Do I Have to Go to Church on Sunday, Or Can I Just Watch Mass on TV?

Modern technology offers us many opportunities to better focus on the Lord and grow closer to Him. For those who are elderly, ill, or homebound, the opportunity to watch the Mass on television, stream it online, or listen to it on Relevant Radio® is a great blessing and an answer to prayers. It allows them to participate in the Mass to the extent they are able, and make a spiritual communion when they are unable to receive the Lord in the Eucharist physically.

However, as great a gift as television and radio Masses are, they are not a substitute for the real thing. Recently a listener called in to Go Ask Your Father™ because a friend of hers has stopped going to church on Sundays, saying that she will just watch the Mass on TV instead. The caller wanted to know whether that fulfilled her Sunday obligation. Monsignor Stuart Swetland responded:

“Obviously if somebody is elderly, sick, or infirm and can’t reasonably make it to participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, that’s understandable. And God understands that.

But if they are able to, we really need them. I would emphasize that if it’s just how she feels – though obviously if she’s sick, she’s sick –  but if she feels like she just doesn’t want to go, I think then all the more we need her and she needs us. We need to be together to pray as a community. We need each other.

And it can’t be based on our feelings, it has to be based on the objective fact that God calls us together. At least once a week God calls us together to pray as a body. That’s what it means to keep holy the Sabbath.

It’s not to be looked at as an obligation. Christ wants us to want to be with Him and His community each and every Sunday. Unfortunately, in the United States we have this, ‘It’s me and Jesus, my individual taste, and my individual relationship with Jesus.’ And while that’s understandable in certain strands of Protestantism, that’s not full Christianity. That’s not what the Scriptures teach.

It’s about Our Father, not My Father. We are in this together, we need the community. And we are to pray with each other in the community.

And, of course, the  most central thing is receiving the Lord in the Eucharist. Which you cannot do by watching EWTN, as much as EWTN does a great service by providing the Mass on television. You’re not fully participating.

So, she’s missing out on receiving the Eucharist, and she’s missing out on fulfilling her Sunday obligation.”

Listen to the full conversation below:

Go Ask Your Father airs weekdays at 1:00 p.m. Eastern/10:00 a.m. Pacific on Relevant Radio and the Relevant Radio App.

Stephanie Foley serves as a Digital Media Producer at Relevant Radio®. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, where she studied journalism, and she has worked in Catholic radio for 12 years. Stephanie is a wife, a mother of three boys, and in her free time she enjoys reading, running, and really good coffee. You can find more of Stephanie’s writing at and on the free Relevant Radio mobile app.