My Parents Won't Take Me to Mass

Lately, my parents have been finding excuses to try to miss Mass and they call me selfish for wanting to go to Mass when they don't want to.   I've asked them to just drop me off, but they won’t.  I don’t’ know what to do.  In the 10 Commandments God tell us to keep the Sabbath holy, but he also tells us to honor our father & mother.  Am I in a state of sin because I can't go to Mass because I cannot drive?  Am I being selfish?

Thanks so much for writing to us. This is a pretty difficult situation you’re in, and we have a few thoughts to share that we hope will be helpful.

First things first: if you are missing Mass through no fault of your own, you are not in a state of sin. You can’t drive, and your primary mode of transportation – your parents – is not available for you to get to Mass. So, even though you are missing Mass on occasion, it’s not your choice to do so.  As long as you’ve tried your best to get there, there is no sin in that. And we would also say it is not selfish of you to desire to go – you want to be with the Lord and receive Him in the Eucharist. The opposite of selfishness is love, and it is clear that you love the Lord and want to be with Him.

It certainly makes it complicated that your parents not only don’t want to go to Mass, but that they don’t want to drop you off, either. Is there someone else who could take you? An extended family member, or a friend’s family? Perhaps if you could get a ride with someone else - until you begin driving - that would alleviate the inconvenience your parents feel over taking you to Mass. And once you’re old enough to drive, if you have access to a car, you can hopefully take yourself.

That won’t solve all of the issues here, of course. It’s a very difficult thing to be the child leading the parents to Jesus, because it’s supposed to be the opposite way. Think about St. Monica – she was a really holy woman, and her son, Augustine, was living his life about as far away from the Lord as a guy could get. She prayed for his conversion, fervently, for many, many years – and it worked. Now we call him St. Augustine, and he’s a doctor of the Church.

Perhaps you are called to be a St. Monica, in reverse, and pray intensely for your family. We’d recommend praying through her intercession, since she knows exactly what you’re going through – and obviously her prayers are very powerful! The first thing you can do for your family is to pray for them. I’m not sure why they see Mass as such an inconvenience, but their reasons aren’t as important as the state of their hearts. Pray for them to be open to what God wants to do in their lives. Pray that they will return to Him. The reality is, even if they aren’t seeking God, He is seeking them. And it seems like He really wants to use you to get to them, if you’ll let Him work through you.

The next step, after prayer, is to be an awesome, loving, respectful kid. You’re absolutely correct that one of the Ten Commandments is to honor our parents. When Jesus was asked what the most important commandment was, he said it was to love God with our whole selves, and love our neighbors as ourselves. Regardless of whether or not we agree with our parents’ decisions, we are called to love and honor them. It’s really important that you don’t let this issue cause fights. If your parents don’t approve of you getting another ride to church, you’ll need to be respectful of that, as difficult as it may be. Fighting with mom and dad over going to church is not going to lead them back to it – but living out your faith at home might. Be respectful and honoring in the way you talk to (and talk about) your parents. Put your words into action by being a good son and brother. Do small acts of service for your parents and your siblings – pick up around the house, clean the bathrooms, do the dishes, cut the grass, etc. And when the question of going to Mass comes up, be patient, kind, and loving in your words. People can disagree with what you say, but they can’t argue with what you do – and if you show your family that your faith has made an impact on the way you live your life, they will see that.

If you have to miss Mass because you can’t get there, there are other ways to stay close to Jesus. You can “attend” daily Mass online & you can “attend” Sunday Mass online - and even though you can’t receive the Eucharist, you can still receive many of the benefits by praying the prayers. Our Church also offers us a very powerful prayer – a prayer of spiritual communion  - which you can pray any time. And Jesus is just as present to us in the Scriptures as He is in the Eucharist. He is the Word made flesh – and the Word printed all over the pages of the Bible, so spend time with Him there and consume His Words. Find other ways to connect to Him – pray the Rosary, or through music, nature, other spiritual reading, etc.

We certainly love the Mass. The Catechism calls it is the source and summit of our faith. But the reality is that, until you can drive yourself or make alternate arrangements to ge there, you may not be able to attend. Please know that the Lord sees your heart, and He knows your desire to meet Him there; don’t let that keep you from meeting Him other places and continually growing in your relationship with Him.

We will be praying for you, and your family.

The REAP Team

You might also want to read this blog by one of our staff members: The Best Advice I Can Possibly Give