Origin of the Sunday Obligation


Is the obligation for Catholics to attend mass on Sundays and Holy Days considered a discipline or is it something else? Someone told me that it’s a discipline of the Church but that didn’t sound right to me.

Any help?


It is a discipline (and thus can be exempted from by the Bishops), but one rooted in scripture. To wit, the 10 commandments.


Thanks for answering. :slight_smile:

How do you know this? Can you provide me with some kind of source that I can use to prove that to him? Maybe some kind of document from when this discipline was set?


Yes it’s a discipline of the Church and can be modified by the Church as needed.


The Ten Commandments oblige us to keep Sunday holy. Canon Law, which is discipline, specifies how we are to do that.

Can. 1246 §1. Sunday, on which by apostolic tradition the paschal mystery is celebrated, must be observed in the universal Church as the primordial holy day of obligation. The following days must also be observed: the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Epiphany, the Ascension, the Body and Blood of Christ, Holy Mary the Mother of God, her Immaculate Conception, her Assumption, Saint Joseph, Saint Peter and Saint Paul the Apostles, and All Saints.
§2. With the prior approval of the Apostolic See, however, the conference of bishops can suppress some of the holy days of obligation or transfer them to a Sunday.
Can. 1247 On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are obliged to participate in the Mass.
Moreover, they are to abstain from those works and aVairs which hinder the worship to be rendered to God, the joy proper to the Lord’s day, or the suitable relaxation of mind and body.
Can. 1248 §1. A person who assists at a Mass celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the feast day itself or in the evening of the preceding day satisfies the obligation of participating in the Mass.
§2. If participation in the eucharistic celebration becomes impossible because of the absence of a sacred minister or for another grave cause, it is strongly recommended that the faithful take part in a liturgy of the word if such a liturgy is celebrated in a parish church or other sacred place according to the prescripts of the diocesan bishop or that they devote themselves to prayer for a suitable time alone, as a family, or, as the occasion permits, in groups of families.


Joe beat me to the citations.

The sunday obligation is less strongly worded for the eastern churches, but is present in the CCEO as well, just for reference. In that the christian faithful are required to take an active part in the life of the Church. CCEO Canon 699 specifies that the laity participate according to their assigned roles in the liturgical books.

Canon 13
All the Christian faithful must make an effort, in accord with each one’s own condition, to live a holy life and to promote the growth of the Church and its continual sanctification.

Canon 404 requires growth and study of the faith.
Canon 405 requires setting a good example and studying one’s own Church Sui Iuris’ patrimony and tradition.

Originally, the Sabbath was Saturday. But, with the fulfillment of the Old Law, and the Resurrection on a Sunday, the proper commemoration is Sunday. This is an important note when dealing with literalists.


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