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Leo Watson wrote:

Hi, guys —

I am a 77-year-old loyal, practicing Catholic. As far as I know, there are very few Catholics who consider attendance at Mass on Sundays or Holy days of Obligation as any sort of an obligation.

That said,

  • Is there an obligation, under pain of grave sin, to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy days?
  • If the answer to the above is yes, why would the Church create these obligations that only provide the faithful with a further opportunity to commit grave sin?

Leo

  { Since few consider Sunday Mass an obligation, why does the Church recognize it as a grave sin? }

Eric replied:

Hi, Leo —

Yes, there is an obligation under pain of grave sin to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days.

As for why, you may as well ask the question:

  • Why did God provide Adam and Eve with an opportunity to commit a grave sin by telling them not to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil?

Although the answers are different in each case, God made the commandment to test us; to provide an opportunity for us to obey.

As for the Church, I suppose the answer is simpler:

She commands us so to motivate us to do what is beneficial to us. Otherwise people would get lazy and neglect to go to church and not share in the graces that come from the liturgy and the celebration of the Eucharist. Perhaps in a deeper sense, She imposed that obligation to reveal to us the inherent spiritual consequences of neglecting weekly worship: spiritual death, whether or not the Church imposes the obligation.

So in a sense, I don't agree with your question. You say that they only provide the faithful with a further opportunity to commit grave sin.

I reply that they don't provide this, but more importantly, they provide an encouragement and motivation to do what is beneficial to us and avoid what is deleterious.

In other words, the Church does this for our own good. She is not to try to trip us up or make it harder for us to be saved.

Eric

Mike replied:

Dear Leo,

You said:

  • If the answer to the above is yes, why would the Church create these obligations that only provide the faithful with a further opportunity to commit grave sin?

For our own spiritual good.

You could also ask:

  • Why would a mother pull hard on a young daughter's arm who is running into a high traffic road?
    <To the daughter, that hurts. Then she wonders why did mom hurt me?>
    <The obvious answer: because of the gravity of the situation.>

Like I told my godchild Steve:

Going to Sunday Mass, or renewing one's Christian Sunday Covenant, is important because we are given the graces to see and act clearly that week whether:

  • we receive the Blessed Sacrament, or
  • pray a Spiritual Communion.
Spiritual Communion

O Lord Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar.
I love you (above all things with all my mind and my heart) and I long for You in my soul.
Since I cannot receive You now sacramentally, at least come spiritually into my heart.
I embrace myself entirely to You and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.

Optional add-on: Come Lord Jesus and glorify Yourself through my weak body.

Amen.

The Lord promises to help us:

  • see things in a morally clear manner, and
  • act in situations in a Catholic Christian way.

When we refuse or turn down the opportunity to spiritually re-charge our souls, we put them in spiritual danger and the gravity of our eternal salvation gets worse.

Hope this helps,

Mike

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