Cleansing Fire

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Archbishop Carlson on the Third Commandment

March 3rd, 2011, Promulgated by Mike

Commentary from Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of St. Louis …

Last year when I wrote about the Third Commandment, I offered some fairly blunt reflections on our obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation. Here is what I wrote:

“I’m not going to sugarcoat the truth. Too many Catholics ignore their solemn obligation to attend Mass every Sunday. Parents who fail to bring their children to Mass on the Lord’s Day sin twice — by failing in their Sunday obligation and by being a source of scandal for their children.

“This is a serious problem for individuals, families, parish communities and for the whole Church. Sunday Mass is not optional. It is an essential requirement for all of us, and unless we have a serious reason, there is simply no excuse for missing Mass on the Lord’s Day. If through your own fault you miss Mass on Sunday, you are committing a serious sin. You should not receive holy Communion until you have gone to confession.”

The First Precept (law or commandment) of the Catholic Church is to attend Mass on Sunday and holy days of obligation and to keep the Lord’s Day holy by avoiding work or other activities that could prevent us from recognizing the sacredness of this time.

I didn’t sugarcoat my remarks on the serious obligation we have to observe the Third Commandment because it is so important to us as individuals and as members of the family of God, the Church. Without the Eucharist, we lose all sense of who we are as disciples of Jesus Christ and as members of His body. Without a serious commitment to worship God in word and sacrament on the Lord’s Day and other holy days of obligation, we cannot claim to be Catholics in good standing.

The Sunday eucharistic celebration, which may begin with the anticipated Mass on Saturday evening, is at the heart of the Church’s life. Sunday is that special day when we celebrate the Lord’s passion, death and resurrection until He comes again. It is here that we are fed with the Bread of Life. It is here that we prepare ourselves for discipleship and service during the coming week. If we fail to worship God on the Lord’s Day, we betray our baptismal promises and we neglect our responsibilities as disciples and as stewards of the mysteries of God.

I was blunt in my article on the Third Commandment because we need a wake-up call. Too many of us have forgotten how serious this obligation is and how important it is to our identity as Catholics.

More here.

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32 Responses to “Archbishop Carlson on the Third Commandment”

  1. avatar Joseph says:

    Parents who fail to bring their children to Mass on the Lord’s Day sin twice — by failing in their Sunday obligation and by being a source of scandal for their children.

    Wow, the successor of Cardinal Burke in St. Louis sure knows how to say it when he needs to. This doesn’t seem quite blunt at all.

  2. avatar Anonymous says:

    I thought Bishop Clark wrote this. He always speaks out for the truths of Catholicism.

  3. avatar Anonymous says:

    I completely disagree, I do not believe that missing church on a Sunday is a “grave sin”. If I miss mass on a particular Sunday, I always go to Communion the next time I attend mass and I rarely go to confession (maybe one time a year). Just because some Bishop in St. Louis writes an article on it does not make it true for me. My family and I missed mass the past two Sundays, we will attend mass this coming Sunday and will receive the Body of Christ. I went to Catholic grammar and high school and I was never taught that missing mass was a grave sin or that I had to go to confession for missing mass.

  4. avatar John Drake says:

    Well, Anonymous at 8:21 am, I am glad that someone appointed you to the magisterium. How does this grab you…I was taught in first grade that missing Mass on Sunday is a mortal sin. And I have never in 50+ years, without a good reason like illness, done so.

    Review your Catechism of the Catholic Church. There may be other grave sins you need to be reminded about.

  5. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    Just because some Bishop in St. Louis

    This is not just the opinion of one bishop – it is a teaching of our faith.

    CCC:
    http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P7O.HTM
    2181 The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason 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.119 Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.

    My family and I missed mass the past two Sundays, we will attend mass this coming Sunday and will receive the Body of Christ.

    If you’ve done this in the past, it wouldn’t have been a mortal sin because you were missing one of the 3 factors (full knowledge). However, you might still want to confess it. And certainly now that you know, don’t miss mass again.

    I went to Catholic grammar and high school and I was never taught that missing mass was a grave sin or that I had to go to confession for missing mass.

    Sad.

  6. avatar Anonymous says:

    I don’t have to be appointed the magisterium or read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, if it was so important then I would have been taught it in school, or my kids would be taught it in religious education today. I know that I am a good Catholic and that God loves me and that He wants me to receive Communion. And so I will. And nobody can stop me or tell me that I can’t.

  7. avatar A Catholic says:

    Thanks, Mike, for putting this article on the blog. Bishops and priests should be reminding us of our obligation to hear Mass each Sunday and it’s good to see that Archbishop Carlson is doing this. There is such a deficit in teaching in the DOR that I’m not surprised that many Catholics around here are clueless about this obligation. Kudos to Cleansing Fire for the service you are providing- I know you get a lot of flak from some but keep up the good work in sharing items with us that remind us of the importance of our Catholic Faith and the obligations that go with it.

  8. avatar annonymouse says:

    I quote Anonymous 8:21 and 10:21: “…does not make it true for me.” So much for objective truth….truth is different for you than it is for me, is that right? Where the heck did you learn THAT?

    May I ask you, sir or madam, what exactly makes a “good Catholic?” What exactly makes a Catholic?

    God does love you and God does want you to receive Communion, EVERY Sunday, without very good reason.

    Maybe if you start visiting the confessional more frequently, you’ll lose some of your smug arrogance and more humbly submit to the teachings of our Church.

  9. avatar Anonymous says:

    Here’s a perfect example of the failure of the Catholic Schools back in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s—and even today–teaching “watered-down” Catholicism.
    Anonymous is saying, “Well, the Catholic School didn’t teach me, so then you’re wrong and I’m right.”
    Thus, we have Cleansing Fire trying to help so many misguided Catholics find their way.
    God bless you Cleansing Fire.

  10. avatar Anonymous says:

    Oh I am not misguided nor am I the smug. I try to got to church every Sunday with my family and when we do we go to communion, it is my choice and my belief that I can receive the Body of Christ whenever I want. I don’t need anyone to tell me when I can and can’t go to communion, it is between me and God! As for what makes a good Catholic that is up to each person to decide on their own if they are a good catholic, no one else has the right to judge me as being a good catholic except for me. I also don’t see the need for confession every week and so I don’t go every week, once again my belief as a good catholic. And I never said i am right and you are wrong, I said that is what i believe to be true to me, if you feel the need to go to confession every time you miss a Sunday Mass then go to confession, it does not bother me if that is the truth you believe. I don’t share in that in that belief, that’s all I’m saying.

  11. avatar Anonymous says:

    Anonymous, I am curious,was your catechism taught by a Rochester Nun? No one including cleansing fire bloggers should be telling you to go to confession, BUT you really should go back and read the Baltmore catechism. Trying is not being very obedient. Just do it!

  12. avatar Anonymous says:

    ??? What’s true for you may not be true for me? Are you serious. So according to your logic, if I know that 4+4=8 (and math is about as true as you get) and you say no you don’t believe that to be true, then are you right and I am wrong? Truth is not a matter of opinion, it is a matter of fact. I have atheist friends who would disagree with this misinformed anonymous, and that’s pretty sad. I just think you’re trying to stir up a little debate here on Cleansing Fire that’s all. No one in their right mind would actually believe this. Going to Mass is worship. Therefore if you put other things before God, then you are breaking a commandment. Jesus didn’t establish a church so we could have an option to go or not. We ARE to go without reservation.

  13. avatar Eliza10 says:

    “I went to Catholic grammar and high school and I was never taught that missing Mass was a grave sin or that I had to go to confession for missing mass.”

    Oh, I see. You must have gone to Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Rochester! I’m so sorry.

  14. avatar Anonymous says:

    I am not trying to stir anything up, I am only stating what I believe. Yes I did go to Catholic School in Rochester, so did my parents in the 50’s and 60’s and they don’t go to confession either yet they still go to Communion. All I’m saying is that i don’t believe I have to go to confession because I miss mass one Sunday, if I am wrong then let my Bishop or Priest tell me so, as a matter of fact I will ask my priest about this issue on Sunday after mass and i will report back what he says. If I am wrong then I will admit it.

  15. avatar Eliza10 says:

    “Nobody can tell me what to do” is kind of an American problem. Obedience is a bad word in our culture. Its hard often to see how obedience can be a blessing. I remember being unhappy hearing that being free meant being free to do God’s will. It somehow didn’t seem that free to me at the time. Now I see how it is free. Recently, somewhere, I read an explanation of why true freedom is in fact the freedom to do what is right – not the freedom to do right or do wrong. I think it was a St. Thomas Aquinas argument I was reading. Yes, true freedom is doing what is right.

    And it really is freedom that we have a Church that truly tells us what is right and what is wrong. What Anonymous “I can miss Mass when I want” doesn’t realize is that there is TRUE freedom in what our Church tells us is right and wrong.

    If you have to find your own truth, that is, whatever seems right for you today, or tomorrow, then sometimes you are going to decide that something false is something true.

    The fact is that the truth sets you free. And the opposite is true. Lies enslave you. So if you are believing that something untrue is true, then you are enslaved. Not free.

  16. avatar Anonymous says:

    That’s exactly why the communion line is as long as it is, and the confession line is about 2-3 people deep. Alot of people have lost the sense of sin. And those who do go to confession frequently are more likely than not scrupulous. If every Catholic believed in the Real Presence then the confession lines will be flowing out the doors, and the priests would have to spend most of their Saturdays hearing confessions. That my friends is the reason why you don’t hear many homilies on the subject of sin. This is just my opinion.

  17. The Mass-skipping anonymous poster must be putting us on. No one over the age of sixteen can be that self-referential in his decision-making.

  18. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    Rich,
    I was thinking the comments seemed rather fake myself. In case not, anon, I’d love to hear what your priest says. But really it doesn’t matter what your priest says – Church teaching is Church teaching. The CCC trumps any priest’s opinion.

  19. avatar Christopher says:

    Let’s play name that quote, who said this “the truth is easy to find, hard to accept and even harder still to follow.”. I’ll give you a hint, you probably have never heard of him if you went to a Rochester catholic school. 😀

  20. avatar Christopher says:

    Correction: replace “hard to accept” with “but it is hard to face the truth” sorry 🙂

  21. avatar Christopher says:

    Fr longenecker recently posted on the question “What is better? A good person who doesn’t goto mass or a bad person who goes to mass?”
    http://gkupsidedown.blogspot.com/2011/03/being-good-or-going-to-mass.html

  22. avatar Thinkling says:

    @ Christopher, I was thinking of this quote myself

    “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”

    That’s Chesterton BTW. Those of you who already knew that, probably do not need to be reminded of his quote.

  23. avatar Mike says:

    Christopher,

    “It is easy to find truth; it is hard to face it, and harder still to follow it.” – Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

    … at least that’s what Patrick Madrid says.

  24. avatar Anonymous says:

    Maybe asking a priest about whether missing Mass on Sunday is a sin and requires priior sacramental confession was a good idea a few years ago, but not in the year 2011, not in the USA, and certainly not in the DOR. That’s like asking the high priest if Jesus is the Christ. Beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing.

  25. avatar Anonymous says:

    Well I really don’t care too much about what any of you think or say, I will go to Communion anytime I want even if I go to confession or not. I don’t need your approval and you can’t stop me so like the 98% of the Catholics in this diocese who miss a mass I too shall go and receive the Body and Blood of Christ without going to Confession and without feeling any sort of guilt. That is what I will teach my children and that is my final word.

  26. avatar Mike says:

    Anonymous,

    “Well I really don’t care too much about what any of you think or say.

    That’s all well and good, but since you say you are a Catholic I would hope that you would care about what the Catholic Church says

    The Sunday obligation

    2180 The precept of the Church specifies the law of the Lord more precisely: “On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass.” “The precept of participating in the Mass is satisfied by assistance at a Mass which is celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the holy day or on the evening of the preceding day.”

    2181 The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason 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.

    And with regard to grave (or mortal) sins, the Church says,

    1457 According to the Church’s command, “after having attained the age of discretion, each of the faithful is bound by an obligation faithfully to confess serious sins at least once a year.” Anyone who is aware of having committed a mortal sin must not receive Holy Communion, even if he experiences deep contrition, without having first received sacramental absolution …

  27. avatar Anonymous says:

    Nah nah nah nah nah! So there. I know you are but what am I. You can’t tell me what to do. Anonymous! When you’re old enough to have children, I hope and pray that they don’t have the same attitude towards Catholicism as you do. ALL of your statements sound so juvenile. Please read carefully what all these people are trying to tell you. It’s truly for your own good.

  28. avatar Persis says:

    I have been thinking about the comments in this thread for the past few days. I have been where Anonymous(3/3/11 @ 8:21pm) is, believing many of the same things that were shared in their comments. Sad part is that most of this understanding also came from other Catholics- my family & friends, my faith formation teachers and even some priests.

    The past few years, I have become much more aware of what it really means to be a Catholic in the Roman Rite. I may not always like or even understand the “rules” but, if want the benefits of being part of the Church, I need to follow the them.

    If I were to join a country club, I would be bound to follow the rules & by-laws of said club in order to be a member in good standing. I also will pay a hefty fee every month/year for the “privilege” of being a member, and be required to attend certain functions, and think nothing of it, because “them be the rules”. 😉

    What I have come to realize is that if I will do this to belong to a secular organization, because I want the privileges of membership, how can I not follow the rules of the Church, if I want the privileges that come with that membership?

    My spiritual director gave me some things to work on that last time we talked. In the reading I did, I came across this quote in a book on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius by a Jesuit named Monty Williams, which I think pretty much sums it up.

    “Even though we are loved by God, we cannot do as we wish and expect God to acquiesce to us. We are made for God; God is not made for us.”

    Very wise advice, IMHO! 🙂

  29. avatar Mike says:

    Well put, Persis.

    “Even though we are loved by God, we cannot do as we wish and expect God to acquiesce to us. We are made for God; God is not made for us.”

    Somewhere I’ve read that thought expressed as, “We are made in his image and likeness, not he in ours.”

    Scott Hahn has often said something similar: “God loves us just the way we are, but too much to let us stay that way.”

  30. avatar Sand says:

    The Prince of the World loves our Bishop.

  31. avatar annonymouse says:

    So, Anonymous 3/4 @ 9:38 – you don’t even care what God’s CHURCH says? Your opinion is of more value that Holy Mother Church’s opinion? You make up your own rules and follow them when you feel like it?

    You MUST be a parody; no-one is quite so brazen in outspoken self-importance as you are coming across.

  32. avatar Matt says:

    I thought the same thing. Then I remembered that more than half the time, I can’t tell the difference between a liberal and a parody of a liberal. How do you parody “I think women should have the right to kill their children”? How do you parody “I know better than God”?

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