How sick do I have to be before I can miss Mass?

I’ve never missed Mass since becoming Catholic, I’ve always come even with a bad cold. But I’m a little worried because I may need to have surgery to have my wisdom teeth out and if it’s scheduled at the end of a week I might not be up for going to Mass.

So how sick is too sick for mass?
Do I have to tell the Priest in advance, confess missing or receive communion in the week if I do miss Sunday?

Sorry for all the questions but as I said, I’ve never missed Mass before so am unsure.


How sick you need to be to miss mass is a personal judgement call, but if you decide you are too sick, then:

no, you do not need to advise your priest
no, you do not need to confess
no, you do not need to abstain from receiving eucharist

Having your wisdom teeth out is certainly enough to miss Mass. It can be a fairly difficult couple of days recovering from this, so not to worry. There would be no sin in missing. And as far as a cold: stay home. If you are contagious you are sick enough to stay home. No one wants to get that cold from you.

My Spiritual Director once ordered me to stay home from Mass if I even so much as suspect I might be contagious. The reason he gave is that many people have compromised immune systems (from illness or old age), and I could inadvertantly make someone very sick.

You can also miss Mass if it is necessary to stay home to take care of someone else who is sick.

If you are contagious at all, or if your illness would make Mass really uncomfortable for you, or if you need to stay in bed and get extra rest in order to heal. I’ve never had my wisdom teeth out, but when my sister had hers out, she was on pain meds and didn’t go back to work for two days after.

As someone who is chronically ill, here’s my take.

(1) Am I contagious enough that I’m liable to spread my germs to someone else?
(2) Am I sick enough that I’m liable to have trouble getting to and fro, or to have serious issues afterwards?

If the answer to either of those is yes, stay home.


I add to that:

(3) Am I on medication that I would take at home, but won’t take if I go to Mass? (Pain pills or something that might make me sleepy.)

(4) Will I miss part of Mass because of my condition, even if I am there. (Leaving multiple times because of coughing, mind wandering because of medication, falling asleep due to medication or simply feeling awful.)

As someone with a compromised immune system, I am very happy to see that many people stay home if they are contagious.

Those sound like good additions. As someone who’s generally used to having to walk to Mass, generally these have been irrelevant considerations for me.

My standard for judging whether I’m too sick for Mass is to ask what my response would be if a friend called and said “let’s go out to brunch.”


I remember reading an Eastern European proverb that went something like this, “I’t’s icy out–it’s too cold and icy to walk to church, but I’ll carefully walk to the tavern.”

Great responses, thank you

If you’re moving back and forth nonstop between the bathroom and bed, stay home.

If you’re on pain medication that makes you unsafe to drive, stay home.

If your mouth is packed with gauze and swollen badly enough that you will frighten small children, stay home.


If you’re well enough to go to Wendy’s or McDonald’s for lunch, go to Mass.

If you are in pain or even feeling exhausted after having the procedures done on wisdom teeth, it’s best to stay home. And please stay home when you have a bad cold. I am one of those people who usually gets a cold if someone behind me or next to me in church has one.

Masses usually have lots of small children and elderly people. If you’re sick don’t go.

And I’d reckon getting your wisdom teeth out would be a good enough reason to miss.

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