All Saints and Sunday Matters
(and Precepts continued)
There are several days of the Church year that are holy days of obligation, but when they fall on a Saturday or a Monday we are dispensed from attending Mass. Thus All Saints Day this year is not an obligation. The next two Solemnities that are obligatory are the Immaculate Conception on December 8th and Christmas on, well, Christmas. Christmas falls on a Saturday this year which creates a double obligation, one for Christmas and one for Sunday.
Why the obligation? I wonder that, too. As a convert I’ve enjoyed going to Mass almost every day for the last 30 years. For me it is a privilege and a gift to attend to the sacrifice and banquet of Our Lord Jesus Christ. How come we have to force people under the pain of sin to attend Mass on Sunday and Holy Days of Obligation? We are fallen creatures who don’t always know what is best for ourselves. What?! Does the Church know better than I what is best for my soul? Yes, I believe so. When we say we believe in the Holy Catholic Church, aren’t we saying that we also trust her with the well-being of our souls?
Jesus said to Peter, “Feed my sheep.” This commission to feed the sheep comes from the Lord Himself. It includes sheep that don’t know the value of eating. I’m sure some of you have dealt with eating disorders, either in a child or yourself. One thing that is essential for anorexia is a healthy eating plan. Too many Catholics are starving themselves by missing Sunday Mass and Holy Days of Obligation. Their salvation, as we understand it, is in jeopardy. As the Catechism states, “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.”(2181)
Rather than threaten with hellfire, I’d rather focus on the great good that is lost. People should know the Church’s teaching on missing obligatory Mass. It did not change at Vatican II; what changed was that priests stopped talking about it. While a shift towards mercy is fantastic (Pope John XXIII wanted Vatican II to be a ‘medicine of mercy’), we can’t abandon the reality of sin and its consequences. There is a hell. As St. Pio would say, “If you don’t believe in hell now, you will when you get there!” But hell is a negative motivator. It is called imperfect contrition, which means we are sorry because we fear punishment. Justifiable at the beginning of a conversion, the Lord desires so much more for us. He would not leave us in this state of fear. “Perfect love casts out all fear.”
That’s why I would rather people come to Mass out of love for the One they are receiving. Jesus said in John 6:53, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.” So, if St. Peter, who was told that whatever is bound on earth is bound in heaven, asks if one has eaten the flesh of the Son of Man, what will you say if you have missed Mass? Will you say, “Yes, two weeks ago.” Or “Yes, at Christmas.” What if he asks about this past Sunday or Holy Day? How will you answer him? You will have to tell the truth, “No I didn’t receive His Body and Blood this week. Is that important?”
Let me tell you how important it is before you reach the pearly gates so you will be better prepared. I can see I need more bulletins to continue this essential topic, which is the First Precept of the Church, but I’ll close for now with this quote from Blessed Dom Marmion,
“We must realize that, at the consecration, the whole drama of Calvary, with all the consequence of suffer ings and humiliations which it involved for Jesus, is present before God. It may be said in all truth that we are displaying before the eyes of the Eternal One all this divine past; that is why the Apostle says so aptly that at every Mass “we announce to the Father the death of His Son.” (p. 209, Christ: the Ideal of the Priest)
Do you want to be present at Calvary, offering Jesus to the Father? Do you want to be present, for all Eternity, at the Supper of the Lamb, receiving His Infinite Love? Come to Mass, Eternal Life awaits you.
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