When is missing Mass on Sunday a mortal sin?

My husband and I had been out of town all last week. Friday we got home about 4:00 pm. At 12:00 am we had to take our son-in-law to the base as he was leaving for Iraq at 2:00 am (we hadn’t been to bed since we got home). We got home from the base about 3:30 Saturday morning and slept for a few hours, then got up and resumed our normal routines. Sunday morning when the alarm went off at 7:00 I got out of bed to get ready for Mass and was so tired I turned around and went back to bed. We only have one Mass on Sundays that is English speaking in our town and so we were unable to go to Mass later in the day.

Is this a mortal sin, do we need to go to confession before Mass on Sunday so we can receive Communion?

Please keep in mind the three requirements for mortal sin: grave matter, full knowledge, and full and free consent of the will. If any of these three requirements are missing, there is no mortal sin. Here is how the Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it:

Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God’s law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice. Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin (CCC 1859; emphasis in original).

Deliberately missing Mass on Sunday without just cause is indeed grave matter (cf. CCC 2192), but only you can determine if you did not have just cause, or if you did not have full knowledge and full and free consent of the will. While I cannot determine this for you, here are some considerations from your account to keep in mind:

[list]You were extremely tired, both from the late hours and perhaps also from the emotional impact of seeing your son-in-law off to war.[/list]

[list]You did not intend to miss Mass, as evidenced by the fact that you set your alarm and tried to get up.[/list]

[list]You honestly believed that you could not go to another Mass later in the day. For the future, please keep in mind that you can fulfill your obligation later in the day at a non-English-speaking Mass, but in this instance you apparently simply did not realize that.[/list]

Given these considerations, it does not appear that you committed mortal sin; but, again, that is something only you can determine. If you need further help in discerning this, please speak to your confessor. Priests not only absolve sin but help us determine whether or not we have committed sin.

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.