Activities-Mass conflict


Over the last year, my 11 year old son and I have become involved in an outdoor activity that generally takes place in areas where it is not possible (or very difficult) to attend weekend Mass. I would estimate that we are out of town 15 weekends a year. We attend Mass regularly when we are home and when we can if we are out of town. My wife thinks I am setting a bad example for my son by saying it is ok to miss Mass. I disagree, because I think my son gets alot out of our time together (as do I) and he knows that Mass is important and that we should always attend when we are in town. What are the rules regarding my dilemma?


You need a dispensation from your priest to miss Mass for this reason. Get one, as soon as possible.

It is a mortal sin to miss Mass without a good reason.

Your priest will want to know if it is absolutely essential that your son participate in this activity (ie: for future employment in his area of interest, etc.).


While growing up, I was active in the Boy Scouts, and my dad was an adult leader. Camping made attending mass more difficult, but missing mass was not an option, nor should it be.

Options we used:
Finding the nearest Sunday evening mass
Attending the only convenient mass, even though it was in Spanish (which we don’t speak)
Rushing to noon mass immediately after the campout
Leaving the campout in the middle to attend mass, and then returning

The only exception was when we went to Philmont (12 days backpacking), but Philmont has obtained a standing dispensation as long as you attend mass in camp (offered nightly) before and after you hit the trail.

Mass is too important to miss. You don’t need to give up the outdoor activity, but find a way to make it to mass.


Attending Mass with your son when you are in town is wonderful! But just imagine for a moment what a POWERFUL message that it would be for your son if you went to Mass when you were out of town and it was very inconvenient?

My parents took me to Mass every Sunday as part of our home life …that was how life was. But I remember very much going to Mass on vacations. When I was a teenager I thought my parents were nuts! We would be out of town and my parents would be looking in the yellow pages trying to find a Catholic church! At the time I remember rolling my eyes and thinking they were crazy for trying to go to Mass, after all this was our vacation time…fun time…recreation time!!!

I will never forget those days and the impression it made on me. I know for a fact that my parents will never, never intentionally miss Mass no matter if it interrupts their “fun” or is “inconvenient”. My respect for them as devout Catholics really deepened because of this. They were going to go to Mass every Sunday no matter what! What a powerful message this was!

If you reflect on this and decide that you will go, it will send a very powerful message to your son believe me. I will be praying for you because this is hard to do I know.


When we were in school, and there was a weekend away, my parents would always ring the school to find out if arrangements had been made to go to Mass. Usually, the school had not even thought about it (a catholic school!) We usually went on the Sunday evening, when we got back, or simply missed the trip if Mass was not available. I sure didn’t like it at the time. I was dead embarrased with them, but now I see how important the Faith is to them, and how they had to put God first, even if I pulled a wobbly.


Great post, I have similar memories of my childhood, and now I drag my kids to Mass whether we are in Bombay, Beirut or Bangladesh!

The rules are simple: Missing Mass is a mortal sin. ANd all you are teaching your son is it's ok to break rules.
 I have to agree with your wife on this one.


our family vacations as kids were always camping, sometimes in remote areas, and we were heavily involved in Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, hunting etc, and camped frequently, canoe trips, extended camps etc. We always made it to Mass, even though logistics and transportation was more difficult then because my parents made it a priority. the only exception was a canoe trip where we backpacked in and out and were gone for 10 days. our troop asked for and received a formal dispensation from our pastor for that one. When I was a GS leader we routinely took the Catholic girls in the troop, after a campout, to a Sunday evening Mass at the one parish on our side of town that offered it, and parents picked them up there.

If this is a weekend activity, not an extended activity, I find it hard to understand why you would be unable to find a Church for Mass, or to find a Sunday evening Mass someplace when you return. Maybe it just takes a little investigation and a solution that has not occurred to you will present itself. My brothers always go to Mass on their hunting trip when oldest brother is along because he insists. When they are on their own, they make it into town for breakfast but skip church. Hhhmmmm.

my dad always made it a point to search out a church or shrine or basilica of historic or other great interest on our vacations, DH and I did the same, and we have many wonderful memories of these, such as Cross Village in Michigan, Our Lady of the Pines, St. Anne de Beaupre in Canada, Our Lady of the Snows, a lovely old church in St. Ignace (forget the name), a tiny church on the Georgian bay in Canada, most recently the beautiful new OL Queen of the Universe right outside Disney in Orlando,
and some of the cute little mission churches in No Mich, Canada, PA, NY, Wis, etc. some of them in mobile homes or the backs of trucks, sometimes in the park ranger’s office, several times on Indian Reservations or with migrant workers in Spanish.


You might want to reread the Ten Commandments starting with #3 “Remember to holy the Lord’s Day”. What could be more important than taking your child to receive the Lord and to be present with the Lord. No wonder our young children do not know the Lord. It is a MORTAL sin to miss Mass!!!

If you know the schedule check out the Mass times in the area. What about early morning Masses or Saturday evening Masses? There should be NO EXCUSE!!!


I agree with the others… you can make compromises by finding a parish closer to where your weekend activities are. Get up for the EARLY Mass, or the Saturday night one…

Having good father-son time is very important, I agree! But make sure your priorities are in-line so that you raise your son to be the man you want him to be.


Well, you don’t say what your activity is, so I won’t say.

We enjoy camping and canoe camping. I know where you are coming from. It’s rather hard to tell a guy he needs to go to mass when he hasn’t showered in 3 days and it is a 2 hour drive to the nearest town!

I have a hard time believing that God forbids people to become astronauts, or explorers, or to take journeys to wild and beatiful wilderness places. Smacks of the pharisees criticizing Jesus’ disciples for picking and eating grain on the Sabbath. Go talk to your priest in person and share the activity and ask his advice.


Of course it is so hard to tell a guy he needs to go to Mass when he hasn’t showered in three days…yikes! (let’s hope he sits towards the back of church hahaha!)

I agree with you, that I don’t think God forbids people to journey to the moon or be a far off wilderness explorer! However the original poster mentioned that they are gone 15 weekends a year and it is “difficult” to get to Mass…this is different I think. Besides it is upsetting his wife and she does have a point…missing Mass that often is sending a message to her son. Just my thoughts.


Are there any universities near by that offer mass, i know the one by us offers a 8 or 9 pm mass on sunday nite. Perhaps on the weekends where you have to travel maybe you could go then?


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