Is missing Mass for elderly a sin? Age limit?

I’m 74 years of age and attend Mass regularly but I was wondering if there is a certain age when it is not a sin if you just didn’t sleep well the night before or were just worn out. Must the reason always be sickness?

If you cannot go with reasonable means for any reason then you are not obliged to do so.

agreed, my great uncle can no longer travel unaided, and for him it is physically impossible to get to a mass without help.

So although it is not preferable he is by no means obliged to go to mass, especially when those who could take him are not religious and unlikely to take him to mass weekly.

Short answer is no, there is no upper age limit on the obligation to attend Mass. Assuming your health and strength permit it and you have the necessary means (transport etc), then you are obliged to go, regardless of age.

“Just worn out”? “Just didn’t sleep well”? These are very vague expressions.

On the one end of those phrases you might have someone who, say, has literally had two hours of sleep due to a crying grandchild, and as a result is SO exhausted that they are very likely to nod off at the wheel and have an accident if they drove to church AND can’t get there by any other means (taxi, get a lift etc). Such a person would be excused from the need to attend.

On the other you might have someone who IS worn out, but only because they chose to stay up at a party until 3am, knowing it was Saturday night and that there was only one early Sunday morning mass they could attend. Such a person needs to take their obligation to God a bit more seriously and get to sleep earlier, go on Saturday night or otherwise make sure they are able to attend.

Age has no bearing on any of this, by the way.

Age can have some bearing on this matter. As we get older, we become weaker physically, sometimes until the point of inability to attend Mass (or leave the home at all). Though this is not directly caused by age, age is still a factor as it has caused/worsened these physical weaknesses. Thus, age is indeed relevant. You’re right on about there being no “retirement age” for Mass, though :wink:

no there is no upper age limit, but the same rules as apply to everyone else, you are unwell, you are caring for someone else, you can’t get there (some elderly can no longer drive for instance) and it is your own prudential judgment on what “unwell” means. Fatigue can be a reason, but can also be a symptom that should not be neglected btw.

No there is no age.

I guess I should have been more specific. I very frequently have insomnia, lying awake until 3 or 4 AM and later. On those mornings I am exhausted. I know there are options to attend Mass in the evening, which I do in the summer months when it is still light out at night as I’m driving home. But in the winter months both my husband and I are very nervous driving in the dark so we aim for a Sunday morning Mass.

And no I am not tired from partying until 3 AM.

Thank you for your comments.

I’m sorry, I’m a lawyer by trade, so I’m afraid nitpickiness comes with the job. :blush:

The question to ask yourself would be ‘what would I do right now if I had to get up for something else that was really important?’

Say, you had the chance to earn a thousand dollars just by showing up somewhere in town on that particular morning.
Or if your favourite sports star/actor/politician/other person you admire the most in the world were coming to your town for that morning only and you had a special invite to go meet him or her.
Or if your one and only beloved grandchild were getting married that morning.

If the answer is ‘I’m that tired that I really don’t think I could get out of bed for anything or anyone’, then stay home in good conscience.

The way I’d see it, if you’d get up and out to do other things, then you’re not too tired for Mass. Although I’d let hubby do the driving or get a lift if you are tired :slight_smile:

Same principle if you’ve got a cold or some other illness, if you’re well enough to do other things (apart from visiting the doctor, of course :wink: ) then you’re not too sick to go to Mass.

I am amazed by the rigid answers. God loves us and wants to see us at Church but if you are tired after being up all night he will understand He is not a tyrant. When I did moral theology in the days before Vatican Two we were taught that moderate grave inconvenience excused. Just say your prayers at home and if you have a Mass book read that.
In recent years our parish priest has asked people to consider carefully whether they are up to going to Mass he says if you are not well even if you only have a cold stay at home.


I was with you up until that comment.

Please, people, if you have a cold, STAY HOME, do not spread it around. It may be just a cold to you, but it could result in bronchitis or worse for someone with weakened immunity.

Absolutely true. We have a family member who takes a medication that is known to weaken the immune system; someone who has a contagious illness, even a cold, could cause him to develop a secondary infection that could lead to pneumonia.

Please, if you are ill, stay home, even if you can otherwise function.

you don’t owe anyone her any explanation, you simply make your own prudential judgement on based on your condition and means of getting to Mass on any given Sunday, but it is not based on age alone, but how you feel, your health, ability to get there and so forth

not that OP asked, but it is an act of charity to stay home when your condition poses a threat to the health of others

I don’t agree that people should stay home if they just have a cold. People with simply a cold have every right and yes, even the obligation to attend Mass. If they can go shopping or out to lunch or to a friend’s house or to work, they should go to Mass. However it is up to the person to use some prudent judgement such as not shaking anyone’s hand, or maybe sitting in an area of the church where not many people are around. If a person has a compromised immune system perhaps they should stay home or sit apart from others. How do they deal going to other places where there may be people who have colds (like the doctor’s office). There was a man in our parish who had such a disability. He used to come to Mass wearing a mask, up until the week before he died. He sat in the first pew with his children so that he wasn’t surrounded by a lot of people (We all know most Catholics avoid the first pews). I don’t think he even gave it a thought that people with colds should stay away from Mass. His kids were even sneezing or coughing every once and awhile, but he never missed brining them to Mass. He was really a role model for us and we were all sad when he died. My father in law when he had cancer and the chemo ruined his immune system still used to go to mass and just made sure he sat away from people. He never caught anything from anyone, but he eventually died from his cancer.

I work for a church and even when I have a cold I am expected at work. I am expected to attend mass every day. Our priests have celebrated Mass with colds, fever, stomach viruses and other contagious ailments. Most of the time no one knows this (but I do because I work with them). I don’t think people would appreciate no mass that day because Father had a cold.

I do apologise, my intention was to put questions and comments to the poster for her own consideration, not to demand that she publicly explain things.

And I certainly think communicable illness should keep one at home - and colds, while not serious for some sufferers, might turn into something much more serious if transmitted to someone whose immune system isn’t so perfect, so it’s not a good idea to risk transmitting them.

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