Is Mass Optional?
Do you understand the Sunday Mass obligation? Do you know a Catholic who doesn't like to go to Mass? Do you understand why it is a Mortal sin to miss Sunday Mass without grave reason? In our modern society, faithfully attending Mass seems to have become an act many Catholics view as optional. The teaching of the Church has never changed. To get directly to the point, it is not optional. Faithful Catholics are obligated to attend Mass each and every Sunday.
But we should not view the word ‘obligation’ as a bad thing. Going to Mass is not a punishment, it’s not a chore to get out of the way so you can go to the movies or out to brunch. The Mass is celebrated at Christ’s instruction, “Do this in memory of Me.” If we all take a moment to understand why participating in Mass is so important, why skipping Mass is a mortal sin, maybe ‘obligation’ will no longer seem like such an imposing word. Understanding why the Mass is so important is the first step to loving the Mass. And when you come to love the Mass, going to church on Sunday no longer feels like an “I have to,” but instead becomes an “I need, I want to."
The Precepts of the Church
Before going further, it is important to note what the Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us about Catholic Mass attendance.
The first precept ("You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor") requires the faithful to sanctify the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord as well as the principal liturgical feasts honoring the Mysteries of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the saints; in the first place, by participating in the Eucharistic celebration, in which the Christian community is gathered, and by resting from those works and activities which could impede such a sanctification of these days.