Sunday Obligation while Traveling?


I was traveling across the country over a weekend recently- I was without my own vehicle and in an area that public transportation was not an option. I did not get dispensation to miss Mass that Sunday since I was under the impression that there was a traveler’s dispensation, but after returning home I was told there was no such thing and that I had broken my Sunday obligation since I did not request a dispensation from my pastor. Is there a general Traveler’s Dispensation? And if not, did I break my Sunday obligation?


If you couldn’t go, you couldn’t go, whether there’s a general travel dispensation or not. Ask your priest about this situation and what he would advise in the future.


Who told you there was no traveler’s dispensation?


There is, strictly speaking, no automatic traveler’s dispensation. However, you are excused from attending Mass if you are absolutely unable to do so. I this case, it seems as if you had no way to attend Mass and you would therefore be excused.


If you are planning a trip and think you might have to miss Sunday Mass (for example because you’re not sure of transportation or not sure where you will be or know you will be in an area with no accessible church), then it’s best to request the dispensation in advance of your trip.

However, if you don’t do that and just find yourself in a situation beyond your control where you can’t reasonably get to Mass on the Sunday, then you couldn’t go, and are thus excused from your obligation and the dispensation doesn’t matter. I would do what pensmama87 said and ask your priest how best to handle going forward.


The question is didn’t you know ahead of time you would be traveling, without your own vehicle?

What homework did you do well ahead of time to find a way to come closer to God at Mass? investigating options…

How much love did you put into that Sunday, before Sunday?


There is no specific dispensation for travelers, but there is prudential judgement:

2181 The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor.119 Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.

“Excused for a serious reason” followed by a couple of examples, gives us an opportunity to use our judgement as to what consists of a serious reason. Travel, depending on how far and by what means of transport, can be such a reason. One’s pastor can help, but I expect he would prefer the exercise of prudential judgement. Priests are busy enough as it is.



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When one is unable to attend Mass, one does not have an obligation. Whether you were unable is not our call. It’s a prudential matter. Whether cabs or Uber or Lyft or other means we’re readily available to you in lieu of public transport, your circumstances such as knowledge of the area, funds available, timing, etc, could all be factors while traveling.

While there is no universal “traveler” dispensation, you also don’t have to go to extraordinary lengths— so if your flight times are a conflict, your work schedule is a conflict, or it’s difficult to get there, use common sense.

Also since you were under a mistaken impression you did not “break” the obligation— if by that you mean commit a sin or do something deliberately.


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