Missing Mass - Dispensation Help - I may have one? Do I need one?



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.

Thank you!


You need to revisit this with your pastor, not grabbing him after Mass but going to his office or calling during office hours.

Only your pastor can give you a dispensation (or your bishop) and we are not in any position to tell you it is OK to miss Mass on that Sunday.


I feel uneasy approaching my pastor about this again. Though I will if it comes to that. I’m not asking anybody here if it’s OK to miss Mass, but I am asking what the Church asks of us.


Call and say you didn’t catch what he meant when you spoke after Mass, but you can’t make it safely to Mass on your trip and would like a dispensation. If he wants to know more details, he will ask you :slight_smile:


From what I have read in the apologetics forum, if there is really no mass in a reasonable distance that you can safely attend, that a valid reason to miss mass with no dispensation required. The priest was saying you should really check around because there are masses all over. You have checked and it isn’t reasonable to go so your conscience should be clear. I didn’t think that attending during the week is a substitute for Sunday.



  1. Your pastor should understand, just say that things were very busy after Mass and that you would appreciate 5 minutes of his time to clear up a misunderstanding.

  2. The church expects us to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation unless their is serious matter preventing us from doing so… CCC2181
    Only your Pastor can answer if CCC2181 has been met with your hunting trip and the location there of.

IMHO: I walked to school ten miles, one way, in high-school, sometimes in 2 to 3 feet of snow. 5 mile hike in/out is surely a challenge but not so difficult as to stop you from reaching base-camp; thus, unless it was exceptionally dangerous to hike in/out then personally, I’d go to Mass and offer up the sacrifice of the hike out and back in for the poor souls in purgatory for whom no-one prays. I’d also pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet and the Rosary on the way… who knows, you might free 1000 souls, or maybe only 1 soul from the Church Suffering - who might just be the one(s) that prays for your release too upon their entry into the Church Triumphant - but that is just me. :smiley:


Your Pastor will or should love that you take it seriously enough to be sure. If he is annoyed that’s on him, but that would be highly unlikely.




Maybe I’m missing something here. You want a dispensation from Mass to go and kill an animal. Do you really think that is more important than attending Mass?




Unless you are in poor health, a one-hour-each-way hike does not seem like sufficient reason to miss Mass. If there was a sporting event you really wanted to go to that day, and you had free tickets, would you make the hike?

Also… you’re on vacation in the wilderness and you don’t want to do a little hiking?


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