Should Persons Unrepentant from Grave Sin go to Mass?

My opinion is that they should not. The Pharisaical Catholic would answer that such a person is obligated to attend Mass, though they cannot receive Communion. Yes, but that type of answer treats the obligation as entirely exterior. You sit at Mass, unrepentant from grave sin, and somehow you have fulfilled your moral obligation to God? I think not. The obligation to attend Mass is part of the positive precept to worship God and keep holy the Sabbath. But mere attendance is not worship. And attendance with willful refusal to repent from grave sin is an additional offense against God. You do not fulfill your Sunday obligation in this way.

Listen to what our Lord says:

{5:23} Therefore, if you offer your gift at the altar, and there you remember that your brother has something against you,
{5:24} leave your gift there, before the altar, and go first to be reconciled to your brother, and then you may approach and offer your gift.

When your brother has something against you, so much so that you cannot present a gift to God at the altar, then you must have sinned against God and against your brother. For the love of God implies the love of neighbor, and vice versa.

Therefore, the answer that Jesus gives is this: If you are unrepentant from grave sin, do not attend Mass unrepentant. Instead, repent and be reconciled to God and neighbor, so that you will be able to “offer your gift” of worshiping God at Mass.

But today it is very common for Catholics to obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin and/or in hidden grave sins, while still attending Mass and receiving Communion. Catholics of this type usually do not go to Confession, for they know that their lives are not in agreement with Church teaching. They are unwilling to change, or they are so arrogant as to think that their own decisions are moral, despite what the Church says.

Many Mass-going Communion-receiving Catholics are unrepentant from grave sin, and they offend God every time they attend Mass. They are not fulfilling their Sunday obligation because they know that their brother Jesus has something against them, yet they refuse to be reconciled to Him.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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1 Response to Should Persons Unrepentant from Grave Sin go to Mass?

  1. Hi Mr. Conte,

    Ven. Rev. Martin von Cochem, in his excellent work, ‘The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass Explained’ says just the opposite. I think it is worth considering what he has to say, because we do not want to turn anyone away from the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which procures for us an ocean of blessings, just as it did for the Good Thief, St. Dismas.

    “In holy Mass He fulfils the words He spoke of Himself: “The Son of man is come to seek and to
    save that which was lost.” (St. Luke xix. lo.) And again: ”God sent not His Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world may be saved by Him” (St. John iii. 17.) He comes to us in holy Mass, not for the chastisement or condemnation of sinners, but to restore them to grace, to visit them with His mercy. There is no occasion for the sinner to feel apprehension about going to Mass: he will not meet his Judge there, but his Advocate. Far from adding sin to sin, if he hears Mass while in mortal sin, he gives himself a chance thereby of returning to a state of grace, through the loving-kindness of our God. And if, through the frailty of our nature, we are distracted and inattentive at Mass, this is no great sin, especially if previously we made a resolution
    to be attentive at our devotions.”

    “But in order to hear Mass one need not be in a state of grace, for, as we have already shown, if a man hears Mass in a state of mortal sin, he does not commit another sin; on the contrary, he
    receives the grace of conversion if he open his heart to divine influences. In fact, he is not wrong in hoping that, in virtue of the precious victim that is offered, God will, of His pure bounty, show him mercy.”

    May God bless you and your ministry!

    Thank you and God bless.

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