Sunday Mass Obligation for the very Elderly

I’m confused. Can someone please help me.

What is the “Mass Obligation” for the very elderly? My mother is nearly 88 and suffers from a wide range of health problems and disabilities (including Alzheimer’s Disease). Up till now… I’ve done everything in my power to get her to Sunday Mass. However, it is getting more and more difficult to accomplish.

This morning… when I went to wake her, for Mass… she said… “I want to sleep”. So… I left her to sleep (someone else being in the house, with her) and went to Mass alone. Was this ok?

Does advanced age… and chronic disability fall under “illness” in regards to regular attendance at Sunday Mass? Or is this “valid reason” for her to be excused?

Thank you for your answers and God bless.

She is excused from obligation. God bless you for taking care of her.

May God richly bless you for your efforts on your mother’s behalf. Too often, sadly, the reverse is the case, where the elderly and housebound want either to attend Mass or have Communion brought to them at home and relatives or carers don’t make the effort to do so.

Certainly one who is elderly and also suffering from a combination of illnesses, as you have indicated, can easily be in a position where Mass attendance becomes impossible. Seems she was trying to tell you, in a gentle way, that this morning she just wasn’t up to it.

Certainly she should be permitted to be the judge of her own abilities, and her wish not to go should be honoured.

In any event, she being an adult, and not your spouse, she is pretty much the custodian of her own soul, and you are under no obligation to take her to Mass if she doesn’t wish to attend.

If it happens again, she can have Communion brought to her at home. If you ask your priest beforehand, he can arrange either to visit himself, or for another minister (perhaps even you?) to take Communion to your home for her.

Of course if her age and physical limits her ability to go out, she is not obligated to attend Mass. You should speak with the pastor and let him know that she is homebound and needs a visit from him now and then and Holy Communion weekly. You of course can pray with her daily at least part of a Rosary or read the Gospel for the day, etc.

Yes, chronic disability that limits her ability to go out is in the same category as illness. Brother Rich is right, perhaps she would like to have Holy Communion brought to her.

Thank you, all… very much for your answers and for your encouragement.

Actually, we already have a Eucharistic Minister bringing her Holy Communion… once a week. I arranged for this, some time ago.

And I have been able to get her to Daily Masses, with relative ease. So she isn’t truly “Home Bound”, in the strictest sense. I do manage to get her out, from time to time. But the Sunday Mass (which we are obligated to attend, health permitting) is the one I was wondering about.

Because of the high attendance at Sunday Mass… it has become very, very difficult for me to get my mother there. She has so many “special needs” now (being in a wheelchair, among others)… which often require us to enter, exit and re-enter the Church… during Mass.

I feel so guilty and selfish, because my own level of difficulty in getting her there… has motivated me to ask about this. :frowning:

What does God expect of me, in regards to her spiritual well being? I care very much… about doing whatever Our Lord wants me to do, for my mother. But I’m confused about this particular thing. Your answers have made it a little clearer and I thank you.

God bless.

the obligation is dispensed for those who are physically unable to to go mass, which includes sickness and age

if you’re still having doubts about the people’s answers here, why not consult your priest?

Please do speak to your priest. Crowding and difficulties with the wheelchair, etc are perfectly valid reasons for her not to go to Sunday Mass. If you’ve tried different Mass times (I find evening Masses work best for my mother) and it is still difficult or uncomfortable for her to get to Mass each week, than do not worry. You could continue to try every so often especially when she is having a good day. But please please speak to your priest.

My Grandmother is 89 and has a Eucharistic Minister come to the house every Sunday. I used to try to take her to Sunday Mass but it got too hard to do by myself. Her parish has a large elderly community and even getting to Mass 30 minutes early was too late to get handicap parking. So trying to pull up in front of the Church, take out her wheelchair or walker, get her into a pew, and then going to park the car was too much of a challenge to do by myself.

I know she misses Mass but even when I offer to take her on special occasions like Easter she declines now days. She uses a walker for short distances but with the “crowds” on Sunday it got to much for her to maneuver safely.

Please don`t feel guilty about not taking your Mom. Got bless you for caring though. And for taking her to daily Mass when you are able. In cases of the very elderly with mobility, or other health issues, it is not a sin for them to miss Sunday Mass.



I think that God would be pleased that you are trying your best to get her to Mass, and even Daily Mass. I’m sure he is also pleased that you are concerned with her spiritual well-being. You are putting her needs in front of your own. The best you can do is try to get her to Mass, and from reading what you’ve posted, that’s what you are doing. Another thing I think He is pleased with is you getting a Eucharistic Minister to bring her Holy Communion. This certainly helps her spiritual well-being even though she cannot make it to Mass.

I’m sure He understands that with her advanced age and disabilites, it’s hard for her to get to Mass every Sunday. At least she tries and attends Daily Mass. God Bless her and you.

the same as for every other Catholic adult, they are obligated to assist at Mass on Sundays and Holy Days, unless they are unable to do so because of illness, or other good reason. One of those reasons would be caring for someone who is ill or disabled, if it is not possible to find someone to stay with the patient while you go to Mass. If she is disabled to the extent she cannot attend she has no obligation. If she is able and willing you should arrange for someone from the parish to bring her communion, or asked to be deputed to do it yourself. It’s a matter of your own prudential judgement.

I don’t know how far advanced your mom’s Alzheimer’s is, but this is a classic response from someone with the disease. Eventually this disease will limit her ability to make the decision to go to Mass or not, if it hasn’t already done so.

This is exactly right. My dad had Alzheimer’s and at the beginning it was still easy to get him to Mass. But when my mom’s cancer returned it became very difficult. Eventually, he too got to the point where he would sleep a lot. Once he slept from Tuesday night all the way through to Thursday morning and he was happy as a lark!

Our obligation to attend Mass is dispensed when it becomes a hardship. We are not obligated to do the impossible. Christ’s mercy is infinite; rest assured that he has your mom well taken care of.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit