In a pastoral letter for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, Archbishop Leo Cushley of St. Andrews & Edinburgh stressed the importance of the Sunday Mass obligation for Catholics.
“It is true that many people think of Sunday as just part of the weekend, a welcome break from the usual routine, and perhaps a day for family, or sporting activities,” the UK archbishop said in the letter.
“Naturally, it’s good to relax and make time for these things, but our culture has largely forgotten that Sunday is a weekly holiday because of its meaning as the Christian holy day,” he continued.
Cushley went on to emphasize the importance of attending Sunday Mass. He noted that missing Mass due to extraordinary circumstance, such as an illness, is acceptable, but under normal circumstances, “attending Mass on Sunday is a solemn and binding obligation.”
“If we deliberately fail in this matter, it is a grave sin and we must go to confession before receiving communion again,” he said.
Sunday, our weekly day of rest, shows God’s people that true fulfillment is only found in the Creator, said Cushley. It is an “earthly reflection of God’s own eternal restfulness,” when people are reminded that “life has a higher goal than physical survival or financial gain.”
Cushley also highlighted the importance of the Eucharist, saying the Sacrifice of the Mass is a “foretaste of heaven” that empowers “us to do real and lasting good in the world.” Without the power of the Mass, we are not only cut off from the mystery of grace, but also from Christ and community, he said.
The archbishop went on to encourage parents to bring their children to Mass every Sunday as a good example of living out the Catholic faith.
“There’s no better thing you can do for them [children] than to bring them to meet the living Lord Jesus at Mass every week,” Cushley said, adding “if you teach them like this to seek the Kingdom of God first, you can be sure He will bless them in all the other ways that you hope for.”
Cushley also encouraged members of his archdiocese to make their Sunday obligation a priority over other commitments, saying Catholics should place Christ in the Eucharist ahead of everything else.
“Coming to Mass only every other week, or occasionally, is not the same as being faithful to his New Covenant. Surely, we cannot treat Christ our Saviour as one option among others for us to shuffle at our convenience,” he said.
“I therefore urge you, brothers and sisters, to make the choice to attend Sunday Mass, to make it a priority, and to bring others with you.”