Missing Mass?

Q. Recently my pastor told me, “The Catholic Church never taught it was a mortal sin to miss Mass on Sunday.” I find this hard to believe. Please help me as I am somewhat confused. 

A. Here’s a reply from TCA columnist Father Ray Ryland, Ph.D., J.D:

Your pastor is seriously misinformed. The Code of Canon Law states, “On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass” (Canon 1247). 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church gives the reason for the Mass obligation and clearly states the penalty for willfully ignoring it: “The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor. Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin” (No. 2181). 

In the Church’s teaching, “grave sin” always means “mortal sin.”