Sunday Mass / Parent Obligation

Our family went camping this weekend, and came back early Sunday afternoon in time to go to 6:00 PM Mass at our local parish. However our three young children (4, 2, and newborn) were so whiny and overtired that they were not in a position to go. We tried calling a babysitter so that my wife and I could go, but no one was available. Our daughter fell sound asleep in bed about 5:00 which meant we’d have to interrupt her sleep, only making the problem worse. We decided that instead, my wife would go without me. Now, I know that daily Mass does not take the place of Sunday Mass, but in a case like this, would going on Monday or Tuesday morning demonstrate that I really do desire to be at Mass, and it was never my intention to skip? In the more general case, how does the Sunday Mass obligation balance with the responsibility to care for children?

Dear Abraham,

Your intention was to attend Mass. It is a good thing to attend Mass at any time because of what the Mass is. But it is not necessary to show God your sincerity. He has known your sincerity in this matter for all eternity. The basic rule of thumb is that you plan to attend Mass on Sunday as you and your wife did. Next time when you go camping, you will take into account the fatigue factor with your children and have a sitter ready or some other solution. But we live and learn. You done good. No reason for worry.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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