Not sure if this needs confessing


Hi All;

We recently had to miss Sunday obligation in order to travel to see our folks. For the one set of parents we were staying with (Sat-Sun) we do not talk about religion or our faith. Its a private matter for my wife for many reasons. They do not know we usually attend. Partly due to logistics and mainly due to this fact, we were unable to attend anywhere on Sun while staying there. We both whole heartedly wish we could have attended in our parish.

I believe this matter lacked the full will and consent necessary for a mortal sin?

PS I should add that my wife is planning on joining the church and bringing up the fact we wanted to find a church to go to mass on Sunday AM would have been a major problem in this regard


The main thing that I would personally ask of myself in this situation, is whether or not simply going to church would have been something that could genuinely cause a great deal of familial stress, and lead to genuine, long-term problems. I would also have to be confident that I had real knowledge that such problems would exist, as opposed to mere suspicions that they might. Lastly, I would have to know that the visit was necessary, perhaps difficult to avoid, and that I had good reason not to have asked my priest ahead of time about this situation.

As far as my own conscience goes, if I were unsure about the above, I would certainly go to confession.

Having said that, I absolutely love going to confession, and I tend to always want to recommend doing so if there is any doubt of mortal sin, unless, of course, I should be addressing an extremely scrupulous person.


I’m not sure if I am being scrupulous. The trip was a planned one and couldn’t be ‘avoided’. We have to travel a great distance to see them.

I didn’t ask beforehand. Firstly I didn’t think of this; but also it is a tricky thing to ‘ask’ in our parish. I get the impression that the priest might think I was being scrupulous.

I’m also not sure where the church would be- it would certainly mean travel on the Sunday and the family had made plans to take us out.


When in doubt, simply go to confession. While I agree, this might not be mortal, better to be safe than sorry.

Also, when traveling, you can always check out Perhaps there is a mass in the area at an “off hour” which you can attend in the future which would not bring suspicion.

In regards to not telling your in-laws that you attend Church, this can be very stressful. I’m currently in a similar situation. My wife is Jewish and I have returned to the Faith after we were married. My wife refuses to tell her parents that I go to Church and doesn’t want me to tell them. This causes me problems when visiting them or when they visit us. But with the help of, I usually find a Mass that I can “sneak” off to.

God Bless


Failing to attend Mass because it would upset people isn’t, IMHO, a just or unavoidable reason. One needs only think of the many Christians who (in the early Church, Elizabethan England, Colonial America, modern Vietnam, etc) risked their very lives to attend Mass to see that simply striving to hide your Catholicism probably isn’t enough to abrogate your requirement to be at Mass on Sunday. Besides, you probably could have come up with some reason to be out of the house for an hour without even revealing where you where going. Remember the words of Christ Himself in Matt 10:33 “But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.”

Or, think of it this way. There are three conditions for a sin to be mortal.

  1. Grave Matter - missing Mass on a Sunday is grave matter. No question.

  2. Full Consent - you were neither snowed in, nor ill, nor imprisoned, nor in a locale where there were no Masses, nor without a car, etc. Could you have gone to Mass? Did you choose not to? Did you decide that going to Mass wasn’t worth the stress? If so, that would seem to be full consent.

  3. Full Knowledge - you knew you had to go to Mass on Sunday. You knew it was Sunday. Full Knowledge was, therefore, present.

I’m not trying to read your soul. Only you can answer the questions surrounding number 2 above. I will, however, strongly suggest you ought to see a priest before receiving Eucharist and make sure this wasn’t a mortal sin. If it was, confess it and move on. You might also speak to the priest specifically about your situation with your in-laws. Father knows best in these situations and we (myself first and foremost) can easily get into the self-justification game. Father can tell you whether you need to attend Mass on such visits or not.

God bless. I’ll say an Ave for you. :signofcross:


Why would it be a “tricky” thing to ask in your parish?
Missing Mass outside of a serious reason is considered a grave matter so I don’t think that asking any questions pertaining to this would be unwelcome or considered scrupulous by most priests. Why not just tell your family that you are Catholic, and will be going to Mass? By being honest, it’s all in the open, there’s no hiding your Faith, and this problem is avoided in the future. I wouldn’t let long distance relatives or any person for that matter dictate your religion or hinder you in practicing it.

Best of luck to you!


It is more to protect my wife as it is delicate. I am trying to bring her to the faith and don’t want anything to hinder that at the moment.


Please know that not only mortal sin should be confessed. The Church encourages frequent confession with venial sins. We are called to holiness, not to mediocrity.

There are three criteria for mortal sin:

  1. Grave matter - missing Sunday Mass is grave
  2. full knowledge - know that miss Sunday Mass is a grave sin
  3. full consent - miss it anyway without serious reason

Do you consider please your parents and your wife more important than pleasing God?
In other words, do you think it is a right thing to do to put people first, and God third?


So, you are Catholic and your wife isn’t. You have the obligation to attend Sunday Mass and your wife does not. One’s obligation to attend Sunday Mass is greater than the necessity to attend any social event, and greater than the wish for the in-laws not to know one is Catholic. There are websites that show Mass times for anywhere in the U.S.

As for me, I don’t hide my Catholic Faith from anyone. It is who I am. When I die, I’ll have to answer to God, not to my in-laws. I want to go to heaven, not to my in-laws’ house. :slight_smile:

I’m sorry to be blunt, but I feel strongly about this. When my wife took me to meet her parents for the first time, she said “Don’t tell my father you’re Republican or Catholic: the only time he ever voted Republican was when Kennedy was running for President!” He quickly found out both, and he and I got along just fine thereafter.


Thank you for your post. I do understand the 3 points raised. I do believe this is complex. It isn’t a case of missing mass to please parents instead. It was missed primarily because in changing the plans in order to go to mass would have required an explanation which would have caused problems. I believe the situation to be delicate enough that it could have pushed my wife away from the faith, or trampled seeds in their infancy, thereby putting a barrier in the way between her and God. I didn’t believe in this case it should/would be a mortal sin- however I also didn’t want to confound my wife’s concerns about missing mass by being too overwhelming on this fact. I wasn’t sure myself- and I wasn’t about to tell her that I was putting my soul at risk that weekend.


I’m also wondering why the church only requires we go to confession once per year?

I’m feeling pretty low at the moment about this situation. It seems we could ‘go’ (die) at any point and once per year just doesn’t cut it!

I’m really worried that I will confess this sin, but I need to repent and make sure it never happens again. This means I need to speak to my wife and ensure next time, we make plans to tell them, or go somehow without saying anything.

I believe God understands and knows the situation as it is complex. But, I don’t want my feelings to cloud my judgement.


I can’t imagine only going to confession only once a year. Fortunately, it is a requirement to go AT LEAST once a year, not ONLY once a year. Therefore, we can receive the sacrament of Reconciliation as often as we want, or feel the need, to do so. Go every week, or even go on successive days if you’re having a particular problem.

Don’t waste any more time and make an appointment with a priest and get this off your chest. You’ll feel better and have a clearer head after talking it out with the priest.

You are in my prayers.


I understand your concern. However, especially your wife is seeking Catholic faith, it is more important for you to set a good example to put God first. If you are serious about your faith, it will encourage her to be serious.

The Church set the requirement for the minimum. And the Church encourages all to confess venial sins. You can do your minimum to “get by”, or you can do your maximum to please God. It’s all up to you what kind of Catholic you want to be. The Church will not twist anyone’s arm, neither would Jesus. God gives us free will. It is all up to you.


Thanks Boswell, Inlight., everyone.


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