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Catholic Essentials
"Not Believing" is not an Option!

Sunday (and Holy Days of) Obligation

Sunday obligation refers to the requirement to attend Mass on Sundays (and Holy Days) and to avoid servile work on those days. References in Scripture, and additional Church teaching are listed below:

References in Scripture:

  • "Remember that thou keep holy the sabbath day. Six days shalt thou labor, and shalt do all thy works. But on the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: thou shalt do no work on it, thou nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy beast, nor the stranger that is within thy gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them, and rested on the seventh day: therefore the Lord blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it." Exodus 20:8-11
  • "And he said to them: The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath. Therefore the Son of man is Lord of the sabbath also." Mark 2:27-28

Catholic Church Teaching on the Third Commandment:

  • "The pastor should also not omit carefully to teach what works and actions Christians should perform on festival days. These are: to go to church, and there, with heartfelt piety and devotion, to assist at the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; and to approach frequently the Sacraments of the Church, instituted for our salvation in order to obtain a remedy for the wounds of the soul." The Catechism of Council of Trent, The Third Commandment
  • "Thou shalt do no work on it, says the Lord, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy man­servant, nor thy maid­servant, nor thy beast, nor the stranger that is within thy gates.
    These words teach us, in the first place, to avoid whatever may interfere with the worship of God. Hence it is not difficult to perceive that all servile works are forbidden, not because they are improper or evil in themselves, but because they withdraw the attention from the worship of God, which is the great end of the Commandment." The Catechism of Council of Trent, The Third Commandment
  • "to keep the Sundays and Holy Days of obligation holy, by hearing Mass and resting from servile work" 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia, Commandments of the Church
  • "It is obvious, of course -- as We declared a few years ago -- that to watch a Mass on television is not the same as being actually present at the Divine sacrifice, as is required on Sundays and holy days" Encyclical On The Communications Field: Motion Pictures, Radio, Television, by Pope Pius XII, 1957


The Catechism of the Council of Trent on the Third Commandment, summarizes this requirement well:

"We should, it is true, be prepared to undergo the severest labor for the sake of God; but in this Commandment He imposes on us no labor; He only commands us to rest and disengage ourselves from worldly cares on those days which are to be kept holy. To refuse obedience to this Commandment is, therefore, a proof of extreme boldness; and the punishments with which its infraction has been visited by God, as we learn from the Book of Numbers,' should be a warning to us".



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