Holy Day obligation for kids


#1

Hi,

I need some insight. I am a single parent, I work full time and go to school 2 days a week. I am very busy - but I’m not complaining. My issue is with the holy day on Friday and what to do about my kids getting to mass.

On Friday at 5:00 the kids are to be at my exspouse’s house, and mass at our church is at 7:00 pm.

Thursday evenings I go to school and the kids are with the neighbor (not a catholic). I do attend a catholic college and will probably be able to catch mass there Thursday evening. Or for sure at lunch on Friday. But then what about the kids? I have never crossed this bridge before - I must have been off school if any other holy days were on a Friday. The kid are 12 and 9 - and they would be just fine with missing mass. And I know they will not go in Friday evening after I drop them off.

I realize it would not be a sin for them to not go to mass, they can’t drive themselves. But since it lawfully is not my weekend on Friday - does that remove my obligation to get them to mass?

Has anyone else dealt with this??
Terry


#2

Hi,

I need some insight. I am a single parent, I work full time and go to school 2 days a week. I am very busy - but I’m not complaining. My issue is with the holy day on Friday and what to do about my kids getting to mass.

On Friday at 5:00 the kids are to be at my exspouse’s house, and mass at our church is at 7:00 pm.

Thursday evenings I go to school and the kids are with the neighbor (not a catholic). I do attend a catholic college and will probably be able to catch mass there Thursday evening. Or for sure at lunch on Friday. But then what about the kids? I have never crossed this bridge before - I must have been off school if any other holy days were on a Friday. The kid are 12 and 9 - and they would be just fine with missing mass. And I know they will not go in Friday evening after I drop them off.

I realize it would not be a sin for them to not go to mass, they can’t drive themselves. But since it lawfully is not my weekend on Friday - does that remove my obligation to get them to mass?

Has anyone else dealt with this??
Terry


#3

We have never had an issue with our Public School, either bringing our son in late so he can attend AM Mass or signing him out for noon Mass on a HDO (even on non-Obligitory days like Ash Wednesday).

Check around your area or check out www.masstimes.org for an early Friday Mass, 7 or 8 AM.

IMHO, it is impressive to the kids when they see you are willing to put Mass in the first place of priority in both your and their schedules. That missing a HDO is simply “not done in our home”.

Should there be no possibliity of any other means (maybe even asking dad to pick them up after Mass on Thursday evening?) Call your Priest and ask for a dispensation from the Obligation. Let the kids know that this is the only other option, it shows them the importance of HDOs.


#4

You don’t say what your kids’ ages are. If they are under the age of reason, you don’t need to call your pastor for a dispensation, because underage children don’t have the obligation.

Also, is it a foregone conclusion that your ex will not take them to Mass on Friday or that he/she is not willing to exchange hours for hours…for instance, you get the kids to the spouse’s several hours late on this Friday, after Mass, and in exchange you arrange to drop them off early some time when your spouse would find that more convenient than waiting until the usual five o’clock?

In any case, if you can’t get the kids to Mass, try to observe the feastday with them in some other way. Do the best you can.


#5

You don’t say what your kids’ ages are. If they are under the age of reason, you don’t need to call your pastor for a dispensation, because underage children don’t have the obligation.

Also, is it a foregone conclusion that your ex will not take them to Mass on Friday or that he/she is not willing to exchange hours for hours…for instance, you get the kids to the spouse’s several hours late on this Friday, after Mass, and in exchange you arrange to drop them off early some time when your spouse would find that more convenient than waiting until the usual five o’clock?

In any case, if you can’t get the kids to Mass, try to observe the feastday with them in some other way. Do the best you can.


#6

The OP says the kids are 9 and 12, I’m assuming they both are Communicants.


#7

I would think it would be your husband’s obligation to get them there if it is during his custodial time.


#8

I had these issues with my ex. Unfortunately there is very little you can do if he won’t cooperate. In fact, mass issues were why we moved his visitation from Sat/Sun to Fri/Sat visits (he only asked for and could only handle 24 hours at a time with children) My problem came when he had them prior to their First Communion and they were required to go to reconcilliation the day before. Of course it was his weekend with them. I told the kids that they needed to go if they wanted to receive First Communion and they asked their dad. I tried to talk to him about how important this was to them but he just stood there saying, “What’s it going to be compliance or contempt?” thinking I wasn’t going to “let” the kids see him. Instead I just stood there calmly and said, “You know this is important to them, they have to go or they can’t receive First Communion and they have been preparing all year for this.” He just kept being a jerk repeating, “So, what’s it going to be compliance or contempt?” So I told the kids they were going to have to go with their dad… the kids all refused to get out of my car and go with him, and I didn’t force them. He went and got the police. I had to go have a meeting with the police about it. After he ranted about how I was “stealing” his weekend from him they asked my side so I calmly explained it all to them and the cop who had originally thought I was being unreasonable understood and asked if we could compensate him for the time lost and I said he could have an extra weekend as long as I could just have the kids back 2 hours early or have him take the kids to reconcilliation. The cop looked at him and asked if it was acceptable, he stuttered a bit about God only knows what, then said he would bring them back 2 hours early (I think he thought he would melt or burst into flames if he set foot in a church). That was 9 years ago… I think he has seen the kids twice since then…and it wasn’t the next weekend, he didn’t show up after all that.


#9

Do you have a parish close by your with a 7am mass before work and school??? Might be a suggestion


#10

I would think you should try to find an early Mass option as described above. If there is not then you could find one during the day and have them miss a bit of school. If these are not practical then I would think you are free from having to take them. You do have to make a good faith effort to get there with them even if a bit of inconvenience.

Do any of their CCD friends go? Ask them.

We will have a similar issue in a couple of months. My wife is not Catholic and this will be the first weekend where I will be away from my son who is 9. My daughters are younger so they don’t HAVE to go to Mass each Sunday but he does. They will be with their non-Catholic grandparents so I am going to ask a neighbor if they stay here at our house or ask them if they would drop him off in their little town if the choose to stay there. I figure that’s all I can reasonably do.

My wife think I am nuts to even think of this but I said it is the same as asking a friend to take him to cub scouts while we are gone. How is it that people would never miss cub scouts but Mass is just not that important.


#11

I think this conversation is where my Baptist friends would blow a head gasket with us Catholics…

Arguing the letter of the law, and whose “sin” your children’s missing mass is, seems to me like the Pharisees arguing about Jesus curing on the Sabath.

A Holy Day of Obligation is an opportunity to receive Holy Communion, get closer to God, and learn about the specific Holy Day of Observation. Why not spend some time with your kids reading the bible readings for the Holy day and discussing them, discussing in a meaningful way what the Holy Day observes, and maybe try to catch a 7am Mass one of the other days during the week. To me, that would be a true observance of the Holy Day, maybe even more so then if you have a fight about it with your ex, involve the kids, rush in/out of Mass, and all around ruin everybody’s Friday evening.

Again, my opinion.

Good luck!


#12

Nobody in the thread is concerned that the kids are going to Hell. This isn’t about sin.

It is about teaching kids about the reality of our obligations and duties. Mass was not made obligatory on Sundays and Holy Days because our bishops wanted to put a big flaming hoop between us and heaven. It was made a duty because they do not want us to lightly evade such an important means of obtaining grace for ourselves and for others.

This is something I remind my own children of when they don’t feel like going to church. In our family, we have a certain attitude towards duties and commitments. Our church commitments are as real as any others. Just as we are missed by other students if we don’t choose to attend school, we are missed if we choose not to attend and participate at Mass.

You make an important point: just as you should not force yourself to go to school or work when you are sick and should stay home or just as you might need to miss work because your freezer broke and all your food might be lost, there are legitimate reasons, too, for missing Mass on a day when it is normally obligatory. It is just a bad habit to let that bar get too low.

It may be that the OP cannot get her children to Mass without putting a severe strain on her relationship with the children’s other parent. That is nothing to sneeze at. The thread, though, is about her good faith effort to both satisfy the need of her children to habitually fulfill their real religious duties and their family’s need to respect the boundaries of their other parent’s custody rights.


#13

Exactly :thumbsup:

This is the reason I suggested, and will again suggest, that should Mass on your HDO or Sunday be impossible, call your Priest for a dispensation. When the kids see this done, it let’s them know the importance of attending - and that there is a way to be dispensed should you know in advance that you will be unable to attend Mass.

I’ve friends who go on an annual trip, it is very remote - they call and ask for a dispensation from Mass that week. Interestingly enough, in my conversations with kids in CCD and youth group, many have NEVER heard of it :eek:


#14

From the OP:
“I realize it would not be a sin for them to not go to mass, they can’t drive themselves. But since it lawfully is not my weekend on Friday - does that remove my obligation to get them to mass?”

I didn’t mean that the OP was concerned about his kids sinning, it seems to me that he is trying to pawn off the “sin” on his ex-wife, since it is “lawfully” her weekend.

My point is I don’t think his obligation is removed because it is lawfully not his weekend starting on Friday night. I think he needs to find creative ways to fulfill his obligation - and many such creative ways have been offered by other posters.


#15

too busy…no time for kids. the tragedy of divorce. we need to help young couples preparing for marriage to seek what God has in mind for their marriage, then we have less of these conversations.

peace and good will to all


#16

I applaud the OP for her efforts in the face of such difficulty. Don’t beat yourself up too much if your children miss Mass. You have a heavy cross to bear. If they can’t make it, explain to them and, as one poster said, you can create a special time to share some Bible readings, and maybe some special meal afterwards.

These are called feast days because they are holidays. These were the special days when our ancestors celebrated the most important events of the Church Calender. They had a similar cultural significance as Independence Day, Memorial Day, Halloween, etc. They were times of merrymaking and celebration.

Now, they’ve merely become days of obligation, but previously they were major holidays for everyone, and people took off of work and had a feast. Try to make it a joyous day for your children, even if they cannot make it to Mass.


#17

He has an obligation to make a good-faith effort to see to it that his children observe their religious duties. The obligation is not the same as if the children were in his sole custody, however.

This, by the way, might point out that parents who divorce or separate should bring up the religious duties of the children when they make their custody arrangements. That might have headed this off entirely. (Not that there are 15,000 other details that can get past in that process!)


#18

That was 9 years ago… I think he has seen the kids twice since then…and it wasn’t the next weekend, he didn’t show up after all that.

I know that must be hard for the kids. I will for sure remember your family in my prayers.


#19

Would you say the same about food or water? If he knows his wife doesn’t feed them, he has no obligation to feed them dinner because its not “his” night?

Man does not live on bread alone …


#20

Unfortunately, if the other parent won’t feed the kids, you can have the court intervene. If you divorce, your spouse can do an awful lot of bad parenting without there being a thing you can do about it. Destroying the relationship or introducing more strife than there already is doesn’t change that. Sometimes, your hands are tied. You may feel you have the duty, but if you are powerless to do anything about it…what then? You are stuck between bad alternatives.

If making certain that the kids observe their religious duties was not part of the original custody agreement, you don’t have the same rights. Nevertheless, many people do promise, when they marry a Catholic, to raise the children Catholic. Only a lawyer in family law could say whether Catholics have any luck in actually including religious observance in custody agreements, but it is something to think about.


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