Why Sunday Mass?

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time – October 1, 2017

By Father Peter Richards

“Would it be all right for me to come to Mass during the week in place of going to Mass on Sunday   or Saturday evening?” When I have heard this question, I have found that the person is asking whether or not going to a weekday Mass meets their Sunday obligation.

In answer to this question, given that there is no serious reason for not going to Mass on Sunday, the answer is “no”. A weekday Mass does not meet the Sunday obligation – however, I would never deter anyone from going to daily Mass.

“Why not?” First of all, Mass is different on Sunday. We add the Gloria, another reading, praying of the Creed, and sacred music to praise our good God. We call this greater “solemnity” or the Lord Jesus recalling for us the fullness of His life on earth, his relationship with humanity throughout sacred history, and all of that becoming present in the Mass.

Second, for Christians, after Jesus’ resurrection, the Jewish Sabbath, was transferred from Saturday to Sunday, the “first day of the week”. The “first day of the week” is the day Jesus rose from the dead. It was the day after the Jewish Sabbath. While the way that Christians “keep holy the Sabbath” (3rd commandment) is different than Jews keeping the Sabbath holy, Sunday observance is still based on the “day of rest” that the Lord gave his people from the beginning. The Sabbath roots of Sunday also explains why going to Mass on Saturday evening fulfills going to Mass on Sunday. The Jewish tradition was that the Sabbath began at sundown the evening before (regardless of time of year or location on the globe, the Church law has adopted this, but limited “sundown” to be “not before 4:00 pm” in the afternoon). In other words, this is a part of our sacred history.

Thirdly, Holy Mass is what the “day of rest” or Christian Sabbath is built around. “Rest”, understood at a sufficiently deep level, is being in the presence of the Lord, fully and deeply aware of his Love. When this happens, we take a deep sigh and everything becomes easy, joyful, amazing! If we were to take in and praise the Lord at the deepest, highest awareness, it would be like heaven and “resting in the Lord”.

Lastly is from the logical viewpoint. If we are going  to have Mass together as a Christian community throughout the world (if only spiritually), there has to be one day designated, right? Else, how would an individual know which day to come? Sunday is the day, brothers and sisters!

God bless you! I love you!

Fr. Peter Richards




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