If no TLM, is it sinning to not attend NO mass?

Recently, my family and I went on vacation. Prior to leaving, I checked the internet to see if there were any TLM’s in the area. Unfortunately, there were none. So, when Sunday morning rolled around, my wife and I discussed the issue and decided not to go. The reasons were several fold. First, we are staunch traditionalists and just cannot embrace the NO mass. Secondly, we try to limit our children’s exposure to this (although my son attends catholic HS and goes to the NO mass during the school year - you should hear what he has to say but that is a subject for another thread). Lastly, the friend we were visiting told us of an incident that happened recently. The area they are in has 26 churches staffed by only 14 priests. To say this is a juggling act is an understatement. One week the priest in charge of scheduling could not find a priest for this local church. So, what did he do? He contacted a Presbyterian minister and asked him to fill in, which he did. If you arrived late and did not hear the announcement and, as my friend put it, you should have seen the shock on some peoples’ faces when he mentioned he was married in his sermon. Sometimes I just shake my head in disbelief!!! And I wont’ even go into the issues of consecration, validity of the mass and such.

Now, this past week, my local priest who celebrates the TLM (and unfortunately the NO as well) mentioned that we must attend mass when we are away on vacation, no matter whether it is a TLM, a NO, Marion rite, orthodox rite, etc. I must admit I did not think to check into some of the other rites. Anyway, since I am trying to formulate my thoughts for my next confession, I am wondering if we have committed a sin and whether it is mortal or venial? No doubt my local priest and I will have some interesting dialog on this subject. I would appreciate your thoughts on this matter. IYO, did we sin by not attending the NO mass? What other options could/should we have considered?

Thanks for your thoughts! Greg

Canon Law states;

Can. 1247 On Sundays and other holydays of obligation, the faithful are obliged to assist at Mass. They are also to abstain from such work or business that would inhibit the worship to be given to God, the joy proper to the Lord’s Day, or the due relaxation of mind and body.

It says Mass, it does not say the Ordinary Form of the Mass or the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. So if there was an OF Mass that you could have gone to and you did not receive a dispensation from your pastor to miss Mass then yes, you sin and you compounded this by not allowing your children (if you have any) to attend Mass.

According to the Catechism:

The Church obliges the faithful to take part in the Divine Liturgy on Sundays and feast days and, prepared by the sacrament of Reconciliation, to receive the Eucharist at least once a year, if possible during the Easter season.224 But the Church strongly encourages the faithful to receive the holy Eucharist on Sundays and feast days, or more often still, even daily.

The precept of the Church specifies the law of the Lord more precisely: "On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass."117 "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."118

The celebrating assembly is the community of the baptized who, "by regeneration and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, are consecrated to be a spiritual house and a holy priesthood, that through all the works of Christian men they may offer spiritual sacrifices."9 This “common priesthood” is that of Christ the sole priest, in which all his members participate:10

Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that full, conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy, and to which the Christian people, “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people,” have a right and an obligation by reason of their Baptism.11

I had talked with my priest about missing mass because my husband didn’t want me to go. He told me that it was sin and that I should bring it up to my husband that I was going to confession to confess missing Mass. I followed my priests advise and haven’t missed a mass since, nor has my husband asked me not to go…which is great!

I have never been to a TLM mass.

The incident with the minister was truly bizarre.:eek: However, with 14 priests in the area, you could have found a mass (but not with the priest who brought in the minister). I’ve attended mass in languages I didn’t even know when I was traveling. So yes, it is a sin not to attend mass on Sunday, even if the only one is in the form you don’t like. It is still the mass and while you are there you should try to pray and not focus on the faults, offer it up:).

You sound very judgmental, I go to NO mass because I have little kids and they would never last in a traditional Mass…The NO Mass I go to never let a priest of another denomination say Mass, that was the parish priest fault who did that…I’ve been to many NO Masses and they are not as bad as you say, they are different obviously than traditional and it’s no excuse to have liturgical abuses, but you should not miss Mass b/c of it, you don’t realize how obnoxious you sound…no offense…:(…

You do know the NO mass is just as valid as the Latin mass, right?

While you may prefer the “form” of one over another, you DO KNOW that going to one form makes you no more or no less “holy” than another form. If you choose to attend TLM and I choose to attend NO, we are both fulfilling our obligations EQUALLY. To think otherwise is arrogance, which is a sin…

You sound pretty obnoxious…:rolleyes:

The Ordinary Rite of the Mass (NO) is just as valid as the Extraordinary Rite (TLM). Catholics are obligated to assist at Mass every Sunday. Therefore, you would be obligated to attend a valid Mass (Ordinary Rite, Byzantine Rite, etc.) that is available to you where you live or are traveling.

Absolutely it is sinning to deliberately miss Mass on a Sunday. You said you checked the Mass schedules for the area, you and your wife discussed it, and you had a local friend who could have made sure you got to the church without getting lost.

Of course if you arrive at a church to find that a presbrytrian is leading the service than there is no Mass and you did not miss it through your own fault, but you have no way of knowing that that will be the case unless you are actually there.

Please do confess this and try to plan better for your next vacation.

Well, I apologize if I seem obnoxious. That was not my intention. However, up until about 20 years ago, I attended the NO mass. I was 10 when they made the changes and felt odd when it happened. However, being a good catholic, i followed along. Was an altar boy and everything. Then they started doing stranger things like communion in the hand, Em’s, altar girls and such. I’m sorry, but I had a hard time with this. I felt very uneasy. This did not seem very reverent to me. I started to drift away and attend less and less. Keep in mind, we were told that the old mass was no longer valid and could not be celebrated.

Imagine my surprise when I re-discovered the TLM. Not valid, huh???

Since gong to the TLM, I have on several occasions been to NO masses for various reasons. I have seen priests give communion to people who stuffed it in their pockets and purses and walked out the door. I have seen people attend in bikini tops (I’m not saying you have to dress to the hilt but this is a little extreme). I have heard sermons where they have taught that the eucharist is just bread (I am not making this up!). I have heard them say we no longer need to pray the rosary. I’m sure this does not go on everywhere but, being that i have only attended occasionally, it is amazing what I have seen and heard. It truly makes me wonder what goes on at other times.

Perhaps if the abuses weren’t so widespread and flagrant, I might be willing to attend under such circumstances. Given what I have seen, it makes it very difficult. Unfortunately, I do agree that I probably committed a mortal sin. The real sin is why we can’t have this mass more available and why I must subject myself and my family to such offenses and abuses in order to avoid sinning. Something is wrong with this equation.

I am not trying to ignite a debate here (although it may seem that way), It’s just that I/we feel very strongly about these issues and are entitled to our beliefs. I am not saying the NO mass is invalid or anything like that. I just think that, for whatever the reason, it has just strayed very far from its original intent.

Sincerely, Greg

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Of course the rumor that the TLM was not valid was a common myth when the TLM was suppressed. I don’t know what that has to do with the price of tea in China. In spite of fervent prayers, the NO has not been suppressed. You are fully aware of this.

As for finding yourself at a Mass without a priest or otherwise without valid matter, you can leave, and your obligation for the day is satisfied…although, of course you’d want to find another Mass, if you could. That is extremely rare, though, and all the rumors you can dig up in your defense don’t change that.

The absence of a Mass that you don’t happen to like is not an excuse from your Sunday obligation to assist at a valid Mass that is available, even if that Mass has elements that are expected to make it a trial to you and even if you reasonably expect abuses! There is no escape clause on that! Your only excuse would be if the Mass were not objectively valid. You had no reason to expect that, did you?

I never heard of a traditionalist who thought the precepts of the Church were elective, traditionalists not being a shades-of-grey bunch, as a whole, but then, we all rationalize from time to time. I certainly do, heaven help me. You are rationalizing, friend. Cut it out.

As for confession, I was not taught that I had to classify whether sins were mortal or venial before confessing them. I was taught to avoid mentioning extenuating circumstances, unless specifically asked. This was a sin, and you know it. If some sin even might be serious, you need to confess it. You know this, too, even in the depths of rationalization, you know it. This is a serious matter, you were aware of the precept when you made your decision, and no one forced you into the decision. In terms of deciding how urgent it is to confess this, I wouldn’t wait around about it.

I mean, really: do you think that if the TLM were the only available Mass, that any Catholic in the Church, no matter how liberal or how ignorant of Latin, would have any excuse for missing their Sunday obligation? What would you think about them trying to nitpick that the form wasn’t the ordinary form or that they wouldn’t understand a bit of it?

You’d be right to send them straight to confession. Take your own medicine, now! It’s good for you.

Generally speaking, it is a mistake to make yourself out to be a special case in the confessional, as well. Confess that you missed Mass on a Sunday and also negected your duty to take your children, when you had an opportunity to go, and leave it at that. I suspect that there will be absolution and penance given, without a lot of dialog over the matter. If you want to talk about it, make an appointment about that at another time. If you’re going to persist in making excuses for yourself, at least don’t do it in the confessional.

PS Oregon has a married priest, validly ordained. Although rare, they do exist in the Roman rite.

The issue is not whether or not you are “willing to attend under such circumstances.” The circumstances you describe (no ER Mass available on a day you are obligated to attend Mass) are circumstances that you need to attend a valid Mass, whether you want to or not. Try to find an OR Mass that you think you might be comfortable with. If you see abuses going on, talk to the priest or write the bishop. Offer up your discomfort for the majority of Catholics who attend the OR every week.

No, the real sin is not attending a valid Mass when one was available.

In the case where you know a certain OF Mass is so offensive that it becomes an occasion of sin for you, then yes, in my opinion, attending such a Mass would be sinful. But when you’re traveling, there is no way for you to know what any of the parishes are like and so you are certainly obligated to try and find a Mass and attend, even if there is no traditional Mass. We can’t just assume that because it’s a Novus Ordo Mass that it’s going to be offensive.


Let me provide you with an alternative opinion. It will no doubt be blasted, maligned, castigated, mocked, and derided to the Heavens by later posts, but I trust you will take it as a sincere and reflected on Catholic opinion and take it under consideration.

I will simply convey to you the guidance that a Traditional priest gave during a conference I attended. He said that the NO Mass is a danger to the Catholic Faith because it has been watered down and Protestantized. Cardinals Ottaviani (Prefect of the CDF equivalent under Paul VI) and Bacci said as much in a letter to Paul VI before it was introduced. (See here) The priest said it would be a venial sin to attend an NO done reverently. It would be a mortal sin to attend a “rock n’ roll” Mass or the equivalent because it is a sacrilege. You will hear the claim that a rock Mass is still “valid”, but that simply makes it worse since God does not want to be there under those circumstances. Also communion in the hand is a sacrilege, though most are ignorant of this.

Archbishop Lefebvre has said that it is so Protetsantized that it does not objectively fulfill the Sunday obligation. Here are his words from Chapter 4 of “An Open Letter to Confused Catholics” from 1986:

Your perplexity takes perhaps the following form: may I assist at a sacrilegious Mass which is nevertheless valid, in the absence of any other, in order to satisfy my Sunday obligation? The answer is simple: these Masses cannot be the object of an obligation; we must moreover apply to them the rules of moral theology and canon law as regards the participation or the attendance at an action which endangers the faith or may be sacrilegious.

The New Mass, even when said with piety and respect for the liturgical rules, is subject to the same reservations since it is impregnated with the spirit of Protestantism. It bears within it a poison harmful to the faith. That being the case the French Catholic of today finds himself in the conditions of religious practice which prevail in missionary countries. There, the inhabitants in some regions are able to attend Mass only three or four times a year. The faithful of our country should make the effort to attend once each month at the Mass of All Time, the true source of grace and sanctification, in one of those places where it continues to be held in honor.

The Traditional priest I mentioned previously made pains to remind us that this is NOT judging the priests or faithful involved who say or attend the NO Mass. They are doing the best they can.

The third commandment tells us to “Keep Holy the Lord’s Day”. It does not say “go to Mass”. The requirement of Mass attendance on Sunday is a man made ecclesiastical law. If you are sick, you are excused from Mass (man’s law) but are still obligated to keep God’s divine law (pray, etc.) Therefore if one cannot attend a TLM, one still needs to keep the day holy, but one is exempt from one’s obligation to attend Mass.

Furthermore Canon 844.2 states:

Whenever necessity requires or genuine spiritual advantage suggests, and provided that the danger of error or indifferentism is avoided, it is lawful for the faithful for whom it is physically or morally impossible to approach a Catholic minister, to receive the sacraments of penance, Eucharist, and anointing of the sick from non-Catholic ministers in whose churches these sacraments are valid.

Indeed if the NO Mass is morally impossible for you to attend (for reasons given above) or even if “genuine spiritual advantage suggests it” and the TLM is not offered anywhere near you on a given Sunday through a valid priest, then (contrary to the crazy allowance in this Canon, which would allow you to then receive from a schismatic priest) you definitely do not receive from a non-Catholic minister. You follow the prescriptions of the following Canon:

Canon 1248 -2:

If because of lack of a sacred minister or for **other grave cause ** participation in the celebration of the Eucharist is impossible, it is specially recommended that the faithful take part in the liturgy of the word if it is celebrated in the parish church or in another sacred place according to the prescriptions of the diocesan bishop, or engage in prayer for an appropriate amount of time personally or in a family or, as occasion offers, in groups of families.

There you have it. God bless you and may you find peace.


the phrase “more Catholic than the Pope” springs to mind.

I’d rather submit to the authority designated by Christ (i.e., Pope Benedict) than follow someone raised up by man.

You seem to be telling the OP to disobey Christ (by disobeying His Church). A dangerous path to travel, my friend.

The advice given is fully within the Canon Law of the Church, as I pointed out and is therefore not disobeying the Church. The Church, through Canon law, makes allowance for conscience and spiritual advantage. It is no more dangerous than recommending one stay away from “fully approved” and allowed diocesan Masses said by Arian priests in the 4th century.

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The highest law of the Church is the salvation of souls. If the only option that a person has is attending a Mass which is a spiritual danger to them, then they are not obligated to obey the lesser law of Sunday Mass attendance. Rather, they should keep holy the Sabbath through prayer and reflection. But as I said, only if they have no other option.

Several years ago I went to a Steubenville South youth rally with a local Lifeteen group. Even in highschool I should have known better and looking back on it, I would have attempted to find another Mass and refused to participate in what amounted to a praise and worship circus. I could not help but have all sorts of angry and uncharitable thoughts and at one point I even cried because I was so scandalized by what the bishop was doing. Afterwards I felt I had to go to confession because I had been so angry. I realize this may be an extreme example, but this is what I’m talking about. If a Mass is celebrated so badly that you feel like you need to go to confession afterwards, then you are under no obligation to go. A Catholic has the right to attend Mass celebrated according to the mind of the Church. If they can not find that, it’s not their fault. Their priests and bishops will have much to answer for.

The OP had no idea if the OF Mass was going to be spiritually endangering. He took it upon himself to presume it might be soley because it was an OF Mass, a judgment he had no right to make, because the OF Mass IS the ordinary Mass of the Catholic Church, and he must accept that it is a valid Rite of the Catholic Church. He deliberately missed Mass because he doesn’t like the OF. There is no excuse for this presumption, nor for not accepting the OF as a valid Mass. One’s personal preference does not trump over one’s obligation to attend Mass, esp. if there is no real reason to believe the Mass is not valid. We are not our own Magesterium–we are subject to the teaching of the Church.

While the Pope made it clear that the EF should be made available if there is a stable congregation to those who wish to attend it, he also made it clear that the OF Mass is the ordinary Mass of the Latin Rite and that it must be accepted as equally valid by all Catholics. Period. So there is no excuse for missing Mass if the EF is not available.

Right! I don’t think the OP should have made that assumption. I believe he should have made every attempt to attend Mass, even if it was a Novus Ordo Mass. The only point of my post was to say that attending certain types of OF Masses may be sinful for some people, and so they should stay away from them. Hypothetically, if such a Mass was the only option, then I do not believe it would be a sin to miss Mass on Sundays.

I’m sorry that you’ve had such horrible experiences. I’ve been to Ordinary Form (NO as you say) masses in which the priest faced the East, the prayers were chanted in Latin, and all present received kneeling and on the tongue. At my local cathedral, the OF mass is always celebrated reverently and kneeling to receive is always an option. I have been to both EF (TLM) and OF (NO) masses, and while I love the TLM, without a doubt the grandest, most uplifting, most solemn masses I have ever been to were OF/NO masses celebrated by our Holy Father. When I was in Rome this past Holy Week, all the papal masses were celebrated in the OF, but with the prayers chanted in Latin, with grand processions and glorious choirs. It is presumptious of you to assume that an OF mass won’t be reverent.

To answer the original question, I agree with my fellow posters. It is always a grave sin to deliberately miss mass. Yes, if you showed up and there was a Presbyterian minister “celebrating”, the mass would be invalid - you, however, had no way to know whether or not this would be the case! If it was a valid mass, regardless of how irreverent it may have been, you would still have the knowledge that you were doing your best to obey Holy Mother Church and that Our Lord was present on the altar. You could have offered up your mass intentions on behalf of the priest and poor souls who facilitated the abuses.

To a degree, you are correct in that I made an assumption. However, being that this is the same church that allowed a protestant minister say mass without informing the laity certainly puts serious doubt in my mind. What else will they allow? I guess that also, since every time in recent years that I have attended a NO mass, major abuses have occurred. I’m getting jaded to the point that I am wondering if I can attend without seeing some abuse. BTW, to me altar girls, EM’s, communions in the hand are NOT dogma. Why they are universally practiced is beyond my comprehension. To me, these are abuses as well.

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