Over the past couple of weeks, I have been asked this question several times. Simply put, the answer is yes, although I would always prefer for us to understand that we get to go to Mass twice in one weekend rather than we have to go.
This year is unique in that the Fourth Sunday of Advent and Christmas Eve fall on the same day; this happens about every six or seven years although a leap year might render a longer interval. According to the law of the Church, which is based on divine law, Catholics are required to participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on Sundays and on other days of precept which we know as holy days of obligation. Christmas is a day of precept whose obligation is never lifted, the same Sunday. Therefore, all Catholics must attend Mass the weekend of December 23/24 for the Fourth Sunday of Advent and also for the Solemnity of Christmas on December 24/25.
The following was recently published by the Committee for Divine Worship of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: “The prevailing view of many canon lawyers is that each obligation must be fulfilled with a separate Mass. Thus, when consecutive obligations occur on Saturday-Sunday or Sunday-Monday, the faithful must attend Mass twice to fulfill two separate obligations….Aside from canonical requirements. It would be hp[ed, of course, that Catholic foster a love for the Sacred Liturgy and hold a desire to celebrate the holy days as fully as is reasonably possible.”
While for many there will be many things happening over the days of December 23-25, we must remember why we gather and celebrate: the birth of the Lord Jesus. Be sure to make the Masses of the Fourth Sunday of Advent and Christmas a part of your Christmas plans.