Logistics and Diocese consolidations...long way to travel to get to mass


I have an acquaintance who lives far away from me, in another state actually, and his parish was merged into another, and so the church he would attend is now about 22 miles away. He said he will now have to miss mass on Sunday. He’s upset that this mortal sin will send him to hell. He’s age 73 and does not feel good about driving that far and there is no public transportation in his rural area. I suggested maybe he can hitch a ride with someone who will be going but he is very independant and said that would be out of the question to ask. I said, it’s happened in my area too, but we’re not more than 10 or 12 miles away from the surviving parish or church building. The local catholic grade school where I went was just sold to alternative education. We’re talking 1920’s. The Church building will be retained as a shrine. It’s a beautiful all marble inside. But, sad, as we see the old folks dye out. The Mexicans, many of those illegal just can’t support it financially. It’s horrible to watch it go by the wayside, but that’s the way it is. Many of the original members, now much older folks, Italians, Irish, German, Polish descent have long passed away, moved away, retired or in nursing homes.


Unrepentent mortal sin at the time of our death separates us from God. That separation is Hell. Your friend is exaggerating, first because in his circumstance he may not be committing a sin at all, and if he does commit a sin he can receive absolution in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. If he cannot go to the priest for Confession, the priest can come to him.

There is no Mass obligation for those who are *unable *to attend. And, there is no sin when one is *unable *to attend Mass.

If it is physically impossible due to illness, infirmity, lack of a Mass within reasonable distance, dangerous weather/driving conditions, etc then there is no obligation.

My in-laws are both 80 years old and they drive much farther than 22 miles away on a regular basis for grocery shopping, errands, etc. We also live in an extremely rural area. But perhaps they are in a different physical condition than your friend.

If he is *unable *to drive that distance due to his physical condition, condition of the roads, etc, then that is what it is. If he *can *drive that far, but just doesn’t *want *to drive that far, that’s something different.

If one is able, and willfully chooses not to go to Mass, then one is culpable for sin.

He refuses to ask for assistance in getting to Mass, that is based on pride. This may indeed add some culpability for not getting to Mass. If one has made a legitimate attempt to go, and is unable to or cannot find anyone to take you, then there is no sin involved. But, to not even make the attempt, for that there certainly may be culpability.

Your friend should talk to his priest about his circumstances. The priest will give him guidance.


I agree with much of what you posted. Mortal sin is serious and scary for him, I’m sure being from the old school and those man made church laws are serious. His health is not that good and to drive that far is not an option in my opinion. Consolidations like this or any change is upsetting. It’s here in my area and I’m not in the boonies. It’s just an incovenience we need to accept and try to overcome I suppose. It’s not getting easier to be a good practicing and practical actively participating Catholic today as we deal with the consolidations and tighter purse strings. God will show the way and we’ll get vibes from the local bishop as to our diocese as to how it’s going. This man will probably not be making his weekly contribution.


Sunday obligation comes from God, it is not a man made law.


Canon law…



What is Canon law?



Not sure what link will work as to Canon Law…



First off, 22 miles is alot for an older person to navigate…and if he dosn’t think he should be driving KEEP HIM OFF THE ROAD. Other than a careless driver there’s nothing worse than a nervous driver with degrading reflexes.

For a sin to be mortal you have to have full cooperation of will. Now he IS being very prideful. That can turn into a mortal sin. He, however, isn’t required to stand up in Mass and announce his need. He should simply ask the priest. But if he does ask the priest and the priest tells him that no one can, then his missing mass isn’t a sin.

On that note, he should be entitled to recieve communion at home if he’s so homebound.


I don’t think he wants special considerations as to the sacraments. He knows the money is tight and the priests have thinned out and mindful of the dilution of our church as each year goes by. I think he just wants to see God someday. Live his life in peace regardless of the mortal sin. I tell him forget about the mortal sin. God will take him into heaven… He asks me if I know that will be the case. I tell him I think so, but ask a priest. I reminded him that even during lent I think even someone his age can actually eat meat on Friday and not be in sin because of it. I can’t keep up with all the rules and regulations but I try.


You know what? About 3 years ago I got to take a trip to Rome. On the trip I visited the Catacombs where my patron saint - Cecilia - was buried after being martyred. We had Mass in a little room where one of our first Popes was dragged out by Roman Soldiers and had his throat slit because he was celebrating The Eucharist. The Catholics barricaded themselves in that little room to protect Our Lord in The Eucharist from the pagans and were all murdered as a result of their action.

Last summer I heard a talk given by a historian about the Palestinian Martyrs…the men who had been blinded in one eye and had the tendons in one ankle cut so they could not run away from the mines where they were forced into slavery. These same holy men WALKED to Nicea to attend the council…and it was these types of people who came up with the Nicean Creed we recite at Mass every Sunday.

And I am going to complain because I have to drive 20 miles one way on Sunday?

I stand on the shoulders of GIANTS as a practicing Catholic…and I am determined not to let them down.


Rather than spend time discussing whether or not he is committing a mortal sin, can the two of you brainstorm for some ideas about how to get to Mass? I imagine he is not the only one with this problem.

Maybe if the priest at the closest parish were approached the parish could arrange a bus for one Mass a week or a schedule of parishioners with vans that would drive once a month or so to go pick up the people who need a ride.


Exactly! Or arrange a carpool… it’s as simply as putting a signup sheet on a bulletin board!
There are ways to solve the problem…


I suppose if there is a will, there is a way. It just takes some volunteers and organizing. Obama would of already solved the problem. :slight_smile:


This is an excellent suggestion! If you friend were part of a vanpool arrangement, I’m sure he wouldn’t feel concern that he is putting someone out by asking for a ride.

Would it be possible for you or another friend to arrange to get him to Mass every so often if nothing else can be worked out? Perhpas going out to spend the weekend, check on any household chore he may need help with and take him to Mass.


He’s was an on line acquaintance of awhile back who does not live near me, out of state and in the boonies. I’m not familiar with his parish contacts, or diocese, friends or relatives. He is or was on the internet, so I’m sure can explore it locally that way or by phone as to his options and the mortal sin thingy. I can suggest that. We happened to of crossed cyber paths on line as to mergers of the church. It was some newspaper article and discussion thread.
He can watch a Mass on TV I suppose, to at least devote time to it on Sunday, so maybe it won’t be deemed mortal sin. Listen to the readings and gospel, etc. I’m sure a lot of shut ins find this comforting and are exempt from making the trip to Church. .


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.