The Sunday Mass Obligation in a Time of Liturgical Crisis (Part 1)
Traditional moralists display more realism and greater nuance on this matter than today’s conservatives do
Different kinds of commandments
The Sunday Mass obligation—in particular, the circumstances under which it may cease to bind—is a topic of considerable practical importance in our times.
Resisting the language used by many bishops at the time of the Covid shutdowns, Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke emphasized that the objective duty to worship God in the way He has specified—namely, through participating in the sacramental renewal of the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross—can never cease in this life, although this duty can cease to bind subjectively under certain circumstances.
In other words, instead of saying “The obligation has been dispensed / has ceased,” one should rather say “the circumstances are such that the obligation does not bind me in this case.” It belongs to the faithful to make the discernment of these circumstances, guided by correct principles. In a case of serious doubts, one should consult a trustworthy and knowledgeable priest, religious, or layman, but it’s important to be aware that in this present time of confusion, opinions are likely to range widely (and sometimes wildly).
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