From the Back Pew: Saturday vs. Sunday Mass

I would like to thank two colleagues, photographer Raul Roa and sports editor Jeff Tully, for pointing out to me last week that those who do not wish to go to Mass on Sunday but instead wish to watch a major sporting event can indeed go to the Saturday vigil Mass, which in most parishes is celebrated on Saturday afternoon, to meet their Sunday obligation.

The vigil Mass is akin to the vigils on Holy Saturday (the vigil to Easter Sunday); and the vigil of the birth of Christ, also known as Christmas Eve. A vigil is also known as "anticipation," as we celebrate Christmas Vigil Mass in anticipation of the birth of Christ on Christmas Eve, or we celebrate Mass in anticipation of the Lord's resurrection on Holy Saturday. Each Saturday at the vigil Mass, we anticipate receiving the Eucharist and observing God's day on Sunday.

However, depending on which Mass you go to, not all Saturday Masses are vigil Masses. A true vigil Mass contains all of the elements of a Sunday Mass. This means that the readings and Gospel will match the Sunday readings. Take a look at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' website. On its "Readings" homepage, click on any Saturday, and you will see the readings are significantly different than on Sunday.

This week, for example, the Saturday readings are taken from the book of Micah and the Gospel of Matthew. Sunday's readings are taken from the books of Genesis, Colossians and the Gospel of Luke.

If one were to go to a weekly vigil Mass, they would hear readings from the latter. Masses during the day on Saturdays are generally considered part of the daily Mass regimen any parish offers.


This week, In Theory addresses the issue that has been on many people's minds for some time now: Proposition 19, which if passed, would legalize pot for medicinal use in California. Our In Theory writers this week are all over the board on this one.

When it comes to marijuana, a leap of faith will be needed to truly see what the effects will be. Are people ready to take on a responsibility to be responsible marijuana users if given the legal leeway to freely smoke the drug without fear of legal reprisal, using it in moderate consumption? What would they do with this privilege?

MICHAEL J. ARVIZU is a reporter for the La Cañada Valley Sun. Reach him at (818) 637-3263 or e-mail

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