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What is the Church's policy on attending Mass while on vacation?
What is the Church’s policy on Sunday obligation for attending Mass while on vacation?
Q: My husband and I will be vacationing in Glacier National Park in northern Montana later this month. We will be there over the weekend. I have been researching mass times for that weekend. The closest church is 7 miles away but the only mass time of Sunday at 11AM is too late for our schedule, as we must be heading west through the park earlier than that in order to reach our western destination by evening. The next closest church is 25 – 30 miles away from where we are staying. What is the church’s policy on Sunday obligation for attending mass in these cicumstances?
A: Participation in Mass on Saturday evening or Sunday is an essential part of fulfilling God’s commandment to “Keep Holy the Sabbath.” We as Catholics have a serious responsibility to do everything reasonable to fulfill this obligation. It’s important to note that God does not need us to attend Mass – God does not need anything. We need to attend Mass. The personal and spiritual support which comes from the prayer of the community, and receiving the Lord in the Eucharist, is essential to our spiritual well-being.
With that being said, the Church’s sacramental law recognizes that sometimes participation in Sunday Mass is impossible due to illness, bad weather, lack of a church nearby etc. God does not expect the impossible from us. So if it is not reasonably possible to attend Mass, then we are obviously not bound to do so. In these cases, the Church strongly encourages us to take suitable time instead for personal or family prayer in place of the Sunday Mass celebration.