Mass Dilemma: Whether visiting a sick child is a just reason for not attending?


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

I’ve had a bit of a quandary recently.

My newborn daughter has been in and out of hospital since her birth in January with various issues, mostly centering around weight gain. She was re-admitted last week and it looks like we may be in for a week or more until we find out the cause.

The difficulty is that any time I spend outside work is at the hospital, most especially weekends. She is under the care of some of the best doctors in the country and neither myself or my wife need to be there in order for her to be fed and cared for, although we do whenever we’re in the ward (which is most if the time).

My wife does need to be there to breastfeed her/express in order for her to get decent nutrition but I obviously don’t have that function to perform.

Is it licit for me to miss Mass on a Sunday to be with my daughter and wife and give them valuable emotional and practical support under the premise of Canon 1245 or do I commit a mortal sin if I choose not to go?

Thoughts and prayers appreciated.



You know, James, I really think this is something that you need to discuss with your priest rather than seek advice from the internet. No one here knows you, we cannot read your heart, we cannot judge if this is a sin or not. People here may give you an improper answer, one that does not fit your situation, and set you on the wrong path. Please consult your priest or confessor.


I agree.

James, a belated congrats on the baby, though. I hope the hospital has a chapel you can visit. You have my prayers.


James, congratulations on your blessing.

CB Catholic and ProVobis have given wise advice. By talking to your priest, you will also be giving him and the congregation the opportunity to offer prayers for your family.

I have prayed for your family.

May God bless and strengthen you, your wife and daughter.


Many thanks for the above and your prayers.

I think in hindsight you’re right and I will talk to my confessor about it. Thanks for your prayers.



I agree with the advice to speak to your confessor, but I think I will tell you my experience as well. When my second was born, he spent some time in the NICU. I made the decision to not attend Mass so I could be with him (unfortunately, I had some issues with how he was being cared for, so I wanted to make sure a parent was present round the clock). Still, if I had wanted to go, I would not have had to go far: Mass was celebrated in the hospital chapel every Sunday. You could see if this might be a suitable solution for you.

God bless you and your family, especially your new little one.


I am not a canon lawyer, but I cannot for the life of me suppose that a parent spending time with their sick newborn in hospital is anything other than an absolute justification for missing Mass.

I would imagine if you were to ask any priest worth his salt, he would tell you to clear off back to the hospital immediately and not to think twice about it. (And then he would put your child into the list of intentions for the very next Mass he celebrated.)

Let me put it this way: a friend of mine has just been told that she can miss Mass on Sunday if she’s on holiday with a group of friends and it would be disruptive to them if she were to have to put their group activities on hold while she went to Mass. In fact he told her that she need not have worried about asking, and that the dispensation was automatic.

If she can be excused her obligation for something so trivial by comparison, you must certainly be dispensed.

Now get off your computer and back to your wife and daughter and support them as only you can.

You are all in my prayers.


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