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How Early Can Saturday Mass Be?

Question:

Can a 2:00 p.m. Saturday Mass fulfill the Sunday obligation?

Answer:

The Code of Canon Law (can. 1248) permits Catholics to fulfill their Mass obligation by attending Mass “in the evening of the preceding day.”

I don’t think many of us would consider 2 p.m. to be “evening.” The Church also does not view that as counting as the evening of the preceding day. Pope Pius XII, in the apostolic constitution Christus Dominus, set the earliest hour for such a Mass at 4 p.m. Unless the Church issues a new rule regarding when to officially define “evening” in canon 1248, 4 p.m. remains the earliest time a Mass fulfills the next day’s obligation.

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