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Obligation to Attend Mass Even if Divorced

Sunday Mass Obligation for the Divorced

Mass Obligation For Divorced Persons

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Arrow Question / Issue:

"How can I still attend church if I am divorced? I would get my divorce through the church since my parents didn't approve of my marriage. Why is it important for me to attend services?"

 

Arrow Answer / Resources:

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There are several points to your question so I will try to deal with each below.

First, even if someone is divorced, they are not excused from their obligation to attend Mass. Remember that the third commandment requires us to keep holy the Lord's Day. One of the precepts of the Church is to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation. Failure to do so without sufficient cause would be a grave sin. Whether or not a divorced person could receive Holy Communion, however, is a different matter. For this, you would need to speak with a good priest.

Secondly, I'm not sure what you mean about getting a divorce "through the church". The Church doesn't issue divorces and is, in fact, opposed to divorce. A sacramental marriage bond is indissoluble, regardless of any civil 'divorce'. Remember that Jesus said, "Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and the one who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery." (see Lk. 16:18, and also see Mt. 5:31-32, Mt. 19:3-9, Mk. 10:2-12) Obviously one could not commit adultery unless they were still married. Therefore, a divorce has no effect upon the reality of a valid marriage – the couple is still married even after a 'civil divorce'. Once validly married, a couple always remains married (until death). Perhaps you are speaking of an annulment? An annulment does not "end a marriage" though, it simply declares that a marriage never existed in the first place (even if a so-called 'marriage' was legal in the eyes of the state). The Church has no authority whatsoever to end a valid marriage – in fact, no one on earth has this authority (regardless of what the state may like to think). Christ has spoken very clearly on this matter. If a marriage is valid at the beginning & is consummated, it remains valid until one of the spouses dies. This is expressed in Church law as follows...

Can. 1141: "A marriage that is ratum et consummatum can be dissolved by no human power and by no cause, except death." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

A marriage that is valid remains valid even if a parent did not approve of the marriage. Of course, this assumes that the marriage was consummated and that it was valid to begin with. A wedding ceremony *doesn't* absolutely guarantee a valid marriage if there was some impediment or defect. This would have to be looked at by the Church via the annulment process.

If you have questions about annulments, you may be interested in the user-submitted article here.

For more quotations regarding divorce, you may want to try here.

Lastly, it is important for you to attend Mass because the Church requires it, because of God's commandment, and because Jesus instructed the Church to do this (e.g. Mass) for a commemoration of Him (see Lk. 22:19). If you do not attend Mass without sufficient reason, it would be a grave sin. Furthermore, by attending Mass, you do receive graces.

I hope this answers your questions. If you have further questions regarding this matter, please try the topic page on divorce here.

Also, you might want to speak with a good, holy priest for more specific guidance.


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