QUAERITUR: choosing not to go to Sunday Mass if it is not a TLM

From a reader:

Recently, after reading this post on traditional Catholicism, I posted the link on Facebook and got into a debate with a few friends of mine.  Basically, it boiled down to the following three questions:  [there were three questions, but the second was the important one…]

2. Whether some people are dispensed from fulfilling their Sunday obligation at a Novus Ordo mass by the idea of "spiritual danger" attached to going to that rite.

A couple of my friends say yes, a couple say no.  What do you think?

I think that God cannot be fooled.

If people who are obliged are truly impeded from attending Holy Mass on a day of obligation, then they don’t sin by not attending.

There can be physical impediments (e.g., the bridge was washed out in a flood), or impediments of health (e.g., too ill to go out) or "psychic" impediments (e.g., an old person is afraid to fall on ice in the winter) or circumstantial impediments (e.g., you are traveling on a close schedule and have no idea where to go), etc.

But there are other kinds of moral impediments.  For example, say you are part of a small parish and something really bad happened with the priest or parishioners and the thought of going there is just too much, but the next parish a great distance.

Say, for example, the liturgical abuses at your parish are so bad that you simply cannot stand going and there is no place else to go within a reasonable distance.

Now… this is where things get thorny.  Some people have come to the conclusion that the Novus Ordo itself is a liturgical abuse which they cannot bear.  If they are truly convinced, based on adequate information and sound reasoning, that is one thing, but… if they are making intellectual excuses or were lazy in their choices – because they just don’t like some things that happen, that is another. 

I think some people start out disgusted at liturgical abuses they have experienced and then, slowly but surely, come to convince themselves that the problem is the Novus Ordo itself.  They harden in their position over time.  Sadly, many people who do that often don’t have the legitimate basis in fact to make such a decision in the first place, but they gradually harden their minds and hearts in it.

I say that people in this dilemma should examine their consciences and discern whether they have been just to the issues.  Deliberately choosing not to fulfill one’s obligation by refusing to attend Holy Mass, properly celebrated in an approved Rite of the Church, is a pretty serious step.

I think that God cannot be fooled.

This response is sure to bring out all sorts of knuckle-headed stuff, so I will close the combox.  People can e-mail me if they have something well-considered, measured, and respectful to contribute.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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