The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains a holy day of obligation as follows: "On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are to refrain from engaging in work or activities that hinder the worship owed to God, the joy proper to the Lord's Day, the performance of the works of mercy, and the appropriate relaxation of mind and body. Family needs or important social service can legitimately excuse from the obligation of Sunday rest. The faithful should see to it that legitimate excuses do not lead to habits prejudicial to religion, family life, and health."
In addition to this, Canon Law (#1246) speaks of the holy day of obligation as follows:
- §1 The Lord’s Day, on which the paschal mystery is celebrated, is by apostolic tradition to be observed in the universal Church as the primary holy day of obligation. In the same way the following holy days are to be observed:
- The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ (Chrismas)
- The Epiphany
- The Ascension of Christ
- The feast of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi)
- The feast of Mary the Mother of God
- The Immaculate Conception of Mary
- The Assumption of Mary
- The feast of St Joseph
- The feast of the Apostles SS Peter and Paul
- The feast of All Saints
- §2 However, the Episcopal Conference may, with the prior approval of the Apostolic See, suppress certain holy days of obligation or transfer them to a Sunday.
- The Holy Days in Bold, Italics and Red are the ones which the Episcopal Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei have promulgated as holy days of obligation.
- The feast of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) is transferred to a Sunday (the Sunday after Trinity Sunday), as promulgated by the Episcopal Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.