Fr. Finigan (Unreconstructed Ossified Manualist) on whether it is a sin to be late for Mass

My good friend, His Hermeneuticalness, The Dean of Bexley, the P.P. of Blackfen, Fr. Tim Finigan, has a useful post on his blog, which is also one of his columns for the UK’s best Catholic weekly, The Catholic Herald.

Each week in The Catholic Herald, on the same page where my column appears as a matter of fact, Fr. Finigan answers reader’s questions. For example:

CD 263 on being late for Mass

If I am late for Mass, at what point have I failed to fulfil the Sunday Mass obligation? For example if I miss the Gospel, have I missed Mass?

In older manuals of moral theology, this subject was discussed extensively. In the first place, it was always stated, and remains the case today, that Catholics are under obligation to attend the whole of Mass on days of precept. The answer to the question “When am I late for Mass?” is the same then as now: “If you arrive after it has started.”

The secondary question that was asked by the manualists, and considered at length, was what omission would constitute a mortal sin rather than a venial sin. Briefly, the answer is that …


Yes, I am going to make you go THERE to read the rest.

Kudos to Fr. Finigan for this service and to The Catholic Herald for printing his Q&A.  If you don’t subscribe to the digital version… well….  One of these days I hope they will have a “Fr. Z Subscription Promo”.

Also, in homage, I just sent Father an Unreconstructed Ossified Manualist car magnet.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    His answer seems entirely reasonable. Trying to legalistically determine the minimum amount of Mass to attend in order to fulfill the precept is to largely miss the point of attending Mass.

    For my own part, I always attempt to arrive at the church at least 20 minutes before Mass. This gives me plenty of time to read the readings and pray before the tabernacle. It also usually insures that I can do it in peace and quiet.

    I am curious what Fr. Finigan would say about those who leave before the end of Mass. I know I’ve been sorely tempted to bail out after the closing prayer when the choir director reads practically the entire bulletin during the announcements before the blessing and dismissal.

  2. jhayes says:

    I find Fr. Finigan’s comments confusing bcause he says in the article if someone were to miss the whole of the Liturgy of the Word, they would not fulfil the obligation of attending Mass but then agrees with a commentor who says that the test of fulfilling the obligation is whether you arrived at or before the offertory prayers – which would mean that you had missed the whole Liturgy of the Word.

    I thought your recent reply to this same question was clearer – that the minimum to satisfy the obligation is to be present from the time the chalice is unveiled until it is re-veiled.

    Of course, our goal should be to be present for the whole of the Mass, but this question does come up.

  3. Random Friar says:

    For us priests: GIRM 206. No one is ever to join a concelebration or to be admitted as a concelebrant once the Mass has already begun.

  4. Massachusetts Catholic says:

    If I remember correctly, I was taught that I had to be present for the reading of the Gospel and stay at least until the Tabernacle was closed after communion. That’s from Catholic school, back in the day. Perhaps my nuns weren’t strict enough.

  5. acardnal says:

    Personally, I like the advice a priest once gave that one should attend Mass from the first “Amen” to the last “Amen”.

    Alternatively, it could be asked if it is a sin to leave Mass early. I knew of a priest who had a sign placed on the interior and above his doorways which said, “. . . and Judas left Mass early, too.”

  6. robtbrown says:

    Someone can be late for mass and still do all the readings, incl the Confiteor, individually. The Offertory and Eucharistic Prayers cannot be done individually.

  7. Imrahil says:

    May I begin with a lot of thanks do Reverend dear @Fr Finigan.

    Now some points of criticism which I hope to be understood as friendly.

    Dear @jhayes is spot on. It is reasonable that missing the whole Liturgy of the Word is mortal; it is reasonable (for that seeming casuist tradition, if for no other reason) that it is venial; but only one of the above can be true. The Reverend should have discussed that (possibly saying he is undecided).

    Another point of my humble criticism is about his comments on receiving Holy Communion section. [Reception of] Holy Communion […] requires something more of us than simply fulfilling the obligation of attending Mass. It is true that […] participation […] itself is a good preparation […] but we should also make some special preparation and thanksgiving. Emphases added. Now, and sorry for the hairsplitting: Are we required (as in: Do not dare to Receive if you came just in time), or should we do it? Again sorry for the legalism, but, as dear @jhayes put it, the question does come up. Given, also, that the Code at least wishes us to always Receive whenever we attend Mass, supposing, of course and indeed, that we are allowed to do so.

    Then, while he is a good counterexample because he actually addresses the question, he is still a bit influenced by the thinking “I’d rather say nothing because we should regard all of the parts of the Mass as important, rather than trying to rank them so that we only commit a venial sin. Yes, they are all important: that’s why it is a venial sin to miss even the tiniest bit. A Christian knows that a venial sin is displeasing to God and that, for this reason, he shouldn’t do it. But, in my very humble opinion (and please this is no accusation of Fr Finigan), even a pandemy of “let’s-sin-whenever-venial-and-we-want-to” does not justify the theologian to in effect set up a threat of Hell when the precept itself only threats with Purgatory. For, sorry, that’s what it is when you refuse to discuss what is venial with the explicitly stated aim of fostering morality.
    Now Fr Finigan, I have not overlooked, does of course not refuse to say so. Only he gave me an opportunity to address this attitude as it shimmers through; but so to say he does not give in to it.

    Dear @Will D., it is the prerogative of a man under orders that he must do what his orders say him to do and then that’s that. This is also true about the Sunday precept. Tell me also, what is the point of having to attend Mass? Well, if it is mainly to do some religious exercise and if we imbibed the assumption that religion is about doing more than we must (and most who have this assumption associate “must” only with the State’s positive laws, for reasons unknown to me), well then it would miss the point.

    I’m not the one to answer this question I just asked (I mean that really; you might say that I’m not the one to answer any such questions and I’d have to agree, but I often happen to do have my opinion about them; about this I am actually unsure); but I’d try it with saying that Holy Mass is giving to God honor and praise; including oneself in the Sacrifice of Christ; and of course other things. That I can also do (whether it’d be good practice to do so is another question) by doing what the Church commands; indeed the Precept leads to the double benefit that 1. I know what I must do for not to sin, and 2. that if I do more I can do it in the joyous feeling of doing something freely.

    On that other point, if (as I fear) these announcements are done with the people standing and, well-behaved just as they are, still standing and standing and standing, I’d suggest just to sit down. (Dear priests: if you have long announcements, please offer us to take seats! We do know that we should get up again for the blessing.)

    And then, for the same reasons dear @jhayes has pointed out, because such questions just do occur (have in mind, for instance, someone who has a practice not to Communicate on a Sunday when late for Mass): when does Holy Mass begin?
    -at the ringing of the bell?
    -at the “In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” (OF)?
    -at the “introibo ad altare Dei” (EF)?
    -at the first chanted word of the Entrance Song?
    (Seriously. All four would make sense.)

    And what about him who is just about entering the Church when Holy Mass already begins, and can follow all of it and mentally participate in it, but has not yet set foot into the Church?

  8. veritas76 says:

    I actually was wondering about this very question this week! I was late to Mass last Sunday because I was teaching CCD at a different parish and it went a little longer than usual… I made it by the second reading, but I still felt terrible.

  9. mamajen says:

    Somewhere along the way I learned that, although it is not good to be late for mass, the obligation was fulfilled as long as you did not miss the gospel. I believe a priest taught this in religious education, but I can’t remember for certain.

  10. jhayes says:

    I mentioned Fr. Z’s “recent” answer to this same question. It wasn’t quite as recent as I remembered, but you can still find it here:

  11. wmeyer says:

    I think that if being late is habitual, then one must ask why Mass is apparently not a priority.

    On the other hand, if one is late because of some unforeseeable event, then some leeway ought probably to be granted.

    Mass is the important to me. I dress for it, arrive early, and do not leave until after the recessional. This is my routine.

    I think if we are seeking a legalistic answer, our priorities may be confused.

  12. The Masked Chicken says:

    “I think that if being late is habitual, then one must ask why Mass is apparently not a priority.”

    I catch a bus to Mass (two buses) and attend a TLM. When I leave Mass, if I am not at the bus stop at the right time, I miss the bus and have to wait an hour for the next one (outside, where it might be raining, snowing, etc.). I have little choice but to leave Mass a few minutes early because of this. I usually wind up getting to Mass an hour before and leaving a few minutes early. I think Father has probably caught on as to why, since the bus stop is across the street from the Church and I am sometimes standing there because I missed the bus, Getting someone to car-pool with is not really an option.

    There are some legitimate reasons for being late to Mass or leaving early. In my confessor’s opinion, because of these circumstances, I am not sinning. If one is deliberately late to Mass or leaves early, however, that is a different story. Habits may be formed voluntarily or involuntarily.

    The Chicken

  13. Elizabeth R says:

    Any comments on the status when you arrived a few minutes before the announced time of the Mass, but the priest started it even earlier?
    And yes, that’s a question from my experience. Thankfully, since it was a weekday Mass I didn’t have to worry about whether I fulfilled my obligation.

  14. JKnott says:

    I agree with wmeyer, “I think that if being late is habitual, then one must ask why Mass is apparently not a priority.
    On the other hand, if one is late because of some unforeseeable event, then some leeway ought probably to be granted. ”
    At one local parish easily one third of the people arrive to Sunday Mass in the middle of the readings. Whether or not the late arrival, at whatever juncture is a sin, the added disturbance and distraction it causes to others trying to remain recollected is a consideration not to be overlooked. Has to do with love of God and love of neighbor.
    Imagine a loving married couple parsing out the minimum they can do for each other.

    Bottom line: “Imitation of Christ” Book III, Chapter 5.

  15. AnnAsher says:

    Well I’m feeling more anxious vs. less. We are not late for Mass often, despite the hour + 15 minute commute. But things could and have happened to make us late. Traffic. A child who has to run back in for a coat or shoes (my kids are notorious for getting in the car without shoes!). Any of a dozen (at least) little family crises that could delay our departure. We typically allow between 1 1/2 hours and 2 hours for the trip. So based on Fr Finnegan’s answer if we walk in during the Asperges (this has happened twice that I can recall in 4 years) it is a venial sin but we meet the obligation? If we were too miss the entire Mass of the Catechumens – then we need to find another Mass? Well thankfully we have not been in that position but if we were it would be horribly challenging to expect my crew to dally about waiting for the next Mass and then drive home. I guarantee if that happened my participating would be greatly inhibited and would have been better at the Mass of the Faithful. Now I remember you Fr Z saying once that you thought the minimum to meet ones obligation is Veil to Veil. That made sense to me. I haven’t intentionally reduced Mass attendance to that but it makes sense to me that the Sacrifice is what we are commanded to attend. So mark me confused in theory but clear that I shall not be late for Mass!

  16. AnnAsher says:

    @acardnal – oh how some NO priests hold that last Amen and me hostage! What about when Mass is clearly ended but they persist in some rambling or award giving or extraneous special blessings of particular groups, etc ? I have left while waiting for the last Amen for more than 10 minutes!

  17. smad0142 says:

    According to the Congregation for Divine Worship in Inaestimabile donum, n. 1 (1980) one should not approach for Holy Communion if one has missed the Liturgy of the Word.

  18. AnnAsher says:

    @Smad0142, thanks!

  19. LisaP. says:

    Love Lyle Lovett’s “Church”.

  20. Michelle F says:

    I have tried to solve this problem by applying the same rules one uses for determining whether a sin is venial (not fully intentional) or mortal (intentional/blameworthy), or perhaps I should say the spirit of these rules.

    If I arrive at Mass late because of something I did which was stupid and blameworthy, such as oversleeping, and I arrive by the beginning of the Mass of the Faithful, I think I have fulfilled my obligation, but I refrain from receiving Holy Communion because my tardiness was blameworthy.

    If I arrive at Mass late because of circumstances beyond my control, such as being stuck on the Interstate between exits because of an accident, and I arrive by the beginning of the Mass of the Faithful, I think I have fulfilled my obligation, and I do receive Holy Communion because my tardiness was not something over which I had control.

    If I arrive for any reason after the Mass of the Faithful has started, I believe that I have missed Mass and I need to look for another one.

    If I can’t find another Mass and I was blameworthy for missing Mass (e.g., I overslept), then I think I need to confess missing Mass as a venial sin at my next Confession.

    If I can’t find another Mass and I missed it because of circumstances beyond my control (which hasn’t happened yet, thank God), then I would not worry about confessing it because I had put my best effort into attending Mass. My reason for this is the Church excuses people from the Sunday/Holyday Obligation under certain circumstances, such as when one is traveling. The obligation to try to be present at Mass (e.g., when traveling) or to desire to be at Mass (e.g., if one is caring for someone who is ill) still holds, but the penalty of sin is abrogated when one cannot be there through no fault of one’s own.

  21. CarpeNoctem says:

    I would take exception to one of Fr.’s opinions– when a children’s Liturgy of the Word is being offered. While some would argue about the wisdom of this program in some places, this is a legitimate option offered by the books, thus when it is offered and done correctly I would see this as integral to the celebration to Mass as the Liturgy of the Word for that community (else the children should be expected to go to a ‘real’ Liturgy of the Word as well). Thus, if an adult is absent from the rest of the parish in order to facilitate that program for children, I would consider that participation in the Liturgy of the Word at Mass. While it would be laudable for the adults to attend another Mass with an ‘adult’ Liturgy of the Word for their own edification, presuming this is not an every week event for the adults concerned and they are fully present and participating in the Liturgy of the Eucharist, I would not see it as absoltuely necessary to fulfil the Sunday precept. I invite correction on this if someone can provide authoritative documentation to the contrary. ??

  22. CarpeNoctem says:

    Watching people leave Mass early is becoming one of my pet peeves. I can’t draw the line exactly where, but I am thinking that to leave Mass early without sufficient reason is more than likely a mortal sin. Certainly one can excuse a policeman or medical professional on duty, or a parent with a kid on meltdown. I might even excuse the parishes where there’s a bunch of annoucements/ads/B.S… that’s not really supposed to be there. Maybe there’s even consideration for those who can’t stand the bad music… we have been dismissed afterall, and there is not really provision for a ‘closing song’ in the Roman rite.

    But the habitual folks who leave right out of the communion line to the parking lot to ‘avoid the rush’ and get a table at the local restaurant before everyone else arrives? Yep. Grave evil (lack of thanksgiving, missing Mass), full knoweldge (with considered intention to to ‘avoid the rush’), full consent of will (Fr. can’t tell me what to do)… that could very well be a mortal sin in my estimation.

  23. Vecchio di Londra says:

    Well: I can understand what Fr Finigan is saying, and why: Mass begins when the priest exits the sacristy and enters the altar, and ends when he leaves. I too was taught that being late at all for Mass was a venial sin. And everybody’s Sunday timekeeping has become very sloppy, and we need a wake-up call (sometimes literally; my mother’s Sunday wake-up call when I was a child was brisk to the point of violent, and I am very grateful for it today. :-)
    But the literal teaching (since at least WWII) was that it is necessary to arrive in time to hear the Offertory prayer, otherwise one has missed Mass, and must hear another that Sunday (from beginning to end, and not as with the old cinema programmes, until the moment of ‘oh, this is where we came in’ ). I was not taught that arriving after the Offertory was a mortal sin, just that it obliged one to attend another Mass. (Because logically, being late might not be one’s own fault.)

    As far as being late for the opening of Mass – of course, we should be there beforehand, to prepare. So we should start off from home in ‘good time’. But there is surely a moral difference between those (e.g. AnnAsher above) who try their hardest, but have long and delayed journeys on erratic public transport or in a temperamental car, mums and dads with children to organize, carers with sickbeds to attend to; a big moral difference between those situations, and those who have no excuse at all, just couldn’t prise themselves out of bed, and seem rudely oblivious to their own latecoming and its disruptive effect on those around them. When e.g. families with children gently ease themselves into the pew next to me during the readings, I always make room and smile to welcome them. We have to share their burden, or it will be too great.

  24. Katheryn says:

    The only time I ever leave early is when they end with that “canticle of the sun” thing or other such near occasions of sin.

  25. jhayes says:

    smad0142 said:

    According to the Congregation for Divine Worship in Inaestimabile donum, n. 1 (1980) one should not approach for Holy Communion if one has missed the Liturgy of the Word.

    I don’t think that relates ot he question of whether you have fulfilled your olbigation or not.

    Also, it may have been superseded by 1983 Canons 917 and 918 which provide that you can receive the Eucharist once a day even apart from a Mass and that it is only if you want to receive a second time in he same day that you must do it “in the course of a eucharistic celebration.”

    Can. 917 One who has received the blessed Eucharist may receive it again on the same day only within a eucharistic celebration in which that person participates, without prejudice to the provision of can. 921 §2.

    Can. 918 It is most strongly recommended that the faithful receive holy communion in the course of a eucharistic celebration. If, however, for good reason they ask for it apart from the Mass, it is to be administered to them, observing the liturgical rites.

  26. This is a subject which is probably best discussed with one’s confessor– leave it to his judgment.

  27. Charles E Flynn says:

    This discussion makes me grateful that I live a pleasant ten-minute walk from my church, and own several highly-reliable alarm clocks.

  28. mrsschiavolin says:

    I wish Fr. Z would weigh in on the veil to veil issue. Seems to contradict this post.

    Vecchio, thanks for the comments regarding families. It’s one thing to get to mass on time when you’re single, another with toddlers and preschoolers.

  29. Imrahil says:

    Dear @JKnott,

    Imagine a loving married couple parsing out the minimum they can do for each other.

    Imagine a husband who has the habit of buying his wife a bundle of beautiful flowers every month. And then suddenly what he receives is a nag, because “apparently you parse out the minimum you can do for me, and think of me only once a month.” I guess he’d be annoyed, and (being male) I’m entirely on his side.

    Our Lord knew that we’d need a precept to worship or we’d forget about worship. That, in fact, is often acknowledged by the progressists; they only tend to continually forget that “once a Sunday” is meant to be this minimum. In fact the naturally first objection, though probably not the most important objection, against reducing it to once a month or thrice a year, is that the same amount of non-fulfilment and, worse, discontent with the precept we witness now at present would then be hold against any reduced precept.
    On the other hand, Our Lord knew that, for one thing, we have our natural (and religious) other duties, for another thing, he apparently did want to grant us times for natural enjoyment because He had created these things too after all; for a third thing, He also knew that, for both excusable (physical) and inexcusable (viz. sin) reasons we could be bored with worship. Hence, He set that amount forth of once a Sunday and granted us the full freedom, including moral freedom, to either go or not go to Holy Mass the rest of the time. And you cannot deny, at any rate I cannot, that going thrice a week or twice a week-end or everyday thus gains a sort of a charm it wouldn’t otherwise have. Everyone knows that “we are beggars, it is true”, which Luther said. Everyone also knows that God, if I may say it in a metaphor and with reverence, takes some taxes – of the things that are in first place His, of course, which cannot be said about the State. But it is awesome in all meanings of the word (and, in fact, Muslims strongly reject it, traditional Protestants go to some lengths to deny it and heathens, as far as I know, do not believe it at all) that God accepts a gift.

    But now that Our Lord has given us this wonderful balance between duty and freedom, it follows by inference that we may ask where this balance does lie.

  30. Imrahil says:

    When I said that discontent with the precept is worse than non-fulfilment, I meant disobedient and/or actively questioning discontent. Obedient discontent, as in: “I do not like to do this but rule is rule”, is of course better than non-fulfilment.

  31. robtbrown says:

    wmeyer says:

    I think that if being late is habitual, then one must ask why Mass is apparently not a priority.

    What if the reason is that they are disgusted by the way mass is said and think the less they are subjected to McLiturgy, the better?

    smad0142 says:

    According to the Congregation for Divine Worship in Inaestimabile donum, n. 1 (1980) one should not approach for Holy Communion if one has missed the Liturgy of the Word.

    And according to Sacrosanctum Concilium mass is supposed to be in Latin. Further, there is nothing in it or any other document endorsing versus populum celebration or ripping out altar rails so that the Eucharist is to be received standing.

  32. wmeyer says:

    What if the reason is that they are disgusted by the way mass is said and think the less they are subjected to McLiturgy, the better?

    Seriously? That would make the person’s wants and wishes senior to worship. And that would make them admirably suited to the folks who champion the McLiturgy.

  33. robtbrown says:

    wmeyer says:
    21 October 2012 at 11:13 am

    What if the reason is that they are disgusted by the way mass is said and think the less they are subjected to McLiturgy, the better?

    Seriously? That would make the person’s wants and wishes senior to worship. And that would make them admirably suited to the folks who champion the McLiturgy.

    No, the point is that McLiturgy undermines worship.

  34. jhayes says:

    robertbrown said,

    according to Sacrosanctum Concilium mass is supposed to be in Latin.

    Not really,

    36. 1. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.

    2. But since the use of the mother tongue, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments, or other parts of the liturgy, frequently may be of great advantage to the people, the limits of its employment may be extended. This will apply in the first place to the readings and directives, and to some of the prayers and chants, according to the regulations on this matter to be laid down separately in subsequent chapters.

    3. These norms being observed, it is for the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2, to decide whether, and to what extent, the vernacular language is to be used; their decrees are to be approved, that is, confirmed, by the Apostolic See. And, whenever it seems to be called for, this authority is to consult with bishops of neighboring regions which have the same language.

    4. Translations from the Latin text into the mother tongue intended for use in the liturgy must be approved by the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned above.


    54. In Masses which are celebrated with the people, a suitable place may be allotted to their mother tongue. This is to apply in the first place to the readings and “the common prayer,” but also, as local conditions may warrant, to those parts which pertain to the people, according to the norm laid down in Art. 36 of this Constitution.

    Nevertheless steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.

    And wherever a more extended use of the mother tongue within the Mass appears desirable, the regulation laid down in Art. 40 of this Constitution is to be observed.

  35. Charlotte Allen says:

    I go with what the nuns at my parochial school taught us before Vatican II–because those nuns were always right. Here was the skinny: If you’re present for the offertory, the consecration, and the priest’s communion, you’ve fulfilled your Sunday Mass obligation. So if you miss any of the above three without a good reason, you’ve committed a mortal sin. If you’re late for Sunday Mass or leave early without a good reason–but you don’t miss any of the above three–it’s a venial sin.

    That said, I try my best never to be late for Sunday Mass or to leave early, and I think uncharitable thoughts about people who walk back from communion and then right out of the church to the parking lot. But I have a beef with priests who take advantage of their captive audience of people trying their best to complete their Sunday Mass obligation by scheduling lengthy extra sermons and other dog-and-pony shows after communion but before the final blessing. The worst example of this occurred a few years ago when my husband and I were visiting his parents in California. The priest decided to use the interval after communion to stage an elaborate fund-raising spectacle in the sanctuary that included a movie and a number of testimonials from satisfied parishioners about all the wonderful services the parish was providing. After about half-hour–literally!–of this, my husband and I decided to exit the church quietly, even the Mass wasn’t technically over and we weren’t technically free to leave. Did I commit a venial sin? I have no idea–but heck, it wasn’t even our parish!

  36. bookworm says:

    I have ducked out of Mass early (right after Communion) on a few occasions when Mass ran longer than I anticipated (due to an exceptionally long homily, some additional observance/celebration such as acceptance of RCIA candidates, etc.) and I had a commitment to be elsewhere at a certain time that is normally not conflicting with Mass.

    For example, Sunday Mass normally runs about 50 minutes in my parish. If I go to a 10 a.m. Mass I am normally home by 11. If my husband has plans to go somewhere at 11 and needs the car (we only have one), then I will say, no problem, I’ll be home by 11. But say the Mass starts running long because of something I didn’t know about in advance, and at 10:45 or 10:50 Communion is not finished or in some cases started yet… then I bail. Is this sinful?

  37. acardnal says:

    bookworm: Next time, instead of saying “no problem”, tell your husband you can’t guarantee want time you will get home. . . .”sometimes Mass runs longer than usual, hopefully before noon, dear. ” I’m sure he’ll understand and reschedule his appt. OR. . . .have him attend Mass with you. IMO, we shouldn’t try to “fit” Mass into our schedule; instead, we should arrange our schedule to allow plenty of time to worship our Lord at Mass. Get there early and prepare and afterwards make a proper thanksgiving. What can be more important than Mass (except a medical emergency)?

    I love this quotation from St. Alphonsus Liguori. It’s made a big difference in my life:
    “One single Mass gives more honor to God than all the penances of the saints, the labors of the apostles, the sufferings of the martyrs and even the burning love of the Blessed Mother of God.”
    – St. Alphonsus Liguori, Founder of the Redemptorists, Doctor of the Church

  38. asperges says:

    Ah, the nuns of yore! I remember in the 50s preparing for first Communion and being told of little Tommy, who on his way to church ate a sweet, breaking the fast, went to Communion and was instantly run over by a bus – and (of course!) – ‘went straight to hell.’

    I do not wish to seem dismissive of the good manners we owe Our Lord in attending Mass properly and courteously, but there are 80% of Catholics in the west who don’t set foot in the church at all. Perhaps that is more pressing an issue.

  39. Charlotte Allen says:

    @Asperges: We got a “little Tommy” story nearly every day from the nuns at my pre-Vat II parochial school. One of my favorites concerned the Miraculous Medal. Apparently if you are wearing one of those on your deathbed, you are guaranteed to stay out of hell. But Sister warned us about the man who led a wicked life but was counting on his Miraculous Medal. But then, as he lay dying, the Miraculous Medal turned red-hot and started burning into his chest so excruciatingly that he tore it off just before he breathed his last. Guess where he went!

  40. bookworm says:

    “I’m sure he’ll understand and reschedule his appt. OR. . . .have him attend Mass with you.”

    The latter part ain’t gonna work. He hasn’t gone to Mass for years, absolutely refuses to do so and nothing I say or do will change his mind. The best I can do is hope that by fitting MY Mass attendance around HIS schedule, he will have less reason to view my insistence upon fulfilling my Sunday obligation (and our daughter’s) as some kind of attempt to “control” him.

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