Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Missing Sunday Mass

The beginning of summer is a good time to review what the Church teaches with regards to our Sunday obligation. Simply put missing Sunday mass is a grave matter for us Catholics. It is an act that goes in direct violation of the third commandment and hence a serious or mortal sin. If we do not have a “good reason” why we did not fulfill this obligation, we can not approach the sacraments until we have received absolution in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
With this said, what are “good reasons” to miss mass? Well… the best way to look at this is to think about our intensions. Did we intend to attend mass? Was there any cause outside of our control that prevented us from fulfilling this obligation? Good examples of these are: lack of transportation, sick child, family emergency, un-avoidable work schedule, been in a place with no mass available. There are much more but…you get the idea.
A question many people ask is: What do I do when I'm on vacation? While we are obligated to go to mass every Sundays of our vacations, the Church does not expect you to do heroic deeds to get to mass. For example, the church does not expect you to rent a helicopter to fly a 100 miles to the closest Sunday mass.
I tell people to do this: First, go to, this is a great web site with mass times from all over the world. Second, find a Church that is within a reasonable distance from were you are going to be. Third, schedule a time Sunday morning for mass, but be flexible. Most of the times, vacation schedules are very fluid; to be in the safe side go to your pastor and explain that you intend to go to mass but there is a chance you might not be able to do it. Ask him for a "dispensation from your Sunday obligation". This will allow you to miss mass in the event your vacation schedule changes. Happy travels and God blessings!