Why the "why" about missing Mass?

I see a lot of threads asking “why” it is a sin to miss mass. Sometimes they are in the moral theology forum, but other times I see them elsewhere. It’s not that I mind the question, but it is almost never posed as “uh, oh, I missed mass. Does this mean I am in mortal sin?” It usually is posed as, “I disagree that missing mass is a sin. Please explain why it is a sin.” This is why I have chosen to post in the Liturgy and Sacraments thread rather than moral theology. This seems to not be an issue of wanting to avoid sin, but rather an issue of wanting to have all the rights of being Catholic (able to take Eucharist) without the inconvenience of a demand on ones schedule. Why do you want to miss mass in he first place? Don’t you like mass? I love mass!

Please note, I am not directing this at people who want to go to mass but cannot. I am talking about people who frankly want to attend mass ONLY when they want to and do not want to be obligated otherwise.

Speaking as someone who’s “been there, done that,” there were several factors that went into why I seldom showed up for Mass for a long stretch of years. A big one was that I was very poorly catechized. Although my mother may have mentioned a couple times over the years that it was a sin to miss Mass, the most they told us at school was that we were expected to go each week. It being a mortal sin wasn’t something I knew until I started restrengthening my faith a few years ago. Something else I didn’t know until then was that we shouldn’t receive the Eucharist in a state of mortal sin, and that doing so was also a mortal sin. I was one of those who’d been taught that, outside of murder and adultery, there wasn’t much that counted as a mortal sin.

Another factor was that, since I didn’t have a full understanding of missing Mass being a mortal sin, I just didn’t see it as being that important. I’d try to get my wife to take our son, and we’d try to make it on Easter and Christmas, but outside of that I didn’t think much of it. I figured I was doing my part as a Catholic. I was a good person overall, I got my kids baptized, I sent them to Catholic school, said Grace before meals, watched The Ten Commandments with the family every Easter and usually made it to Mass at least once a year. I was certainly doing better than a lot of my peers. Heck, I even went to Confession when my kids had their First Communions, so that put me far ahead of all the other Catholics in my peer group, so why do anything different?

The biggest issue, though, was that I just didn’t feel like going. Why put my Sunday mornings on hold until 9:00, 10:00 or even noon when there was breakfast to be had, and hiking & shopping to be done. And back when I was still into sports, going to Mass would have interfered with getting ready to watch Game Day. As for Holy Days of Obligation, why on earth would I go during the week? It wasn’t a Sunday. This was even one of my biggest hurdles after I started reinvigorating my faith. I work nights so I certainly wasn’t going to lose out on any sleep on the weeks I worked Saturday nights, whether I went Saturday evening or Sunday morning. And if I didn’t get enough sleep the night before, that pillow was always so tempting. It took a big effort to start going every other week, and a complete shift in my outlook to start going weekly.

I agree with the other post - it is a lack of understanding/catechizing. Or maybe the catechizing was too long ago and needs to be renewed? We all need to do some rediscovering of our beautiful faith - Catholicism!

I am so uplifted by those who have converted and are full of joy and enthusiasm (as we all should be!). I am am a cradle catholic but was sleeping in that cradle for way too long - recently have renewed my faith and LOVE going to mass! Because now I understand it (better) and realize how important, how central to my life it is - what a GIFT it is! It is the best part of my weekend and if my schedule wasn’t crazy, I would be there every day.

God bless you!

Let’s strip away the sacrificial and Eucharistic aspects of the Mass for a moment (eek, I will miss them dearly) and look at it from a narrow view of prayer and fellowship.

Christians are commanded to pray to the Lord. There is no debating this. In the Psalms alone there are dozens, if not hundreds of exhortations to “Praise the LORD!” and otherwise pray unceasingly. 1 Thess 5:17 reminds us in the NT. Likewise, if we are to follow the example of Christ, his repeated prayer is documented, and like all rabbis, He probably recited the psalms several times a day - obviously He knew them well! So we are commanded to pray.

We are commanded to have fellowship with other Christians. Psalms 95:1-7 is a prime example of this command - a communal call to worship. The Greek word, koinonia, is used 19 times in the New Testament. The call to fellowship is also indisputable.

So we are called to pray, worship and have fellowship. What is the minimum possible participation in these three things? Clearly it is Mass on the Lord’s Day. Clearly if we are to be spiritually enriched we will go further. But just like fasting on two days of the year, and abstaining on Fridays in Lent, we are called to go further and deeper in penitential practices if we really want to live out our call to authentic faith. We are called to volunteer in our parish, to forge friendships with other Christians, to pray day and night. These things are good but they need a basis, a bare minimum, a framework that must be prescribed for us on pain of mortal sin.

That is why the precepts of the Church are so easy to fulfill: they are minimums! Who receives Holy Communion once per year? I pray that we are all worthy enough to receive Him daily, and cheerful enough to attend Mass whenever possible, not just on Sundays or Holy Days of Obligation, and to supplement the “perfect prayer” with the Rosary and/or the Divine Office.

If you are the kind of person who looks around in Mass and sees only strangers and unfriendly faces, then consider living the Lord’s call more deeply. Get involved. Pray more. And take a bulletin on your way out, you might find something you like.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.