Many Catholics rejoiced over the past week as they returned to Mass knowing their churches could welcome parishioners at full capacity. Vaccinated parishioners are free to take their masks off, and pews which were formerly roped off are now available for more worshippers. On the solemnity of Corpus Christi, Catholics will be required to attend Mass, thus fulfilling their canonical and moral obligation to keep holy the Lord’s Day.
While the reinstatement of the obligation to attend Sunday Mass is deeply important — reminding Catholics that Mass is not one choice among many, but a serious duty before God — Catholics should rejoice that they are able to receive the Eucharist and worship God with their fellow parishioners once again. Obligations are necessary because they are instructive. They teach us what is important, and sometimes require us to adapt our lives to their demands. But obligations must gradually give way to virtuous living, whereby one attends Mass not simply because of an obligation, but out of a desire to encounter the living God.
The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life. Without this great gift, the soul is left without the essential nourishment it needs to progress in the spiritual life. It is fitting that the obligation to attend Sunday Mass will resume on the great solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, reminding us of the most august sacrament we are so privileged to receive.