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 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.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is missing Mass on sun. a mortal sin if you can't get to church because of snow or ice?

Anonymous said...

Is missing Mass on A sun. or a holy day a mortal sin if you can't get there because of bad weather?

Fr Greg said...

If you are physically unable to attend Mass on a day of obligation (Sunday, Holy Day of Obligation), then it's not a mortal sin because you are not freely choosing to miss.

Anonymous said...

is missing mass cause of having a college baseball game a sin?

Anonymous said...

I live in Atlanta where it is easy to get to Mass on Saturday for Vigil, not easy to get to Mass on Sunday because of transit cut backs due to the recession, and I am not near the train. I don't drive. Today we have rain and sleet, possibly snow. Tomorrow may be better. I know I love God and God loves me. If I can make it to Mass tomorrow, I will. I regularly attend Vigil. If I cannot attend Mass this week, God loves me no less. I attend Mass at least weekly & sometimes several times per week. If I don't attend tomorrow, it is not a mortal sin. The Church may say otherwise, but I am at peace.

Anonymous said...

So is it wrong to plan a two week camping trip in Canada because there is no opportunity to attend Mass on Sunday in the remote area?

Victoria said...

How does one find TV stations that carry The Mass? And, if one is not able to receive the Holy Eucharist or making confession,does the TV station qualify for observing Mass?

WTFLARRY! said...

Is there another way to make Confession other than physically? Is there a site for 'internet' confession?

Anonymous said...

I must take medications in the morning and they put me to sleep so it is not safe to drive. I go on Saturday afternoon to compensate, however on Sunday Mass in the morning after I take my medication it is out of the question. So if I cannot go Saturday, I cannot go Sunday. I do not think that is a any kind of sin.

Anonymous said...

It is very hard to believe that the Church regards the intentional failure to attend Mass on Sunday to be an offense of the same magnitude as murdering a person, cheating a senior out of his life savings, or having sex with young boys. If this is true, then a lot of pretty good Catholics are going to wind up in hell.

The church has flipped its opinion on the sinfulness of many issues in the past: from eating meat on Friday to usery (money lending for profit). I think that the position of the Catholic Church on mass will also change, if it has not done so already.

Anonymous said...

I've been considering studying abroad in Japan and O don't know how accessible mass will be for me there. I want to stay close to God and celebrate mass with him. But what if I can't find a catholic church? Or simply it's too far to commute? If I read the missal and try to pretend I'm there is that better?..

Matthew Wright said...

ref the comment "believe that the Church regards the intentional failure to attend Mass on Sunday to be an offense of the same magnitude as murdering a person, cheating a senior out of his life savings, or having sex with young boys. If this is true, then a lot of pretty good Catholics are going to wind up in hell"

Mortal sins don't have a ranking, murder number 1, rape number 2 etc. It is however about your relationship with God and how a mortal sin breaks or harms that relationship.

To borrow a quote from catholicvu -- Mortal sin utterly severs the sinner's relationship with God and Church. It can only be repaired by true repentance and the asking for forgiveness from God and Church (confession, the Sacrament of Penance). Mortal sin is committed not so much in regards of breaking a commandment or regulation, but by the motivation of the heart.