Priests And Their Flock's Duty To Attend Mass On Sundays And Holy Days Of Obligation
by Monsignor Charles M. Mangan
Priests find themselves confronting a considerable task: to convince their people that to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation is not only a sacred endeavor full of special meaning but also obligatory. Although not infallible, one national survey revealed that approximately 27% of Catholics in the United States of America attend Mass every Sunday and Holy Day. The remaining 73% are divided between two categories: those who go to Mass about once per month and those who virtually don't attend at all.
Acknowledging the substantial challenge that priests possess, Pope John Paul II published his Apostolic Letter Dies Domini (The Lord's Day), dated May 31, 1998 (the Solemnity of Pentecost). The Holy Father, recognizing that a significant misunderstanding regarding Mass attendance and the genuine notion of rest on the Lord's Day prevails in scores of locations around the globe, takes up the concepts of the beauty and value of Sunday and how the Catholic faithful are to commemorate the first day of the Christian week.
There exist perennial complaints arising from some quarters directed against papal and curial pronouncements: "They're much too long . . . they're too complex . . . 'ordinary' Catholics have neither the time nor the know-how with which to plough through these heavy publications . . . these writings might make sense but they're not applicable at the parish level."
Is it possible for the content and logic of Dies Domini to be conveyed by priests to contemporary, "ordinary" Catholics? The following suggestions--by no means exhaustive--are presented as a means by which to put this Apostolic Letter to use in the parish.
1. Priests and the faithful will benefit immeasurably when priests make this document part of their reading. So much of what the Holy Father has written during his twenty-five year pontificate is, contrary to the unfair caricature painted by the at-times hostile secular press, positive and uplifting rather than merely prohibiting. Yes, Pope John Paul unhesitatingly affirms in Dies Domini that "the faithful are obliged to attend Mass (on Sundays and Holydays) unless there is a grave impediment" (#49). But he also glowingly presents the treasure we have in the first day of the week--the Day of the Resurrection--and explores the inherent symbolism of Sunday as "the eighth day": "that truly singular day," referring to a text of Saint Basil the Great (d. 379), "which will follow the present time, the day without end which will know neither evening nor morning, the imperishable age which will never grow old; Sunday is the ceaseless foretelling of life without end which renews the hope of Christians and encourages them on their way" (#26).
When priests study Dies Domini, they increase in their own grasp of the intrinsic raison d'etre of the Lord's Day, thereby enabling them to persuade their people of the same.
2. The Sunday parish bulletin provides an excellent medium by which to offer the salient points of Dies Domini. Some argue that those who do attend Mass each Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation are the last ones who need to hear the Holy Father address the crucial subject of Mass attendance. These Catholics, obviously, are doing now what the Church directs relative to the Third Commandment of the Decalogue. Yet, it is critical for the regular attendees also to know well the basis of the Church's teaching pertaining to the Lord's Day, for two primary reasons: a.) to appreciate more deeply for themselves the splendor of the selfless Sacrifice of Jesus Christ on Calvary perpetuated in each Holy Mass and the authentic concept of Sunday rest and how both fit into the whole of Catholic belief and practice; b.) to be prepared to speak with those Catholics--whether at home, in school or in the workplace--who don't always go to Mass and inspire them to begin arranging for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist as a vital part of their Sunday schedule.
3. Compose a parish letter that highlights the helpful reasoning of Dies Domini and mail to all adults in the parish. This missive from the pastor to his people is designed to reach those primarily who don't go to Mass. These parishioners are probably not familiar with the Holy Father's writing on this matter (and perhaps on many matters) but may have some comprehension of the Third Commandment and what it requires. Building on this knowledge, the letter may detail briefly the Church's insistence that Catholics gain innumerable graces when participating worthily at Mass on Sundays and Holy Days. A gentle and informative letter that steers clear of pointing the finger at those who currently don't attend Mass will do much in educating parishioners, particularly those who aren't active in the sacramental life of the Church.
The Holy Father has done his part in issuing Dies Domini. Now, priests can accomplish much by spreading the substance of this work to their people. This is the Church at her best: the Word of God is first proposed by Christ Himself, and then needs the assistance of the pastors if it is to find a welcome in the hearts of the faithful. May Dies Domini be the impetus for a new, fresh revival in love for the Mass and adherence to Sunday rest among the Catholic disciples of the Master.
https://www.catholic.org , VA
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan - Official, 390 66616-1125
Holy Mass; Rest; Sunday; Holy Day of Obligation
More Catholic PRWire
Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718
A Recession Antidote
Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell
Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell
Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Franchising to Evangelize
Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Three words to a deeper faith
Relections for Lent 2009
Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell
World Food Program Director on Lent
Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Glimpse of Me
The 3 stages of life
Sex and the Married Woman
A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Modernity & Morality
Just a Minute
Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Edging God Out
Burying a St. Joseph Statue
George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell
Easter... A Way of Life
Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
by Catholic Online
- 7 Famous Men You Probably Didn't Realize Were Knights
- Global Warming threatening Europe with colder weather HD Video
- Daily Readings for Friday, April 20, 2018
- Catholic Relief Services builds hospital in Haiti
- Scientists detect disastrous trend in North Atlantic waters
- St. Marian: Saint of the Day for Friday, April 20, 2018
- The Memorare HD Video
- God Alone Suffices HD
- Daily Reading for Saturday, April 21st, 2018 HD
- St. Leo the Great HD
- The Our Father HD
Learn about Catholic world
Inform - Inspire - Ignite
Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained
Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need
Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online
Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye
Today's bible reading
Products and services we offer
Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books
The California Network
Inspiring streaming service
Learn the Catholic way
Teacher lesson plans & resources
Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education