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Barb Thompson wrote:

Hi, guys —

My daughter was raised a Catholic, and was married in the Catholic Church to a Catholic man. They have a son that has been baptized and confirmed, and he goes to a Catholic school but they do not attend Church.

My daughter told me that she believes that if they lead a good life and try to be good Christians, they do not have to attend church. I have told her that they should go to Church to:

  • receive graces from God
  • listen to the Word of God in the gospel
  • receive grace through receiving Holy Communion every week, and
  • that it is a sin to not attend Mass every week.

— What else should I tell her?


  { Why do we have to go to Mass every Sunday, when just being a good Christian is enough? }

Mary Ann replied:


You could ask her where she got the idea that a good life and being a good Christian means you don't have to go to Church.

You could ask her where she is going to get the ability to live in union with God if she doesn't commune with Him.

Finally, you can tell her you are praying for her.

Mary Ann

Eric replied:

Hi, Barb —

I agree. It's like being married to someone without ever spending time with them or seeing them. Scripture says,

"Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching."

(Hebrews 10:25)

Some people say "I can worship God at home or in the woods".

  • OK, but do you?

I'm guessing they don't, unless they set aside time to do it; I'll bet they don't.

Our faith is a communion. That means it is not an individual, but a corporate affair so when we go to church; it's like getting together with family. Also, the Holy Sacrifice benefits us; it applies the saving work of Christ to our lives. We don't get the benefit if we are absent.

Note: It is not an obligation to receive Holy Communion once a week, only once a year, but you must attend liturgy on Sundays and other holy days.

There is a good book called:

Do I Have to Go? 101 Questions About the Mass, the Eucharist, and Your Spiritual Life. by Matthew Pinto and Christopher Stefanick

It's designed for youth but it could be helpful to you.


Mike replied:

Hi, Barb —

It's important to remember that we go to Church every Sunday to renew our covenant with the Lord, Jesus Christ. By communing with Him (receiving Holy Communion) in a state of grace,
we are guaranteed to be able to discern truly good choices from bad choices.

If we believe,

"All we have to do is be good people."

apart from His Sunday Help, over time our secular culture (based on news, media events, talk and gossip) can sway people and change what they have defined as "good" because it's the in thing or it's not cool to call certain behavior "good" or "bad".

What is "good", overtime, becomes that person's personal moral set of standards, which, changing year by year, ends up being far different than the Lord's moral view. This is why participating in key sacraments like Confession and the Mass are important. It ensures our minds and souls are blessed with appropriate moral values, and remember .... it's for our own good!

Finally, but most importantly, don't burn the bridge!

  • What do I mean?

Once your children have "flown the coop" and are supporting themselves, it's important to keep a good strong relationship within the family. I personally know, it can be tough. Especially, when you know they are not going to Mass, not going to Confession, not saying the Rosary and many other things good-hearted parents wish they had instilled in their children better. Many times, you just have to "bite your tongue" and remain silent, when you hear or find something out.

Yes, you have an obligation to ensure they are aware of certain Catholic obligations, but only once. After that, they are culpable.

As Steve Wood says, paraphrasing:

To many good-hearted Catholics try to instill religious values into their family member before building a loving relationship with them. It won't work. You have to, first, build and sustain that relationship before instilling those Catholic values and practices.

Your Christian witness with a good prayer life, will have an effect.

Hope this helps,


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