculate Conception, her Assumption, Saint Joseph, Saint Peter and Saint Paul the Apostles, and All Saints.
    Can. 1247 On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are obliged to participate in the Mass.
    Moreover, they are to abstain from those works and affairs which hinder the worship to be rendered to God, the joy proper to the Lord’s day, or the suitable relaxation of mind and body.
    A Holy Day of obligation is about the whole person turning toward God and participating in his “rest”.
    It is a HOLY DAY not a “I gotta go to Mass extra this week” day. To me, until we figure out how in our culture it can be a true Holy Day, we should keep them to a very minimum and NOT move feasts like Epiphany and Ascension to the Sunday!

    • You make a point that I think is why Rome never put its foot down more strongly on this: in many European countries, holydays are also civil holidays, so that paradigm assumes that if it’s a workday, it can’t be a holyday. Whether that model made sense in the past is one thing; it is clearly obsolete today, when Catholic countries are a cultural minority in the world and most of them Catholic in name only anyway. If we are serious about there being things of Caesar and of God, we shouldn’t rely on older models that counted on Caesar’s civil support for our religious vision. After all, St. John Courtney Murray, SJ, assured us that the non-confessional state is God’s design for our world today: I assume he didn’t mean that, where Caesar doesn’t back you up, you still should sally forth.

    • The Epiphany and Ascension being moved definitely irks me, especially when trying to catechize my own kids-the “numbers don’t add up” when explaining their meanings. And speaking of “bank holidays,” why do our Catholic schools have MLK day and Presidents Day off, but not November 1st or December 8th?

  6. There is one occasion every 6/5/11 years when the obligation to attend Mass on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is relieved: when 12/8 falls on the Second Sunday of Advent, and the Solemnity is impeded and its liturgical observance is transferred to Monday 12/9. And the reason the Immaculate Conception is treated differently that the Assumption in the USA is that the former is the patronal feast of the USA, while the latter is not. (And that is also why it is the only Holyday of Obligation in the Diocese of Honolulu in addition to The Nativity of Jesus; none of the other US holydays are days of precept in that diocese.) The Church’s practice of weekday holydays of precept has been gradually narrowing for generations once the secular arm started to override traditional/customary days of rest from servile labor in the early Modern Era when Christendom functionally ceased to exist – consequently, this is arguably part of a continuum of that gradual change. The sad thing is really that even the liturgical observance of Christmas Day itself has withered in many places of the USA, as the Eve has taken precedence over the Day as the center of liturgical gravity for the observance of the Nativity.

    • I agree with your observation that the removal of civil status from holydays (and therefore people working, “servile” or not) has lingered in the background of this discussion. In another comment, I argue that model is OBE, so let’s abandon it. And, towards the end of this essay, I talk about how Sunday has been overtaken by the “weekend.” In lots of places, Sunday itself is practically servile for no small number of people. Would that mean the obligation to attend Sunday Mass is dispensed?

      • Sunday precept is considered by the Church to be of divine institution. Holydays of obligation not so directly: they oblige because of obedience to the discipline of the Church, which can and has often changed in that regard, not direct divine institution.

  7. Excellent article and analysis, Mr. Grondelski. If one follows the pre-Vatican II calendar all of these falsifications, contradictions, and errors disappear.

  8. Re borders: Does anyone know why November 1 was not observed as All Saints’ Day at St. Michael’s Cathedral in Toronto (in 2011)?

  9. Here’s a thought on holy days that steps beyond the matter of their being “too burdensome, on the faithful to go to Mass [as well as the issue of there being] fewer priests to celebrate them.”

    And the thought has to do with the very idea of the “holy day of obligation” itself. The Catholic system seems to take for granted that people must be forced or coerced into acting a certain way. In this instance, showing up for mass on hdo’s. The strategy may work in the sense of achieving its end–bodies in the pews–but does anybody ever ask, What is the cost of it?

    One cost, I would suggest is the fostering of a negative, sour attitude toward the whole procedure. And this effect is certainly not helped by the complexities of the liturgical calendar and its relation to the secular calendar.

    So, what is an alternative? Well, as a start, how about positioning hdo’s as “holy days of OPPORTUNITY,” or some such, instead? Some other, perhaps more appropriate, term could be used: “Holy Days of: Grace/Celebration/Joy,” etc. The underlying assumption here is that, if words matter, they can help shape attitudes. They can in time effect a sea change of perspective.

    Would people still show up? Most likely fewer would. But those who did would definitely want to be there. And they would know WHY they are there.

    Some will of course dismiss this thought as mere, inconsequential dreaming. And they would be partly right. To borrow a famous quotation from another context, I have a dream.

    • You don’t think we have an obligation to worship? I think obligation & duty are pretty underrated & poorly practiced things these days.

      • Indeed, we do have an obligation to worship. The problem is, as I tried to frame it, that the Church has insufficiently presented in many official and unofficial instances a more positive motivation for showing up on Sunday mornings and on “holy days of obligation.”

        The term itself says almost everything about the attitude behind it. To spell it out a bit more: ‘We know what is good for you, and you don’t. You are a child, a recalcitrant child, and we will intimidate you in whatever ways we must to ensure your attendance.’

        Prof. Grondelksi reiterates the view in another way: “Let’s be honest and not dreamers: fallen man often needs parameters to keep him to the minimum.” With all due respect, I was being honest and hope to continue to be. Of course, we are fallen. And I would suggest that the mind-set of enforcement and brow-beating people into mass attendance is a less-than-attractive reflection of that condition.

        How about we try to extricate ourselves from a negative view and give the people we want in the pews a compelling and inescapably joyous reason for showing up.

        If we could do that, if they understood what is THERE, you could not keep them away with a hickory stick uplifted above their heads and ready to strike. They would also embrace abstinence, when called for, as if it were a cherished friend.

        G.K. Chesterton, thou should be living at this hour! (He would know what I’m getting at.)

        • Sometimes we ARE recalcitrant children. Sometimes we are in desolation and darkness and confusion. A startlingly large and increasing number of the population is depressed. Catechesis has been abysmal for most of the generations now alive, and it won’t be mended overnight, or in a generation.

          Obligations are not threats. They are clear statements of what is expected, whether you feel like it or not – which is exactly what you need when suffering from emotions that don’t align with reality – which is exactly what happens to everyone at some time or another. They are simple black and white lines, not colorful, beauteous paintings, but they are true lines nonetheless, and therefore good for us.

          “In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.” ~ Chesterton

    • Today is Friday. How many Catholics do you think, in line with the other brilliant vision of the then-USCC-NCCB, are treating it as an “day of abstinence opportunity?” Let’s be honest and not dreamers: fallen man often needs parameters to keep him to the minimum.

  10. For God’s sake–and I mean this literally–read Louis Bouyer on what happened to the calendar during the Council! –in his Memoirs. We should not even speculate without having this information carefully in our minds and hearts.

    To have anything decided NOW would be lunacy. Just Pray to Pope Paul.

    Frankly, I have begun buying the Tan calendar that covers Everything and Everybody! That way (except on Solemnities, I suppose,) I can celebrate whomever I want to! It’s also a constant education! Once I could buy the Tan calendars on EWTN, I stopped worrying about it!

  11. I could not agree more! Living liturgically, orienting our lives in the rhythm of the seasons of the liturgical cycle and various holy days, is transformative. It places our faith at the center of our lives and asks us to order our priorities accordingly. Pastoral care can be provided by offering Mass at times that accommodate working people’s schedules. Moving a holy day of obligation to Sunday only serves to lessen the perceived value of the solemnity. If it can be moved at convenience, it tells us it must not be so very important in the first place. I completely agree that the abrogated holy days have only furthered the secularization of our faith. Our clerical leaders need to stop lowering the bar and making excuses for the faithful to feel more “comfortable” in our secular lives.

  12. I think they should cut to the chase scene and move all holy days of obligation to Sunday…

    “When is Christmas/All Saints/Epiphany/Ascension/etc this year, Daddy?”.. “Why you silly little moppet, you, it’s Sunday, just like always, where we celebrate it as always, at soccer/football/vollyball practice, unless it’s a beach or playoff day!”

    This way, everyone can more easily ignore EVERYthing.

  13. Thank you for this needed article. The chief error of the article is the disclaimer that the views of Dr. Grondelski “are expressly his own.” Every priest I know sees the problem he has carefully explained.

    If a priest is in Kansas on the 40th day after Easter and then travels to Nebraska the following Sunday, he misses the Ascension entirely. 40 actually means something; the original novena took the apostles from the Ascension to Pentecost.

    Jan 6 means something. I have to convince Hispanic immigrants every year that Jan 3 is Epiphany. They are incredulous. I still have people showing up on Tuesday, Jan 6, asking me about los tres reyes.

    The entire discombobulation (Greek?) of the calendar is a nightmare. Then, add the TLM as they follow a different calendar. AND, why is there no Octave for the Third Person of the Trinity?
    Restore Corpus Christi to the proper Thursday. Because, do I have 3 or 4 different processions to foster this devotion after each Mass?

    I agree that the laity have no understanding of the vigil Mass anticipating Sunday living within the Jewish calendar of sundown sabbath. Because of the Saturday vigil we now have Christmas at 2pm, Dec 24, throughout many parts of the US. How many priests read the Genealogy according Matthew at the Christmas vigil. We no longer have Midnight Mass, rather, the Missal identifies it as “Christmas Mass in the Night.” The largest Mass for Christmas in every parish, sans TLM, is the vigil Mass.

    Episcopal decisions in the US have been nothing but concessions granted to atheistic consumerism.

    When I am appointed Bishop, Dr Grondelski, I will reform my curia to make you “minister of liturgical righteousness.”

    From the USCCB, Deliver us O Lord.

    • “The chief error of the article is the disclaimer that the views of Dr. Grondelski ‘are expressly his own.'”

      For the record, when Dr. Grondelski began contributing to CWR, he asked that the disclaimer be in his bio.

      And, also for the record, I agree with his essay.

    • If you did not intend to be funny, Fr. Eric, I hope you take no offense at my chuckling.

      The church of the USCCB conceding their little belief to the state of the state, however, was not funny because true.

      Amen to your prayer for deliverance.

  14. One of my favorite interactions with the Ascension controversy was when I worked in liturgical ministry at a parish near a state border. We had a weekly Traditional Latin Mass and some people traveled from the nearby state to attend. Since the neighboring diocese kept the Ascension as a Holy Day of Obligation on its proper Thursday, we always had extra TLMs scheduled that Thursday in order to accommodate our out-of-staters who lived within a diocese that required them to attend Mass that day, while our own geographical parishioners were NOT under that obligation.

  15. Meiron above – All Saints’ Day is not a holyday of obligation in Canada.
    Re – “It’s time . . .” Amen.
    Start by restoring the feasts to their proper dates and encouraging Mass attendance along with catechesis (Bishop Barron).
    I note that many Catholics manage to get to Mass on Ash Wednesday.

  16. An excellent article, however, one erratum: Unfortunately, the Province of Newark (State of NJ) no longer has Ascension Thursday on the proper day since this past year. Now Our Lord’s flight is delayed until the following Sunday. Travel today is so unpredictable!

    • I stand corrected: thank you. So, rewrite the essay to involve Mass in the middle of the George Washington Bridge, between now-Sunday observant Newark and Thursday-keeping New York. That said, I confess I am more perplexed, because while liturgical priority might be clear, the protocol privileges of dueling cardinals may complicate the picture and, while I attempt to engage in theology, when it comes to cardinalatial rights, let me appeal to Ps 131:1 (“I do not concern myself with matters … too wonderful for me”). 🙂

  17. “First, despite regular bemoaning by Pope Francis, numerous Vaticanistas, and multiple Synodal types channeling the ‘Spirit’ against ‘clericalism,’ the American ecclesiastical calendar cacophony is pure and simple clericalism” (Grondelski).
    He may believe that it’s best for a Church losing ground in the modern world. As to benevolence of intentions, that’s God’s bailiwick. As to effects, that’s our bailiwick. Not good. As Grondelski catalogs. Although did we really expect different? Altieri’s recent account of Pope Francis’ ‘heavyhanded’ destruction of the Pontifical John Paul II Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences, the appointment of irregular sexual relationship advocates Card Hollerich SJ Fr Martin SJ to the great, everlasting Synod on Synodality [everlasting relative to the once thought everlasting Word of God] make that quite evident.
    While in the best of interpretations of His Holiness’ viewpoint, would the reader be able to devise a better plan to hoodwink us by offering pristine orthodoxy, whilst beneath it all operating feverishly to implement the opposite?

  18. Eastern Fathers of the Church St Ephrem the Syrian and Basil the Great place a marvelous emphasis on the depth of the Holy Spirit in Church as well as individual affairs. Ephrem speaks of the Holy Spirit instilling in us knowledge of Father and Son. His theology is conveyed in liturgical song. That every aspect of holiness and wisdom is present in us with his presence. Basil speaks of the milk taken by the infant is produced by the same Spirit while creating new infants in the wombs. Both speak of an existential reality rarely if ever touched on in the West. Basil was a great defender of Christianity against Arian heresy, instrumental in convincing pope St Damasus to invoke the Council of Constantinople which definitively addressed the heresy. Their theology of the Holy Spirit speaks of a wide spectrum of benevolence and power. Different in kind from the spirit referred to in the Synod.

  19. I still use the traditional wording “feast day” rather than “memorial”. It has a time honored special meaning to it.

    • The revised nomenclature is actually more liturgical. A solemnity is the highest level of celebration; a feast, just below; an obligatory or optional memorial, next in importance. The former terminology can come across as demeaning: a second-class or third-class celebration? Further, the traditional liturgical texts often refer to a “solemnity”, and what we do for “memorials” is precisely recalling and honoring the “memory” of the saint.
      Not all the changes were bad!

      • Sorry Father . . . that your kind of priesthood doesn’t multiply. It took attending a TLM Chapel, after 55 years of attending the NO church, to know that holy days of obligation should be treated exactly as Sundays: no work, no unnecessary purchases, etc. If these changes were “good”, that really hasn’t been communicated to the faithful. Whose “culpe” is that?

  20. Honestly, I did not understand anything that you just discussed. Instead of making the rules simple, easy to understand and for the large majority to follow, you just made it all confusing. Remember, most of the Catholic faithful are simple folks, not intellectuals & scholars, thus the rules must be directed to them. Right now, I do not even know what to follow.

    • In the old Mass, there was different terminology for ranking what I’ll generically call “feasts” (e.g., first class, second class, third class, etc). In the post-1969 liturgical calendar reform, there are three levels (in descending order): Solemnities (every Sunday and the holydays); Feasts (e.g., the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Sep 8); and Memorials. Memorials are of two kinds: obligatory (the whole church keeps them) and optional (local regions keep them). Last week, St. Maximilian Kolbe (Aug 14) was an obligatory memorial for the whole church. Today (Aug 19) is the Optional Memorial of St. John Eudes, a 17th century French priest. An American parish named St. John Eudes will observe it as its patron; otherwise, most parishes will not use that as this morning’s Mass. What does all this mean? It’s insider liturgical baseball, e.g., a specific solemnity almost always preempts a Sunday (as one commentator noted, except for your patronal feast, Immaculate Conception, which is then transferred to another day to ensure its celebration). Some feasts also preempt Sundays, e.g., Transfiguration, normally on August 6, bumped the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time). Practically, it means (a) what Mass the priest should say that day and (b) what is included in that Mass, e.g., do you use the “Glory to God in the Highest” and say the Creed? Does that help?

    • Edmundo!

      At the risk of putting words in the author’s mouth, I am sure he would view your frustration sympathetically.

      In fact, take another look at the headline of his piece.

      It’s the same call to action that you’re voicing.

  21. Solemnity, feast, memorial (obligatory or optional). I think most people can understand a hierarchy of celebrations.
    The rest of the gobbledygook is just illogical, inconsistent and confusing so it shouldn’t be surprising that the average person has just given up trying to make sense of it.

  22. In Canada apart from every Sunday, only Christmas Day and Mary, Mother of God (Jan 1st) are holy days of obligation. Almost all other major feasts are transferred to Sunday. This too is confusing and puts us out of sync with the universal Church.

  23. I want to nail a hard copy of this article and all of its comments to the door of every Cathedral in the U.S.

    This is anecdotal, but the fact that Ash Wednesday attendance (not a day of obligation) outstrips probably every other weekday holy day each year suggests that there is still hope. The cynic might say that it is because the faithful “get something” on Ash Wednesday. Perhaps. But what they get is a penitential reminder of their own mortality. Ironically, it is a sign of great hope.

    • Basic marketing principle: you get more folks if they get something. Ashes. Same phenomenon on Palm Sunday. (Tongue-in-cheek). Seriously, the fact reflects that Catholics instinctually recognize Lent is serious business and at least try to make a start of it. Like diets, not all succeed but, like diets, that extra Snickers bar is a call to get back on track, not an excuse to abandon the effort.

  24. I think people “get” Ash Wednesday. Ashes, palms, fish on Friday (oops).
    Processions. Pilgrimages. Adoration. Physical presence at Mass. Days on the calendar.
    Who came up with the brilliant idea we didn’t need these physical expressions/reminders/prompters of our faith?

    • Some folks around the time of Vatican II. That said, the grandfather of it all is Descartes, and that’s the culture in which those folks were swimming. The West has been stewing for 400 years in Cartesian thinking that “I think; therefore, I am” rather the truth “I am; therefore I think.” Your being defines what you can do; your thinking doesn’t make your being: Rene got the cart before the horse. But that same idea leads to the result that matter, celebration, everything outside my head is illusory. We’ve reached its logical terminus: my very body is illusory, so “I” (whatever “I” is) can be in the wrong body. Weaver was spot on: ideas have consequences.

  25. Another excellent article by Dr. Grondelski. I don’t understand how the Bishops of the United States do not realize the confusion they have created. Or maybe they do and that was their intention? It is embarrassing to try to explain this to converts and reverts.
    In another article someplace else, Dr. Grondelski brought up the issue of the Saturday Vigil Mass. I will never understand why priests refer to the “Weekend Mass Schedule?” There is no obligation to attend Mass on the weekend. And everyone I know, who goes on Saturday night, knows that Mass is for the Sunday. Just the priests don’t realize that.

    • The bishops tend to think pragmatically: many Catholics ignore the holydays, so we’ll tinker with them, regardless of the coherence, because we have the power to. Practical functionality is very much an episcopal mindset: it explains how 600 bishops attended World Youth Day but lay people distributed Communion. The history of Saturday night for Sunday Masses was in Adoremus. Good point on “weekend Mass schedule.” I’ll highlight that. THanks.

  26. In many dioceses today several parishes purposely have at least one Mass on a Holy Day after 1700 hours and some parishes close to several places of business will schedule a 1215 hours Mass on Holy Days. Years ago I lived down the street from a parish that regularly had Mass at 1900 hours on a Holy Day. The parish closest to my current office (it’s three blocks away) often has either an 1830 or 1900 Mass on a Holy Day. I often attend Mass there on a Holy Day before I drive home.

    Basically many of the Mass schedules on Holy Days are accommodating to Catholics and have been for the last 25 years. People who don’t make it to Mass on a Holy Day these days are often lazy – if they look they can find a Mass that works around work or school.

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