Is Skipping Church A Grave Sin?

The Catholic Church teaches that deliberately missing Sunday Mass is a grave sin.

This teaching is in harmony with the teachings of Jesus.

Here is the Catechism’s teaching on deliberately missing Sunday Mass.

The Sunday Eucharist [distributed at Sunday Mass] is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist [and therefore, are obliged to be at Sunday Mass] Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin. ~ Catechism of the Catholic Church, Paragraph 2181 

Moral Minefield

Categorizing the deliberate failure to attend Sunday Mass as a “grave sin” is harmonious with the New Testament’s grim description of the moral minefield we walk through in this fallen world.

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment…. anyone who says, ‘you fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” ~ Jesus Christ, Matthew 5:21-22

Our Burden Is Heavy

Let that sink in. At worst, I can miss Sunday Mass only once a week, meaning that I can only commit the grave sin of missing Sunday Mass once a week. But I probably commit the grave sin of being angry with my brother ten times a day! I probably commit the grave sin of saying “you fool” (at least silently) to people I am mad at another several times a day. 

Being mad at people and calling them names under my breath are grave sins against God, yet I commit them abundantly. I throw them around like confetti. So it shouldn’t be hard to believe that missing Mass is also a grave sin. In fact, keeping holy the Lord’s Day is even one of the Ten Commandments, so it should not be surprising that neglecting it is serious. But being mad at my brother??? Such a grave sin??? Come on Jesus, that seems like a heavy burden!

His Burden Is Light

The fact is, our burden of sin in this fallen world is very heavy indeed– far too heavy for us to bear on our own. This is why we need our Savior Jesus Christ. His yoke is easy, and his burden is light.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” ~ Jesus Christ, Matthew 11:28-30

Put your faith in Jesus Christ. He is your savior. He carries the burden that you are too weak to carry. Avoid sin, but do not let anxiety overwhelm you when do sin. We all sin. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t need a savior. 

Stay In The Lane

Despite my nine years as an Evangelical Protestant, I never believed the “once saved, always saved” theology that is so prevalent in that movement (a movement in which I still have many dear friends, zealous Christians with hearts fiercely committed to Jesus Christ). “Once saved, always saved” is (in my opinion) neither Biblical nor supported by the early church (the church whose writings are Catholic, and who learned from Jesus and the Apostles). And while I don’t believe it is impossible to lose my salvation, I also don’t believe it is easy to lose my salvation. 

Before making the jump back to Catholicism, I met with a priest for clarification on some questions I had. He explained to me that Catholicism is like a sea lane for ships. In such a lane, buoys mark the leftmost and rightmost extremes of the safe zone. Go beyond either, and you’re in dangerous waters. But you are free to enjoy the generous space between the buoys. This space (as generous as it may be) is still the narrow lane when compared to the vast ocean, but when compared to strict legalism and heavy burdens, it really is quite comfortable. 

Think of one buoy as strict legalism– the idea that you must bear the impossible burden of being one sin away from eternity in hell. Think of the other buoy as licentiousness– the idea that you can do absolutely anything you want as often as you want no matter how sinful it is because it is impossible for you to lose your salvation. Between these two buoys is the safe zone for the soul, and sanity for the mind.

His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.

The Bible is always proven true.

4 replies »

  1. The problem with the Catholic church is that many of its teachings have no basis in the Bible’s teachings. While a mandatory observance of the weekly Sabbath was a commandment given to the children of Israel, there is no evidence that this ever applied to any other people. Jesus offers no such commandment anywhere in the New Testament…

  2. Leonard,

    Thank you for your comment.

    You cite the Bible as the benchmark for what is contained in the faith, but the only reason we have a Bible is because the Catholic Church gave it to us. It was the Catholic Church (in a Holy-Spirit-led process) that chose and canonized the books of the Bible. God uses the Church (not the Bible) as the authority on what the faith contains. The Bible came from the Church. The Church did not come from the Bible.

    Sunday worship is part of the oral teaching (not the written teaching) of the apostles.

    Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the TRADITIONS which you were taught, whether by WORD [oral teaching] or our EPISTLE [written teaching]. ~ 2 Thessalonians 2:15

    Christianity has always breathed with two lungs, the oral teachings and the written teachings. Protestantism (which did not come into existence until 1500 years after Christ) surgically removed one lung (the oral teachings). In addition to rejecting the oral teachings, Protestantism rejects the authority of the Church. Therefore, Protestantism rests precariously on the one-legged stool of Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone), while Catholicism rests firmly on the three-legged stool of:

    1) Sacred Scripture (the Bible)
    2) Sacred Tradition (the oral teachings of Jesus and the apostles)
    2) The Magisterium (the teaching authority of the Catholic Church which gave you the Bible you cited)

    Sunday worship is not in the Bible. It is in the oral preaching of the apostles who learned it from Jesus Christ. Protestants can’t find Sunday worship because they surgically removed the precious lung containing it.

    Blessings, and thank you!


  3. If you look at the early church you can plainly see why Sunday is the “Lords day”. Christ was resurrected on the Sunday. And every appearance he made there after was on a Sunday. Every time the apostles were gathered, they were gathered on a Sunday breaking bread and Christ would appear to them. John’s disciple Ignatius of Antioch tells us in his letter, “the Lords day” is not the ancient Sabbath; Hence it refers to Sunday. Again:
    Christ rose from the dead on Sunday
    -1st appeared to his disciples that Easter Sunday evening (Jn 20)
    -One week later when Thomas was present he appeared (Jn 20:26)
    -On the first day of the week they gathered together to break bread. (Act20:7)
    -Paul ordered the Corinthians to gather their offering collection on Sunday (1Cor 16:2)

    As you can see, Sunday worship is all over the Bible. But as Tom says, you will need to read it cover to cover to get an understanding. You cant just read the Bible phrase by phrase to understand it.

    Tradition is important

  4. Great elaboration, Efrain.

    In the last paragraph of my comment, I did not do justice to the case by writing, “Sunday worship is not in the Bible.” I should have written something like, “an explicit order for all Christians to attend church on Sundays is not in the Bible.”

    Thank you for pointing out that Sunday worship clearly IS in the Bible, which supports the Tradition that the apostles and early church handed down to us.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s