Catholics/Easter Obligation

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Question
Can a Catholic satisfy his Easter Sunday obligation by attending Mass on holy Saturday afternoon or evening?

Answer
Of course!  In fact not only CAN you fulfill your Easter Obligation by attending the Easter Vigil it is HIGHLY ENCOURAGED for you to do so!

Holy Week (which began with Palm Sunday) is the most sacred week of the entire year.  Maundy Thursday begins the Easter Tide celebration with the Mass of the Lord's Supper.  Lent ends on Maundy Thursday and Easter begins.  The Easter Vigil (in most Dioceses celebrated at 8:00 or later) concludes the most solemn and holy week of the Liturgical year.  

At the Easter Vigil (if everything is done) we are taken through the entirely to salvation history beginning with the fall of the human race in the Garden of Eden and culminating with the Resurrection of Christ.  The Resurrection is God's yes to humanity---and his defeat of the evil and death.  However we await the unveiling of the whole glory of God which will come at the end times.  At that time God will utterly destroy the devil and death and all his followers.  

The Easter Vigil is a very beautiful service--but it is long.  It is anywhere from 1 and 1/2 hours (the shortest) to 3 hours (the longest.)  The length of the service really depends on a number of factors: how "high church" the priest is that is celebrating it, and whether there are any baptisms or confirmations taking place.  The more "high church" (meaning chants, bells, smells, processions, all 9 readings, etc,) the priest is who celebrates the vigil the longer it is going to take.  If you cannot sit for that long--you probably want to go to Mass Easter Sunday. Mass on Easter Sunday is pretty much just regular Mass.

But through attending the Easter Vigil you can certainly fulfill your Easter obligation. Then you can sleep in on Easter Sunday and have a nice day with family and friends.  

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Father Dave Bechtel

Expertise

I am a Catholic priest in good standing and in active ministry in the Diocese of Scranton PA. I can answer most any question about the Catholic Faith, however my area of specialization is Systematic Theology. Systematic Theology is a branch of theology that focuses on the fundamental tenants of the Faith and the Dogmas of the Faith. I have specialization on the Reformation and Catholic vs. Protestant theology/issues and answering Protestant challenges to the Faith.

Experience

I was ordained in June of 2008. Since that time the thrust of my ministry has been specialized. In my first assignment I was an assistant pastor. A year later I was sent to work in education. I spent six (6) years in education and have now assumed my first pastorate. While education was the thrust of my ministry, nevertheless I continued to have a hand in parish ministry, hospital chaplaincy and prison chaplaincy. Now that I am out of education I will obviously be focusing more on parish work than specialized ministry. I have two years of formal Clinical Pastoral Education and prior to ordination I successfully pursued Board Certification for health care ministry through the NACC. My certification needs to be renewed and I plan to seek dual certification in health care ministry (NACC and APC) when I renew my certification. I have a breadth of experience working with Protestant ministers and collaborating with them to achieve the goals of hospital pastoral care and chaplaincy. These ministers run the spectrum from the liberal to the conservative.

Education/Credentials
Bachelors of Science-- University of Scranton PA Masters of Arts Theology--- Saint Mary's Seminary and University Baltimore MD Masters of Divinity--- Saint Charles Borremeo Seminary Philadelphia PA Board Certified Chaplain (up for renewal)

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