Domestic Church: Sick Children and Mass


by Katie Sciba

Before I even opened my eyes Sunday morning, I smiled. Settling more deeply in my warm bed, I knew a day of real rest was ahead. Andrew and I had been pinned to the grindstone with work, house and kids, so anticipating midmorning Mass and a clear afternoon was a relief on its own.

Then a small, feeble voice broke the silence. “Mom? I need a bucket.” My eyes flew open to find not one, but two little faces peering at me, both pale with illness and worry. Suffice it to say the day took a turn before it had a chance to begin, and we experienced a very different Sunday than the one we expected.

Kids make life unpredictable at any time, but when we need to fulfill our obligation to attend Mass, illness can make chaos of our plans. With some simple adjustments, we parents don’t have to be left with our hands tied.

Divide and Conquer

An easy solution to meeting our Sunday obligation is attending Mass separately. It happens often enough in our house that it’s understood that one of us will go to “the 10” and the other will go in the evening with whoever is healthy.

But what if you miss Mass entirely? 

Attending Mass is a precept of the Church and a moral obligation, not to mention the fact that we all need Jesus, but if illness strikes and wipes out all chances of going, we have valid reason to miss. In paragraph 2181, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “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.” Illness or taking care of the sick are valid reasons for missing Mass.

If you can’t go to Jesus, bring Jesus home

Fortunately, there are plenty of options to keep holy the Sabbath for those sweet sickos at home. Thanks to technology, we can watch Mass online at, which is televised from Jamaica, New York. We can pray through the Mass readings with our kids, talking especially about the Gospel and Jesus’ message within; e.g. what was Christ teaching those around him and what is he saying to your soul right now? If you know an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion (EMHC), ask him or her to bring the Eucharist to anyone who couldn’t attend Mass.

We need Jesus, receiving him in the Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian faith and attending Mass is not only an act of worship, but also a way to encourage one another in faith and love of God (Hebrews 10:24-25); if we can go, we need to go. When it comes to handling sick kids, however, we might have to adjust our sails a bit, missing Mass due to circumstance. When infection comes knocking, we can take it in stride, still worshipping the Lord and receiving His graces for the unexpected challenges of family life.  •

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