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If I failed to look for a church to attend Mass while on vacation, does that constitute grave sin?

Full Question

If I did not attempt to find a church while on vacation in Las Vegas to fulfill my Sunday obligation, should I confess this as a definite grave sin? Also, in future trips, if I’m not able to locate the church where I’m staying, is there a way I could honor my heavenly Father on that Sunday?

Answer

It is difficult to give a simple answer to the question posed about Las Vegas without more information, as there are other factors that could affect the situation. For example, if you had just completed a long plane flight or car trip and were greatly in need of sleep. Also, the distance, ease, and safety of going to a parish for Mass in a strange city are factors that need to be considered. These would be amplified even further if you were traveling with family members.

However, if you believed at the time that you were committing a grave sin, then you should definitely confess it. If you were unsure at the time whether you were committing a grave sin, you would still be well advised to bring it up in confession. If it didn’t occur to you at the time to do this, then don’t confess it.

Regarding future trips where you are unable to attend Mass, here is what the Code of Canon Law has to say:

If it is impossible to assist at a eucharistic celebration, either because no sacred minister is available or for some other grave reason, the faithful are strongly recommended to take part in a Liturgy of the Word, if there be such in the parish church or some other sacred place, which is celebrated in accordance with the provisions laid down by the diocesan bishop; or to spend an appropriate time in prayer, whether personally or as a family or, as occasion presents, in a group of families. (CIC 1248, § 2)










13 comments

  1. Michael Figueroa Reply

    Does watching mass on TV count?

  2. Teresa Matsko Reply

    What are you talking about! It is a mortal sin no matter what the stuation is. If you miss Mass it is a grave sin MORTAL. Who writs these answers? If you are a lay person you dont know your religion. If you are a pries GOD help you!!

    1. Helen Hvasta Reply

      Teresa….hmmmm doesn’t look like a lot of compassion or empathy in your response.
      As far as watching the Mass on TV, it is permissible, for they do allow for shutins (bed or housebound) to fulfill their Sunday or Holy Day obligation….as long as it is a live presentation of the Mass, and not a repeat run…as on EWTN. First Mass celebrated at 8AM is Live…..at noon and in the evening, they are taped Mass.. With all the cellphones, laptops, tablets, GPS that people have at their disposal, there’s no good reason to miss Mass or Liturgy using your devices to locate the nearest Church, whether it be Roman Catholic, Eastern Catholic, or even Orthodox. If staying at a hotel, as I do on many trips, I ask the Desk Clerk, where the nearest Catholic/Orthodox church is located. I know of 3 Eastern Rite Churches in Las Vegas not too far from the Strip. They are so spiritual in their Liturgy, and such an awesome experience to participate in something so unusual and beautiful. Yes, an RC can receive Holy Communion in an ER Church. But in an Orthodox Church, which is Eastern Rite, you may have to ask the priest if you are permitted. He may most likely say not, if you are not Orthodox. But you will still fulfill your Sunday/Holy Day Obligation. And an ER knows they may be permitted to receive in an RC Church. I’m Eastern RIte Catholic, and an RC Church is very close to my home, which I attend almost daily and receive Holy Communion.
      My husband and I traveled in Europe and Canada…and have attended many different Churches…especially the very old Churches…and different languages. But one never is lost during Mass/Liturgy, since all the actions of the priest tells you just what part of the celebration of the Mass is at, since their are the same around the globe. Only thing you won’t understand is the Gospel and Homily…but google it for the day.

  3. Kathie Grendys Reply

    When on vacation I have seen some of the most beautiful churches don’t miss out !!!

  4. Joan Lemoine Reply

    masstimes.org

  5. quina433 Reply

    We have been to many countries in the world,and the first thing we do is to find a catholic church and the schedule of the masses,In 38 years we have not missed one single mass.In Las vegas the have masses at the Holy guardian angel cathedral next to the Encore Hotel starting at 4pm on Saturday.Excuses not to go are very limited to a real catholic.

  6. Arlene ZC Reply

    When I know that I have to travel somewhere else, I always plan ahead and look for different catholic churches either in the area where I will stay or near the area of the event I will go to. I never miss a mass because of planning ahead. My rationale, if I can plan ahead of time for my vacation then I can definitely plan ahead to make sure I will be able to attend mass.

  7. Keith Reply

    No action alone is a grave or mortal sin.

  8. mary Nichols Reply

    there is no reason why you can’t attend a catholic church while on vacation it is so great to see and meet some great people
    and parish’s read the bulletin of their church. tell the priest something you like about the church . we liked they collected the old palms to burn for ash wednesday at one church. another church collected the food during the bring up the gifts and tithing. like kathie Grendys said don’t miss out !!! like st Norbert in orange we have a boutique every other month on Sunday.if you hit it right you can join in some fellowshipping.ie pan cake breakfast and more.

  9. LRC Reply

    I don’t mean to be critical, but I don’t understand the attitude of “not attempting to find a church.” How can you not have Christ be first in your life? It’s only an hour a week, for the Lord of the universe. He doesn’t demand our worship, he wants our love. I’ve found, that the more love I give God, the more love I have for everyone else. I know, sounds trite, sounds like something out of a testimonial, and a bad one at that. I’m new at this, total love for God, so I’m overwhelmed at times, but I don’t just “find time” any more.

  10. Allison Vieira Reply

    I just recently returned from a trip to southern Florida. While there I was able to locate 3 Catholic churches within a 10 mile radius of where we were staying. My daughter and I were able to attend mass at an amazingly beautiful parish. We talked to a lovely couple and walked the beautiful grounds that had a meditation garden with the stations of the cross and a grotto with candles to Our Lady. It was so comforting to know that although it was a little different it was actually the same. I knew that the readings that we heard would also be heard at our home parish and at every other parish everywhere for that matter. Unless you are vacationing in the middle of nowhere then it should be quite easy to find a parish. There are even apps for your phone that can help you. I used Google myself. It was such a neat experience.

  11. surkiko Reply

    I want to share that I’ve changed. I used to rationalize about not being able to attend Sunday Mass while on vacation or what not. I now set it as priority wherever I am. Yes, it was wonderful when I get to visit many (Catholic, of course) churches and experience different parish life and customs when I traveled around the country last year. Even while overseas on cruise ships (at dock), land tours and private visits, I always managed to find the nearest church with the internet or by asking someone. In Vegas, I walked to the Shrine of the Most Holy Redeemer from the Strip. Yes, there will be a time when it is impossible (like in the air on a plane) but God knows that I will try to go to the Vigil Mass or look for a chapel at the airport during layover. I’ve changed because I came to the realization that we should always make God the first priority in our lives, and especially to make it holy on the Lord’s Day. That’s not too hard on being Christian.

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