Did I commit a sin by missing Sunday mass in this unusual circumstance?

To preface, I’m a young adult currently living with my parents (one Catholic, one unaffiliated) until I can find a steady job.

Our family just came back from a camping trip which I was obliged to attend and whose schedule I had no control over. The campsite was 50+ miles away from the nearest Catholic church. By the time we got home Sunday ~1:00PM, the only mass yet to be said was a 4:30PM mass, which I let them know I was going to attend.

Somewhere along the line, they left with the only car I’m licensed to drive to run errands. They didn’t get back until 4:15PM. By the time I got to the Church mass had already started and the parking lot was completely full, so I drove home.

Given these admittedly unusual circumstances, did I commit a sin by not trying to hunt for a parking space a couple blocks away and walking in late?

Thank you.

I’m not sure why you would leave because the parking lot was full.

These aren’t unusual circumstances.

What is unusual about them in your mind?

We can’t answer that.

That is up to you to discern. You haven’t really explained why you turned around and left. That is something I suggest you talk to your pastor about it, and your parents for future planning purposes.

You should talk about this next time you go to confession to clear your understanding in this matter.

I left because the nearest parking area is several blocks away and by the time I would have walked in mass would be well underway.

I did everything I could to overcome the obstacles of finding a mass time, suddenly losing access to transportation and having to rush to mass, but this final task felt insurmountable especially given my background with social anxiety. In that moment I believed I had made a good faith effort to attend and it just wouldn’t be possible this week.

The unusual part isn’t the specific circumstances, but them occurring one right after the other.

I will, and I have. I guess my greatest concern was if this constituted grave sin that I would need to confess right away.

Could depend on the surrounding area. In my old neighborhood, there was a Lutheran church located right on a main artery where parking wasn’t allowed, and most of the surrounding area were townhouses where parking on the street wasn’t allowed (due to the houses being so close together that parking on the street meant you’d be blocking somebody’s driveway) and an assisted living center (which took a very dim view of people using their parking lot if they didn’t have business there.) There was a bit of street parking along another road, but the townhouse residents tended to have that locked up 24/7. Not that I ever saw that church’s parking lot full (they had five services on Sunday easily, one on Wednesday evening, and it was a highly walkable area). But every so often I wondered what they’d do if they had something that would have generated a huge turnout all at once (for example, if the minister of the congregation suddenly passed away and everybody tried to come to his funeral.)

Seems you’ve worked it out just fine-- you tried to attend Mass, had obstacles out of your control, and did the best you could with the situation.

Does that sound like a sin to you?

No, you didn’t commit a sin.


In my opinion you sinned only if part of a Mass would have fulfilled your obligation. I keep reading these threads about how much of a Mass you can miss and still fulfill your obligation and I had one pastor whose opinion was that you needed to attend the entire Mass. So I am not sure.

I think you should go to confession about this matter instead of relying on my expertise. Another suggestion is that you think about how this situation could be avoided in the future.

You tried your best. :slight_smile:

You did try your best. It’s not like you blew it off with no second thought. However, the graces you receive from Confession are always good, so you may want to think about that in your future. An Act of Contrition just telling God you tried your best may be a nice touch.

God bless.

As people say, you did your due diligence.

God does not require us to do the impossible. Circumstances were beyond your control. You did try to go to mass but circumstances were beyond your control.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.