If a saint missed mass the Sunday before they died


#1

Let’s say (hypothetically) Mother Teresa, or even St Francis of Assisi, woke up one Sunday in their old age and just thought “I don’t think God will mind if I take one day off going to mass” and turned over and went back to sleep, then died in their sleep.

They die in a state of mortal sin, and their entire lives of purity and service to God count for nothing to save their souls?

Is this understanding correct?

In that case, what assurance can a Catholic have? I understand the idea of ‘moral assurance’ i.e. that by following the discipline of the Church, these great saints would develop such a holy character that this hypothetical situation would never happen, but clearly even the greatest saints fail from time to time.

St Catherine of Sienna seems to suggest that for most of her years in the convent she was close to being in a state of mortal sin. If someone that holy is so close to being damned, and by her own admission spent much of her early years as a sister in and out of mortal sin, what hope is there for the rest of us?


#2

Probably not.

Hypothetically could they. Sure.

Let’s pretend in your example that on that last fatal Sunday it was taking a crack at God. Basically saying: “You know what, I’ve been awfully good. So you can’t count this one against me, so there!”

You might find yourself in a very uncomfortable situation when you reach the pearly gates.

It all gets back to the whole “culpability” thing. Let’s pretend instead that the Saint in question was on their death bed and thought “I don’t think God will mind if I take one day off going to mass.” i.e. If they move me, I’ll die.

I’m guessing this probably isn’t going to be held against him or her.

(Of course in the stories I’ve read of the lives of the Saints either they’d drag themselves there or a Priest would come to them, but that’s a different subject.)

CCC 1857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: "Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent."131

The Sunday obligation
CCC 2180 The precept of the Church specifies the law of the Lord more precisely: “On Sundays and other holy days of obligation thefaithful are bound to participate in the Mass.”

“The precept of participating in the Mass is satisfied by assistance at a Mass which is celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the holy day or on the evening of the preceding day.”

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. Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.

Chuck


#3

The only problem is the one of mind set… if they take one day off because they are horribly ill, that is forgiveable. If they just willy-nilly feel like taking a day off, know it’s wrong, and do it anyway, then it would be hard to argue that they were a saint to begin with. Then again, we must trust in the Lord to be merciful for us sinners as well.

None. We are to work out our salvation in fear and trembling, with knowledge that we are sinners and trusting in the grace and mercy of God for our salvation.

Or better yet, if someone who was that close to mortal sin instead was made pure and a saint by God Almighty, then we should be thankful that those of us who are here on this earth might also stand to come before God and be made pure in His sight.


#4

if they take one day off because they are horribly ill, that is forgiveable.

Actually, it is not forgiveable, because it is not a sin:) .

Of course, the relevent question is, is it realistic that to think that someone that holy would want to take a day off from mass?


#5

Especially when they knew full well the consequences (because full knowledge and full consent are requirements for a sin to be mortal).

But suppose they did, for unfathomable reasons. Why do you assume God would let them die in those few hours or days when they were having a very temporary rebellion (again, that seems to be part of your hypothesis)?

Ask youself, does God want you to gain heaven or suffer hell? Do you really think he’s going to play “gotcha!” with even one human soul, who he knows will soon repent and live once again in Christ?

You ask what assurance Catholics can have. We can have the same assurance as any person. We trust completely in God’s promises and ask for his grace in helping us master our God-given free will.

BTW, what if a God-fearing Protestant wakes up one morning and kills his wife and children, then himself? Do you also ask of him, what assurance can any Protestant have? Or do you say “but those are horrible sins! It’s different!” Is your real question about what you perceive as “trivial” mortal sins (even though Protestants claim that there is no such thing as mortal vs. venial sin)?


#6

More to the point, I think, is why do people wonder about such silly things? Wouldn’t their time be better spent more productively? :shrug:


#7

No, let’s not say hypothetically. This is a good example of “Mt 23, 24 Blind guides, who strain out a gnat, and swallow a camel.”Let’s find an impossible question to answer and demand an answer. Well what if she really did it in anger. Mother Teresa, Francis, all the saints love God. They would not have offended God for any silly reason, period. No “what if…”


#8

Not even I would do such a thing and I’m terrible! What makes you even think of such a thing about a saint?


#9

Exactly. And to ask such questions is just silly. Or worse. By calling it silly, the question is getting the benefit of the doubt.

If anyone has so much time on their hands that they can sit around and devise such silly questions, I’m sure there’s a charity nearby that would welcome their time and efforts and put them to much better use than coming up with silly questions!


#10

Says who? You? You think you’re the one who sits in judgement over them? Pretty impressed with yourself aren’t you? You think you can know their intent? Their rejection of God?

You REALLY think someone who loves God so much would just blow Him off that easily? Again, me, purportedly the worst Catholic on this planet, (and yes it was voted on this past week, I won), you think even I would do such a thing?


#11

No, but for a more in depth understanding please refer to your Catechism of the Catholic Church.


#12

Absolutely no hope! Phew, now we can all go have a great time, we weren’t going to be saved anyway were we? Your problem is you don’t understand the thought process (or you’re pretending not to know) of someone who truly loves God, who dedicates their lives to Him. To such a person, forgetting to say morning prayers might seem like a mortal sin.


#13

This sounds like an attempt to plumb salvation. It views Christ as the task master versus the savior. It discounts His divine mercy to juridical administration. It portrays Him as simply looking for the opportunity to exclaim *“gotcha!”

*God is love. Were any of the saints to sin as the OP proposes, from what we know of them, their well-formed conscience likely would have caused them to repent. IMHO, upon judgment it would make sense that God would judge them based upon their interior versus the one lapse.


#14

#15

If anyone refuses to repent of any mortal sin and rather chooses to remain at enmity with God, they will be damned regardless of their past–it is he who perseveres to the end in God’s friendship that will be saved.


#16

First of all, let’s make sure that the three conditions required for mortal sin were met. Given your hypothetical situation and your hypothetical thought in quotes, it’s possible that the “full knowledge” requirement was at least deficient. Also, in their “old age” can also mean they did not feel strong enough to attend Mass, which may also diminish the “full consent”.

Anyway, let’s assume that perhaps, all other things as is, they were strong enough, and thought, “Oh, what the heck. I won’t go to Mass, never mind what God thinks.” then:

They die in a state of mortal sin, and their entire lives of purity and service to God count for nothing to save their souls?

Is this understanding correct?

Yes. We are able to merit only when in a state of grace. Our good works count for nothing by themselves. The Catholic faith does not teach salvation by works; it teaches salvation by grace alone.

In that case, what assurance can a Catholic have? I understand the idea of ‘moral assurance’ i.e. that by following the discipline of the Church, these great saints would develop such a holy character that this hypothetical situation would never happen, but clearly even the greatest saints fail from time to time.

St Catherine of Sienna seems to suggest that for most of her years in the convent she was close to being in a state of mortal sin. If someone that holy is so close to being damned, and by her own admission spent much of her early years as a sister in and out of mortal sin, what hope is there for the rest of us?

You always have an assurance whether you are in a state of grace at any particular time. What we don’t know is whether we would be in a state of grace at the moment of our death.

Hence, the need to be vigilant against mortal sin, and frequent Confession. And of course, we pray for a good and holy death.

One thing’s for sure. God never stops giving us actual graces, even when in a state of mortal sin. In fact, that’s the time he turns on the tap of actual grace so as to lead us to repentance. If still we refuse to cooperate, well then, that’s our own fault. To paraphrase an earlier poster, God doesn’t play gotcha. If one finds himself in hell, he knows exactly why.


#17

It would be terribly painful for a Saint to miss Mass. They would not consider it “taking a day off” they would ache to be there. They love Christ more than anything and to choose to sleep instead of be in His presence would be absurd.


#18

The fact is, everyone misses Mass at some point. And a good Catholic will feel consciously guilty to some degree.

I think that the point of the Church and the catechism is for those who habitually miss Mass for no good reason. Those who show up only once or twice a year (Christmas, Easter.) Yet the Church does not reject them.


#19

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