The Catechism for the Catholic Church says that missing mass on Sunday is a grave sin, unless there is a serious reason (like needing to care for others), or a dispensation is given by their pastor.

2181 The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor. Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.

Say that a person wanted to get a dispensation from Sunday mass (perhaps they got a job at a restaurant that required them to work on Sundays, which is noted as something that may be necessary in 2187). How are they expected to go about getting this dispensation? Is it as simple as sending an e-mail (or otherwise communicating with their pastor)? Or is there a more formal process?

  • Slightly related - Canon Law Made Easy article on 'permanent' Sunday Mass dispensation: canonlawmadeeasy.com/2017/02/23/… Commented Mar 1, 2017 at 6:03
  • Within 5 km of my home, besides the Sunday morning Masses, we have several Saturday evening Masses as well as a Sunday evening Mass. Look and you shall find a Mass that fits into your schedule. At least where I live. Some isolated Parishes in Northern Canada have the Sunday obligation transferred to another day of the week, so that a priest may say Mass for these communities in such circumstances.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Mar 1, 2017 at 13:11

1 Answer 1


If a person has to work on Sundays, and cannot attend Mass on Sunday morning, Sunday evening or Saturday evening, which are all canonically valid as fulfilling Sunday obligation, then they should speak to their pastor in person and explain the situation, so that he may evaluate the situation and offer some sort of compromise.

Now, regarding this obligation, unless the region has a great lack of priests, there should be a good amount of choice in Masses so that someone who works Sundays is able to attend at least one. If not, then perhaps the person could talk to their boss at the restaurant to see whether they can spread their shifts more during the week so they have some time on Sunday to attend Mass.

  • It may be worth noting that there was a recent United States Supreme Court ruling regarding how much employers must accommodate religious obligations as seen at youtube.com/watch?v=Y75uiOw_R9Y Commented Jul 21, 2023 at 12:44

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