Get Thee to Mass Tomorrow! All Saints’ Is A Holy Day of Obligation

::This post was first featured on October 31, 2011::

A recent discussion in our group uncovered that one member’s church had advertised All Saint’s Day not as a Holy Day of Obligation, but rather some vague description called a “holy day of opportunity.” I just had to take the opportunity to 1) clarify what the Church teaches on Holy Days of Obligations and 2) if your church has done something similar, I want you to understand that this is not correct and you are entitled to the Truth of what our Faith teaches instead of vague descriptions that cause confusion and even mortal sins if you do not attend Mass due to the ambiguity.

The Church calls our basic obligations to the Faith, meaning the absolute bare minimum one can do to participate in their Faith, precepts. They can be found in the Catechism #2041-2043 and they outline five points. They are:

  • You shall attend Mass on Sundays and on holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor. We must “sanctify the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord” (Sunday), as well as the principal feast days, known as Catholic holy days of obligation. This requires attending Mass, “and by resting from those works and activities which could impede such a sanctification of these days.”
  • You shall confess your sins at least once a year. We must prepare for the Eucharist by means of the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession). This sacrament “continues Baptism’s work of conversion and forgiveness.”
  • You shall receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season. This “guarantees as a minimum the reception of the Lord’s Body and Blood in connection with the Paschal feasts, the origin and center of the Christian liturgy.”
  • You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church. “The fourth precept ensures the times of ascesis and penance which prepare us for the liturgical feasts and help us acquire mastery over our instincts and freedom of heart.” See below for more about fasting & abstinence.
  • You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church. “The fifth precept means that the faithful are obliged to assist with the material needs of the Church, each according to his own ability.”
As this constitutes the bare minimum, how can we view this with respect to how we are doing on a daily basis? Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. St. Paul says
24* Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? Run so as to win.p25Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one.q26Thus I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing.27No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.
St. Paul knows well that the people in Corinth are very familiar with the ways of the world, particularly sports. We would reason, logically, that if we wanted to do well, or even excel in sports, we would have to commit to do what it takes to get the results we want. St. Paul points out that the reward for excelling is a perishable crown. These days we can win trophies and medals, plaques and accolades to mark our accomplishments – things that ultimately have no bearing on our salvation. Is this the legacy we want? To go the distance for the things that ultimately have no value in the next life? Or is St. Paul encouraging us to approach the Faith with the same zeal an athlete would? The answer is YES!
Think of these precepts as the bare minimum you can do to “get in the game” or bottom rung participation of the Faith. Is that truly what we want? Is that what God wants us to go for? The bottom rung? How often do you feed yourself? Would you expect to be malnourished if you fed yourself at minimum? How about feeding your faith? The same goes in that respect, too.
So…all this to say, get thee to Mass tomorrow. If you haven’t made time to attend Mass on a Holy Day of Obligation {HDO}, then tomorrow’s a good day to start!
God bless!

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