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Why, yes, missing Mass on Sunday actually is a mortal sin


Declaring otherwise in comboxes and on social media should leave us with much to consider about our own pride and authority.

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“Missing Mass is NOT a mortal sin!”

Every time I write on the topic of not going to Mass I invariably see that response, or something similar. In comments and emails, Catholics insist that missing Mass is not a mortal sin.  

The frequency with which this happens is heartbreaking. It’s tragic that even one Catholic believes this, but it’s utterly devastating that — according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown — only 23 percent of Catholics regularly attend Mass once a week. That means that most weeks, a whopping 77 percent of Catholics do not attend Sunday Mass.

Folks, it’s in the Ten Commandments: “Remember keep holy the Lord’s Day.” 

Of course if you are cripplingly ill or your car breaks down, or your children are small and ill, and you have absolutely no family or friends who can watch your children for an hour or give you a ride to church and you just got robbed so you can’t afford cab fare … then, yes, the first statement would apply. Outstanding circumstances aside, let it be stated for all those with eyes to read: missing Mass actually is a mortal sin.

Having a slight headache, over-sleeping, being too tired, not having anything clean to wear, Jimmy’s soccer game, I’ll go next week, God loves me so He’ll understand … none, and I mean NONE, of these reasons is a good enough reason (that last one isn’t even a true enough reason) to willfully turn our backs on our obligation as Catholics or to ignore God’s commandment, says every Church authority everywhere.  

[2181] The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor.119 Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.

Missing Sunday Mass is a mortal sin. Period, full stop. When people declare otherwise, they are spreading soul-afflicting misinformation to other human beings. They should stop a minute and consider the Commandment, and whether they have the authority to counter it, or are just being prideful.

Then consider what the world would be like if the Mass were not so readily available to all of us.

Consider that, while so many shrug off this obligation so lightly, there is this story about a legless woman in Africa who crawls 2.5 miles to attend Mass.

Consider, while we hate feeling obliged when we would rather read the paper, that this priest bikes for hours in stifling desert heat to bring the Eucharist to his patiently waiting flock.   

Consider what it is you’re saying “no” to.

It breaks my heart to see our duty to attend Mass so passively dismissed and the graveness of the matter so trivialized. The liturgy and the Eucharist are the summit of our worship and the source from which all graces flow. Why, oh why, would you not want to go to Mass and why would you dare to encourage others not to go? Jesus is there, truly Present at the Mass! In the Flesh! We should be flinging ourselves against the doors of the church to get in, not making excuses for staying home.

Just go to Mass. Go. Jesus is there, in the Flesh. Really, and truly. He’s waiting for you.

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