How sick must one be to be excused from Mass?


Pardon the TMI, but I have had diarrhea since 4:30 this morning and it’s not showing any sign of letting up. Would this be enough to excuse me from Christmas Mass thia evening? I’m out of town right now, and my grandmother says she won’t take me if I’m not feeling well.


I’m so sorry you’re ill. Certainly you should not attend Mass if you are ill, and possibly contagious (and you may be contagious for days after you feel better.) Stomach viruses are nasty, and I’m sure you wouldn’t want to take a chance of getting someone else ill. (This happened to us 2 Christmases ago… awful.)

Your grandmother is sensible.

Feel better soon.


To answer the general question, assuming you’re a relatively sensible but industrious person: would you go to work, as ill as you are? Would you go to school? If no, then obviously you can’t make it to Mass. If yes, then you probably could make it to Mass.

Personally, I’d say proper diarrhea is an obvious “stay at home” in all three situations, as is staying up all night due to illness.



Normally, I would just try to “tough it out”. But this is something else.

Would I be obligated to go tomorrow if I feel better in the morning? If all else fails, I’ll see if EWTN has a televised Mass on their website and make a spiritual communion.


Stay home. Take the time to recover completely. Though you may feel better you might still be contagious and what’s an annoyance to you, can be deadly to the elderly or someone with a compromised immune system.


Yes, but this could be from too much rich food (sausage, beer, etc) instead of an infection (though my mom is also sick, out cold with a fever and vomiting). Still think I should err on the side of safety?


God knows your heart. If you miss Mass because you legitimately don’t think you could make it through it, you’re fine. If you feel guilty, confess it later.




If there is any chance of sharing, you should stay at home. You do not want to risk making another person sick.

A nurse once told me that church is a great place for picking up bugs. It’s an enclosed space, people shake hands, they touch the same door knobs, they sneeze, they cough, and they mix with others without a chance to clean their hands.


There are a lot of people who go to work even if they’re sick because they know that they will be fired by unreasonable management.
So they tough it out. And in many workplaces, you can stay far away from other people, so it does no harm to anyone except the poor sick worker.

Same for school–a lot of people drag themselves to school because to get behind would mean failing, and this is a major setback (especially if you are paying for the school). Again, it’s possible to go to school (college) and stay far away from others.

But at Mass, especially a feast day Mass like Christmas, it is a guarantee that many people will be present, in close quarters, thus pretty much guaranteeing the spread of viruses and bacteria.

So I personally don’t think the guidelines of “Would you go to work or school?” is really a good way to resolve the issue. I think people should stay home from Mass when they are sick, especially with diarrhea (icky).

And think about how many Catholic churches have the bathrooms in the basement, far away from the nave! I’ve never understood that–in the older churches, it’s obvious that the bathrooms were added much later, and before that, people went to the bathroom before they came to Mass, or they would use the outhouse. But why does my church, built in the 1970s, have the bathroom DOWNSTAIRS?! :confused::frowning: It’s so awful for those of us who have trouble with stairs, or for parents with young children (you don’t dare send young children to a basement bathroom by themselves because of Mr. Stranger Danger).

JMO. I hope the OP feels better. I work in a hospital, and everyone in the country is sick.


So much :thumbsup:.

God is not a taskmaster, nor is he going to expect the impossible of you. If your going would put your health or others’ in jepoardy (and the illness you’re describing seems to be one of those situations) there is no obligation to go.

Get some rest, drink lots of fluids and get well soon!


Yes yes yes!!!


Absolutely agree with this! Using the work/school gauge when it comes to Mass isn’t a good idea for the reasons Cat mentioned.

I read this piece a few days ago and think everyone would benefit from it; especially if you are trying to decide about attending Mass anytime you or your children are ill.


Thanks, everybody. I didn’t go, but my brother went with my grandmother, and I was able to watch a Midnight Mass from Australia on YouTube. Merry Christmas!


Hope you’re feeling better! It’s no fun being sick on Christmas.


My Spiritual Director told me I was not to attend Mass if I even so much as suspected I might be contagious.

He explained that, in addition to the very young and the elderly, there are many with compromised immune systems.

It makes sense to me, although I hate missing–especially the Eucharist. If I have to miss, I try to spend the time in prayer.


I just got out of major back surgery and will be home bound for several weeks. I have no plans to try and go to mass and I am not going to worry about it. I doubt God cares.


God wants you to get well.
Praying for your full recovery!



I appreciate the sentiment, but God has little or nothing to do with my recovery. Where as my doctor and I have everything to do with it. My Dr said I need to lose weight. I am losing weight. My Dr said to not go back to work for 3 to 4 months. I will not start looking for a new job for 3 months. My Dr said not vacuum the floors or pick up anything more than 10 lbs for the next 4 months. So I am not vacuum the house or picking up 10lbs or more. If you believe in free will, then God allows us to make choices that lead us to him. I had a friend that ignore his Doc after his surgery and while out working in the garage fell over dead. Every once in awhile there are miracles, but all in all its up to you and me to run our daily lives.


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