Fulfilling your Sunday obligation for Mass- mind wandering


I always assumed that if you attend Mass on Sunday and are there for basically the whole celebration of Mass then you fulfilled your obligation.

I wonder though if during Mass your mind frequently wanders to other thoughts… or if you are distracted throughout Mass by say, texting or checking your mobile device for secular reasons… did you really fulfill your obligation? Is attendance the only required thing or is there some sort of “minimum” where you need to be engaged?


You just have to be there physically. The law doesn’t say you have to be listening attentively to every word. That would be unrealistic. Even someone with an extremely broad attention span has a stray thought every now and then. Canon law isn’t going to impose an obligation that isn’t humanly possible.



Devices should be turned off during Mass or phones put on mute in case for emergencies you need to have your phone on. Beepers as well can be muted for those who must have them on for emergencies.


I’m helped by reading along in the missalette.


Your mind wandering is one thing. Deliberately having a device out and texting is another – put it away!!


Though you may have fulfilled your Sunday obligation, willful distraction during Mass is a sin. When you notice your thoughts wondering you want to bring your attention back to Mass. It pleases God when you make the effort. Definitely no texting or reading CAF during Mass.


We all have our ups and downs in our faith walk. That means there will be times when we are rapturously attentive to the miracle unfolding before us, and others when we are cold in our faith and let our minds wander.

The whole idea about obligatory attendance even in low moments in our faith walk, is so that we don’t let those low moments stray us away from God. Perseverance often leads us back to God as we get an inspiration at a moment we least expect it, at Mass. By being in God’s presence, whether we feel it or not, we will be helped back on the path,


My kids are young. 50% of the time I am trying to keep them quiet. The other 40% I am preempting my next move. It gives me 10% if actual listening😊.

I figured God would at least see I’m trying to be present.


That’s why I wish they don’t call it obligation because we would have questions like this.

Do we call loving our spouse an obligation? Or loving our children an obligation? Perhaps some really do. If you have lost your son for 20 years and finally you’ve found him and meet him. Have you fulfilled your obligation to your son if when you meet him you are distracted by your phone or your mind wanders?


There are places I turn the cell phone completely off if not in fact, leave it outside of these places and one is the Church.


if you are checking your phone and texting , you are not there for Mass. Perhaps start with turning off your phone.


Agree the word doesn’t work well in modern American English, but one definition of obligation is “commitment” and another “a debt of gratitude”.

Based on those definitions, I would say I certainly have an obligation to love my wife and children and be present when the Lord asks me to be.


I’ve been married 30 years. Yes, sometimes it is. There are times in a marriage where it certainly doesn’t come naturally.

Just like our faith walk actually. If we weren’t committed, it often would be easier to just leave. That is in fact a sign of our times. We must rise above it and to rise above our feelings, and when our heart isn’t in it, continue to honour our obligations and commitments.


Unless you are using them to pray or to read the daily readings that are not in the Missalette.

If you see me using my phone in church, there is a 98 percent chance I am doing one of these two things.


As someone who was married for 23 years, yes. And yes, it can be an obligation with kids as well. When your son just called you from jail after being arrested on a felony charge, are you going to find it easy to love him? How about when he has gotten expelled from school, become addicted to drugs, or just told you that he hates your Catholicism and doesn’t believe in God? And it’s an obligation with your aging parents as well from time to time.

Loving God is not always an easy task, just like loving other people isn’t.


I also have the abbey’s Ordo on line and I often check it before Mass to check which Mass setting will be used, and any variations in the Propers. I try to do that at home before I leave, and set up the ribbons in my Gradual then, but sometimes I forget.


“Religion” comes from the Latin “religio” – literally, binding oneself again, or the actions one is bound to perform over and over. The Latin includes connotations of reverence and awe, as well as the Roman ideas of rituals being carried out again and again at the proper times and seasons.

“Obligation” comes from the Latin “obligatio” – literally, bond or pledge or guarantee. Yes, the same “tying” root.

The idea is that being religious means making a permanent commitment that is carried out not just once, but over time. Doing something when it is inconvenient is just as real, or even more real, a proof of love than doing something when it is fun and easy.


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