Mass skipping and hellbound
Roman_Catholic_Wife gave this response on 12/19/2000:
Greetings during this Advent season;
I feel that skipping Mass alone does not constitute being hell bound. My webpage, which I do for the Church, is accurate as far as what I believe (at least I hope it is,, or I should get another activity). I believe you are more in chance of losing your soul if you donít care or only half heartedly care. Who says skipping Mass is an indication of either? I donít know what is in the hearts of others. They may skip Mass and have a more fulfilling relationship with our Lord than I. It is not my position (or anyone elseís) to judge why people do or donít do what they do. I donít see how I am being contradictory.
I said this:
"ITíS OKAY!!!! :) God is in your heart and soul, not in a building. While I must agree Mass is good for you, missing it is, well, ok. Jesus lives within you. As long as you do what is right for you (and God will let you know what is right for you), then all you have to worry about is between you and Him. People are always going to complain. They donít give counsel to our Lord! Please remember that Jesus is in you and that is all that really matters."
Mass should not be taken lightly. It is what nourishes our relationship with Christ and other Catholics. While attending it is important and beneficial to any Catholics life, it is not the basis for salvation, nor is it the only place that nourishes our relationship with the Father. Should a Catholic miss Mass, it should be for a good reason, and understand that not attending Mass is not an excuse for neglecting the Sabbath. Mass wont get you to heaven. Christ gets you to heaven. You have to accept and have that relationship daily; not the best Mass attendance record. How many people do you think go to Mass on Saturday/Sunday and donít have a good relationship with Christ the rest of the week? Too many, I think. May the Lord bless you in this holy Advent season,
I thought I should wait until after Christmas with this post. It is somewhat on the ponderous side.
Thank you for your answer. Now, letís get something straight before I begin to reply. I do not judge you as a Christian or your faith.
Iím after your arguments. You offer an intriguing mixture of thoughts that present orthodox doctrine but seem to give away an appreciation of the Mass that is not adequate. I may interpret you wrongly. If that is the case you tell me. For arguments sake letís look at your statements.
Letís begin with your last affirmation: " How many people do you think go to Mass on Saturday/Sunday and donít have a good relationship with Christ the rest of the week? Too many, I think."
How do you know? Donít judge. Itís too dangerous (Mt 7:1-2). Let me tell you a story. The captain on charge of the cadets on cruise was an appalling disciplinarian. And every morning he attended Mass and received Holy Communion. The indignant cadets organized a comity to express their righteous anger. The dialogue went something like this: "What do you want?" Ė "Captain with all respect we canít understand how you can attend Mass every morning and receive holy communion and during the day you treat us like dirt!" "You better be happy about it. Because if I donít attend Mass in the morning and receive Holy Communion you can be sure that in the afternoon you all would be on the bottom of the sea".
Mass is not a premium for saints but a help for sinners. And attending Mass is precisely a sign of a profound relationship. Missing Mass is at least a bad signal especially if work or travel is preferred. Are we agreed that we are talking about average cases and not the extreme ones? Skipping Mass is like your husband discarding his wedding ring. In itself this is not important. But as a sign? And the Mass is sign, symbol, and guarantee of the relationship with Christ.
Now regarding your question: " I feel that skipping Mass alone does not constitute being hell boundÖ I believe you are more in chance of losing your soul if you donít care or only half-heartedly care. Who says skipping Mass is an indication of either? "
First letís continue the comparison. Suppose your husband tells you that he feels that has a profound relationship with you and that he cares very much. He swears that his love regarding you is very strong. He says that it is the most important thing in his life. But he appears only once a while at home and he is very meager in visible expression of that profound inner relationship he has with you. Even if he tells you that the most important thing is to have this feeling inside wouldnít you begin to doubt his profuse protestations? Theoretically he might be sincere. But his love is neither expressed nor perceivable. I think that any wife would have reasonable cause to reclaim attention and visible expressions of what he so theoretically declares!
Isnít it that the same problem that James has with his audience? (2:14) " 14 What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and be filled," and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. 18 But someone may well say, "You have faith, and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works." 19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. 20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS," and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works, when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead."
Then there is an other passage to contemplate (John 6): ""Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. 54 "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 "For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. 56 "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. 57 "As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also shall live because of Me. 58 "This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate, and died, he who eats this bread shall live forever."
Next I would suggest we look at this number of the Catechism of the Catholic Church
"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. Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin."
"Foundation" has to do with salvation, doesnít it? And "confirmation" what does it mean? Thatís not important? It talks about grave sin.
You know the Churchís doctrine is never negative in the sense prohibiting something only based on authority. There is a profound reason behind every commandment even if it prohibits something. Mass is vital. Skipping is mortal.
May I also say something regarding the expression that " Mass wonít get you to heaven? Christ gets you to heaven. You have to accept and have that relationship daily; not the best Mass attendance record."
This sounds like saying that Mass is something external to faith. What is the Mass if isnít the Passover of Christ, the re-actualization of salvation?
Do you know why our protestant brethren insist so much and only on the "inner testimony"? They havenít anything else. They have no signs. Martin Luther fought against the hierarchy. And he was right in many aspects because we have had some terrible Popes and Bishops. But he committed a dreadful error. Instead of staying in the Church and continue his battle he founded his own church. And because he needed an authority he chooses the Scripture. But Scripture without hierarchy runs wild. Proof: literally thousands of sects each one interpreting Scripture its own way and on "inner witness". What has happened? Luther threw out the baby with the bathwater. He renounced the visible aspect of the Body of Christ.
Thatís His Church. The Vatican II teaches that not only the consecrated bread and wine are signs of the presence of Christ. The proclaimed Word, the reunited assembly, the priest, all are signs of Christís presence. These signs are not present in the daily life of the individual Christian. So in itself it has more importance then the daily effort of caring really. Thatís why Vatican II said it was the culmination of Christian life!
You see my argumentation tries to tell you that apparently you donít give the "external" signs enough importance. If someone has trouble living like a Catholic I donít tell him to convert and after he converted to a Christian life to attend Mass. I tell him to do both at the same time.
Last not least when person asks in a general way if it is permitted to skip Mass because of travel or work, I think we should show what is really the sense of what he is asking about. Much to often we tell people what is not a sin en lieu to tell them what is the way to sanctity. And the person rests with the minimum instead to aspire the maximum.
Am I way off the mark regarding your post?
WHY SHOULD YOU ATTEND CHURCH AND WHY ST. STEPHENíS COULD BE FOR YOU
In the Bible, we are told to "Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy". (Exodus 20:8) It is for this reason that we must donate one full day to the Lord. St. Stephenís has three services that fit into anyoneís busy schedule, as well as daily Masses during the week. Christ was not too busy to save us: we should not be too busy for Him. Visit us today! A citation from your beautiful pages. Well, well, well...
Roman_Catholic_Wife gave this response on 12/28/2000:
I hope you had a merry Christmas. Now, back to business. :) I said very simply that going to mass is not an indication of a personís soul. I believe that. I hope you do also. I will not- can not- attempt to judge what a personís soul holds; neither can you. You donít know who in Church is there for looks and who isnít. Take your marriage analysis. Everyone who is married is not married for love. Look at some well publicized fiascos like that marry a millionaire thing. Mass is for sinners. At least, I hope so because that is what I am. I was visiting my parents down south for the Christmas holidays. In the last 3 weeks, I was able to attend Mass once. I missed midnight and Christmas masses. That doesnít mean that I didnít worship in my own way. It hurt me that I wasnít able to attend those masses, but it doesnít mean I love God any less.
You say that "There is a profound reason behind every commandment even if it prohibits something. Mass is vital. Skipping is mortal." Since when was skipping mass one of the 10 commandments! It says keep the Sabbath holy. Not once does it say go to mass in that verse. You are to save at least one full day for the Lord. Now, for me personally is this ok? I think that we should attend mass on a daily basis. We should sit proudly there on Sunday mornings and give our hearts over and over again. That isnít possible for everyone. And just like you told me not to judge, do not feel that you can either. We can not tell people what is wrong and what isnít. All we can do is try to interpret doctrine and give our opinions.
My website was created for the Church. I kept it as far away from opinion as possible and listed things that my priest and I felt were important. My opinions here are simply that: my opinions. I never claimed to be a nun or (forbid) a priest, never anything except that which I am: a wife and a member of the Faith. I am not the Pope, therefore my answers are not infallible. I realize that people may disagree with things I write. I suppose it comes with the territory. I gave someone my opinion that it was ok if they couldnít attend mass on Sunday. Maybe they go on Monday or Wednesday. I donít know; you donít know. Their church schedule is between them and God. He knows what lives within them. I think outwardly signs are important/ I would be hurt if my husband removed his wedding band and didnít come around often. I think that maybe it hurts God if we donít attend Church, and it probably also hurts Him if we attend Church but donít live the Catholic life when we arenít in Church. Of course, I donít presume to know what He thinks. I can only say what I would feel. I go to Mass weekly.
There are times when I donít go. In the first stages of my pregnancy, I was so sick all day that attendance was nearly impossible. That is something I deal with; something that I am responsible for. It doesnít matter what anyone else says, it all comes back on me. I spent two years of my life ministering to people through my voice. I used to lecture three and four nights a week and I felt that that was my gift. I sing at the Mass. I try to live my life as a Christian so that people can see Christ when they look at me. I do not succeed all of the time. I probably donít succeed half of the time. But yet I try. In the end that is what I think it comes down to. I havenít lived enough to be as knowledgeable as you, I am sure. I am only in my 20s. I agree with your last statement, people do aspire to the minimum instead of the max. It is up to us, through each of our own unique mix of doctrine and opinion to help people aspire to their full potential. No ones answers will be the same. People will disagree. Isnít that what we are all here for?
I believe that attending mass is very important. Some of what you wrote has made me feel that more b/c some of it is very good. "The Vatican II teaches that not only the consecrated bread and wine are signs of the presence of Christ. The proclaimed Word, the reunited assembly, the priest, all are signs of Christís presence. These signs are not present in the daily life of the individual Christian. So in itself it has more importance then the daily effort of caring really. Thatís why Vatican II said it was the culmination of Christian life!" I believe this. However, if we take that to the full extent, then we should all be attending every time the door is open. That is what I believe. Ultimately, I feel that each person is responsible for themselves, and that the priest is responsible for his parish. If the priest was the one speaking to the person whoís question I answered, that would be one thing; he wasnít. Instead, the parish was. They donít know what was in that personís heart, just as I donít and you donít. I donít know if they were there at every other mass, so they donít know if he attended them or not.
I donít know what the problem with my answer is for you; is it that I said it was okay or that I contradicted the Churchís website?
"For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."
How am I doing?
The joy of the Lord be in your heart.
My last post tried to explain to you that by your expressions you cause the impression that external symbols and signs are not important.
So again let us look at your expressions.
" I said very simply that going to mass is not an indication of a personís soul. I believe that"
Please, letís make a distinction between subjective and objective. It's important to have that in mind. I suggested from the very beginning that I do not judge anybodyís intentions or inner situation. But objectively doing things is a visible action and objectively the act is right or wrong.
Your original opinion gives the impression that the act of missing Mass is ok: "While I must agree Mass is good for you, missing it is, well, ok. Jesus lives within you."
I tried to tell you that itís quite the contrary. I tried to help with a comparison. There are external, objective signs of a happy, loving marriage. If these signs arenít there thatís a bad signal. And your answer to my marriage comparison consists in telling me that many donít marry for love. Since when adultery disaccredits the normal external expressions of a true marriage? They can be faked? So what? An abuse doesnít suggest that they are not valid for a normal loving couple!
Now I will be very direct regarding using as an argument your personal way of doing things. Your attending or missing mass is neither here nor there. Itís like daring me to tell you that it was wrong. This is not the way to argue. We are talking about objective acts as signs. Besides I could tell you of a couple with four children that during almost a year made a roundtrip of 300 km every Saturday and Wednesday in order to attend celebrations. Are they better Christians o worse? I donít know. But objectively I can say that this couple has shown an extraordinary zeal.
I don't know if your husband loves you more than your neighbor his wife because he brings Ė I hope - every now and then a gift, or flowers or candy. The neighbor doesn't. I don't know who loves his wife more. But I would certainly recommend your husband's way of doing things as a sign of a loving marriage, shouldn't I?
" Since when was skipping mass one of the 10 commandments!"
Have you heard of the precepts of the Church?
" We can not tell people what is wrong and what isnít."
You go out and kill somebody, itís ok. I canít tell you what to do! I know, I know that this is a gross overkill! But Iím just taking your argument to its ultimate consequences. Be careful.
"All we can do is try to interpret doctrine and give our opinions."
I commend your intentions to help. But when itís about objective doctrine you cannot interpret according to your feelings. When an expert gives a wrong answer or, as in your case, a possible misleading one, than I write to them privately and offer my arguments so that in the future they be more cautious. You have the right and the duty to try to help. Nobody denies that. But we should teach all the same doctrine without watering down anything.
" I gave someone my opinion that it was ok if they couldnít attend mass on Sunday. Maybe they go on Monday or Wednesday."
You didnít say that in your original post. Anyway itís wrong. Please read the entire "dies domini" of Pope John Paul II. He addresses this particular point. Sunday is the day of Christ's resurrection. And throughout the OT and NT places and dates are special.
So is, I suppose, the date of your marriage. Or do you think that's all the same to celebrate the anniversary some other day? Sure you can celebrate on an other day. But if it's a meaningful date you will want the same day and the same hour even if you have to overcome big obstacles. It's like re-living that special moment. The Sunday Eucharist is just that, celebrating with the risen Christ the day He rose from death. Again Iím talking about general rule. Iím not talking about exceptions or special situations!
And again. I have stated at the beginning of my questioning that I do not judge you. But suppose you sing a wrong note. Wouldn't it be charitable to point this out to you?
"No one's answers will be the same. People will disagree. Isnít that what we are all here for?"
I think that the Catholics are in a unique situation. We can and we must always recur to the official doctrine of the Church. Why do you think that the Pope offer these lengthy and at time very dense documents to the entire Church? They want to give guidelines to the modern Christians. This is what the experts try to do. Every one answers from his-her perspective and that gives a wealth of facets that should be quite enrich those who read them. But my contention is that your answer has given the appearance of dismissing objective important signals.
"Ö Ultimately, I feel that each person is responsible for themselves, and that the priest is responsible for his parish. If the priest were the one speaking to the person whose question I answered, that would be one thing; he wasnít. Instead, the parish was. They donít know what was in that person's heart, just as I donít and you donít. I donít know if they were there at every other mass, so they donít know if he attended them or not."
That's the point. I contend that be it a priest, or a housewife or somebody from Peru all of us should avoid possibly misguiding expressions that imply that it's not important if we attend Mass Sunday or not, be it a important reason or not. Remember that the original question was if it was all right to skip Mass for work and travel reasons. You said it was ok because the important thing is the inner attitude.
I suggest that this kind of answer is misleading. It's apparently indicative that the attendance at Sunday Mass in not important as an external act. The predicament then was to argue why it is so important. That's why I insisted on the importance of the external signs.
" I donít know what the problem with my answer is for you; is it that I said it was okay or that I contradicted the Churchís website?"
Forgive me for pinching. But I couldn't resist confronting the expression "Christ was not too busy to save us: we should not be too busy for Him " with " While I must agree Mass is good for you, missing it is, well, ok. Jesus lives within you". Remember the original question was about skipping for being busy? I am aware that the quotation has been a bit wicked.
" How am I doing?"
That's between God and you.
Let me finish with the testimony of the Bitynian martyrs of the third century. The Roman prefect threatened them with death if they would go on reuniting Sundays for the celebration of the Eucharist. They answered: "Do as you wish. We cannot live without the Lord's banquet". Were they wrong?
Roman_Catholic_Wife gave this response on 1/2/2001:
Greetings and may the Lord live inside of you.
Ok, it is clear that you do not care for my opinions. That is fine with me. I have read your answers to many questions and think that you are a good expert. You are also a priest. I guess I expect more from you. I expect you to know the doctrine answer to all questions.
I am in my early twenties and converted to Catholicism in my teens. I give my answers from he heart. I expect that I will differ from doctrine in some answers, and I am sure that others do also. I am sorry that you do not like my opinion regarding Mass. I try to attend seven days a week. It doesnít always work out that way. I cant judge someone else. It isnít my place. I gave someone my personal opinion. I realize you believe it was misleading. I disagree.
I think that the person who posted that question wanted a variety of answers or they wouldnít have come here. Now I could have said Skipping mass is a mortal sin and you will go to hell if you donít confess and repent. But I donít believe that. That would be lying. I love the catholic faith. I try to give 'catholic' answers to the questions I answer. I also try to give answers that donít make me a hypocrite. I must be true to myself. Mustn't I? I didnít write back to you to confess my sins of not attending Mass like I should. Although, if I ever felt that Couldnít confide in my own priest, I would write you. :) I tried to be honest. You think I was "misleading" with my answer. I disagree. I gave an answer that I am proud of.
"I commend your intentions to help. But when itís about objective doctrine you cannot interpret according to your feelings. When an expert gives a wrong answer or, as in your case, a possible misleading one, than I write to them privately and offer my arguments so that in the future they be more cautious. You have the right and the duty to try to help. Nobody denies that. But we should teach all the same doctrine without watering down anything."
Thank you for writing to me to give me your opinion. I will take it to heart, as I would anyoneís onion. I try to give my opinions and keep them as close to the doctrine I was taught as possible. I donít believe that I am watering anything down.
Again I am sorry that you donít approve of my answer.
May the Lord bless and keep you.
I do care about your opinion. Otherwise, I wouldn't write to you. That means that you are important. I believe it's wonderful to have you thinking and writing in order to help those who want clarifications. The history of your faith will give you a special capacity to understand the questions connected con your experience. I would grieve if you didn't go on answering questions on the Catholicism board. I like your WebPages.
God help me. It seems that I can't hit the right key to communication. Occasionally I commit the very same error I have been combatting on the board. I have posted at different times on the question board the opinion that it is not enough to give objective and merely informative answers. And in your case I have done just that. In order to point out the answer I thought was more complete I didn't ask you about your personal faith experience.
Look, the non-catholic Christians have an advantage. From the cradle, they are introduced into faith option that is radically focused on Jesus Christ. You will find Catholics that are focused more on doing things as an expression of their faith that may lack in some way radicalism. On the other hand Catholics have the advantage that they have conserved the visible expressions and symbols of living faith which is not so chemically pure as to express the 'all or nothing' of the evangelistic faith option.
From your faith experience, you have the advantage of that radical inner option for Christ. Therefore, you will probably encounter some Catholics who are content to live just the outer expression of faith in the liturgy and the sacraments. I like Catholicism because it teaches throughout the centuries "do this and without neglecting that" (Cf. Mt 23, 23). That's not an argument in order to defend those who are lukewarm. They should learn to more radical in their inner option of faith. Your way of answering is coherent.
Your answer is sincere and wholly evangelistic. That's all right. It's a reflex. If I've been taught to use the right hand while eating, I will do so instinctively. However, I can learn to eat in an ambidextrous way, can't I? Nevertheless, we all can grow into a greater completeness. So I expect you to go on writing injecting in the Catholicism board your kind of faith.
I appreciate that you give your advice from the heart. So it should be every time. But should a nutritionist tell you that there is a more complete way to feed the baby wouldn't you change the formula? This is no judgment about your person and your love and your motherhood. It's a question of information. That's all. The nutritionist could be a terrible person in his own right. However, his information is sound because he has more information.
Thank you for your patience. Forgive me for being merely informative instead of trying to understand your faith history.
And God bless you
You make me smile. Thank you for your words of kindness, hero. :) In the future, I will think more before I write, although my heart will still lead me most. I look forward to reading other answers of yours to questions on the board.
God bless you, today and always,