Saturday, February 6, 2010

Precepts of the Catholic Church, part II

To follow up on my comments on the precepts of the Catholic Church.

The following is from the Catechism of the Catholic Church

2042 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.

For most of those who are reading the bulletin, the importance of Sunday Mass attendance is probably already evident.

One thing to keep in mind is that the obligation is to attend Mass. After 9/11 I was mobilized and was away from my parishes for 11 months. During part of that time, priests from the neighboring parishes were helping provide Mass on Sunday. Each of the three communities had Mass at 4:30 in the afternoon. Some in one of the parishes asked if they could have word and communion at 9 am instead of Mass at 4:30. It is a clear sign that for some, the importance of Sunday Mass has been lost.

I do not take lightly my responsibility of trying to provide Mass on Sundays and Holy Days. Mass can not always be offered at the most convenient time for everyone, but we should make the effort to work our schedule around Mass instead of trying to work Mass into our schedule. I have heard of cases where some priests have down played the importance of Holy Day Masses by arbitrarily moving them to another day during the week. This is a disservice to all involved. It is possible for many Holy Days to have a vigil Mass and I will try to make that available when the opportunity presents itself. There are a few exceptions, such as those that fall on a Monday.

That being said, I was asked about Ash Wednesday Mass in Geraldine. I don’t know where the idea originated, but there is no vigil Mass for Ash Wednesday. I will be in Geraldine to say Mass on Tuesday evening like I normally am when I’m not traveling, and I’ll be back to say Mass on Ash Wednesday in the morning. Ash Wednesday is not a holy day of obligation.

I’d like to go back to the obligation of attending Mass on Sundays. I do realize that at times people are required to work on Sunday, and it may interfere with Mass attendance. When there is a legitimate reason for missing Mass, you could consider attending Mass some other day during the week. When I am here, we generally have Mass every day. There are some days when the time gets changed because I have a conflict, or we are at the Bluffs or hospital, but there are opportunities most weeks to attend a weekday Mass. It is also important to remember that if you miss Mass intentionally, i.e., you wanted to sleep in though you were not sick, you went hunting, it did not work into your schedule, it is a mortal sin. You should refrain from communion until you have the chance to go to confession. It is permissible to miss Mass if you are truly sick (hangovers don’t count since you knew you’d have Mass the next day), you have to work (if it takes all day to feed the livestock in the winter I understand), or you are impeded by such things as snow drifts.

The obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days is not to be taken lightly. As a leaven in the world, it is the responsibility of the laity to live out the precepts of the Church, and to challenge others to do likewise.

Peace and prayers until next week

Fr. Leo
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