Question: Why do Catholics need to go to Mass every Sunday?
Answer: The heart of the Church’s instruction that we are to attend Mass on Sundays goes back to the Third Commandment: “Take care to keep holy the sabbath day as the LORD, your God, has commanded you” (Deuteronomy 5:12). Although the Jewish People celebrate the Sabbath on Saturday, the first generations of Christians began to observe the sabbath on Sunday, recognizing how important it is for Christians to celebrate the day that Jesus rose from the dead. As the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults observes, “Sunday extends the celebration of Easter throughout the year … It makes present the new creation brought about by Christ” (364).
The focus of our Sunday should be the celebration of the Eucharist in the Mass. This is our time to be formed by God’s Word and nourished at the table of the Lord, becoming prepared to live out and share our faith in the week that follows. In his encyclical, Dies Domini, Pope Saint John Paul II reminded us that Christians “cannot live their faith or share fully in the life of the Christian community unless they take part regularly in the Sunday Eucharistic assembly” (no. 81). This is why the Church teaches us that Sunday Mass is a non-negotiable part of being a Christian (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2192).
Beyond being a time of worship, we should also remember that Sunday is intended to be a day of rest, when we make time for recreation, for sharing meals, and enjoying the company of friends and family. Sunday is given to as a day to take stock of and enjoy the blessings that God has given us (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2187). Pope Francis reminds us, “The day of rest, centered on the Eucharist, sheds its light on the whole week, and motivates us to greater concern for nature and the poor” (Laudato Si’, no. 237).