CODE OF CANON LAW
BOOK IV. FUNCTION OF THE CHURCH
- PART III : SACRED PLACES AND TIMES
SACRED TIMES (Cann. 1244 - 1253)
Can. 1244 §1. It is only for the supreme ecclesiastical
authority to establish, transfer, and suppress feast days and days of penance
common to the universal Church, without prejudice to the prescript of can.
§2. Diocesan bishops can decree special feast days or days
of penance for their dioceses or places, but only in individual instances.
Can. 1245 Without prejudice to the right of diocesan
bishops mentioned in can.
87, for a just cause and according to the prescripts of the diocesan bishop, a
pastor can grant in individual cases a dispensation from the obligation of
observing a feast day or a day of penance or can grant a commutation of the
obligation into other pious works. A superior of a religious institute or
society of apostolic life, if they are clerical and of pontifical right, can
also do this in regard to his own subjects and others living in the house day
Can. 1246 §1. Sunday, on which by apostolic tradition the
paschal mystery is celebrated, must be observed in the universal Church as the
primordial holy day of obligation. The following days must also be observed: the
Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Epiphany, the Ascension, the Body and
Blood of Christ, Holy Mary the Mother of God, her Immaculate Conception, her
Assumption, Saint Joseph, Saint Peter and Saint Paul the Apostles, and All
§2. With the prior approval of the Apostolic See, however,
the conference of bishops can suppress some of the holy days of obligation or
transfer them to a Sunday.
Can. 1247 On Sundays and other holy days of obligation,
the faithful are obliged to participate in the Mass.
Moreover, they are to abstain from those works and aVairs
which hinder the worship to be rendered to God, the joy proper to the Lord’s day,
or the suitable relaxation of mind and body.
Can. 1248 §1. A person who assists at a Mass celebrated
anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the feast day itself or in the evening of
the preceding day satisfies the obligation of participating in the Mass.
§2. If participation in the eucharistic celebration becomes
impossible because of the absence of a sacred minister or for another grave
cause, it is strongly recommended that the faithful take part in a liturgy of
the word if such a liturgy is celebrated in a parish church or other sacred
place according to the prescripts of the diocesan bishop or that they devote
themselves to prayer for a suitable time alone, as a family, or, as the occasion
permits, in groups of families.
Days of Penance
Can. 1249 The divine law binds all the Christian faithful
to do penance each in his or her own way. In order for all to be united among
themselves by some common observance of penance, however, penitential days are
prescribed on which the Christian faithful devote themselves in a special way to
prayer, perform works of piety and charity, and deny themselves by fulfilling
their own obligations more faithfully and especially by observing fast and
abstinence, according to the norm of the following canons.
Can. 1250 The penitential days and times in the universal
Church are every Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent.
Can. 1251 Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as
determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless
a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed
on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
Can. 1252 The law of abstinence binds those who have
completed their fourteenth year. The law of fasting binds those who have
attained their majority, until the beginning of their sixtieth year. Pastors of
souls and parents are to ensure that even those who by reason of their age are
not bound by the law of fasting and abstinence, are taught the true meaning of
Can. 1253 The conference of bishops can determine more
precisely the observance of fast and abstinence as well as substitute other
forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety, in whole
or in part, for abstinence and fast.