A college student recently wrote me about the Sunday obligation. She has been challenged by Protestant friends who think that it's weird that Catholics believe it's a "sin" to miss Holy Mass on Sunday. She wanted to know how to respond to them.
Here's an excerpt of how I would answer them:
I really hate calling Sunday obligation an "obligation" - like it's taking out the trash or changing diapers.
Mass is actually the greatest single hour of our week because we reconnect with God.
We are "obliged" to attend Mass on Sundays in fulfillment of the 10 Commandments: "Remember to keep Holy the Sabbath day."
The chief purpose of the Lord's day isn't mere rest/recreation - it's about "sanctifying" or "becoming holy".
We become holy and we hallow the day of Christ resurrection by coming together as the family of God and receiving Christ in the Holy Eucharist.
It's like our Father gives us our "weekly allowance" so that we can survive one more week. If you dad said, "Heh Brigitte, come to the door of my bedroom every Sunday morning at 9am and I'll give you a $500 allowance. Wouldn't you go?
God our Father does the same, but the gift is His Son and the grace we need for the week.
If we don't show up, we prove ourselves to be ungrateful. We prove ourselves to not be true children of the Father. This is why it is a grave sin - mortal sin if we don't attend.
The Protestants don't understand because they simply listen to a sermon at their services (for the most part). They don't RECEIVE anything from God. They sing songs and listen to a talk from a minister. It's basically like school. From their perspective, it's difficult to see how missing this would be a "sin" as it is for us.
If you can explain the Eucharist to them as the source and summit our lives as Christians, then the Sunday "obligation" makes sense.
Let me know if that helps.
Are you in town? Keep on persevering. We're your biggest fans!!!
ad Jesum per Mariam,