Hello, I missed mass today, and was wondering if anyone could offer some perspective. My wife and I are very much into making it to mass each week, and we were blessed with time in our schedule to go to Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services. We went to the Easter vigil, but by the homily my wife was not looking well at all. We left at that time, and I believe that was the right choice. She truly had a stomach bug, which was obvious after we got home and through the night, and she couldn’t have made it through the mass. I came down with a queasy stomach in the middle of the night for a few hours, but was otherwise okay.
My wife had a rough night, and I’ve no doubt she was excused from her Sunday obligation. I’m wondering about myself… I felt torn between going (and knowing my wife would feel guilty about not going and toughing it out) and staying and helping her. To be clear, she was not in super dire straights. She was ill, but not bedridden, and could have managed. I actually left for Sunday morning mass, but halfway there, still feeling torn, I prayed a decade, and felt like the right place for me to be right then was home with my wife, and I turned around and came home.
Still, I feel uncomfortable with myself. I think I’d feel guilty either way, and I don’t normally consider myself over scrupuloys (guilty may not entirely be the right word, I truly wanted and desired to feel the joy at the Easter service, and feel saddened it won’t come again for a year).
So, with my wife sick, and myself okay (a touchy stomach, but I could have received the host), did I make the right choice? Or perhaps a better question, did I make a wrong one?
You made a prudential judgment…there is no reason now to go back and re-visit it or to recriminate yourself.
You have no reason to feel uncomfortable with the decision. Those who are ill are excused from the obligation by the law itself. Those who are caring for the sick are excused from the obligation by the law itself.
As a priest, I can tell you from vivid experience that it is not pleasant for us when someone becomes ill during Mass. Tragically, it can be due to sudden on-set…a seizure, a heart attack, a stroke. We deal with this out of an abundance of love and concern for the parishioner.
On the other hand, if someone is already ill with issues of stomach, respiratory, or something else and they push themselves to come when prudence suggests not to, this is most unwise…for them and all those around them. Those who are ill should tend to their illness and those blessed with someone to help them should be helped by them – without qualms of conscience.
It is, frankly, a false heroism that brings people to church when they are contagious and they proceed to infect the vulnerable elderly who are exposed to their incessant coughing and sneezing – or those who want to tough out their “little stomach issue” but have a sudden onset of nausea and have insufficient time to get to the necessity before the inevitable – and we are left to resolve the result.
Your wife was sick. You became ill and could not know for sure the course your illness might take other than seeing how this illness had affected your wife – it could just as easily have happened that you returned for a Mass of the day only to have the same thing occur to you as occurred to your wife the night before…but without benefit of someone to drive you home in your sickness. Besides, your wife was sick at home.
The supreme law is charity…not fulfilling the obligation to attend Mass.
The word you may be grasping for could, perhaps, be “disappointed”.
You don’t however have to wait for next year to keep Easter. Easter’s celebration continues for the octave…everyday this week will feature the Gloria and the Creed at Mass, the elements of the Sunday Mass, because we are in the midst of an octave that will culminate with Low Sunday next week…and it’s 50 days of Eastertide until Pentecost. There is plenty of opportunity to celebrate the Lord’s resurrection.