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Sunset Mass

Sunset Mass

What is Sunset Mass ?


The anticipated Mass is the Mass that is held on Saturday evening, or any evening BEFORE a Holy Day of obligation which fulfills one's obligation to go to Mass on the following day. The concept has its roots in Judaism where the "day" begins at sundown the previous evening and runs to the next sundown.

Canon Law allows each diocese and bishop to ascertain how early this can take place. Prior to the 1983 Code of Canon Law, the anticipated or vigil Mass was considered to be an exception for serious reasons, i.e., PEOPLE WHO HAD TO WORK IN OCCUPATIONS OF NECESSITY ON SUNDAYS, LIKE DOCTORS, NURSES, PHARMICISTS, ETC. It was not originally intended for everyone and anyone (restaurant owners and employees, retail store owners and employees, etc.)

HOWEVER, the 1983 Code of Canon Law now allows an indiscriminate use of the anticipated so that anyone and everyone can go either on Sunday or the Holy day itself, OR on the evening before. Most dioceses do not allow the anticipated or vigil Mass to take place before 4 or 5 o'clock in the afternoon (early evening). In a few places bishops have allowed a 3:30 or 3 p.m Mass (for hospitals and/or prisons) but the priest himself does not have the authority to determine how early, only the diocesan BISHOP can do that.



Compiled by Ben Chang





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