Why is Missing Mass a Serious Sin?

One of the forgotten teachings of the Catholic Church is that we are required to attend Mass every Sunday, and that to fail to do so is to commit a grave sin. This is taught very clearly in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (# 2181). But why does the Church teach us this? Is this just ploy to get us to come to Church and to drop something in the collection plate? Well, that may be of help to the Church, but it is not the reason the obligation to attend Mass is taught. The reasons for this mandate are contained clearly in Sacred Scripture.


We begin in an obvious place, the Ten Commandments. Exodus 20:8 says it clearly enough, Remember the Sabbath Day to Keep it Holy. Every now and then, some one will say to me, “God doesn’t care if I go to Church.” I usually respond, “Well that’s strange; I wonder why God put it in the Ten Commandments?” It seems that God does care. Please understand, God does not merely ask for or wish for our presence, He commands it. Now the Church’s teaching that it is mortal sin to miss Mass comes a little more into focus.


But some claim that although Scripture mandates a day of rest, there is no requirement to attend Church. This is really not the case. The Book of Leviticus spells out the requirement to keep holy the Sabbath in the following language: Six days shall work be done; but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest and sacred assembly; you shall do no work; it is a Sabbath to the LORD. (Lev 23:3). Thus, notice how this text spells out that the Sabbath is not only for rest but for “sacred assembly.” This phrase, “sacred assembly,” is what is meant by the word “Church.” The word “Church” means “assembly.”


Further, it is clear enough that Jesus understood the 3rd Commandment to include sacred assembly. In His own observance of Sabbath, He attended the “synagogue” (another word for “assembly” or “gathering”). Scripture says Jesus attended the synagogue on the Sabbath habitually (cf Lk 4:16).

Yet another scriptural teaching on our requirement to attend Mass is contained in the admonition from Hebrews that we are must not neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encourage one another (Heb 10:25).


For some to say that they don’t need to assemble, to meet together with fellow Christians in Church on Sunday (our Sabbath), is surely unbiblical. The Old Testament commanded it; Jesus attended, so who are we to fail in this regard? We must not neglect to meet together. We must not neglect to receive Holy Communion and be instructed in the Word of God.


Another biblical reason that Sunday Church worship is required of the Christian is in Jesus’ mandate that we receive Holy Communion. Jesus warns us not to miss receiving Holy Communion with these words: Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood you have no life in you. (John 6:53) Without the Holy Eucharist, which is the Body and Blood of Jesus, we are starving ourselves spiritually. If you and I were to stop eating our worldly food we would soon grow weak and eventually die; it would be a form of suicide. This is no less true of our spiritual food. If we stop receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus in Holy Communion, we grow weak and eventually die, spiritually; we “have no life in us”! Skipping Sunday Mass sets up a deadly pattern of spiritual starvation; it is a deadly thing—a mortal sin!


For all these biblically-based reasons the Church properly teaches, 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. (CCC # 2181)

6 Replies to “Why is Missing Mass a Serious Sin?”

  1. I hear many people who pull bits and pieces of scripture quotes to help ease there reasons for not coming particularly our friends and family members who have fallen away from the church. The quote ” where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them”, is probably one of the biggest miss used quotes in the bible when you are talking about whether you should come to church or not. It is true that God is in our mist, God is everywhere, but to come face to face with the “Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity” in the Eucharist is the Greatest Source of Grace, the living Heart of the Church! A MUST

    1. Yes, you have spoken rightly. The greatest presence is Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. The Second Vatican Council spoke of Four presenses of Christ in the Mass: In the assembly gathered, in the Word Proclaimed, in the Priest who presides, and premeinently in the Eucharist. Thus the people who say Christ is present in the two or three gathered do not speak wrongly, just incompletely. Why experience only one type of presence when other more perfect presences can be experienced. Further, their position cannot explain away Christ’s mandate that we receive the Eucharist: Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and Drink his blood, you have no life in you (Jn 6:53)

  2. Praise God, it is a wonderful thing to see that we keep God’s Day holy, and come into sacred fellowship with Jesus Christ and fellow believers. As noted above by Msgr. Charles Pope, (Lev 23:3) the Bible states the seventh day which is after Friday or the day of preparation, the first day is Sunday which is not the Sabbath which is referred to by the bible. Sunday is the day that the Lord when to work to save man not the day of rest. That day is Saturday the seventh day. The Lord never changed the day or gave any church or person the authority to do so, as stated in Mark 2:27-28 and as Peter 2:21 states. The Lord never gave Sunday as an example to follow or did He change that which is Holy and the definition of sin. I would pray that my Catholic brethren which love and serve Jesus Christ will hear His Voice and stand and serve God with the real Sabbath the seventh day. Praise God

  3. There isn’t one religion on earth that requires and makes members feel as if they are commiting a mortal sin if they don’t come to their rituals. I think the Catholic Church would gain more members and happy ones at that if this threat of serious sin was lifted from their teachings. I am a life long Catholic and I think, among other reasons, that is is the number one reason people DON’T go to mass. No one likes to have the fear of eternal damnation held over their heads over not going to a cerimony. It’s is cruel and I’ve always believed that God did not indend it to be this way either. There is no joy when I go to Mass. The people around me look bored and they mumble unenthusiastically and sing in a monotone. This is a sure sign they don’t want to be there under the current rules. For instance, tomorrow is a holy day, I think it is the immaculate conception and it’s Friday. My father and I have to go tonight (Friday) for the holy day tomorrow. Then we have to go again (Saturday) for the Sunday obligation. Why can’t we knock off both the holy day and the weekly obligation on Saturday? This is where the Catholic church makes itself a stiff, out of touch, pain in the ass. They worry about people not coming but don’t understand that life is horrible enough sometimes and you don’t want your religion making everyone feel guilty if you don’t come to mass. Lift that artificial sin and you’d double participation.

    1. You seem very afflicted rather than a joyful Christian who delights in the law of the Lord. The requirements of Mass attendance flow from the 3rd Commandment and also the admonition of Jesus that if we do not eat his flesh and drink his blood we have no life in us. Jn 6:53. I invite you to speak to the Lord about his supposed cruelty and to seek from him a more joyful heart in observing communion with him. The Church is not summoning peoples to mere rituals but to an encounter with Jesus Christ in the sacraments and the Holy Liturgy

  4. Well if u are going to pull things from Leviticus you r sinning everyday of your life because you are wearing clothing of different materials that isn’t pure. Also I can keep the Sabbath holy by not going to Chruch! Why must I go to Chruch when I can have a far deeper experience with God outside of it. Why is it SO important to go to Church. Jesus’s life centered around taking care of the poor…yet not doing that is not a mortal sin???? Sitting in a Church where I don’t like being and isn’t a fruitful experience with my relationship with God is counter productive. Furthermore, why can’t I go to mass on Monday instead of Sunday?!?! That’s just stupid. God shouldn’t care what day of the week I go to Church. He cares about fostering a relationship with his children and Sunday Mass does not do that for me. So by going I am destroying my relationship with God

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