It’s been awhile since I’ve posted here, but I’m feeling anxious about a really fast exchange I recently had with my pastor, and I need advice and help. Here’s some background. In 5 weeks or so, I’m going on a hunting trip starting on a Friday and ending the Saturday 1 week later. The season goes from 9/12 to 9/21, but I didn’t want to be gone more than one Sunday. I regularly attend Mass on Saturdays, Sundays and Holy Days, and when I can, I go during the week, which is usually on a Friday. Last year, I went elk hunting in a very remote location that is off road for about an hour, and I was a passenger, so I didn’t have my own vehicle nor would my own vehicle have been able to make the trip. When I asked my pastor for a dispensation for Sunday Mass before this trip, I didn’t even get a chance to explain the details before he reached out his hand, tapped me, and said, “Dispensed!” He always said if we’re humble enough to ask him, he’s willing to grant one, and he knew as soon as I said I’m going hunting what I was asking for.
Fast forward to this year. I’m not going to the same location, but this year, I’m hiking in 5 miles to our hunting camp where I’ll be for a week. Getting to Mass would entail hiking out and back in, so about 10 miles hiking plus the 17 minute ride to the closest church. I’m not trying to get out of Mass, but I am trying to get out of hiking. I don’t really feel comfortable hiking out early in the morning Sunday or back in late evening Saturday when there are Masses all by myself. We just got a new pastor at our parish a month or so ago. After Mass last Sunday, I mentioned how our previous pastor was willing to give me a dispensation from Sunday Mass for my hunting trip, and I asked if he was willing to do the same. He told me to go to Mass during the week. I can’t remember if I said that I do go to daily Mass at times or if I said I’m going to be gone the whole week, but he then said, “well, there’s lots of churches in the mountains.” Then, I felt like he was expecting me to go to Mass on Sunday. I felt so embarrassed that I walked back to my wife and her parents, and we left. I don’t even remember what happened after he spoke last. Last year, I was at peace, knowing I had asked and received, but this time, I was very uneasy. I’m not really sure what I received, and my pastor didn’t really try to dig into the details, so I really don’t know what’s expected of me. I didn’t even have an opportunity to explain why I’m likely to miss Mass before he got back to shaking people’s hands. Now, I’m left wondering if I should just do what he said and go to Mass during the week before or after the trip, hike out and go to Mass, or if I’m even obligated to attend Mass in a situation like this. Can you all help me sort this one out? I really appreciate the assistance.