Question about Sunday Obligation

Not sure if I am posting this in the right forum, but I have a question about meeting our Sunday obligation.

I know someone who is a nurse. She used to work full time while her husband was between jobs. Her husband recently got a new job working some odd hours during the week, but it is full time. This caused an overlap where they would both be working at the same time. Since they still have a son living at home (under 13), and they have chosen to live in a state far from any friends or relatives, they have no one to watch him when they both work. To solve this problem, the wife decided to change her schedule to Saturdays and Sundays only, all day - 12 hour days, making it impossible for her to attend Mass on Saturday or Sunday. She says it is OK because she is a nurse, and she goes to several weekday masses. I am not sure if that is correct, because she chose to do that purposely, and weekday masses don’t meet your Sunday obligation. Could anyone help me out here?

Were you about to make an offer to babysit for her? I’m not sure how this is your problem. Let us assume that she has spoken to her Confessor, and that she has permission to do this. :slight_smile:

I can’t babysit because we live thousands of miles away, and I care because it is someone I love, and I would hate to think of this being harmful for her soul. I do not think she consulted a priest. I think she just decided on her own. Besides that, I am worried about the example it sets for the child, and how it feels for him to never get to go to Mass with his family. I worry about these things. I can’t help it.

Well, childcare obligations ARE a legitimate exception to the Sunday Obligation. The question is how broadly do we interpret the idea.

If she had to stay HOME to look after the child, that would be an obvious case where she was exempted from Sunday Mass.

Is it not an equally real childcare need that one or other parent is required to be home with the child at all times - that is, if they can’t get or afford to hire someone else to babysit? And as a result, either father or mother would almost inevitably have to work Sundays, depending on the nature of their work and their level of financial need?

If she really has to work on Sundays, hopefully a chaplain comes around for the Catholic patients to give them communion, and she should make sure she receives at the same time they do.

Oh, that is a wonderful idea, Lily. I never thought of that. Thank you so much. That would take a load off my mind. :slight_smile:

I worked at a long term care hospital in Canada where everyone had to take a turn of working weekends and the staff would attend the Communion service with the patients and receive Communion,On Christmas and Easter it was the Bishop that came

From the Catechism:

The Sunday Eucharist

2177 The Sunday celebration of the Lord’s Day and his Eucharist is at the heart of the Church’s life. "Sunday is the day on which the paschal mystery is celebrated in light of the apostolic tradition and is to be observed as the foremost holy day of obligation in the universal Church."110

"Also to be observed are the day of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Epiphany, the Ascension of Christ, the feast of the Body and Blood of Christi, the feast of Mary the Mother of God, her Immaculate Conception, her Assumption, the feast of Saint Joseph, the feast of the Apostles Saints Peter and Paul, and the feast of All Saints."111

2178 This practice of the Christian assembly dates from the beginnings of the apostolic age.112 The Letter to the Hebrews reminds the faithful "not to neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some, but to encourage one another."113

Tradition preserves the memory of an ever-timely exhortation: Come to Church early, approach the Lord, and confess your sins, repent in prayer. . . . Be present at the sacred and divine liturgy, conclude its prayer and do not leave before the dismissal. . . . We have often said: "This day is given to you for prayer and rest. This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it."114 

2179 "A parish is a definite community of the Christian faithful established on a stable basis within a particular church; the pastoral care of the parish is entrusted to a pastor as its own shepherd under the authority of the diocesan bishop."115 It is the place where all the faithful can be gathered together for the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist. The parish initiates the Christian people into the ordinary expression of the liturgical life: it gathers them together in this celebration; it teaches Christ’s saving doctrine; it practices the charity of the Lord in good works and brotherly love:

You cannot pray at home as at church, where there is a great multitude, where exclamations are cried out to God as from one great heart, and where there is something more: the union of minds, the accord of souls, the bond of charity, the prayers of the priests.116 

The Sunday obligation

2180 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

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

2182 Participation in the communal celebration of the Sunday Eucharist is a testimony of belonging and of being faithful to Christ and to his Church. The faithful give witness by this to their communion in faith and charity. Together they testify to God’s holiness and their hope of salvation. They strengthen one another under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

2183 "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."120

A day of grace and rest from work

2184 Just as God "rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done,"121 human life has a rhythm of work and rest. The institution of the Lord’s Day helps everyone enjoy adequate rest and leisure to cultivate their familial, cultural, social, and religious lives.122

2185 On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are to refrain from engaging in work or activities that hinder the worship owed to God, the joy proper to the Lord’s Day, the performance of the works of mercy, and the appropriate relaxation of mind and body.123 Family needs or important social service can legitimately excuse from the obligation of Sunday rest. The faithful should see to it that legitimate excuses do not lead to habits prejudicial to religion, family life, and health.

The charity of truth seeks holy leisure- the necessity of charity accepts just work.124 

2186 Those Christians who have leisure should be mindful of their brethren who have the same needs and the same rights, yet cannot rest from work because of poverty and misery. Sunday is traditionally consecrated by Christian piety to good works and humble service of the sick, the infirm, and the elderly. Christians will also sanctify Sunday by devoting time and care to their families and relatives, often difficult to do on other days of the week. Sunday is a time for reflection, silence, cultivation of the mind, and meditation which furthers the growth of the Christian interior life.

2187 Sanctifying Sundays and holy days requires a common effort. Every Christian should avoid making unnecessary demands on others that would hinder them from observing the Lord’s Day. Traditional activities (sport, restaurants, etc.), and social necessities (public services, etc.), require some people to work on Sundays, but everyone should still take care to set aside sufficient time for leisure. With temperance and charity the faithful will see to it that they avoid the excesses and violence sometimes associated with popular leisure activities. In spite of economic constraints, public authorities should ensure citizens a time intended for rest and divine worship. Employers have a similar obligation toward their employees.

2188 In respecting religious liberty and the common good of all, Christians should seek recognition of Sundays and the Church’s holy days as legal holidays. They have to give everyone a public example of prayer, respect, and joy and defend their traditions as a precious contribution to the spiritual life of society. If a country’s legislation or other reasons require work on Sunday, the day should nevertheless be lived as the day of our deliverance which lets us share in this “festal gathering,” this "assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven."125

It also notes:

Family needs or important social service can legitimately excuse from the obligation of Sunday rest. The faithful should see to it that legitimate excuses do not lead to habits prejudicial to religion, family life, and health.

As for the Sunday Obligation…if it were me…I wound want to have the Lords Day set aside…

And I would certainly get to Mass…if I could not for some temporary time…I would call the pastor of the place I live and ask for a dispensation from the obligation…(for it is a serious obligation…)

but really the Lords Day is very important…so this should be avoided …

As the early martyrs said who were put to death for coming together to celebrate Sunday Mass…

“It is not possible to live without the Lord’s day”

A good reading:

Pope Benedict XVI:

Iuxta dominicam viventes – living in accordance with the Lord’s Day

  1. From the beginning Christians were clearly conscious of this radical newness which the Eucharist brings to human life. The faithful immediately perceived the profound influence of the eucharistic celebration on their manner of life. Saint Ignatius of Antioch expressed this truth when he called Christians “those who have attained a new hope,” and described them as “those living in accordance with the Lord’s Day” (iuxta dominicam viventes). (204) This phrase of the great Antiochene martyr highlights the connection between the reality of the Eucharist and everyday Christian life. The Christians’ customary practice of gathering on the first day after the Sabbath to celebrate the resurrection of Christ – according to the account of Saint Justin Martyr(205) – is also what defines the form of a life renewed by an encounter with Christ. Saint Ignatius’ phrase – “living in accordance with the Lord’s Day” – also emphasizes that this holy day becomes paradigmatic for every other day of the week. Indeed, it is defined by something more than the simple suspension of one’s ordinary activities, a sort of parenthesis in one’s usual daily rhythm. Christians have always experienced this day as the first day of the week, since it commemorates the radical newness brought by Christ. Sunday is thus the day when Christians rediscover the eucharistic form which their lives are meant to have. “Living in accordance with the Lord’s Day” means living in the awareness of the liberation brought by Christ and making our lives a constant self-offering to God, so that his victory may be fully revealed to all humanity through a profoundly renewed existence.

Living the Sunday obligation

  1. Conscious of this new vital principle which the Eucharist imparts to the Christian, the Synod Fathers reaffirmed the importance of the Sunday obligation for all the faithful, viewing it as a wellspring of authentic freedom enabling them to live each day in accordance with what they celebrated on “the Lord’s Day.” The life of faith is endangered when we lose the desire to share in the celebration of the Eucharist and its commemoration of the paschal victory. Participating in the Sunday liturgical assembly with all our brothers and sisters, with whom we form one body in Jesus Christ, is demanded by our Christian conscience and at the same time it forms that conscience. To lose a sense of Sunday as the Lord’s Day, a day to be sanctified, is symptomatic of the loss of an authentic sense of Christian freedom, the freedom of the children of God. (206) Here some observations made by my venerable predecessor John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter Dies Domini (207) continue to have great value. Speaking of the various dimensions of the Christian celebration of Sunday, he said that it is Dies Domini with regard to the work of creation, Dies Christi as the day of the new creation and the Risen Lord’s gift of the Holy Spirit, Dies Ecclesiae as the day on which the Christian community gathers for the celebration, and Dies hominis as the day of joy, rest and fraternal charity.

Sunday thus appears as the primordial holy day, when all believers, wherever they are found, can become heralds and guardians of the true meaning of time. It gives rise to the Christian meaning of life and a new way of experiencing time, relationships, work, life and death. On the Lord’s Day, then, it is fitting that Church groups should organize, around Sunday Mass, the activities of the Christian community: social gatherings, programmes for the faith formation of children, young people and adults, pilgrimages, charitable works, and different moments of prayer. For the sake of these important values – while recognizing that Saturday evening, beginning with First Vespers, is already a part of Sunday and a time when the Sunday obligation can be fulfilled – we need to remember that it is Sunday itself that is meant to be kept holy, lest it end up as a day “empty of God.” (208)

The meaning of rest and of work

  1. Finally, it is particularly urgent nowadays to remember that the day of the Lord is also a day of rest from work. It is greatly to be hoped that this fact will also be recognized by civil society, so that individuals can be permitted to refrain from work without being penalized. Christians, not without reference to the meaning of the Sabbath in the Jewish tradition, have seen in the Lord’s Day a day of rest from their daily exertions. This is highly significant, for it relativizes work and directs it to the person: work is for man and not man for work. It is easy to see how this actually protects men and women, emancipating them from a possible form of enslavement. As I have had occasion to say, “work is of fundamental importance to the fulfilment of the human being and to the development of society. Thus, it must always be organized and carried out with full respect for human dignity and must always serve the common good. At the same time, it is indispensable that people not allow themselves to be enslaved by work or to idolize it, claiming to find in it the ultimate and definitive meaning of life.” (209) It is on the day consecrated to God that men and women come to understand the meaning of their lives and also of their work. (210)

  1. At the beginning of the fourth century, Christian worship was still forbidden by the imperial authorities. Some Christians in North Africa, who felt bound to celebrate the Lord’s Day, defied the prohibition. They were martyred after declaring that it was not possible for them to live without the Eucharist, the food of the Lord: sine dominico non possumus. (252)


I’m so sorry to also post my question here.

I’m Roman Catholic who attends mass every Sunday. I also happen to have a boyfriend is a Baptist. Because neither of us would like to convert to the other faith, he said that the best case scenerio would be to raise our family in “both” faiths. He would be willing to miss his church service (every other Sunday) to attend mass with me and our future kids. However, in return, I would also have to miss going to mass to be able to attend his church service the following Sunday. Is this something a Catholic priest would allow me/us to do??? Will the priest understand our situation?

Kindly advise and thank you in advance.

I should hope no priest would be willing to allow it. The obligation is absolute. Every sabbath that you can attend, without fail. If your boyfriend doesn’t understand that and expects you to choose between him and your faith, then it’s the relationship rather than the church attendance that needs rethinking.

Is there any church in your area that has Saturday vigil Mass? Attending that (on your own if boyfriend doesn’t want to accompany you) should enable you to avoid scheduling conflicts and attend his church as well as your own. Or maybe a Sunday evening Mass would achieve the same.

I told him that I have an obligation to hear mass first and the I will go to with him to their church service. He doesn’t understand me. He said that he’s willing to make that sacrifice and I’m going off on my own to hear mass. I don’t know what to say to him that will make him understand

You should not miss Mass… it is a serious obligation…You can see from the readings I posted above how important it is…as the early Christians said they could not live without it…

Also you as a Catholic cannot agree to “raise the kids in both faiths”…rather he needs to understand that you have to pass on the fullness of the Catholic Faith to your children…that you will need to seek to do this on your part…(and this is a great treasure that Jesus gave you and you can not withhold from your children or confuse them about)…

of course many things you do have in common …very importantly Jesus Christ the Lord!

You are both Christians! :slight_smile:

Bookcat (who was raised a Baptist…but came into full communion with the Catholic Church so many years ago at age 18)

That the early Christians died instead of not celebrating Mass on the Lords Day…(Vigil Mass counts too now…)

they said that without the doing so they could not live…

This is really something that must be understood…among other things…

such a mixed marriage can bring a good amount of difficulties…

To me it’s like asking you to choose between visiting your family or his - why on earth should you be forced to make any choice if you can visit both? Even if he doesn’t always come along with you to see your family?

And if a child is to be raised in both faiths, then it needs to be taught exactly what each faith truly teaches - and yours teaches that the Sunday obligation is sacred and binding for Catholics.

To make any other arrangement, especially when the kids come along, would be to give them a false idea of what your faith entails.

It is all about Jesus and your love for him! He comes first…if that is not in place in any Christian marriage…then there is a disorder in that marriage…

Catechism of the Catholic Church (small print…gets blown up here)

1634 Difference of confession between the spouses does not constitute an insurmountable obstacle for marriage, when they succeed in placing in common what they have received from their respective communities, and learn from each other the way in which each lives in fidelity to Christ. But the difficulties of mixed marriages must not be underestimated. They arise from the fact that the separation of Christians has not yet been overcome. The spouses risk experiencing the tragedy of Christian disunity even in the heart of their own home. Disparity of cult can further aggravate these difficulties. Differences about faith and the very notion of marriage, but also different religious mentalities, can become sources of tension in marriage, especially as regards the education of children. The temptation to religious indifference can then arise.

635 According to the law in force in the Latin Church, a mixed marriage needs for liceity the express permission of ecclesiastical authority.135 In case of disparity of cult an express dispensation from this impediment is required for the validity of the marriage.136 This permission or dispensation presupposes that both parties know and do not exclude the essential ends and properties of marriage; and furthermore that the Catholic party confirms the obligations, which have been made known to the non-Catholic party, of preserving his or her own faith and ensuring the baptism and education of the children in the Catholic Church.137

1636 Through ecumenical dialogue Christian communities in many regions have been able to put into effect a common pastoral practice for mixed marriages. Its task is to help such couples live out their particular situation in the light of faith, overcome the tensions between the couple’s obligations to each other and towards their ecclesial communities, and encourage the flowering of what is common to them in faith and respect for what separates them.

(confession here does not mean the sacrament but “different Christian confessions…”

You want to hand on all the gifts you have received from Jesus…

the obligation thing may throw him off…

Tell him it about Jesus…about love…not only about obligation…that is the first reason you go to Mass each Sunday (or vigil)…

just as one a lesser plane…if you were to be married to him…you would be faithful…not just cause now you would have an obligation to…but out of love for him…

this is part of your following Jesus Christ the Lord… HE is the reason for everything…and the meaning of your life.

(not of course to diss his many good ways of being a Christian too)

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