Tuesday, 19 July 2011

I don't go to Mass - does that mean I'll go to hell?

I wish I had a pint of Reverend James bitter for every time that a friend or relative has said that to me. It is uttered more as a provocative challenge than a genuine question.
It would satisfy their sense of defiance to be told: "Of course you'll b****y well go to hell you omadhaun" but, of course, none of us are able to fathom the extent of God's forgiveness and so it is not reasonable to present a response in that manner.

However, the catechism is unequivocal in stating that, a) missing Mass deliberately on a Sunday is a mortal sin and b) anyone in a state of mortal sin will consign themselves to hell. Therefore, if you defy the teachings of Christ and commit a mortal sin you are like one of the millions of snowflakes that are destined to everlasting agonies, as witnessed by St Theresa of Avila.

We know, do we not, that it is legitimate to hate sin because it breaks our link to Almighty God and also to hate it because it has the capacity to send us to eternal fire. Of the two the former is by far the better stance to take but, I have to admit that fear of hell and Satan have always held a particular horror for me and, as a result, I have always opted to endeavour to avoid sin in order to avoid hell, most unsuccessfully I hasten to add.
This is not the best route to take; love of Christ should be our main thrust but..... human frailty and all that.

The choice has been crystal clear to me since I was a small child and I really cannot understand Catholics (CINOs) who apparently cannot see the outcome to 'no Mass on Sundays'.
Try hard to behave and to keep God's law and you may make it to Heaven where we shall no longer experience the fears and sorrows of earth but will be happy beyond our wildest imaginations or......break God's laws and suffer the endless and hideous torments of hell that are so awful they are beyond description (although many of the saints and those who have witnessed visions of Our Lady have captured the essence of that nightmare place pretty well).
Here is Sister Lucia's terrifying account of her own vision as permitted by Our Lady:

"The rays of light seemed to penetrate the earth, and we saw as it were a sea of fire. Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke, now falling back on every side like sparks in huge fires, without weight or equilibrium, amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear. (It must have been this sight which caused me to cry out, as people say they heard me). The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repellent likeness to frightful and unknown animals, black and transparent like burning coals".

Hmm.....I know which road I shall be continuing down; after all, it seems such a piddling price to pay....go to Mass on Sundays and Holydays of Obligation, love God and love your neighbour and you get your stay out of jail card!

Remember too the words of Our Lady of Fatima after she had shown the vision of hell to Sr Lucia.....

To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays. If My requests are heeded, Russia will be converted and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated. In the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to Me, and she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world. In Portugal, the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved. Do not tell this to anybody. Francisco, yes, you may tell him.

‘When you pray the Rosary, say after each mystery: O my Jesus, forgive us, save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who are most in need.’


  1. "I don't go to Mass - does that mean I'll go to hell?"

    A possible reply:

    "I don't know...but if you are happy to take the risk...."

  2. I did a homily on how missing Mass is equivalent to murder, go to http://romancatholichomilies.blogspot.com/2010/08/nineteenth-19th-sunday-in-ordinary-time.html

  3. Well, that question always invites another question: WHY don't you go to Mass? There are plenty of excuses why people can't give an hour to God once a week, but not a single good reason. And yes, is it worth the pain of Hell? The reasons people don't think they have to go Mass are boiled down to laziness and an over inflated sense of self-worth. I often hear "God knows I'm a good person, I don't need a church to be a good person" etc etc etc. Pray they wake up before it's too late.

  4. "The choice has been crystal clear to me since I was a small child"

    You were a lucky child. Very simply, many CINOs never had this crystal clear choice; and very often, their priests will do their damnedest so that they are never put in front of the choice.


  5. It always amazes me that people who can't find an hour a week to spend with Almighty God nevertheles assume some sort of divine right to spend all eternity with him.

  6. Great post Richard. It got me thinking about sin, damnation and how we teach others about them. So I've done a post of my own on these issues.

  7. Matthew 7:3

    Just as long as none of us mass goers falls in to the error of thinking that our Sunday observance will “earn” a place in heaven. I hope and pray that God will forgive those who do not attend Sunday Mass because if he doesn’t He is very likely to condemn me for the sins I do commit; the fact that failing in my Sunday obligation is not one of them will not help at all.
    I would suggest that, as is often the case, the people who ask you this question are truly asking something else; they have already decided that they won’t go to hell as non-mass goers or they would still be attending. What they really want to know is why you attend mass. Next time you are asked the question instead of asking it directly I would suggest you talk about that instead.

  8. Patricius - great response, I shall use it next time.
    Fr L - thank you, a great homily!
    TLW - thank you yet again for your comment.
    Mundabor/Pattif - both so right.
    Anthony - just going to read your post.
    PTP - I certainly agree that Sunday obligations alone do not get us to Heaven and, yes, that is my normal response.