April 2, 2020

iMonk 101: Baptist Holy Days of Obligation

My wife’s journey to Catholicism has inspired some fun around here. Here’s a post from August 2008 that generated a hundred comments at the time. Surely worth another go around.

My wife sent me an email this morning.

I keep forgetting to tell you that there’s an obligatory Mass this week (for the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.) St. Ann is celebrating Thursday at 6:00 p.m. and St. William Friday at 6:00 p.m. Assuming we are going to the waterpark Thursday, I’ll go to church Friday.

Now if you don’t know what this is all about, you should stop by Wikipedia and get educated.

For our Roman Catholic friends, here are the Days of Obligation:

* 1 January: Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
* 6 January: the Epiphany
* 19 March: Solemnity of St. Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary
* Thursday of the sixth week of Easter: the Ascension
* Thursday after Trinity Sunday: the Body and Blood of Christ
* 29 June: Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles
* 15 August: the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
* 1 November: All Saints
* 8 December: the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
* 25 December: the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ (Christmas)

Easter isn’t on the list. Who knew?

With some help from the Internet Monk Research Division, I’ve found a list of Baptist Holy Days of Guilt and Obligation.

Now these aren’t necessarily days where we must go to church or risk a major sin. No, these are days that we are, as a matter of being Baptist, obligated to do something, which may include church. Or not.

Here they are:

* Opening night/day of high school/college football season. (Depends on proximity of school, relationships to players, etc. Should include tailgating if possible.)
* Mother’s Day. Obligated to go to church with mom and then take her out to a restaurant, which means standing in line at Cracker Barrel for about 2 hours.
* Any church potluck or meal.
* Any Sunday that starts a revival (or any Sunday that begins a 40 Days of Purpose if your church dumped revivals.)
* Any wedding of anyone in your family within 250 miles.
* Any funeral of anyone in your family within 70 miles.
* The opening of any “Christian Film” in a theater, especially if the movie is produced by a church using their actors and cameras, or stars Kirk Cameron.
* The opening and any 5 subsequent showings of “The Passion of the Christ II.”
* Any school board meeting where creationism will be discussed.
* Homecomings at any church you’ve ever attended, even once, within 300 miles.
* Opening week of any buffet or Barbecue restaurant.
* Any Christian music festival held in an open field in August when the temperature is over 105 degrees.
* You must go vote if any conservative is running for anything.
* You must vote if your town is having a “wet/dry” election.
* Ladies: Any Christian Women’s Conference within 500 miles.
* Men: Any Promise Keeper’s Meeting within 500 miles.
* Christmas and Easter.
* Any church sponsored Super Bowl event.
* Any meeting related to voting on a building.
* Any Vacation Bible School “Family Night.”
* Any event involving Bill Gaither Homecomings.
* Any event involving Rick Warren.
* Any Upward Championship game involving your kids.
* Any Olin Mills Church Directory photoshoot.
* Any church softball game against another Baptist church.
* Any youth group fundraisers for the mission trip.
* Any open question/answer with prospective pastors.
* Any church business meeting where there’s a chance of a big fight or someone getting fired.
* Any Billy Graham Crusade within 1000 miles.

Maybe I missed some. Feel free to add a few in the comments.


  1. “Easter isn’t on the list. Who knew?”

    Ah, but that would be because Easter Sunday is on, well, Sunday and us Papists are obligated to attend Mass under pain of mortal sin on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation.

    Easter Sunday being on a Sunday, you don’t have to mention Easter specifically. See the fiendishly complex Jesuitical sophistical casuistry of it all? 🙂

    • Yes, I learned all that in the comment thread in 08, but I didn’t want to update. Thanks.

      • Ah, right. Should read before I post. 🙂

        The ones about the funerals and the weddings apply in Ireland, too. Especially for politicians, both local and national – fail to turn up for the funeral of any constituent, member of constituent’s family, or even potential constituents and you can kiss goodbye to those votes in the next election.

    • Ryan Fehrmann says

      Thats why, technically, All Saints is not a day of obligation this year since it falls on a Sunday

  2. This is hilarious. Can I share this on my Facebook page?

  3. I grew up Baptist.

    I was about to say “Billy Graham” then read it as the last on the list. Of course, you need to add “Franklin Graham” to that now.

  4. Yep. All Saint’s Day.
    The Day After Holloween, a.k.a. ‘All Hollow’s Eve’ (the Evening Before the Day of the Hollowed Saints) just in case you didn’t ‘get it’.
    It’s not that the celebration of Holloween is religious. But it IS CONNECTED to the next day.
    Ghosts and goblins and assorted creatures (dressed-up kids) prowl through the night (carry bags for treats from house to house) and VANISH at the beginning of All Saint’s Day (kids go home, eat too much candy, and barf).
    Us Catholic kids had to go to Mass the day after Holloween, even if we were sick from too much candy. It was a package deal.

    Michael, I like that Mother’s Day Holy Day Celebration. That’s a ‘keeper’. 🙂

    • “Hallows’ “, “Hallowed”

      • Christiane says

        Yep. Bad spelling.
        I’ve alway miss spelled (sp?) that word.
        I should know better. To be ‘hallowed’ is to be blessed or holy,
        as in ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name.’

        Thanks for correction.

  5. The Passion of the Christ II?

    Surely you’ve seen this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNt8_IMlaho

    *WARNING the content is highly offensive, even if it is just a cartoon.

    Sorry about the vid quality. It was the only one I could find.

  6. No Awana meetings?

    • Awana? thats pagan mess. True Baptists hold true to R.A.’s and G.A.’s (Graduating to Acteens)

      • I grew up in G.A.’s & Acteens; are there churches out there who still have those? They’ve mostly died off around here.

  7. You know, Awana was nowhere near the sbc in my day because we had all our own programs from the SBC. Now I see that Awana is pretty common in the SBC. Sorry.

  8. 1. National Gospel Quartet Convention–extra points if you stay up for 24 hours straight
    2. President’s Day sale on white suits (pastors only are obligated to attend this, and only if they have the special 15% discount coupons from Lifeway)

  9. Carlton Quattlebaum says

    Did I miss New Year’s Eve Watchnight service, with midnight communion, singspiration, and testimonies? Lest any frivolity or worldly celebration invade our pious lives. 🙂

  10. * Any ice creams socials
    * Any pie socials

  11. You may not have grown up like I did, but we always had hayrack rides where we’d hook my dad’s old tractor up to a trailer with some hay in it and go banging around some shoddy pasture looking for a place to do a Bible study. At least it was later in the fall.

    Also, any tent revival within several miles at least. That’s what you’re obliged to do if you’re near where I’m from in the Midwest.

  12. i am jealous. Lutherans appear to be missing out on all the fun. we don´t have holy obligation days, at least so far as I can te.ll. (:

  13. But I-Monk, Wikipedia is not reliable! Somebody needs to let Wikipedia know that Catholics are also obligated to attend 3 school fundraisers at their own parish school during the year, attend and bring a dish for the parish potlucks, and go to all parish get-togethers at other parishes within a 30 mile radius. Plus, there are the funerals (and funeral dinners). Attending the fundraisers at the local Protestant churches is also considered obligatory, at least since Vatican II. 🙂

  14. You missed the Harvest Thanksgiving – which is big in rural East Anglia anyway.

  15. Michael, my favorite from your list was, “Opening week of any buffet or Barbecue restaurant.”


  16. Steve Newell says

    You forgot Independence Day. In many churches (Lutheran included), they sing patriotic songs and not hymns of the faith. They will give Jesus the day off and preach about the USA.

  17. Has anyone mentioned:

    – National Day of Prayer events

    – See You at the Pole (no, not a bachelor party)

    • Wow, talk about an opportunity to become culturally relevant! See you at the pole would beat out any pub meeting for that British thing where they meet nonChristians in pubs to talk about Christ but I can’t recall the name of it. Anyway, “meet you at the pole” bachelor parties coupled with a bible study will give a whole new outreach area for seeker sensitive churches.


  18. Sunday School high attendance, Pack-a-pew night of revival, Prove-The-TITHE Sunday, God & Country Day (Sunday nearest to July 4th).

    • God and County Day! Yuck — most churches I have been to should call it Country and God Day. Fun to listen to people who hate Joel Osteen’s gospel wax poetic about how America’s prosperity is proof of God’s favor.

  19. Thanks for the giggle! I just got a phone call from a Catholic family member with ‘dates’ to see if we would like to join them. I was told the dates coming up is what started Halloween to begin with. With all the debates about Halloween on the faith boards, and at churches? I’m surprised they brought that up. So they started the controversy…lol!

  20. Disappointed in not seeing anything about Missions Conferences… (not a Baptist – most recently a CMA walker)

  21. Hey, Evangelicals

    I’d trade for one or two ice cream socials, what would you like?


  22. Hilarious! Here’s two more that I didn’t see mentioned (but may simply have missed):

    * Every single activity involving your youth group/Sunday school class
    * Wednesday night services (because everyone knows that’s when the truly spiritual go to church, and doing away with the Wednesday night service is the first step to apostasy)

    • And if you take Sunday night away, the apostasy reaches an even higher level yet!

      So there’s another one I think.
      *Must attend EVERY Sunday night service

  23. Boring pedantic point: St. Joseph’s, on your list, isn’t a day of obligation in the U.S. Different countries have slightly different days.

    I can’t believe nobody mentioned the ecumenically binding obligation of St. Patrick’s day. And in some parts of the country, Shrove Tuesday, i.e. Mardi Gras. I have Orthodox Jewish friends from New Orleans, who scrupulously avoid contamination by other religions, who nevertheless celebrate Mardi Gras.

    Another boring pedantic point. Before the liturgical reforms of the 1950’s (even before the Vatican 2 reforms), the Vigil of All Saints was a true vigil, that is a fast day. Why has it traditionally been treated as if it were the Vigil of All Souls (Nov. 2), remembering one’s departed relatives, rather than All Saints, remembering the saints in heaven? Because there can’t be a true vigil on a feast day, since you obviously can’t feast and fast at the same time; so the vigil of All Souls is pushed back one day.

    Thus Hallowe’en is *called* the Vigil of All Saints (All Hallows Eve to the Anglo-Saxons), because it used to be a proper Vigil with its own name and everything; but it’s *celebrated* by the faithful as the vigil of both All Saints and All Souls. The former was a more ‘churchy’ observance; the latter, a more home-based observance, thus more folk customs attaching.

    • In Canada, only January 1st (Mary, Mother of God) is obligatory.

      My wife, an Anglican, scrupulously observes “Pancake Tuesday” (Mardi Gras) but scoffs at the notion of observing Lent. It’s very odd. But the pancakes are good.

      I think a lot of Protestants could get into the whole liturgical calendar thing if they only knew that there was traditional cooking associated with many of the feasts. For instance, you could have barbecue on the feast of St. Lawrence (August 10th).

      • My St. Vincent de Paul chapter always had a St. Lawrence Day barbecue. Ah good times!

        I totally agree with the food reason for observing the liturgical year. We’re making soul cakes for Satan’s Holiday, I mean Hallowe’en, this year. Dense and cookie-size, not as sweet as cookies, with a pinch of saffron. Mmmmmm. I recommend “A Continual Feast” for liturgically oriented tastiness. One of my favorite cookbooks.

        • Regarding soul cakes, do you leave them on the graves of your ancestors, as is customary in some places?

          • Like my children would hesitate to eat a cake I left lying on the ground! No, we say a prayer for the departed, and eat ’em up.

            Anyway, I have no access to the graves of my ancestors, for all the modern American reasons: All of my immediate relatives are still alive; my departed grandparents are buried in other states; only a few of my dead relatives are actually buried anyway, most having opted for cremation.

            Also, cemeteries seem to be locked up on Hallowe’en, for what I suppose are obvious reasons.

          • Eat up the cakes, not the departed. Sorry for the zombie moment.

          • I too suffer from the obstacles you face. Distance, cremation, secularized cemeteries, etc… How drearily unimaginative. If I could indulge in some Chestertonian verse:

            If I had been a heathen,
            I’d have piled my pyre on high,
            And in a great red whirlwind,
            Gone roaring to the sky,
            But Higgins is a heathen,
            And a richer man than I,
            And they put him in an oven,
            As if he were a pie!

  24. LOL LOL LOL You nailed it!

  25. You forgot any community service (the methodists and the baptists get together). Also the Christmas cantata service, which you attend to see everyone in the church singing in the choir for one night.