EWTN Catholic Q&A
Mass attendance
Question from MaryLynn on 08-12-2013:

My family wants to go on a cruise. After checking, the ship will not be in port on Saturday night or Sunday morning, so I would not be able to attend Mass. Because of this, I told them I could not go, as skipping Mass is a mortal sin and I couldn't go on the cruise knowing this would be the case. They are all upset with me for being so rigid. Is there any "wiggle room" on this subject? My conscience just won't allow me to do it. They are not Catholic and don't understand the "obligation." Please advise.

Answer by Catholic Answers on 08-14-2013:

MaryLynn--

There is some "wiggle room" on this subject, but before I explain what it is, I need to note two things:

1. Did you ask the cruise line whether there was a way to attend Mass on Saturday or Sunday or did you merely ask whether the ship would be "in port on Saturday night or Sunday morning"? If all you asked about was when the ship would be in port, then you should go back to the cruise line and ask what accommodations are available to assist Catholic travelers in attending Mass during the cruise. And if the ship is in port any time from noon on Saturday through Sunday evening (not "Saturday night or Sunday morning"), then you may well be able to go to Mass.

2. If your family actually is "all upset with [you] for being so rigid," and thereby treating you disrespectfully for what you consider a matter of conscience, then you may well need to stand your ground with them. Allowing them to use emotional manipulation to pressure you into doing something you believe is wrong is a very bad idea. You may simply need to say, "I'm sorry you feel that way, but I hope you eventually will respect my conscience as I respect yours."

That said, if there really is no way for a traveler to attend Mass on a Sunday or holy day of obligation, the obligation does not bind.

Recommended reading:

Desperately Seeking a Catholic Mass by Michelle Arnold

Michelle Arnold
Catholic Answers


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