Saturday Mass : LUSENET : Catholic : One Thread

What year did Saturday evening Mass become a substitute for Sunday morning Mass?

-- Gary Marchal (, January 25, 2002



That was a tough one, Gary, but I finally found it.
The date on the (Vatican) Sacred Congregation of the Clergy document that authorized vigil Masses for Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation was January 10, 1970.

God bless you.

-- (, January 26, 2002.

The saturday evening mass was instituted to help relieve the congestion of the Churches during the Sunday Mass. It also was realized it can be done as the old testament rule was applied to allow it to happen as long it was done during the Vigil hours of the Sabbath which is at or about the sunset time of the day. The Sunset was believed to be the beginnings of the next day in the Old Testament. It also made it possible for those who had to work Sundays or to travel on Sundays to keep the Weekly obligation intact. Mass can be between sunset Saturday to Sunset Sunday.

-- Fred Bishop (, February 19, 2002.

Dear Fred,

In response to your post here, how does one count a Sunday evening mass? Our parish has a 6 p.m. youth mass (but of course all are welcome), but being as we are in the midwest in the dead of winter, sunset comes well before 6 p.m.

Thanks for your help! Carolyn

-- cksunshine (, February 19, 2002.

For fulfilling Sunday obligation.

Anytime is fine for the obligation, as long as it is still Sunday. But if it was after midnight that would be Monday, at which time Sunday would have ended and the obligation would not have been fulfilled.

David S

-- David S (, February 19, 2002.

Fulfilling Sunday Obligation.

Even though it was not asked I thought I should mention that the vigil Mass has to start after 4pm on Saturday to fulfill the Sunday obligation. A wedding Mass at 3pm will not count.

Hi, John.

I read that the Legislation concerning the vigil Mass was promulgated by Pope Pius X11, apostolic constitution " Chrisus Dominus " VI, January 6, 1953;Acta Apotolicae 45 (1953) 14-24; Canon Law Digest 4, 2750276. I notised that this was a little earlier than the date you have! Did I read something wrong?

God bless you.

David S

-- David S (, February 20, 2002.

Hi, David S.
Gary Marchal's question was about Saturday evening "vigil" Mass being attended in substitution for Sunday morning Mass. I know that, when I was a student in grade school and high school ('50s/'60s), no Saturday vigil Mass existed. So that fits with the 1970 date.
I just took a look at "Christus Dominus" of 1953 in the EWTN library. That document doesn't mention vigil Masses at all. After the document, there are some appended notes, one of which is probably what you have in mind -- but it talks about new (1953) permission being given for the celebration of evening Masses, which had previously been forbiddent. Pope Pius XII wanted to make it more possible for workers who could not attend weekday morning Mass to attend in the evening instead. He was not giving permission for "vigil" Masses.

God bless you.
PS: I agree with what you stated about Sunday evening Mass. Sunday is such a special day that, liturgically speaking, it extends for 32 hours, from sundown [by extension, 4:00 p.m.] on Saturday until midnight on Sunday. The Liturgy of the Hours has "Sunday Evening Prayer I" for Saturday evening and "Sunday Evening Prayer II" for Sunday evening (recited by many priests, religious, and laity even after sundown). For many years, my parish had a 7:00 p.m. Mass year-round.

-- (, February 20, 2002.

Thanks, John. I go to 10pm Mass sometimes. Mount St. Mary's has them everynight at 10pm. It is a 50 min. ride, but it is there for me if I choose to go(and can). I love going to Mass late at night!

David S

-- David S (, February 20, 2002.

That's interesting. At least where I used to live there were still a lot of dairy farmers and Saturday evening Mass was very popular because of this, especially since many churches stopped the 0630 Sunday Mass.

I have also heard that 1) there are 2pm Sat Masses (or thereabouts) in Las Vegas, and 2) they accept gambling chips in the collections. True?

Also when in Catholic school at festival time the Saturday Mass would be pushed back to 3 or 4pm. Special dispensation?

-- GT (, February 20, 2002.

Hello, GT.

(1) I'm not really clear on the point you were making in your first paragraph (about the farmers).

(2) A 4:00 p.m. Saturday vigil Mass at your school would have been fine. I think that anything earlier would have required a special dispensation, which was probably not sought, due to ignorance of the liturgical regulation.

(3) I went to to review the scheduled Mass times in Lost Wages (Las Vegas), Nevada. There are about twenty parish churches there. Each of them has its first or only vigil Mass at 4:00 p.m. or later. However, the city's cathedral does indeed have a 2:30 p.m. Mass, and the catedral's Internet site says that it is a "vigil" Mass. I hope that the bishop got permission to make this very odd exception -- perhaps because of the difficult working hours of so many hotel and casino employees, travelers having to catch planes later on Saturday. There is no doubt in my mind that Lost Wages churches and synagogues would be happy to accept gambling chips!

God bless you.

-- (, February 21, 2002.

Hi John,

The reason I mentioned the dairy farmers specifically was that it apparently was one of the reasons for the Sat evening vigil Mass (as in, that was what was told to the parish as the reason for having it). Something to do with time of milking the cows early in the morning conflicting with earlier Masses, I believe. Sorry to be so confusing.

Thanks for the answer and the website. I will keep it in mind when traveling.

-- GT (, February 21, 2002.

This whole business about Saturday masses and the constant changing of times to suit just about everything, it seems, strikes me as being simply a way to get around the obligation of going to mass according the the tenets of the faith. For example, if Sunday is considered from sunset Saturday to midnight on Sunday, why would one need to extend that lengthy period of time for a mass at 2:30 pm on Saturday. The stated idea to accommodate Vegas workers' schedules is ridiculous. If they can't make a mass within 30-32 hours, then it's simply a case of "doing it when they feel like it."

-- Erich (, November 01, 2003.




Well, it pretty much is answered above, but I imagine that as more parishes are closed due to this or that reason, you will see more Masses at different times. Church buildings only hold so many people (you don't see any Catholic churches the size of Wal-Marts (okay, maybe not quite that big, but still extremely large, lol) like you do with some of the Protestant denominations), and there is among other reasons only so much parking space.

This is especially a problem around Holy Days, when 1) the Easter Lily and Poinsettia Catholics go to Mass, 2) most people have out of town visitors coming with them too, and 3) there are FEWER Masses on these days than on normal Sundays. Not every parish is reachable by public transportation, either.

It does not make sense to collect millions of dollars (that could go to other causes) just to build a new church building when it is not constantly being used. I'm not saying there has to be a Mass on the hour every hour before you even start collecting money, but if, as someone mentioned, there are 32 hours theoretically in which to go to Mass, ONE crowded Mass out of three on a weekend does not a crisis make.

Actually, I like some of the different Mass times, because they eventually develop their own "personality", so to speak. If you don't like folk or contemporary music, go to a Mass where they play the organ, or maybe even have a "quiet" Mass (no music).

Hope this helps.

-- GT (, June 24, 2004.

One other change that Pius XII I believe authorized in the 1950s was the Easter Vigil Mass on Holy Saturday evening (but not for normal Sundays).

GT, good point about Mass times. Work is not the only constraint stopping people from attending Mass. Most of us have other important commitments as well and Erich’s a bit uncharitable to say “If they can't make a mass within 30-32 hours, then it's simply a case of "doing it when they feel like it."”. Occasionally I am practicably unable to attend any of the Masses at my parish, and I’m annoyed that ALL the neighboring parishes have almost identical Mass times (6 pm, 8 am, 10 am, 6 pm). I do believe we should attend our local parish if at all possible, but if not, it would be very handy if four neighboring parishes agreed that each of them would have one Mass at a different “unconventional” time, say, very early Sun morning, very late Sun morning or early Sunday afternoon, or late on Sat or Sun night. Of course I don't want to make it harder for the overworked priests but I think if neighboring parishes did this it would minimise the inconvenience to all priests and parishioners and help them to fulfil their obligation. And it's good to occasionally experience a different parish to remind us we are a Universal Church, not a local one.

-- Steve (, June 25, 2004.

or maybe even have a "quiet" Mass (no music).

no, no, no, no. liturgical music is a very integral part of the mass. you should not have to attend a mass at which the liturgical songs are absent.

-- paul h (, June 25, 2004.

Hi Steve, hi Little Paul,

Actually, there are some people who prefer their religion "straight" so to speak, or should I say, "neat"? Doesn't mean the Mass is any shorter or anything, either.

Our parish rotates the musicians to different Masses every so often so everyone gets to experience different music. One of my old parishes, well, let us just say that I didn't have much (any) competition for the volunteer post of songleader at 6:30 am Sunday.... We used a keyboard (for a variety of instrument sounds, but not synthesizing per se), and used a good mix of traditional and older contemporary music. Mostly older crowd who were accustomed to going at that time from 'way back, and some young parents with babies/toddlers who would sleep through it. I might add that I had it on good authority that the 6;30am was the 2nd highest contributing Mass (out of eight total over the weekend), collection-wise right after the 9:30am.

One of our favorite "rent-a-priests" (term of endearment) whose "real" job was at one of the prisons, would have to get back in time to go through all the usual metal detctors etc. (which took time) before Mass over there, so we would have our 4 songs and the responsorial psalm (my music director called it a "Joachim Mass", why I don't know), but not sing the Gloria or any of the other responses.

I hear you about it seeming like every parish has Mass at almost exactly the same times, and there's no excuse for it. No wonder they don't seem to have enough priests--they can't all be in different places at the same time.

In many rural areas, they don't even seem to have Masses past 11am, so if you leave to go somewhere (like out camping) Friday, and don't get back until 4 or 5pm Sunday you're stuck. Some places still don't have a Saturday night Mass.

I really would like a Sunday 6pm Mass, but I'm not holding my breath. You'd think somewhere in the county that at least one parish would have a late Sunday Mass. I'm not all that particular where I go, and I put money in the collection wherever I go.

-- GT (, June 25, 2004.

In my area a number of parishes have a Mass at 5:00, 6:00 or 7:00 PM on sunday, and at a local Catholic college there is a 10:00 PM Mass on sunday. The 10:00 Mass is unusual, but the earlier Mass times are fairly common around here.

-- Paul M. (, June 25, 2004.

Steve writes:

Work is not the only constraint stopping people from attending Mass. Most of us have other important commitments as well and Erich’s a bit uncharitable to say “If they can't make a mass within 30-32 hours, then it's simply a case of "doing it when they feel like it."”.

"Uncharitable?" "Other important commitments?" How about naming a few of them? Pretty vague comment, I must say. I would imagine that attending mass would constitute one of those "important commitments." I stand by my statement - and don't think it at all uncharitable to castize those Catholics who try to bend the rules to suit their own pleasure. Sure, there are a few folks who simply can't make mass at the times that are routinely scheduled. They are a minority. So talk to your local parish priest about it. Meanwhile, I believe that most of the folks who whine about not being able to make mass simply don't want to drag their rumps out of bed or have their Sundays interrupted by religious commitments.

And as for the person who posted the information about so many churches closing as some kind of response to this issue - give me a break. That is a completely new phenomenon - the issue of extending mass times has been going on for a long time - so do not try to explain it away by the current problems that the Catholic church finds itself in.

-- Erich West (, September 17, 2004.

Hi Ya'll. We share our Priest with 2 other towns, so on Sunday at 9am we have Mass at our church. Then at 11:15am he has to be 20 miles away at the next church for another Mass. On Saturday evenings at 5pm he is doing Mass at the 3rd church about 25 miles away. Then on Thursdays he does a short Mass at our church again and on Fridays he does a Rosary at 7:30am. Being that he can not be in all places at once, he has no other alternative but to have Mass on Saturday evenings.

Thanks and glory be to God!

-- Suzanne (, September 17, 2004.

"Other important commitments?" How about naming a few of them? Pretty vague comment, I must say."

Sorry to be vague, Erich, I didn't think I needed to spell them out as I thought they were pretty well known. I'll name a few for your edification. Some people have to care on their own for young children or sick, disabled or frail relatives who cannot be left alone even for an hour. Some do important voluntary work for charities on weekends. Sometimes there are family crises and important occasions which cannot be missed, to avoid damage to family relationships or to avert a crisis, or simply because Christian charity demands you spend that time with someone. And unfortunately the Monday to Friday job is now almost a thing of the past. Many employers regard Sunday and Saturday as just normal working days, and "if you think otherwise, there's the door". Some bigoted employers even deliberately make it difficult for Catholics to practice their religion.

-- Steve (, September 18, 2004.

Also there are jobs that require people to be working all the time such as police, firemen, nurses, physicians, etc. I'm sure that if YOUR relative needed their services on Sunday a.m. you'd be quite pleased if they showed up.


-- Someone (, September 18, 2004.

While some of the above reasons could qualify as valid reason for missing Mass, there is still a common tendency to use such excuses all too freely. Yes, caring for small children or infirm relatives could be a valid reason, IF there is no-one who could be asked to fill in for an hour or two. Not wanting to inconvenience another person is not sufficient reason. Christ never said that following Him would be convenient. If you absolutely cannot get to Mass either Saturday evening or all day Sunday from early morning to evening, do you make it a point to spend an equivalent amount of time in prayer and spiritual pursuits? Do you read the scriptures of the day which you would have heard at Mass? Or watch a Mass on TV?

I don't know what you had in mind as "voluntary work for charities", but nothing that comes to my mind under that category would justify missing Sunday Mass. If the amount of charity work you are doing requires you to miss Mass, it's time to cut back on your charity work. Satan likes nothing better than to have God's people ignore God because of doing God's work. A family or medical crisis could certainly constitute valid reason for missing Mass on a Sunday morning - but, is the same crisis still preventing you from attending on Sunday evening?

How many people have jobs that require working continuously from Saturday evening through Sunday evening? If so, have you spoken to your employer about your responsibility to attend Mass? Could you come in an hour later in order to get to Mass, and then work an hour later? Or come in an hour earlier and leave an hour earlier to attend an evening Mass? Could you attend on your lunch hour? If it is absolutely impossible, not just inconvenient, for you to fulfill your Sunday obligation, do you attend Mass on your day off?

-- Paul M. (, September 18, 2004.

Except for extreme circumstances that would require one to miss mass, I do not see why anyone should or would even want to do so. It is a state of being in God's presence, more fully than any other place on earth. I wouldn't want to miss that for anything! If Jesus invited you over to dinner, who in the world would turn that down? I do not see the "obligation" as a burden at all, but rather a privilege. God knows that we need some time of peace in His presence, to give us strength to make it through the week. This is what going to mass does for me.

-- Emily (", September 18, 2004.

Beautifully said Emily.

I heard a CD by Father Larry Richards on The Mass that went something like this.

If he were to hand out a billion dollars to everyone who atteneded Mass, there would be people from all over the world coming. How much more should we want to go to Mass when the Creator of the universe humbles Himself to be present with us.

-- Andy S (""), September 18, 2004.

Paul, you must live in the city--those of us who live in rural areas, well, the last time there was a Mass at lunchtime in our area was Ash Wednesday. And, we have volunteer firefighters in our area, so when their beepers go off during Mass, they leave.

I really think that Steve did bring up a good point--why not have at least one parish (perhaps the "county" parish) within x miles have the oddball Masses. Many jobs now are during hours that people used to go to Mass, sad to say.

As I said before, I contribute wherever I go, and I don't really care where I go--I like visiting different parishes. The oddball Masses would also allow people to spell each other off when caregiving--just like Moms and Dads often work shift jobs to allow one parent to be home with the children.

-- GT (, September 20, 2004.

Paul, I’m not suggesting that the reasons I mentioned justify the fact that so many (80%?) of “Catholics” miss Mass on any given Sunday. But for some people they can sometimes be a reason, and these people would appreciate having one church within reasonable distance which has Mass at “odd” times. One example – I committed to a spending a weekend doing charitable work a long way out of town. I was away from Sat morning until 7 pm Sun night so couldn’t go to Sunday Mass.

No a crisis does not usually last the whole weekend but sometimes it comes up just when I’m about to go to Mass which is the last Mass available for that weekend. Crises by their nature tend to be unforeseen.

And yes on the relatively rare occasions this has happened I HAVE read and meditated on the Sunday readings and I have gone to Mass during the week. We don’t have Mass on TV here, the only religious programs we get are raving fundie demagogues and an ultraliberal “point of view” program which on a given week might consist of a way-out “new ager” spouting forth why his beliefs are so superior to Christianity. Yes I love the Mass and I feel a real emptiness when I have to miss it. But I try not to judge those who don't come each week.

-- Steve (, September 20, 2004.


Since Catholics believe that the mass is so important, it becomes one of those duties that cannot be missed. So, with all of the other duties that you've listed, the mass still has to fit in somewhere. And unfortunately, there are many, as I've said, who are simply looking for convenience.

I guess one of my points is: does it really matter when mass is performed? I've heard it said that there are specific time that it must happen, but really, if the world is changing and people find it difficult to make it to mass at the prescribed times, what does it matter that it takes place "outside" of those hours? Catholics get so caught up in the "rules" that they are outdistancing themselves from the real world. Truly, does God really care what time or day you go as long as you are fulfilling an obligation?

-- Erich (, September 21, 2004.

If God didn't care, why did He make this one of the Big Ten "rules"? While He certainly wants us to worship Him every day of our lives, it is also clear that He wants His people, as a Church, to set aside a specific day of worship, the Lord's Day.

-- Paul M. (, September 21, 2004.


I do in fact live in the city, and in one of the most Catholic areas of the country. I do realize, at least intellectually, that it is more difficult to get to Mass in some localities than in others; but I may not fully appreciate the difficulties involved, since I have never personally been in such a situation. There are probably 50 or more Catholic Churches within 20 miles of my home, and at least a dozen within 5 miles. There are masses offered at one parish or another at 5:00, 5:30, 6:00, 7:00, and 7:30 PM on Saturday, and at many different times on Sunday, from 5:30 AM until 10:00 PM. So here at least, not being able to fit Mass into one's schedule is seldom the case.

-- Paul M. (, September 21, 2004.

Closest parish (which happens to be the main one) to us is 5 miles, and you pretty much have to drive--3-4 miles of it is rural, 50mph (posted speed, others go faster) road/ ditch--no sidewalks or bike paths (yes, some hardcore cyclists are out at times, but it is very dangerous for them). Next closest is 15 miles, and next closest is around 20 miles. The closest church is also the one in charge of the others (they all appear in the one bulletin and the priest is effectively the pastor at those churches as well). Mass times between the three: one Sat 5pm, two Sun 8:30am, one 10:30am, and one at 11am. So, two churches have one Mass at the same time, and two have Masses within half an hour's time of each other. NO Sunday evening Mass between the three....

People have asked for a Sunday evening Mass at the main church, but no such luck as yet. I think they are in "build" mode--the hall is there, and paid off, but no church. I understand about wanting to build now while it is cheaper to do so, but I don't think there are enough people (and important too, people with money) to warrant a full-out building campaign. Also, some worry that if they do build a church, that will be an excuse to only have two or three Mass times, which is not what people need or want.

The Sunday Masses at the main church right now are close to being constantly crowded, but not yet the 5pm Sat, although they all get crowded when there are baptisms. As far as Holy Days, good luck getting in at all--not enough parking, and not many places nearby to park and walk, either. I and others have often driven out, only to drive back home--no rides and no public transportation to speak of. And it doesn't help that often there are fewer Masses on the Holy Days....

-- GT (, September 21, 2004.

Paul M states (regarding mass time and day):

"If God didn't care, why did He make this one of the Big Ten "rules"? While He certainly wants us to worship Him every day of our lives, it is also clear that He wants His people, as a Church, to set aside a specific day of worship, the Lord's Day."

We're going in circles here, folks. Posters like Paul say that the "Big Ten" rules are important, and yet others say that it's OK to extend the hours. Which is it? Either it's that Catholics must abide by the set rules, or they don't. Make up your minds. My beef with this whole issue is that some Catholics claim that they have strict rules (the "Big Ten" that Paul refers to, including specific hours that constitute the "Lord's Day") that must be followd and yet they arbitrarily accomodate extensions to those hours.

Either it's important, i.e, must be followed, or it isn't. Either get on the bandwagon and sacrifice (remember that?) or get off and stand by your belief that the rules should change. But don't stand on the soapbox, declaring Catholic rules are important to follow to the letter, and yet at the same time dismiss them when it isn't convenient.

-- Erich (, September 30, 2004.

Well, Erich, according to you there are 30-32 hours in which to go to Mass. Paul mentioned Mass schedules in his area (not sure if he was only listing English Masses--I assume that one can also go to Mass in another language, which would add even more opportunities), and I mentioned mine. Maybe in your area they have Masses 'round the clock?

Perhaps the real question is "How does one 'keep' the Lord's Day?". How did Mass come about to be only one hour long, more or less? Why is or is not private prayer and reflection sufficient? I don't know.

-- GT (, September 30, 2004.

God's command is to keep holy the day set aside for His worship. He didn't specify any other details. Among the Jewish people to whom that command was originally given, that day is Saturday. Among the members of the Church Christ founded, it is the day of the Resurrection. However, it is the Church's obligation to teach, interpret and apply God's revealed truth in the manner that will best enable its members to attain eternal life. Doing what is necessary to make the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Eucharist, the principle source of grace unto eternal life, more readily accessible by a greater number of people, is an important element of that mission. "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath" (Mark 2:27)

-- Paul M. (, September 30, 2004.

"How does one 'keep' the Lord's Day?" – By taking part in the Mass AND by treating the whole of Sunday as a special day as far as we reasonably can. We should abstain if possible from unnecessary servile work, and make extra effort to make time for prayer etc in addition to the Mass.

“How did Mass come about to be only one hour long, more or less?” I don’t know what point you’re trying to make. I guess the Mass is as long as it has to be to include in it everything that should be included, and without making the obligation to go to Sunday Mass too onerous. I have been to Masses that have lasted nearly 4 hours and Masses that lasted 25 minutes.

“Why is or is not private prayer and reflection sufficient?” Because being a Christian isn’t just a matter of tucking your Bible under your arm and setting out for Heaven all by yourself. We love God by loving our neighbor, and we serve God together with the whole Church. All the Church's members are sailing together on the Barque of Peter. From the very beginning of the Church in 30 AD Christians have gathered on the Lord’s Day every week to celebrate the Mass. And the Mass is a lot more than just "prayer and reflection". It's how Jesus Christ himself becomes present in us (that is in the whole community gathered) through the proclamation of God's word, our joining with His saving death and resurrection, and through receiving Him in the Eucharist. As He told his Apostles, "Do this in remembrance of me" and "Where two or three are gathered in My name, I am in the midst of them."

-- Steve (, September 30, 2004.

GT writes:

"Well, Erich, according to you there are 30-32 hours in which to go to Mass."

Obviously we're losing track of the posts here. Those aren't my words, GT. I was referring to them (the hours) from another poster. I've still seen no evidence in any of the arguments here, that resolve the contradictions between those who say that Mass must be performed on a certain day and within certain hours and those who don't. I'm just asking a simple question. It's clear that there is no answer as the posts are going back and forth on this one. As I said, and I'll stick with it until I hear someone post something that really gets to the point. Catholics want to declare the rules of their faith to others and yet don't always want to follow them themselves. The case in point here: Sunday Mass is required, according to some, yet others attend on Saturday afternoon because they have other things to do.

-- Erich (, October 25, 2004.

Saturday is saturday and Sunday is Sunday. Saturday Mass was just for convenience. There was no other reason for it. Sunday Mass was tahe only thing for many hundreds of years.

-- Meyer (, October 25, 2004.

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