Sundays and Feast Days

Carmel Bulletin, 26 October 2014

calendarThere have been several feast days this year that have fallen on Sunday, and have taken the place of a Sunday in Ordinary Time.  These feasts have been determined by the universal Church to be of such importance that they should be observed even when they fall on a Sunday.

This usually cannot occur during the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter.  For example, even though the feast days of St Patrick and St Joseph are of great significance in the Australian liturgical calendar, they fall during Lent, meaning they cannot replace the Sunday feast.  Instead, they are celebrated on the next possible day.  This happened last year, when St Patrick’s Day was observed on Monday 18 March.

Certain feasts, however, do take the place of Sundays in Ordinary Time.  This has happened more often than usual this year, with the Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul (29 June) and the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (14 September) falling on Sundays.  It will continue for the next two Sundays, when we will observe the Commemoration of all the Faithful Departed (All Souls, 2 November) and the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica (9 November).

It is not typical for us to put aside the prescribed Sunday celebration because of the centrality of the Lord’s Day to our lives as Christians; the day of the resurrection.  Thus the Vatican document, General Norms of the Liturgical Year and the Calendar (1969) says that “Sunday must be ranked as the first holyday of all” (article 4).

The Church, however, also provides for the celebration of feast days that it believes to be of great importance and benefit to the people.

Because of its special importance, the Sunday celebration gives way only to solemnities or feasts of the Lord. The Sundays of the seasons of Advent, Lent, and Easter, however, take precedence over all solemnities and feasts of the Lord

General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar, article 5.

Image credit: By Itzuvit (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

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