and going to hell
Mass and going to hell
asked this question on 12/12/2000:
I recently became a Catholic. I went through RCIA, and before that didn't belong to any church. I am now catching flak from some church peers because I have missed mass on Sunday or Saturday evening. There have been some work reasons in the past, and there have been some travelling reasons. I am being told that it is a mortal sin to miss mass, and that my soul is in peril if I were to die before returning and giving a confession. I would like some clarification on this. CCC references and scripture references welcome, but am really just looking for someone to say (as I feel), that it is okay.
Suppose you have married recently. For work reasons and traveling reasons you absent yourself from home quite conspicuously. People who care tell you that you are wrong and that your marriage is in jeopardy.
All you do is initiating a debate if your absenteeism is critical or not so important.
How do you rate this reaction of the absentee husband? Instead of examining what is more important to him - his wife or his work and travels - you appeal to others in order to confirm your appreciation that work and travel is more important than your wife. In short, money is more important than she is. You can understand this type of reaction of a disillusioned husband. But of a newly wed who should be madly in love? Why and how did he marry in the first place?!
I think you can subscribe this prognosis: If you don't put your wife first at the beginning of your marriage the prospects for the future are dim.
A husband madly in love with his new wife wouldn't even consider this type of debate. Because for those who really love even little, insignificant slips regarding the other one are felt as very wounding.
Do you understand the comparison? It's not about more or less peril for your soul. What is lacking here? You require the most important thing, love, or your love is at best lukewarm when it should be burning with the fire of the Spirit! Those who don't love are dead in life. That's mortal sin. And you want to discuss if money can morally prevail over God? That's why Saint Paul says that avarice is idolatry. (Col 3:5)
Hear what your Mother Church has to say about the Sunday Mass. Why don’t you go and read the whole document? It’s very readable?
To provoke your appetite I will cite only the beginning:
"The Lord’s Day — as Sunday was called from apostolic times— has always been accorded special attention in the history of the Church because of its close connection with the very core of the Christian mystery. In fact, in the weekly reckoning of time Sunday recalls the day of Christ’s Resurrection. It is Easter which returns week-by-week, celebrating Christ’s victory over sin and death, the fulfillment in him of the first creation and the dawn of "the new creation" (cf. 2 Cor 5:17). It is the day which recalls in grateful adoration the world’s first day and looks forward in active hope to "the last day", when Christ will come in glory (cf. Acts 1:11; 1 Th 4:13-17) and all things will be made new (cf. Rev 21:5).
Rightly, then, the Psalmist’s cry is applied to Sunday: "This is the day which the Lord has made: let us rejoice and be glad in it" (Ps 118:24). This invitation to joy, which the Easter liturgy makes its own, reflects the astonishment which came over the women who, having seen the crucifixion of Christ, found the tomb empty when they went there "very early on the first day after the Sabbath" (Mk 16:2). It is an invitation to relive in some way the experience of the two disciples of Emmaus, who felt their hearts "burn within them" as the Risen One walked with them on the road, explaining the Scriptures and revealing himself in "the breaking of the bread" (cf. Lk 24:32,35). And it echoes the joy — at first uncertain and then overwhelming — which the Apostles experienced on the evening of that same day, when they were visited by the Risen Jesus and received the gift of his peace and of his Spirit (cf. Jn 20:19-23)".
You want to know if it's mortal not participating in the joy and the peace of the Spirit? Is it reasonable to ask if it's vital that a human being should preserve life and avoid suicide? That you should go on breathing? Sunday Mass is the breath of eternal life.
The Catechism has some good words for you too:
"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."
2178 This practice of the Christian assembly dates from the beginnings of the apostolic age. 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."
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."
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."
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. "
This is may seem an overkill. You asked for it. What I really wish for you is that you get a taste of the Sunday Mass as an anticipation of heaven. Work reasons and travel reasons, indeed!
Why am I so vehement with you? Look, I just can't imagine that a recently married man discusses foremost the degree of moral responsibility regarding his absenteeism instead of asking what is the most important thing in his marriage. I simply can't imagine either that someone who recently has discovered the feast of feasts is debating if his soul is in peril when not participating when he should ask himself if he really loves the Lord! There is something wide of the mark.
An alternative: It might be that anonymous construed this question to spur on the experts. I can imagine that!