What is a valid reason for missing Mass?

I’ve read the catechism on this subject, but when it comes to applying it to very specific situations, it gets confusing for me.

For example, the furnace went out in our house yesterday. The house is currently at 58 degrees. Someone can come out today to fix it, but he said it would be between 10 and 2 that he would be out here, so I will be sitting around today waiting for him. The only Masses within an hour of here are 10, noon, and 2. Is waiting for a furnace repair man a valid reason to miss Mass?

The other weekend, we were painting the kids’ bedroom. My mother had the kids for the weekend (I have twin two year olds). I was worried we wouldn’t get it finished in time for their return on Sunday afternoon, so we kept on painting rather than go to Mass. Was that a valid reason?

For New Year’s Day, I assumed there would be a 7 pm Mass, as there is on all of the other Holy Days. Around 6 pm, I started to think ‘Uh, since everyone had today off today, what if they moved the Mass to the morning?’ I checked the website and indeed Mass had been at 9 in the morning. Had I been a little more on the ball, I wouldn’t have missed. Was that a valid reason for missing Mass?

Some days my kids are just plain crabby, usually due to lack of sleep. I’m a little crabby on those days, too. The idea of taking my crabby children to Mass is terrible, so on those days, I just stay home. Is that a valid reason?

I’m not looking for excuses to miss Mass, by the way. I love love love Mass. But, it’s also hard for me to get to confession (all the confessions are on Saturday at 3, the line is an hour long, and of course I’ve got the twins with me, and it’s really difficult to maintain a reverent environment while trying to contain the kids) and of course if I miss Mass and don’t make it to confession, that means no Eucharist, so, unfortunately, MOST of the time when I go to Mass, I don’t take communion and I really would like to (not to mention not living in mortal sin would be nice, too :))
Anyway, I just don’t want to be overly scrupulous in this matter so some charitable advice would be appreciated. Thank you!

I don't think someone can tell you precisely that in one situation it's OK to miss Mass and in another situation it's wrong.

The Catechism says:

2180
The precept of the Church specifies the law of the Lord more precisely: "On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass." "The precept of participating in the Mass is satisfied by assistance at a Mass which is celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the holy day or on the evening of the preceding day."

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. Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.

If you died tonight and were facing Jesus, could you say "I missed Mass because I was painting" and think it was OK?

Legitimate reasons to miss Mass would be along the lines of illness, needing to care for the ill, and lack of an available Mass within a reasonable distance.

Think of it in terms of being dispensed from your Sunday obligation. Dispensations are usually only granted for pretty serious reasons.

The fact that Sunday Mass is inconvenient or simply doesn’t fit into your schedule probably are not serious reasons.

The Mass is nothing less than being present at the Crucifixion. At the Last Supper Jesus gave us this gift of the Mass to perpetuate this event for all time. So I would think that any reason that would suffice for missing the Last Supper would suffice for missing Mass................ teachccd

[quote="SuscipeMeDomine, post:2, topic:184228"]

If you died tonight and were facing Jesus, could you say "I missed Mass because I was painting" and think it was OK?

[/quote]

No. I also don't think it would be okay to tell him that I missed Mass because my children were crabby, or because the furnace broke, or because I'm a flake and didn't realize Mass was at a different time. However, these are things that do happen, so I guess I'm just wondering from people here on this board, if your kids are acting up, do you skip Mass? I don't like to miss Mass, but then again, I don't like spending the entirety of Mass scolding my children. If you were waiting for a furnace repairman would you skip Mass, or just have everyone sleep in a chilly house that night and have him come out the next day (honestly, I worry more about the kids' room than ours. Those two spin in their sleep and never keep blankets on!!)? And, regarding the painting - my mother only grudgingly watches the kids. If she dropped them off and saw the room WASN'T finished, she would have flipped, and she wouldn't watch the kids again until the room was finished.
None of these are particularly stellar reasons for missing Mass, and, again, I enjoy Mass. But, I guess what I wonder is missing Mass for these reasons still a mortal sin?

Again, read post number 4...........:)

[quote="rwillenborg, post:5, topic:184228"]
**None of these are particularly stellar reasons for missing Mass, **and, again, I enjoy Mass. But, I guess what I wonder is missing Mass for these reasons still a mortal sin?

[/quote]

You've answered your own question.

So, if it were you, you would just reschedule the furnace repairman for the following day and hope the kids didn’t get too cold in the night?
I’m not trying to ask a leading or tricky question or anything - the furnace repair guy ended up being able to come out later, so I actually just returned from Mass, but I still wonder, if he hadn’t been able to come out later, should I have skipped Mass?
On the one hand, I have an obligation to the Lord. On the other hand, I also have an obligation to provide for a warm sleeping environment for my children. We’re having an unseasonably warm day today, but it’ll be in the 10s tonight.

Likewise, with the children when they’re crabby. I still have an obligation to go to Mass, but I think the other people there would much prefer I keep the kids at home when they’re like that, I’m sure.

And, likewise, what about when the kids just got over an illness? Daycare wants them to be fever free for 24 hours before bringing them to daycare. I apply that rule just generally. Kids need to be fever free for 24 hours before I take them anywhere since they could still be contagious. But, is that a valid reason to miss Mass? That my kids just got over a fever? Again, I understand my obligation to the Mass, but I also feel an obligation to keep children who might be infectious away from the other kids in the cry room.

For example, on those days when the kids have been crabby and I HAVE taken them to Mass, I come home regretting it, saying ‘Everyone would have had a much nicer time at Mass if I had stayed home’. And on the days that I DO stay home from Mass, I think to myself, ‘I really should have gone’. I just want to make a decision and be happy with it, y’know?

[quote="SuscipeMeDomine, post:7, topic:184228"]
You've answered your own question.

[/quote]

But, I guess, specifically, as I responded to someone else, how do I balance my obligation to the Lord with my obligation to my children and family? I don't want the kids to sleep in a cold house. And I dont' want to miss Mass. As I said in another post, I ended up being able to go to Mass, the reapir guy is on his way over rigth now, but I jsut feel like if I HAD gone to Mass and rescheduled him for tomorrow and my kids woke up in the middle of the night because they were too cold to sleep, I would feel that I was an irresponsible parent.

And, with the painting, my mother was VERY specific that she was ONLY taking the kids so that I could get the painting done and that, if the painting weren't finished, she wouldn't be watching the kids again and she would be very upset. (She really doesn't care for the grandkids, but she'll watch them if I beg enough :p) So, on the one hand, I have an obligation to Mass, but on the other hand, I have an obligation to keep my promises to my mom.

i think of all these other situations, too...I was helping a friend move. I agreed to help do 'first shift' early in the morning, and other friends of hers were supposed to come later. I was very clear at the outset, that she could have me all day except for during Mass. Well, the people who were supposed to help after me didn't show up and I knew she had to return the moving truck she got, so I could have left her with no help for her to move, or stay and help her move. I chose to stay. Again, I would have MUCH rather gone to Mass than to help her move, but I just didn't feel it was right to leave her without help. So, see, it's just situations like that...if I had gone to Mass I would have felt like I did a very un-christian thing by walking away from someone who needed my help, and of course missing Mass is very un-christian, too!! Ugh!

[quote="rwillenborg, post:5, topic:184228"]
No. I also don't think it would be okay to tell him that I missed Mass because my children were crabby, or because the furnace broke, or because I'm a flake and didn't realize Mass was at a different time. However, these are things that do happen, so I guess I'm just wondering from people here on this board, if your kids are acting up, do you skip Mass? I don't like to miss Mass, but then again, I don't like spending the entirety of Mass scolding my children. If you were waiting for a furnace repairman would you skip Mass, or just have everyone sleep in a chilly house that night and have him come out the next day (honestly, I worry more about the kids' room than ours. Those two spin in their sleep and never keep blankets on!!)? And, regarding the painting - my mother only grudgingly watches the kids. If she dropped them off and saw the room WASN'T finished, she would have flipped, and she wouldn't watch the kids again until the room was finished.
None of these are particularly stellar reasons for missing Mass, and, again, I enjoy Mass. But, I guess what I wonder is missing Mass for these reasons still a mortal sin?

[/quote]

The most important commandment is the first one: loving God. This means that He needs to come first. Loving God also means making time to offer Him at least one hour of your time on Sundays (or late Saturday afternoon) by assisting at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

I do not want to sound judgmental, but, as I read your posts, you are making other things more important than God. Missing Mass is still a mortal sin if you do not have just cause. The reasons you gave are not sufficiently just cause for you to miss Mass. You complain about your children. However, when you presented each of your children to the Church for baptism, you made a vow that you would rear them according to the laws of Chist and His Church, the same promise that you made when you gave your consent to be married. Even if your children misbehave, they need to be exposed to the Faith. You are not doing them any favors by not assisting at Mass.

With all due respect, you need to rethink your priorities. You are making pleasing people, such as your mother, more important than pleasing and honoring God. You say that you love the Mass, but, your words and actions do not necessarily indicate this. Please, please go to confession as soon as possible.

[quote="rwillenborg, post:5, topic:184228"]

But, I guess what I wonder is missing Mass for these reasons still a mortal sin?

[/quote]

I believe that each reason should be discerned separately and discussed with your confessor. Only you, with the guidance of a confessor, can determine the gravity of this sin (if indeed it is a sin for that particular circumstance). We cannot examine the state of your soul here on a forum but we can say that Mass should be the priority in your life since it is the highest form of Christian worship. Mass is where we can enter into heaven on earth and where we can present ourselves at the greatest Sacrifice offered for humankind.

So are your reasons those that could constitute mortal sin? Perhaps but that is between you and God. When people come to these forums asking whether this or that is a mortal sin I have to ask myself whether or not they understand the true concept of mortal sin. Mortal sin is a rejection of God given the three requirements stated through the Church. Full consent is one of those requirements and no one here on a forum can estimate the amount of consent that one might give to a particular choice. See your confessor and ponder what I have given you as to what the Mass actually is. Then you will be fully equipped to make a decision each Sunday as to whether or not you will attend Mass. Your question is probably one of the most common questions regarding Mass attendance. I teach many classes and hear all of the reasons why some do not go to Mass and most of those reasons can be resolved to allow for Mass attendance. Sometimes we just need to search a little deeper............ teachccd

1 Like

I have to chuckle in sympathy about the kids acting up. I don't know why but it seems that my kids always act up on the way to mass-and I usually end up losing patience with them. I would NEVER get to mass if it depended on our behavior as a family.

I can completely understand your dilemma. I have been there. Then one Sunday, I was whining about my back hurting and I decided to stay home. I felt justified and may have been, technically speaking. When my family got home I asked who they saw and one of the people who made it to mass was a parishioner who was undergoing chemo for his terminal illness. He was weak, pale, bald, nauseous, but he was there. At that point, of course I felt guilty and terrible, but more importantly, I had to ask myself why it was so easy for things to interfere with or be an excuse for me attending mass.

I had to do some soul searching and ask myself what my role is as part of the body of Christ... It was a process, and now, it is pretty rare that there is ever anything interferes with mass attendance. And, to be honest, mass is never at a "convenient time" but I have decided to trust that God will take me as I am-cranky, tired, distracted, whatever. Also, I stopped looking at the "legalities" of missing mass and just decided to attend out of love and need.

I am not saying that you are like me, or need to work on anything. I am just sharing my experience, because I really related to what you are going through.

Scott Hahn teaches that when we are at Mass a veil is removed and everyone there is in heaven. The Mass is not only an obligation but an opportunity.

Cranky kids? Furnace repairs? I would discipline the kids and tell the furnace man to come later.

You are very fortunate to be in a parish where the lines for confession are an hour long. Here at least you can go if you can arrange for a sitter for the kids even if you are in line for an hour - what a great time to relax, meditate and prepare yourself to receive God's mercy. And yes, I would talk to Father to see what he says about your concerns about missing Mass.

Peace to you and your family.

Well, my husband doesn’t want the kids baptized and we were not married in the church. I was baptized as a baby, went to first communion and there was no more church after that. It’s only recently that I have rediscovered the Catholic faith and am working my way back into it.
Again, though, how would you balance these priorities? When the kids wake up crying because they’re cold, I don’t know how I could feel that I did them any favors in that instance either.
Believe it or not, I really am looking for an excuse TO go to Mass! It’s just, I have people on all sides, husband and family included who are telling me that I am crazy for putting Mass ahead of things like providing a warm environment for the kids, and I’m feeling very torn.
Thank you, and I was able to talk to the priest a few minutes before Mass today, and he heard my confession, and everything was fine, but again, I am torn as to how to behave if these future circumstances arise again.
How can I look a friend in the face and say ‘I have to go to Mass right now’ when she so clearly needs me helping her? I just struggle with this sort of stuff. Thanks for listening. :slight_smile:

[quote="rwillenborg, post:8, topic:184228"]
So, if it were you, you would just reschedule the furnace repairman for the following day and hope the kids didn't get too cold in the night?
I'm not trying to ask a leading or tricky question or anything - the furnace repair guy ended up being able to come out later, so I actually just returned from Mass, but I still wonder, if he hadn't been able to come out later, should I have skipped Mass?
On the one hand, I have an obligation to the Lord. On the other hand, I also have an obligation to provide for a warm sleeping environment for my children. We're having an unseasonably warm day today, but it'll be in the 10s tonight.

Likewise, with the children when they're crabby. I still have an obligation to go to Mass, but I think the other people there would much prefer I keep the kids at home when they're like that, I'm sure.

And, likewise, what about when the kids just got over an illness? Daycare wants them to be fever free for 24 hours before bringing them to daycare. I apply that rule just generally. Kids need to be fever free for 24 hours before I take them anywhere since they could still be contagious. But, is that a valid reason to miss Mass? That my kids just got over a fever? Again, I understand my obligation to the Mass, but I also feel an obligation to keep children who might be infectious away from the other kids in the cry room.

For example, on those days when the kids have been crabby and I HAVE taken them to Mass, I come home regretting it, saying 'Everyone would have had a much nicer time at Mass if I had stayed home'. And on the days that I DO stay home from Mass, I think to myself, 'I really should have gone'. I just want to make a decision and be happy with it, y'know?

[/quote]

This may sound really trite (I don't mean it to) but one solution is to just go to Mass and pray for the graces to deal with these various situations as they occur. Like the poor woman in Scripture who gave her last coins to the Church, sometimes we just need to have faith that, if we do the right thing, God will give us the graces to handle the rest.

[quote="teachccd, post:11, topic:184228"]
I believe that each reason should be discerned separately and discussed with your confessor. Only you, with the guidance of a confessor, can determine the gravity of this sin (if indeed it is a sin for that particular circumstance). We cannot examine the state of your soul here on a forum but we can say that Mass should be the priority in your life since it is the highest form of Christian worship. Mass is where we can enter into heaven on earth and where we can present ourselves at the greatest Sacrifice offered for humankind.

So are your reasons those that could constitute mortal sin? Perhaps but that is between you and God. When people come to these forums asking whether this or that is a mortal sin I have to ask myself whether or not they understand the true concept of mortal sin. Mortal sin is a rejection of God given the three requirements stated through the Church. Full consent is one of those requirements and no one here on a forum can estimate the amount of consent that one might give to a particular choice. See your confessor and ponder what I have given you as to what the Mass actually is. Then you will be fully equipped to make a decision each Sunday as to whether or not you will attend Mass. Your question is probably one of the most common questions regarding Mass attendance. I teach many classes and hear all of the reasons why some do not go to Mass and most of those reasons can be resolved to allow for Mass attendance. Sometimes we just need to search a little deeper............ teachccd

[/quote]

Thank you for the advice.
I'm glad to know that at least I'm not the only one puzzling over these issues!!!
I actually fell SO in love with the Mass when I read Scott Hahn's book on it and I think to myself 'This is heaven touching down on earth. Don't miss this.' And then, on the other side, I have the glaring eyes of my husband and him saying 'The kids can't sleep another night in a cold house!' and my mother saying 'You TOLD me you were going to get this done!' and I feel that in attending Mass I am failing as a daughter, and a mother, and a friend, and a wife to these people who are counting on me!
Again, I what it comes down to is in ALL of these situations, I would MUCH RATHER be at Mass. Would I rather move a dresser or hear the Word of the Lord? Uh, no contest. Would I rather receive the Eucharist or sit in my freezing cold house waiting for a guy to come? Uh, no contest.
But it's not about me, of course. It's about what would best please the Lord, and I think to myself that fulfilling my obligations to these other people is something I should be doing, too.

I am very fortunate, you’re right. But, man, I wish these people would quit sinning so much so I didn’t have to wait in line for an hour!! LOL!
I kid, I kid.
And I read Scott Hahn’s book on the Mass, and I just loved the Mass even more after that!
Yeah, we don’t really have any sitters here and my husband doesn’t like to be alone with the kids. Even if we DID have a sitter, he doesn’t like anyone watching them except for me. To sit and relax and meditate…that would be WONDERFUL! Oh my gosh, to have even ONE HOUR of my life without the kids…I don’t care if it was going to the dentist, it would be AWESOME!!!
Ha!
Well, our parish priest, he’s wonderful, just such a kind and gentle soul, really, and very prayerful, and he’s always saying that I’m doing such a good job of raising these great Catholic children, but I don’t really feel that I am. When I miss Mass, I certainly don’t feel that I am, and when I’m at Mass and ognoring some other obligation, I don’t feel that I am. :shrug:

I will take it to prayer.

Actually, I think that’s great advice.
I truly believe that God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called, and by golly, if he’s calling me to Mass, He’s going to equip me to fix all this other stuff, right? :slight_smile:
I’m always making special prayers for dead relatives at Mass…maybe I should make some for me, too, while I’m at it, eh? :slight_smile:
Believe it or not, the thought of praying for the graces to get to Mass, and be happy with that choice, have actually never once even occurred to me. Thanks! :slight_smile:

Definitely! :slight_smile:

Mass is such a great opportunity to receive so many graces to get through a tough week that if we don’t go, we are, in a sense, choosing to spiritually handicap ourselves. I wish you all the best with your situation and will say a prayer that your situations are resolved so that you can make it to Mass in the future. :slight_smile:

[quote="rwillenborg, post:14, topic:184228"]
How can I look a friend in the face and say 'I have to go to Mass right now' when she so clearly needs me helping her? I just struggle with this sort of stuff. Thanks for listening. :)

[/quote]

You just do it.

I would have no qualms about saying "I have to go to Mass now. I'll be back in an hour." Or simply saying that I'll be there to help after Mass. That tells the whole world where your priorities are.

You ask about what the exceptions are. Very clearly from the Catechism you are excused if you are ill or need to take care of someone else who is ill. If you don't take your children out after a fever -- and you wouldn't take them to the grocery store or a restaurant or anywhere else -- then you should stay home and care for them.

It sounds like you're starting to focus more on your faith and all of this is kind of new. It may take a little while for it to start to feel natural. It was probably the same kind of situation when you got married. You went from making decisions on your own to having to consider what someone else wanted. When you were single, if a friend said "want to have dinner tonight?" you could say yes without having to think about anything else. Then you married and all of a sudden you had another priority in your life. Your answer would change -- "Is my husband invited too?" or "I'll have to check with my husband" or something similar. I don't think your friend would be put out because your priorities changed.

Similarly, your faith life is changing and your priorities are changing with it. Soon it will feel more natural to tell the furnace guy "I'll be home from Mass at noon. Can we schedule the appointment after that?" or tell your friend that you'll help with the moving after you get home from church.

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