On 15 August, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is a Holy Day of Obligation.
“I didn’t think we had those any more!” I hear you say. Well, we still do. What’s more, we shouldn’t see them as a burden, but rather an opportunity to celebrate some of the great mysteries of our faith.
Of course, every Sunday is a holy day of obligation. We are called as Church to gather together to celebrate the Paschal Mystery (the death and resurrection of Christ) through the Eucharist. We do have less holy days in the Australian Church calendar than we did before. Also, many have now been moved to a Sunday so that we may more easily participate in celebrating these important feasts. Only the Assumption and one other in the Australian calendar remain on fixed dates (can you guess the other one?).
If you look carefully, you’ll also notice that they celebrate different key elements of our faith. Such examples include the mystery of the Trinity (Trinity Sunday), Christ’s Ascension (remember Ascension Thursday? It now replaces the Seventh Sunday of Easter), the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi), the first revelation of Christ to the world (the Epiphany, now on a Sunday, formally 6 January). The Assumption is the one holy day of obligation that is a Marian feast (New Years’ Day, or rather, the Feast of Mary, Mother of God is not a holy day).
The idea of a Holy day of obligation can, for some, remind them of a time when we may have been “guilt-tripped” to attend Mass for fear of committing a “mortal sin”. Rather, we should take the opportunity to celebrate these great mysteries of our faith.
P.S. The other holy day of obligation with a fixed date is Christmas (25 December).