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Scottish Archbishop: Intentionally skipping Mass is ‘a grave sin’

Dorothy Cummings McLean Dorothy Cummings McLean Follow Dorothy

EDINBURGH, Scotland, June 7, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — A Scottish bishop has reminded Catholics that it is a serious sin to skip Mass on Sundays and on holy days of obligation.

Archbishop Leo Cushley of the diocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh asserted the importance of weekly Mass attendance in a letter he wrote to be read in churches on the feast of Corpus Christi. The feast day, which honors the Body and Blood of Christ in the most Holy Eucharist, was celebrated in Scotland last Thursday. In many other countries, this feast day was transferred to the following Sunday.

Cushley released an accompanying video on Mass attendance as well.

“Attending Mass on Sunday is a solemn and binding obligation,” the archbishop wrote. “If we deliberately fail in this matter, it is a grave sin and we must go to confession before receiving communion again.”

Cushley observed that many people think of Sunday as “just part of the weekend” and a day for family or for sports.

“Naturally, it’s good to relax and make time for these things, but our culture has largely forgotten that Sunday is a weekly holiday because of its meaning as the Christian holy day,” he mourned.  

Cushley acknowledged that sometimes a Catholic just cannot get to Mass for no fault of his or her own, such as illness or caring for a sick child. However, fidelity to Christ calls for a firm intention to meet Him at Mass regularly.

“Coming to Mass only every other week, or occasionally, is not the same as being faithful to His New Covenant. Surely, we cannot treat Christ our Saviour as one option among others for us to shuffle at our convenience,” the archbishop said.

In his letter, the Scottish archbishop stressed the importance of Mass to a life of grace.  

“When we gather for Mass on Sunday it is a foretaste of heaven,” he wrote. “Because Jesus is truly present on our altar, all the angels and saints gather with us for the feast too (cf. Hebrews 12:22).”

“We are caught up together in adoration of the Lamb of God, who sacrificed Himself to take our sins away and draw us into his divine life through communion with his own Body and Blood,” Cushley continued.

Only the Mass makes us able to live holy lives and do good in the world, the archbishop asserted:

“It is only this great Sacrifice that enables us to live authentically holy lives. It is only this Blessed Sacrament of his Body and Blood that empowers us to do real and lasting good in the world. Jesus Himself said that it is only if we are joined to Him in the Eucharist that we can hope to be saved for eternal life (cf. John 6:53).”

Millions of Catholics around the world neglect their duty to attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation. In Scotland, only 19 percent of the nation’s approximately 750,000 baptized Catholics go to Sunday Mass. In Cushley’s archdiocese, about 25 percent of local Catholics attend.

Fortunately, there have been signs of renewal in the Scottish Catholic Church since the late Keith Cardinal O’Brien was forced to retire in 2013.

In 2017, 12 men in Scotland were ordained to the priesthood, representing the highest number of priestly vocations in 20 years.

This April, many Scots, including Scottish bishops, joined thousands of other Catholics around Great Britain for the Rosary on the Coast. There also have been other popular lay-led initiatives in Scotland, including processions and walking pilgrimages to ancient shrines. The traditional Latin Mass has flourished as crowds of curious youngsters have swelled the numbers of aging stalwarts.  

Last week the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh opened the Scottish Church’s first Pro-Life Office with Archbishop Cushley’s apostolic blessing. The new pro-life endeavour was the brainchild of the archbishop, one of the fruits of his reform of the curia he inherited from the late Cardinal O’Brien. 

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