Thursday, March 24, 2005

Is missing Mass on Sunday a mortal sin?

It is a grave sin. Three conditions must be met for a sin to be mortal: 1) grave matter, 2) full advertence, and 3) perfect consent. "Full advertence in sinning is had when we know perfectly well that we are doing a serious evil.... Perfect consent of the will is verified in sinning when we deliberately determine to do a thing although we know that thing to be sinful." (St. Pius X, Catechism of Pius X, Sacrament of Penance).

Any sin can be mortal (damnable) if one has contempt of the Divine will. Catholic theology, however, teaches that imputable acts must be voluntary. To the extent that voluntariness diminishes, imputability also diminishes. Without full advertence of the intellect and perfect consent of the will, the subjective elements of mortal sin are lacking, and such sins are considered venial (not damnable) according to Catholic teaching.

I recommend Dies Domini, John Paul II, 5 July 1998 - Apostolic Letter

The Divine Law of the Old Testament, or the Mosaic Law, is commonly divided into civil, ceremonial, and moral precepts. The moral precepts are immutable Divine law. Thus, "keeping the Sabbath holy," while it may have had civil, ceremonial, and moral aspects to it, only the moral aspects are immutable Divine law.

I have many friends and family who are Sabbatarian Christians (they worship on Saturday and think that those who worship on Sunday are heretics). Their error is that they do not understand the distinction between ceremonial and civil aspects of the OT Law, which no longer apply to Christians according to the authentic governing ecclesiastical authority, and the moral aspects which will always be binding upon Christians.

Furthermore, "Sins that violate the human or the natural law are also included [among sins that may possibly be mortal], for what is contrary to the human or natural law is also contrary to the Divine law, in as much as every just human law is derived from the Divine law, and is not just unless it is in conformity with the Divine law." (Catholic Encyclopedia - Sin).

Pope John Paul II discussed the moral aspects on keeping the Lord's day holy in the apostolic letter above.

Other references that may be useful:
CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Moral Aspect of Divine Law

God bless,



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