Wondering if new convert realizes Sunday Mass obligation completely

I have a new friend I’ve known a few months, a very sweet lady who went through RCIA last year and has an Adoration holy hour, and seems delighted to be Catholic. But there’s something that’s troubling me.:frowning:

I don’t want to be making quick assumptions that aren’t my place to make, but from conversations I have picked up on the fact that when she travels or is visiting people who don’t go to church, which she frequently does, she will say that she “didn’t make it to church.” I think partly she doesn’t want to insist on it with these people, or else during RCIA maybe she didn’t get that Sunday Mass is a serious obligation? :confused:

I’m not sure how to approach this – the person in question was not religious before this, has undergone a genuine conversion as far as I can tell, and I don’t want to mess it up by being “heavy handed” in my approach, :hmmm:but I would like to help her know what she should do as a Catholic and encourage her to not regard Mass attendance in the same category as “optional activities,” if you know what I mean.

What do I do? How do I approach it, lovingly and with my friend’s best spiritual interests in mind?

On the mount Christ admonishes his disciples to let their “yes be yes” and their “no be no” and reminds them (as he does us to this day) that everything else is from the enemy… So I would use that as the framework for your discussion with your friend: approach her in the same honest, transparent and considerate way you’ve done so on this post. Done from that perspective, a perspective of charity - since it is she, and those for whom she prays, that benefit from the sacrifice of the Mass - I am sure that she will receive the feedback in the way it was intended - with an honest concern for her fullness in the Faith.

I would start by asking why she think not attending Mass is ok…tell her calmy that for Catholics attending Mass each Sat/Sun is an obligation not a choice…tell her Catholics want to go to Mass to receive the Eucharist…and so should she.

Explain if she doesn’t attend Mass then she has to go Confession before she can receive again…

I went through RCIA and in all fairness it wasn’t totally explained…but I knew that going each week was something I would be doing…we did it in RCIA and then broke to discuss the readings…

Gently but firmly would be the way to way to go.


Last year, I was an RCIA sponsor and I don’t remember people receiving an adult guide for examination of conscience.

Perhaps in confession with Father, he walked the converts through the Commandments.

I copied off the sheets from a Catholic Church website and gave those to the lady I sponsored. She’s was a revert who needed confirmation.

I’d guess she already knows what she should do. But maybe putting the should into practice is something she doesn’t know how to do. Or maybe letting go of lifelong friendships is a conflict.

In other words, telling her what she already knows is pointless. It doesn’t address what she needs.

There are many life-long Catholics who don’t realize what the Sunday Obligation is.

We need to re-educate people, to get rid of the brain washing they’ve received over the past 40 years.

It seems likely to me that she isn’t fully aware of what the obligation is or how it pertains to her. As other posters have pointed out many Catholics don’t fully understand it and if RCIA skips over that part or doesn’t fully explain it then how can we really expect converts to understand it.

You said she comes from a non-religious background, but she may have absorbed the thinking of many Protestants on this matter. Protestants in general believe that going to church is something you want to do and should do and that it isn’t a sin to miss occasionally. So to most Protestants they don’t bat an eye at skipping church for any number of reasons. This type of thinking may have influenced her.

I would think a charitable approach to explaining the Church’s teaching on this matter would be best. Hopefully that would help her understand more why it’s important to go.


Maybe you should let your friend make her own decisions about her life. Unless she has asked you for your opinion, I think you should mind your own business.

I’m sorry, but it really is not anybody’s business when somebody else misses Sunday Mass. If this person has been catechized, has made it through RCIA, then she knows her obligations.

None of us has an obligation to be a busybody, however, worrying about what other Catholics are not doing right. If I knew that somebody were paying attention to my Mass attendance and consulting other Catholics about what they ought to say to me about it, I would dismiss the individual in question as a weirdo, and never have anything to do with that person, again. And if this individual actually approached me about missing Mass, I’d probably have a few choice Latin words for him.

A Catholic parish shouldn’t have any Harriet Olsons in it, minding other people’s business and whispering about them. Leave that to the Evanjudgmentalists.

Should we really be policing each other’s church attendance? I had a situation when I had just been Orthodox for about a year when someone did that with me. We have services every day of Holy Week, and usually more than one. I had attended several before Holy Friday, but not each one. A woman I was well acquainted with wrote me an email and said that I needed to attend each service unless I was unable to due to work, sickness, etc., and to not do so is to be a nominal Orthodox who doesn’t care enough about his faith. I was angry, and wrote her back that it was none of her business which services I attended, and accused her of thinking like a Pharisee. It was difficult to focus on the Holy Friday service when I saw her next, and thankfully we both apologized and forgave each other. I would advise to let her attendance be the priest’s concern.

That is quite possibly the most uncharitable attitude to have. We should correct our friends. I there a risk of offense? Sure, but there is also a considerable risk for her: eternal damnation.

If we “mind our own business”, then we are not obeying the Lord with regard to “instructing the ignorant.”

Certainly correction should should be done in a gentle, charitable way, and if the person takes it with resentment it is their problem not yours. We are to gently correct for the sake of instructing others.

Maybe you could just say during a conversation, Oh I have found a great website I came across. It directs me to churches and times of Mass all through out the USA. It has been a great help for me to use so I can fullfill my Sunday obligation.
Here is is if you think it would be help to you too.


Instructing the ignorant is the priest’s job.

What is an uncharitable view to take is that the person missing Mass is doing so for reasons that are not valid. We don’t know the full story of what happens when the presumed guilty party is away, and the real reasons she cannot make it to Mass. For all you know she could be visiting a relative that is a shut-in and is tied down by bus schedules, other obligations on other days, etc.

Charity requires that we presume the best of people when it is unclear to us what the true situation is.

We aren’t the “sin police”. It’s one thing if someone asks us for advice, then yes, we can give it. But the lady didn’t ask for advice, and she doesn’t feel compelled to share her activities when away. End of story.

Nope. It is all of our jobs. It is not our job to just “pray, pay, and obey”!

Disagree completely in this context. The crux of the matter can be found in this quote of the OP:

I don’t want to be making quick assumptions that aren’t my place to make, but from conversations I have picked up on the fact that when she travels or is visiting people who don’t go to church, which she frequently does, she will say that she “didn’t make it to church.” I think partly she doesn’t want to insist on it with these people, or else during RCIA maybe she didn’t get that Sunday Mass is a serious obligation?

The OP is in fact making uncharitable assumptions. The “I think partly she doesn’t want to insist on it with these people” indicates she’s trying to read her friend’s mind. Her friend may have very valid reasons for not attending, and also very valid reasons for keeping the matter private. That’s where it should stay.


Well, just wondering of anyone thought my idea would help. Seems pretty non judgemental way to go.

What do you think 3Doctors??

Prague- I think your idea is the best way to go. It is not intrusive, or overbearing at all. I think that that should be the way one would go about this. As has been said nobody truly knows the reason this person is missing Mass and for all we know, the reasons could be valid. By just dropping the website in friendly converstaion, I think that the OP could rest easy, knowing that they have done their part. I know that if people were coming up to me and specifically asking why I missed Mass or overtly implied that I am not being a good Catholic, I would probably change parishes, or at the very least not have contact with those people.


I think your idea was the best. Non-confrontational, non-judgemental, non-prying into friend’s mind. Next time the friend mentions that she didn’t make it to Mass, the OP has her opportunity.

God Bless!

Thank you. Hope 3doctors thinks it can help.

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