Must I attend Mass on Sunday? Can’t I just stay in my room and say some prayers? Besides, if WORKING on Sunday is a SIN... Between the "Okada" man who WORKS with his bike on Sunday and the “Christian” who hires it to attend Mass on Sunday: who commits a sin? Between the fuel attendant who sells at the fuel station and the “Christian” who comes to fill his vehicle’s tank to attend Mass on Sunday: who commits a sin? How about those whose sources of income and means of sustenance require them to work even on Sundays? Are they committing sin by working on Sunday?
Questions like these and many others have continued to trouble the minds of many Christians especially Catholics. What really does the Church teach about Sunday?
To begin with, it must be noted at the onset that, according to Catholic teaching, Sunday, the day of Christ’s Resurrection (also called the Lord’s day) is the fulfillment of the Sabbath (CCC 2175) and as such it fulfils the moral command of the Old Covenant to render to God an outward, visible, public and regular worship (CCC 2176).
Now, according to the Code of Canon Law, “on Sundays and other Holy days of obligation, the faithful are OBLIGED to participate in the Mass. Moreover, they are to ABSTAIN from those works and affairs which hinder the worship to be rendered to God, the joy proper to the Lord’s Day, or the suitable relaxation of the mind and body” (Canon 1247). All those who DELIBERATELY fail in this obligation according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church commit a grave sin (CCC 2181). The following are the Holy days of obligation: Christmas, Epiphany, Ascension, Body and Blood of Christ, Mary Mother of God, Immaculate Conception, Assumption, Saint Joseph, Saints Peter and Paul and all Saints
Now, are there reasons that can legitimately warrant someone to work on Sunday?
According to the Catechism of the Catholic church, it is true that Traditional activities (sports, restaurants, etc) and social necessities (public services, etc) require some people to work on Sundays (CCC2187) as such Family needs or important social service can LEGITIMATELY excuse one from the obligation of Sunday rest (CCC 2185). However, the church clearly notes that the faithful are to see to it that these legitimate excuses DO NOT lead to habits prejudicial to religion, family life and health. And that those with such excuses take care to set aside sufficient time for leisure and worship (2187).
How about praying privately in my room on Sunday?
According to the Code of Canon Law “if because of LACK of a sacred minister or for OTHER GRAVE cause (for example, Corona lock down) the faithful cannot participate together in the Eucharist, it is specially RECOMMENDED that the faithful take part in the liturgy of the word as PRESCRIBED by the DIOCESAN BISHOP, or engage in PRAYER for an appropriate amount of time personally or in a family or, as occasions offers, in groups of families (Canon 1248). It must be noted however that, these recommendations given are NOT alternative ways for fulfilling one’s Sunday obligation. Except it is impossible to attend mass as stated above, attending Mass on Sunday and on HOLY DAYS of obligation for CATHOLICS is an OBLIGATION – It is a MUST.
In the words of Pope John Paul II, Sunday is not only the remembrance of a past event: it is a celebration of the living presence of the Risen Lord in the midst of his own people. Those who have received the grace of baptism are not saved as individuals alone, but as members of the Mystical Body. It is important therefore that we always come together to express fully the very identity of the church which is the assembly of all Christ’s faithful (Dei Domini no.31)
Keeping the “Sabbath day” Holy is not just about resting or abstaining from work or praying privately in your room, it is about RESTING from work and GOING to CHURCH. Do not let spiritual pride and arrogance separate you from the members of Christ’s faithful. Yes, the church is a community of both saints and SINNERS. Thank you for reading.