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Liturgical Year

Responding to our Lord’s call to come together in the Church’s liturgical celebrations, we take part in Christ’s Paschal Mystery by which we, as members of Christ’s Body, are sanctified and give glory to God. Therefore, “the Paschal Mystery’s celebration is of supreme importance in Christian worship… and its meaning is unfolded over the course of days, of weeks, and of the whole year” (Pope Paul VI, Apostolic Letter given Motu Proprio “Paschal Mystery”). 

Liturgical Calendars

In order to unfold fruitfully the meaning of the Paschal Mystery, the Roman Church orders the celebration of the liturgical year according to the General Roman Calendar. This calendar includes the entire cycle of celebrations of the mystery of salvation and celebrations of Saints who have universal significance. 

In addition, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Diocese of Arlington provide Proper Calendars that contain celebrations, especially those in honor of local Saints, that are important for our spiritual lives in the United States and in the Diocese of Arlington.

General Roman Calendar including the Proper Calendar for the Dioceses of the United States of America

Holy Days of Obligation

Because of their special importance for unfolding the Paschal Mystery, certain days of the Liturgical Year are prescribed as Holy Days of Obligation. On these days, Roman Catholics are obligated to attend Mass. For Dioceses of the United States of America, the following are Holy Days of Obligation:

  •  Sundays
  •  January 1, Mary, the Holy Mother of God*
  •  Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord
  •  The Ascension of the Lord**
  •  August 15, The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary*
  •  November 1, Solemnity of All Saints*
  •  December 8, The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  •  December 25, The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)

* In the United States of America, when the solemnities of Mary, the Holy Mother of God (January 1), the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (August 15), or All Saints (November 1) falls on a Saturday or on a Monday, the obligation to participate in Mass does not apply.

** In the Diocese of Arlington, the Ascension of the Lord is celebrated on the Sunday following the Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter (that is, the Ascension is celebrated in place of the Seventh Sunday of Easter).

Notes for Liturgical Year 2019

Adapted from the USCCB Committee on Divine Worship's Newsletter (Nov-Dec 2018)

Holydays of Obligation 2019: All six holydays of obligation for the US are observed in Liturgical Year 2019. In the Diocese of Arlington, the Ascension of the Lord is observed on Sunday, June 2, 2019 (Thursday May 30 is Easter Weekday [6], Friday June 31 is the feast of the Visitation of BVM, and Saturday June 1 is the memorial of Saint Justin Martyr; on June 1, the Vigil Mass for the Ascension of the Lord is celebrated in the evening, either before or after EP I of the Solemnity).

April 20, 2019: Bishop Burbidge has determined 8:00pm as the earliest time to begin the celebration of the Easter Vigil 2019 in the Diocese of Arlington.

May 29, 2019: In accordance with the Decree of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Optional Memorial of Paul VI is observed on May 29. Until English and Spanish translations of the proper texts are approved, observation of the optional memorial should follow the guidelines of the USCCB:

June 10, 2019: The newly-instituted memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church is celebrated the day after Pentecost Sunday. The Mass formulary is found in no. 10B of the Votive Masses, and the Lectionary readings are available at

June 23-24, 2019: The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ on Sunday, June 23 is followed the next day by the Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, June 24. Sunday evening Masses and Evening Prayer are that of Corpus Christi. The vigil Mass and readings of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist are omitted in 2019.

June 28-30, 2019: The Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus on June 28 and the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul on June 29 overlap on the evening of Friday, June 28. Sacred Heart takes precedence for evening Masses and for Evening Prayer (see Universal norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar, no. 61). Sunday, June 30 is the Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time; even though the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul has a higher rank than a Sunday in Ordinary Time, the fact that Sunday’s celebration is a day of precept means that Masses on Saturday evening, June 29, should be anticipated Masses for Sunday. As regards the Liturgy of the hours, there is freedom to choose whether to pray Evening Prayer II of Saints Peter and Paul or Evening Prayer I of the Sunday.

July 22, 2019: Saint Mary Magdalene has been celebrated as a feast since 2016. Therefore, the Gloria is to be sung. The prayers are taken from the Proper of Saints, and the readings, which are proper, are found at no. 603 of the Lectionary for Mass. (A new Preface for the feast has been approved by the USCCB and is awaiting confirmation by the Holy See before it can be implemented.)


In addition to the above notes on Liturgical Year 2019, the following note is important for the beginning of Liturgical Year 2020, which opens December 1, 2019.

December 8-9, 2019: December 8, 2019 is a Sunday. On this day, the Second Sunday of Advent is celebrated. The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is transferred to Monday, December 9. The obligation to attend Mass, however, does not transfer. The optional memorial of Saint Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin is omitted in 2019.