Jesus is risen! He is risen indeed! Blessed Easter to you! Jesus' death and resurrection led to the Eucharist that we receive in Holy Mass. It's the crucified and risen flesh of Jesus that we receive in Holy Communion in each Mass. With that in mind, I thought you could benefit from an answer I am pondering for an anonymous question I was given. Here's the question: “Do people who live their Christian values daily but do not attend Mass have any chance of entering heaven, or are they excluded?” Here's an attempt at an answer. It's a huge question:
This must be a question from somebody concerned about relatives who don't go to Church. You'd never ask this question for yourself, if you know who Jesus is and what He does. In last week's gospel: we heard Jesus say that if people didn't acknowledge Him, the stones would. The cosmos recognizes who Jesus is! Inanimate stones! The cosmos was created through Him and for Him, and nothing exists except through Him and his ongoing sustaining power. That's Jesus! You encounter Him in Holy Mass! How could you not attend Mass, unless some very significant circumstance prevented you? So this must be a question about others we know who don't attend, and we are worried about their ultimate salvation.
People who know that Jesus established the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as the primary way of encountering Him… and He did…. And people who know that Jesus died on Calvary to give us His Body and Blood in the Eucharist…. And he did…. And people who know that Jesus commanded us to “do this [Holy Mass] in remembrance of me”…. And he did… Such people who know all this and choose not to attend Holy Mass…. Those persons have to deal with Jesus now and in the end at their particular judgement regarding whether they can get into heaven. That question of each individual's judgment is beyond me. Only God knows the individual soul enough to determine that. It's dangerous to die with mortal sin on our soul; and missing Mass willfully is mortal sin.
There is a document called Lumen Gentium, which in paragraph 16 reads: “Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience.”… Does this describe the people about whom we are asking this question? Have we failed in our teaching inside the Church, such that our people don't know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, and they can be considered “no-fault” regarding not coming to Holy Mass, which is a mandate of Jesus…. “Do this in memory of me….”?
By God's surprise timing I ran across a recent comment by Archbishop Alex Sample of the Diocese of Portland Oregon. [Check out the Youtube channel of Archbishop Sample, April 6 2022], which says the following:
The first and most important of the Ten Commandments found in the Book of Exodus is: “I am the Lord your God; you shall have no other gods before me.” The commandments are arranged in order of importance. Therefore, this is the most important commandment. Violating it is as bad as it gets.
Now, think about this: We Catholics make an astonishing claim. We claim the Eucharist is really, truly God himself. Not an image. Not a symbol. God.
If we’re right about that, then there are eternal consequences. You can consume perfect love, and in turn, be consumed by love. But if we’re wrong, well, there are eternal consequences. We’re violating the First Commandment and we must run, flee, proclaim to the world the abomination that is the Church.
You see, the problem of the Real Presence demands a decision. There’s no middle ground. Right or wrong, the logic of our beliefs calls out for a response. Look and see for yourself. We believe the Eucharist is God’s saving love. It is God himself, really present in all his majesty and glory, completely worthy of our worship.
What’s your response to that claim? What’s your decision? I invite you to take this moment right here right now and say yes to his love. It’s yours to claim. Use your freedom to abandon your resistance, to claim the love he is offering you, to claim him in the Eucharist.
Make your decision. Jesus changes everything.
That's a snippet from Archbishop Sample, helping me answer the question: “Will those who live their Christian values daily but do not attend Mass have any chance of entering heaven, or will they be excluded?”
Here's a bit more to think about: Where do Christian values come from, but from Christ? Catholicism is not about trying to live out some “values” written down on paper…. It's about a relationship with God in Jesus Christ! I guarantee you that if you do not have a genuine relationship with God in Jesus Christ, centered on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, you will not live your “Christian values” nearly as fully as you could with such a relationship. I guarantee you that you will not live human life as fully as it could be lived!! Jesus not only shows us what the fully-alive human person looks like. Jesus also gives us the power to live that fully-loving, holy, happy, wholesome, heaven-directed life.
Isn't it crazy to consider trying to get to heaven – where Jesus is the center of attention…. where all worship is aimed at Him, along with the Father and Son… Isn't it crazy to consider trying to get to heaven without encountering Him intentionally in Holy Mass where He is present on Earth, without making Him the center now in time and space, since He will objectively be the center of our worship and attention in heaven? Catholicism is not a “how-to-live system” that human beings created. Catholicism was created by God Himself, by Jesus Himself. Catholics should live Catholicism, and the Summit and Source of Catholicism is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, where we encounter Jesus Really Present.
Have a blessed Easter Season!!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,