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Obligation to go to Confession

Annual Confession Obligation

Confession With Venial Sins Only

Frequent Confession

Sacrament of Penance

Reconciliation

Missing Mass on Sunday

Missing Mass on Holy Day of Obligation

Is it Mortally Sinful to Miss Mass?

Mortal Sin | Mortal Sins

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Arrow Question / Issue:

"I heard you only need Confession if you have committed a Mortal Sin. Does missing Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation fall in this category?"

 

Arrow Answer / Resources:

[click link(s) below, as applicable]

First let me say that it is a good idea for persons to go to confession frequently, even if they only have venial sins to confess...

"[I]t is an excellent thing to go to confession often, because the sacrament of Penance, besides taking away sin, gives the graces necessary to avoid sin in the future." (Catechism of St. Pius X)

"A person should not stay from confession because he thinks he has no sin to confess, for the Sacrament of Penance, besides forgiving sin, gives an increase of sanctifying grace, and of this we have always need, especially to resist temptation. The Saints, who were almost without imperfection, went to confession frequently." (Baltimore Catechism)

For additional information about the Sacrament of Penance and confessing only venial sins, please visit here.

Second, Catholics are required to go to Confession at least once per year...

"Can. 989 After having reached the age of discretion, each member of the faithful is obliged to confess faithfully his or her grave sins at least once a year." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"[T]he Church obliges all to confess once a year; because she commands all to receive Holy Communion once a year, viz. at Easter, wherefore all must go to confession before that time." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"In the same canon holy Church has defined the period within which we are especially bound to discharge the duty of confession. It commands all the faithful to confess their sins at least once a year. If, however, we consult our eternal interests, we will certainly not neglect to have recourse to confession as often, at least, as we are in danger of death, or undertake to perform any act incompatible with the state of sin, such as to administer or receive the Sacraments. The same rule should be strictly followed when we are apprehensive of forgetting some sin, into which we may have fallen; for we cannot confess sins unless we remember them, neither do we obtain pardon unless our sins are blotted out through sacramental confession." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

Yet an annual confession is only a minimum standard. Even slight sins makes our souls 'dirty' (so to speak). Would you take a bath/shower only once per year?

"We do not, of course, believe that the soul is killed by [venial] sins; but still, they make it ugly by covering it as if with some kind of pustules and, as it were, with horrible scabs, which allow the soul to come only with difficulty to the embrace of the heavenly Spouse, of whom it is written 'He prepared for Himself a Church having neither spot nor blemish.'" (St. Caesar of Arles, c. 540 A.D.)

Third, for those beyond the age of reason, intentionally missing Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation would generally fall under the category of mortal sin (providing of course, the person was not excused for some worthy reason - e.g. sickness). As stated in the Baltimore Catechism...

"It is a mortal sin not to hear Mass on a Sunday or a holyday of obligation unless we are excused for a serious reason. They also commit a mortal sin who, having others under their charge, hinder them from hearing Mass, without sufficient reason."

If missing Mass was a matter of forgetfulness or problems with an alarm clock or something else that was not intentional, it may not be mortally sinful, but I could not say with certainty in any given case. In such matters, it is best to consult a priest who could to determine whether or not it was mortally sinful. Generally speaking, if one is able to go to Mass on a Sunday or Holy Day and the person is not otherwise excused, it would be sinful to miss. For additional information about the Mass obligation, try the Baltimore Catechism selections here.

+ + +

"How thankful, then, should not sinners be to God for having bestowed such ample power on the priests of His Church! Unlike the priests of the Old Law who merely declared the leper cleansed from his leprosy, the power now given to the priests of the New Law is not limited to declaring the sinner absolved from his sins, but, as a minister of God, he truly absolves from sin. This is an effect of which God Himself, the author and source of grace and justice, is the principal cause." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)


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Other Resources:

[click link(s) below, as applicable]

Penance / Confession (Topic Page)

Sin (Topic Page)

 

  

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