Monday, March 05, 2007

"Is missing Mass a mortal sin?"

Anon asked, “Is missing mass a mortal sin? My college age son was recently home and came to mass with me. When he didn't receive communion I asked him why. He said that he had missed mass the Sunday before and therefore wasn't allowed to receive communion if he hadn't gone to confession. Since I never miss mass I can't remember the rules here.” First of all, tell your son, "good job!" Not for missing Mass, but for his respect of the Eucharist. It’s great that he knows the guidelines for receiving Holy Communion, especially with regards to mortal sin.

I have taught four classes or religion to our junior high students in the past two school days. This question came up in each class, I think. One of the students even mentioned that another family member didn’t receive Holy Communion, and he asked why. I said to him that we really shouldn’t ask why someone didn’t receive Communion. That’s between them and God. I reiterated my respect for people who respect the Eucharist so much that they’ll run the risk of being judged by others because they don’t receive.

Missing Sunday Mass is a serious sin. If it involves full knowledge and full consent, then it is a mortal sin. Remember, all three conditions (grave offense, full knowledge, and full consent) have to be present for a sin to be a mortal sin. God says to “keep holy the Sabbath”. Jesus showed us how to worship the Father by gathering his friends around a table, and celebrating a meal. He commands us to “take this all of you and eat it…do this in memory of me”. As followers of Jesus, we are obligated, then, to keep holy the Sabbath by celebrating the Eucharist (Holy Mass). It is a grave obligation.

I think that most Catholics, if not all, who have use of right reason, know that they need to go to Mass each Sunday. Is it full knowledge? Probably not. In other words, I don’t think too many Catholics really know in full about the history and importance of the Mass, the theology of the Eucharist, the moral implications involved with the Commandments, etc. Once someone enters into a deeper understanding of the Mass and its central place in the Christian life, then one moves closer to full knowledge.

Finally, one has to freely choose to skip Mass on a Sunday (or Holy Day of Obligation) for it to be a mortal sin. When someone is physically unable to get to Mass (e.g., illness, no transportation), they are not freely choosing to miss Mass. In these rare cases, they are “dispensed” from the obligation. They should watch a “Mass for Shut-Ins” on television, if possible, so that they participate in some way with the Church in the liturgy on that day.

When I counsel people about observing the Sunday obligation, I remind them of the main reason that we have to be at Mass each Sunday: to receive the Eucharist. Jesus commands us to partake of the Eucharistic feast and that we need the Eucharist to have eternal life. I tell them that I really can’t imagine them saying for 24 straight hours on a Sunday, “No, Jesus, I don’t need to receive the Eucharist”. That’s essentially what happens when one knowingly and freely chooses to skip Sunday Mass.

17 Comments:

At 7:53 AM, Anonymous Night Owl said...

Kat,

I know when we go to reconciliation the priests are there to help us get closer to God but how do WE get over feeling embarrassed of messing up?

 
At 9:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Being in a small closed space doesn't help!

 
At 10:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Go to someone you don't know or who at least you do not bump into on a regular basis. And use the screen. It seems outmoded but there's a reason for it. I know they say priests aren't judgmental, and they may try not to be, but they're still human. I can't tell a priest some trashy thing I did and then run into him in a parking lot and believe that he's not thinking what a trashy person I am.

 
At 10:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps it would be helpful to those of us attending Mass if, prior to the distribution of the Eucharist, you did not say that all "faithful Catholics" may come to Communion. The bishops of the United States recently published a statement on our decision making process to feel worthy to receive Communion. The bishops spent several years preparing this statement. Could you have some of these pamphlets available in the back of the Church for parishioners? I know of friends who do not go to Communion when you are the celebrant at Mass because they say they don't know what a "faithful Catholic" is. I hope you will think about just how powerful the words "faithful Catholic" are to the people in the pews. It means different things to different people. I believe that the bishops' statement will help each of us (ordained and lay) examine our conscience in a way that will truly light our path to the celebration and participation in the Sacrament.

 
At 10:59 AM, Anonymous Kat said...

Night owl;

I don't know, I am always embarrassed by having to go to confession. But I don't ever think that the priest will hold anything I say in there against me or look at me diffrently because of what I say, of course if they do then that is thier problem I think and not mine... I went there for the purpose of reconciling myself to God and community not for thier opinions of the person I am or am trying to become. It is hard going to confession because we have to admit to all the times that we mess up when it would be so much easier to go in the box and tell Fr. Greg (or whoever) the ways I did good since the last time I was there... I would prefer that instead of having to sit there and enumerate the times I messed up.

 
At 11:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It does seem as though there are very many who question what being a "faithful" Catholic means. I've always thought being faithful means acknowledging Christ as my savior, acknowledging the true meaning of the Eucharist and following the rules as I know them. I am certain that I do not now ALL the teachings of the church, but I do follow those of which I am aware.

 
At 12:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought that the requirement for receiving Communion is being in a state of grace which means being free of mortal sin. When I hear "faithful Catholic," that sounds like much more than being free of mortal sin. I don't go unless I'm with my children so I can avoid having to tell them that I'm not worthy for reasons I do not fully understand.

 
At 12:44 PM, Blogger fran said...

Another thought on Reconciliation, as I too share similar feelings..
Perhaps if we were to focus on how we feel leaving the confessional, rather than how we feel going in, some of our apprehensions could be calmed. After receiving the Sacrament our slate is wiped clean, so to speak, graces bestowed; we have the opportunity to begin again and the knowledge that if we do our best, yet still slip that we can return to receive this beautiful Sacrament of forgiveness once again.

 
At 3:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Go to someone you don't know or who at least you do not bump into on a regular basis."

I don't have anything trashy to say but I still like the idea of confessing to someone you don't know and since I have been doing that for a while that's seems the logical way to go.

Thanks.

 
At 4:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our slate wiped clean and to start anew. Very cool indeed!

 
At 8:44 PM, Anonymous Kat said...

I can see the benefit of confessing to someone you don't know, especially if you are nervous about the idea of going to the sacrament at all. But I am on the other end of that, I like going to the same priest (for the most part) because especially if there are sins that I struggle with time and time and time and time again then I get more indepth counseling on the matter(s)then I would with someone who didn't know my issues and didn't know me. And hopefully I am improving a little, maybe... kinda sorta... ok probably not but I am trying to make the effort...

 
At 10:33 PM, Anonymous loves hockey said...

Yea I see your point Kat but another idea came to mind. Maybe there will be a long line and by the time I get to the front then all the time will be taken! Ha!

Okay, Okay being a little silly here but will go with my original posting. I need to be brave sometime. Lucky for me this isn't big sins I have to confess. Whew!

Kat, its nice to know that I am not the only hyper blogger aboard.

 
At 7:24 AM, Anonymous Tom said...

"Church" isn't just a thing you go to. The Church is the Mystical Body of Christ (you are What you eat).

As the Catechism says, "Participation in the communal celebration of the Sunday Eucharist is a testimony of belonging and of being faithful to Christ and to his Church."

We gather as one because we are one. We gather on Sunday because it is the "Lord's Day," the day of the week on which Jesus rose from the dead.

If your hand were to somehow choose not to join the rest of your body, your body would be maimed and your hand would die.

If someone chooses not to join the rest of the Body of Christ... pretty much the same result.

 
At 8:59 AM, Anonymous Night Owl said...

"If your hand were to somehow choose not to join the rest of your body, your body would be maimed and your hand would die.

If someone chooses not to join the rest of the Body of Christ... pretty much the same result. "


That is a GREAT analogy! Very deep!

 
At 8:17 PM, Anonymous Night Owl said...

Hey Kat,

I went to reconciliation and everything went great! I don't know what I was sweating over before. Actually when I pause and think about it, its really a cool sacrament.

 
At 8:20 PM, Anonymous Kat said...

night owl;

GOOD FOR YOU!!!!!

 
At 6:03 AM, Anonymous Night Owl said...

"I tell them that I really can’t imagine them saying for 24 straight hours on a Sunday, “No, Jesus, I don’t need to receive the Eucharist”. That’s essentially what happens when one knowingly and freely chooses to skip Sunday Mass."



So very true!

 

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