Sunday Mass Obligation

Due to the Coronovirus Covid-19 pandemic, Sunday Mass has been suspended in some Ontario dioceses on the weekend of March 14 & 15. Here are some resources to help us understand the Church teaching on Sunday Mass observation and some ways of worship.

Code of Canon Law

Can. 1247 On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are obliged to participate in the Mass.

Moreover, they are to abstain from those works and affairs which hinder the worship to be rendered to God, the joy proper to the Lord’s day, or the suitable relaxation of mind and body.

Can. 1248 §1. A person who assists at a Mass celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the feast day itself or in the evening of the preceding day satisfies the obligation of participating in the Mass.

§2. If participation in the eucharistic celebration becomes impossible because of the absence of a sacred minister or for another grave cause, it is strongly recommended that the faithful take part in a liturgy of the word if such a liturgy is celebrated in a parish church or other sacred place according to the prescripts of the diocesan bishop or that they devote themselves to prayer for a suitable time alone, as a family, or, as the occasion permits, in groups of families.

Catechism of the Catholic Church: The Sunday Obligation

2180 The precept of the Church specifies the law of the Lord more precisely: “On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass.”117 “The precept of participating in the Mass is satisfied by assistance at a Mass which is celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the holy day or on the evening of the preceding day.”118

2181 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.119 Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.

2182 Participation in the communal celebration of the Sunday Eucharist is a testimony of belonging and of being faithful to Christ and to his Church. The faithful give witness by this to their communion in faith and charity. Together they testify to God’s holiness and their hope of salvation. They strengthen one another under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

2183 “If because of lack of a sacred minister or for other grave cause participation in the celebration of the Eucharist is impossible, it is specially recommended that the faithful take part in the Liturgy of the Word if it is celebrated in the parish church or in another sacred place according to the prescriptions of the diocesan bishop, or engage in prayer for an appropriate amount of time personally or in a family or, as occasion offers, in groups of families.”120

Letters from some Ontario Bishops regarding the suspension of the celebration of mass March 14 & 15, 2020

Letter – Cancellation of Sunday Masses for March 14-15 in the Archdiocese of Ottawa -Coronavirus (COVID-19) (20-03-13)

Roman Catholic Diocese of Peterborough Letter March 13 2020 from Bishop Miehm

Bishop Marcel’s Message in Solidarity With Public Concern: Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie

Cardinal’s Message on COVID-19 to the faithful of the Archdiocese of Toronto

The Archdiocese of Ottawa offers a description of a Spiritual Communion

The Church encourages frequent, even daily Holy Communion, but if at any time we cannot go to Mass in or out of this season of the coronavirus, or if one cannot receive Holy Communion for some other reason, we can still unite ourselves to the Eucharist through making a spiritual Communion. By making an Act of Spiritual Communion, we express our faith in Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist and ask him to unite himself with us. Here is the Act of Spiritual Communion written by St. Alphonsus de Liguori:

My Jesus, I believe that you are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.

I love you above all things, and I desire to receive you into my soul.

Since I cannot at this moment receive you sacramentally,

come at least spiritually into my heart.

I embrace you as if you were already there and unite myself wholly to you.

Never permit me to be separated from you.


The Archdiocese of Toronto gives us this information about televised Masses:

A daily televised Mass is available through Salt & Light Catholic Media Foundation ( as well as through VisionTV and also online ( This provides an additional opportunity to pray for those who are suffering as well as for our health care professionals tending the sick.

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