Going Camping not to Mass


On Thanksgiving weekend my family is going to go to the desert for the weekend. If I join them I will not be able to go to Mass. Is it a sin to choose going Camping for the weekend where I can’t go to mass over staying home where I can go to mass on Sunday?

God Bless,
D. S.


Are we supposed to give up all recreation just because we are Catholic? That seems unreasonable to me. Maybe take a Bible with you.


Contact your Pastor to see about recieving a dispensation from Mass for that weekend.

Here is a Q&A similiar to your question


My priest would be annoyed at being bothered for something this trivial. This type of legalism really bothers me. You can’t go camping with your family??? That’s absurd.


Of course you can go camping! But wouldn’t you check first with your spouse about your intention? What if it was on a weekday; wouldn’t you check it first with your boss?
Isn’t God so much more important than one’s spouse or job commitments?
P.S. And I hope your priest wouldn’t be annoyed by something this “trivial”.


I think the point is God created rational beings with reasoning skills because he didn’t want robots that have to ask before doing everything. Priests are busy people, it would be an improper use of their time to bother them with questions you should be able to answer on your own. Going camping is one of those decisions.


As long as this is not a common thing, like every other weekend. I see no problem if you have looked for a possible way to attend Mass and there just is not any Catholic churches near by or on the way back if it’s on Sunday or Sunday evening.


Yes, God did create us rational beings with reasoning skills. We know that we have a serious obligation to God to worship Him on Sunday. The Church has determined that the way we do this is by going to Mass. Missing Mass without a good reason - illness, caring for a child, etc. - is a mortal sin.

So, if we really want to go camping and will not be able to attend Mass, we need to approach our priest for a dispensation.

We are not approaching our priest for him to answer a question we should be able to answer on our own. We are asking him to dispense us from the obligation for this specific Sunday. This is a part of his priestly duties. It is not bothering him. It is not a waste of his time.

If you decide that you are going camping and not going to Mass, just because that is what you want to do, without any dispensation, then you are committing a grave sin.


Is it Sunday Mass you will be missing or are you worried about missing Mass on Thanksgiving Day? Remember that Thanksgiving is not a Holy Day of Obligation.

Now if it is Sunday Mass you are worried about, I have never gone camping on a weekend without being able to go to Mass. The only times while vacationing that I missed Mass was when I was in the midst of the Bible Belt and could not find a Catholic Church - my intent was to go to Mass but there were no Churches near where I was and at the time Sunday evening Masses were unheard of.

As a Girl Scout leader of a Catholic troop we would go to our parishes Sunday evening Mass when we camped. Could you asked your family to leave camping early enough for you to make it to a Sunday evening Mass? Or, is there a Catholic Church near the campsite?

Brenda V.


From time to time, we go camping on a long weekend (Memorial Day or Labor Day), arriving Friday and staying through until Monday.

This only happens every couple of years because usually on a normal camping weekend, we come home on Sunday in time for the evening Sunday liturgy.

So, when we are staying through until Monday, I ask our pastor to please grant us a dispensation since we are really out in the wilderness and far, far away from a Catholic Church. He has always been happy to do so, and appreciates the fact that we ask him. He says most people don’t and he wishes that they would.

BUT – and here’s the BUT – we take along our missals and have a prayer service first thing Sunday morning. We bring music (recorded or just our voices) and invite the children and teenagers to take parts as Lectors - the First Reading, the Psalm, the Second Reading, the Intentions, etc. (one of the dads read the Gospel). No homily or “talk” after the Gospel. Just a moment of personal silent reflection. Essentially, we include everything in the Liturgy of the Word for that particular Sunday, skip the Liturgy of the Eucharist (obviously), but include the Our Father and read the closing prayer, ask for God’s blessing on us then we listen to or sing another hymn. It usually only lasts about 15 minutes, but we invite everyone on the camp trip to join us. No one is pressured to join in, but most do once that they realize we’re not trying to do anything illicit or weird. No one tries to “pretend” that it’s Mass - simply a prayer service (No communion). And the setting and environment are breathtaking.

Again, once everyone sees that we’re not trying to impose anything on them that they’re not comfortable with, they join in.
(My kids sometimes wished that we’d skip it, because they were just being kids, but we didn’t let them off the hook.)


I wanted to second Brenda V’s post…
Thanksgiving is not a holy day of obligation…
But Sundays are…

What are you camping plans? From Thursday to Sunday? How about going to a Sunday evening Mass after camping?
What about a Mass out near your campsite?

We used to camp a lot before kids… in the many state parks in FL… and we’d just look up the local Catholic parish for Sunday mornings… then head right back to the woods…
We’ve never missed a Mass no matter what vacation we were on… it’s not hard to set priorities in the right order… you CAN do BOTH! :thumbsup:


But that’s the problem. Once you skip a Sunday Mass to do anything someone else asks you, then you are expected to do so more frequently in the future. There is such a sin of scandal that also may exist here. I don’t take to not keeping the Sabbath holy very lightly for it can easily become a bad habit.

As a young kid, for me it was a “disobedience” thing to your parents if they decided to take the family to the beach on Sunday and you had intended to go to Mass. I didn’t buy that then and I don’t buy this importance of camping out stuff now either.

Your other point of at least trying to find a close-by Mass well-taken, even if it’s an Orthodox Church.


This thread shows just how far we have regressed in our understanding of God and our obligations to Him. It seems all about not offending ones friends or family and gives no thought at all to offending God by not attending Mass on a Sunday, which is still required if I am not mistaken. It places ones personal recreation before ones obligation to God, which I really don’t think is a good thing to do.

I would make the following suggestion as old fashioned and out of touch with modern sensibilities as it may be. One either cut the camping trip short :eek: by a few hours and make it to Sunday Mass or two, leave early on Sunday for Mass and then return to the campsite.:thumbsup: Unless you are going to someplace exceptionally remote you should be able to do this. It may be a bit of a sacrifice for you but nothing really serious.

I believe that receiving dispensation from a Priest to miss Mass is something to be used for extreme circumstances not for a camping trip which is really kind of trivial in the scheme of things.


I completely agree!.. especially about the dispensation.


Wow, regressed understanding of God and our obligations of Him . . .

That’s quite an accusation.


I have to agree with this. Honoring your Sunday obligation isn’t a suggestion, it’s a requirement.

OP, if you’re a kid, I think you have to obey your parents in this instance. If you’re old enough to stay home alone, you’re old enough to choose whether Mass is a higher priority than a weekend camping. I guess the rest of the family doesn’t attend Mass?


My priest gave my family and other families in our camping group (all faithful Catholics), a dispensation. No one was trying to “get out” of Mass.

He is within his authority to do so.
We asked, he obliged.

Of course, we would not have gone had he not granted the dispensation.

See the Catechism:

2181 The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor.[119] Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.


This thread definately makes me want to become a Protestant. What a bunch of constricting, constraining nonesense. I know, though, that these extreme views are probably NOT representative of mainstream Catholic thought. It can’t be that camping with one’s family in the wilderness is a sin. It just can’t be.


heres the thing… its so easy to not make it a sin
part of the sin is in not letting the Priest know and not getting a dispensation, he is the FATHER of the parish (as one use of the title father), just check with him after mass let him know whats up… I’m sure the priest will say no problem

Camping is not the sin


Not an accusation at all. It always amazes me that people will look for ways to escape the confines of the minimum obligations that the Church places upon us. I think it wise to remember that God has historically, all through scriptures had some pretty high expectations for us, his creations. Belief in God does not end with saying I believe. No it entails a good bit more than that

Attending Mass is one of those things. True, God does not say in scripture you will come to Mass every Sunday. He does however say to remember the sabbath and to keep it holy. That was interpreted by the Church to mean in part, getting to Mass on Sundays.

Attending Mass on Sundays is an obligation to God and to the Church whether we want to do it or have other plans or not. To choose another activity, such as camping, over attending the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on a Sunday to me shows a disregard for the precepts of the faith and a cavalier attitude towards the faith itself that sadly way too many people have…

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