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Dispelling the Myth of the Travel Dispensation

One of the fun things about having a site meter on my blog is I can see which posts garner the most attention. I can also see how people find my blog. One of the most read posts from my two years of blogging is this one that discusses finding Mass while traveling. I would like to think this post is so popular because it is so well written. The truth of the matter is that it generates so much traffic because I use the words “travel dispensation for Mass”—as in “There is no such thing as a travel dispensation for Mass.” I would guess that nearly a dozen times every week, someone googles “travel dispensation for Mass” and finds my blog. I wonder how many of these folks are poor souls trying to assuage their Catholic guilt with evidence of a justification for missing Mass while on the road.

I know that when I tell my seventh grade CCD students that attending Mass every Sunday is a commandment (one of the top ten!) and not just a pretty good idea they are amazed. Missing Mass has become so commonplace these students don’t give it a second thought. Somewhere along the line the parents of these kids missed part of their cathechesis. I really do believe that it is more out of ignorance than out of a rejection of their faith that they put sports, travel, or just sleeping in above making it to Sunday (or the Saturday Vigil) Mass.

I hope that after this post, several of you have felt prompted to volunteer to teach a religious education class. You have volunteered to teach the children, but don’t forget to teach their parents as well. These parents are supposed to be the primary religious educators of their children. But, they can’t teach what they do not know. Do every thing you can to help them learn right along side their children. You can click on the religious education label in the left side bar for some ideas on how to do this. Please feel free to share your own ideas in the comments.


Jim said…
According to Jimmy Akin, the chief apologist at Catholic Answers, there is a travel dispensation for Mass -- at least, that is, when that travel involves visiting China.

Masses in China
Catholic Mom said…
There is a travel dispensation if the travel takes one to the far reaches. China, middle of nowhere backpacking, etc. However, the routine travel we do to various US cities and towns for the most part to not excuse us from our obligation to attend Mass. The question is, did we make a good faith effort to get to Mass or not.
zmama said…
I found your post because we are headed to China for two weeks in April and would not be able to attend Mass in an RCC church because the church is underground.
curtisB said…
I can agree fully on the importance of Mass and not missing it. What bothers me is the idea of asking 'Dispensation' from a priest...... If we want thoughtful mature people of faith than we need to trust that they can make a wise decision of why and when missing Mass is valid ..... 'Asking' for dispensation promotes an adolescent faith.
Fr. Mark said…
Two comments:

1) Mass attendance on Sunday is not a Commandment; it is a Precept of the Church. (The Commandment is "Keep holy the Lord's Day," not "Attend Mass.") This is why it is able to be dispensed. A priest is not able to grant a dispensation from a Commandment, but is able to grant a dispensation from a Church law.

2) Saying that "thoughtful mature people of faith" ought to be able to make their own judgment as to whether their reason for missing Mass is valid or not is akin to saying that thoughtful, mature citizens ought to be able to make their own judgment as to whether their reason for speeding is valid or not. The law is the law, and cannot be disregarded at the personal whim of an individual. Refusing to ask for a dispensation promotes an adolescent faith.

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