Sometimes a charitable word is that which stands between a person and eternal damnation.
3Doctors, you should say a word to this person. They are risking damnation, all you are risking is embarrassment or social discomfort.
As far as practical advice on how to take it up, just blurt it out. I offer you the following excellent advice of a pagan who was talking about a somewhat different endeavor, but which nonetheless serves well in the charitable admonition of one’s brothers and sisters:
When we are speaking about mortal sin, we are speaking about the question of saving a person’s life… and not only temporal life, but eternal life. Think that you are God’s instrument of rescue for this person. If this person is your friend then she is your responsibility. You cannot force her to do as you wish, but you are obligated to remind her of the gravity of the situation.
Beating around the bush serves no purpose but self-flattery, and to ignore your friend’s peril would be the height of selfishness.
Pragues idea is really the best… next time she says she didn’t get to mass just say… “oh wow, did you know you can find churches on the web? Just make sure you call ahead to check the times… they are never right.”
I don’t have anything worthwhile to add to the discussion about what to say, or whether to say it.
However, I have had a thought that might help you understand this person’s (the convert’s) point of view.
Your OP doesn’t mention whether the convert came from a non-religious background, or protestant. If she was a protestant, and especially if she was reasonably active as one, then she may have grown up with a deeply inculcated attitude that “church” on Sunday is important, but optional. Protestants see “church” as mainly something to be attended for one’s own benefit, and the benefit of the community, but not as the fundamental obligation of the Christian. Other Christians she has observed would have done just the same as her - attend most times, but miss it, if something “more important” comes up. They would have said that one should avoid a “legalistic” approach to attending church.
If she’s come from this background then she will probably be taking the assumption that “Church” is a good thing, but not an obligation, into her Catholicism. Sunday obligation was probably addressed in RCIA, and she just didn’t understand the difference, or it might have been skipped altogether (unfortunately).
So, if and when you approach her, bear this in mind. If she has come from that background then she is probably not just ignorant of Catholic teaching, but, in her mind, she is doing the right thing (by attending mass most Sundays, but avoiding being “legalistic” about it).
To miss Mass without good reason is serious matter. To do so with full knowledge and consent is a mortal sin. To die with a mortal sin results in hell. I am not condemning anyone to hell. We must be conscious of souls in peril
Do you know if she does so with “full knowledge and consent?”
The Church teaches that one is in danger of hell if at death one still retains unrepented mortal sin. Do you know if this woman is guilty of unrepented mortal sin?
To say that one is going to “slide into hell” sounds very close to a condemnation to me.
The infinite Mercy of Christ is not dependent on the “legalisms” that some wish to impose upon the practice of the Catholic faith. While Christ established the Church as the ordinary means of sanctification, He can use any extraordinary means that He wishes. The Church is bound by Christ but Christ is not bound by the Church. I would think it best that one rely upon the infinite Love and Mercy of Christ than to declare the condition of this poor woman’s soul.
I see. So, will you investigate her political beliefs? Her stands on hot-button issues? Will you investigate that she gives enough to charity? Will you check to see if she is saying her prayers before bed?
"Fraternal correction" could easily be interpreted to mean “sticking your nose in places where it does not belong.”
If your friend has an Adoration holy hour, she may not realize the obligation of Sunday mass. She sounds like a really conscientious person because after all she is meeting her commitment to Adoration.
But since we don’t really know why she misses mass, I would think you need to be very careful here. You could just bring it up in conversation using yourself as an example. You know, maybe you were not feeling all that great (not contagious) but went to mass anyway because you know it is an obligation.
I’m close to a protestant family and their understanding of “Keeping the Sabboth Holy” does not include mandatory attendance at a church.
If they don’t feel like going, they don’t go.
If church services infringe on a family outing or celebration, they don’t attend services.
I’ve attended services with this family at their church. The center entrance isle of the church is a greeting center serving coffee. Worship service held that day & hour was geared toward youth services. Stackable chairs faced the band (drum & guitar set) on the stage.
All the psalms that day centered on King David with vigorous moving, singing and clapping - to the point of my praying for the songs to end.
Communion (pillow of bread & grape juice) was served in remembrance of the Last Supper.
I’ve asked this same family to attend Mass and they politely refuse with body language that doesn’t hide their feelings.
When I’ve expressed interest in locating a church for them to attend in my town, they are quite open to announce (to me) that weekly services are not an obligation and that it is in no way a sin to miss services. They also appear tied to worshiping only at one church with one pastor.
Not at all, like the one universal “catholic” Church.
You’ve heard many suggestions on this board. I speak as a recent convert. I had no religious background. First, please do NOT assume that “went through RCIA” means “catechized.” Second, one of the failings of many parishes, IMHO, is that we baptize and/or confirm new Catholics, and then leave them to sink or swim. Few parishes have mystagogy, and when they do, it’s often a few weeks at most. After Easter Vigil, the new convert is just one more person in the pews, and they often develop more questions than they even knew to ask in RCIA–and don’t know where to go ask them. As a friend, you can be there for this person.
Please do ask this lady how things are going. People commenting on this thread have accused others of everything from being nosy to being ready to investigate political beliefs. Disreagard those straw men—treat this woman as your friend. Don’t assume, don’t accuse, but start a friendly conversation. One of the great things about being Catholic is going to Mass in new places. When you talk about her recent vacation or visits, ask her how was the Mass, how was the music, was the church beautiful, was the preaching better/worse/more inspiring, etc. In other words, assume she met her obligation and went to Mass. If she didn’t, it’ll come out. If she had a valid reason to skip, it’ll come out.
IMHO, you have a Christian duty to love her. That means wanting the best for her. That means desiring for her to go to heaven, and doing everything you can do to make that happen. Don’t assume, don’t accuse, but lead the conversation so that she volunteers the information. If it does come out that she “doesn’t make it to church,” then gently explain about the obligation. Not “you go to hell if you don’t comply,” but perhaps ask her “how did they explain the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy days of obligation in your RCIA class?” Then you explain how it was taught to you, have the appropriate paragraphs from the Catechism ready to show and explain, and thus compare notes.
I had a conversation with a long, long, long-time Catholic woman where this came up. I’m teaching CCD and she had volunteered to be my teacher’s aide. I asked her, just in a coversational way, which Mass she attended (I wanted to get a feel for which music she was exposed to, as I plan on incorporating singing in the classes). She said, no other probing on my part, “I haven’t been making it to Mass.” I gently nudged her to make her own conclusion about the need to go to Mass, and how poor an idea it was for her to teach kids CCD when she wasn’t living the faith herself. But I got her to volunteer the info, and I got her to make the conclusion. And then we talked for quite a while about why the Eucharist and the Mass were so important to us here in this life and as preparation for the next.
Finally, I’m back to check on this can of worms I seemed to have unintentionally opened.
I really love and care about this friend. If I had wanted to make a snap judgment, to pretend that I know everything about her motives, and to act like a busybody, why would I have bothered to take the time to seek advice on this forum for how to approach the matter tactfully? 'Nuff said.
I’ve been aware for a long time that some RCIA programs, for whatever reason(s), don’t convey the Sunday obligation clearly. I don’t know if this is so in this particular case.
What I do know is that during the Scrutinies, it is made clear to us parishioners that it’s our duty to pray for and help the converts. I take this duty seriously and in love.
My Mom, may she rest in peace, was Protestant, and sometimes had the Protestant approach to Sunday church attendance being optional. But I remember lots of Protestants who did go to church every Sunday – 40-some years ago, and then they dropped off just like many Catholics did about that time. (BTW, I’m not saying any of this to be negative about my mom, I’m just making an observation.)
The Mass Times idea also occurred to me this weekend! Maybe that’s the way to go. And kind of gently and unobtrusively clarify the situation (which I was planning to do) before saying anything.
So, thanks for the suggestions from those who understood my true motives. To those who would accuse me of being some kind of “cop” I can only say, I believe you are judging me unfairly. I hope you will reconsider your positions.
Wow, I’m really surprised by how many people on here jumped to the “don’t judge” thing. She did not make a judgment at all, merely questioned that she is not sure if her friend knows the teaching on the obligation to attend Mass on Sunday and how she should approach this. For all those that say we should not judge, they sure are quick to judge the OP’s intentions. :rolleyes:
The way I handle these things, and I have come across several since I am a convert and researched a ton about the Faith, is to bring it up casually. For example, with the Catholic lady I worked with, I brought up Confession as in “wow, I’m so excited to go to Confession, I can’t believe some people don’t go very often. You don’t realize how awesome it is until you don’t have it.” She responded with “I haven’t been for 2 years since before my wedding”. I then brought up how scary I think it is to miss because if you die with a mortal sin on your soul you go to Hell, and added “did you know that missing Mass without a valid reason is a mortal sin?!” The next day she asked me what would happen to her if she got killed before she made it to Confession. I told her we have faith in God’s infinite mercy, but if it were me, I wouldn’t want to wait too long. She wasn’t offended and was really glad I told her. Does she regularly attend Mass and Confession now? I have no idea, but for her sake I hope she does because now she knows it’s an obligation…
I don’t think it is, but let me clarify: if you die with unrepented mortal sin on your soul, you go to hell. Is there something wrong with that? And simple is what she needed, you meet a person where they are and that is where she was.
Well, good news, I think – my friend spoke of going to Mass in another town on one of her trips. So perhaps she’s getting the hang of things:thumbsup:. I hope I didn’t overreact in the first place; :o I was just concerned, in case I felt I needed to offer some friendly advice, etc.
I also believe everyone’s prayers have helped. Thank you.:signofcross::blessyou:
I think that if she is a close friend and not over-sensitive, when it comes up you could just say that you aren’t trying to be intrusive, but if she doesn’t know, then she should probably mention the missed Mass to the priest when she is at confession. I think that is to the point and non-judgmental.
There isn’t much point in correcting someone knowingly doing something wrong like this.
FWIW, I think it can be difficult while traveling - things often don’t go as expected, one may not have access to a car at the right time if staying with friends, and so on.