Saturday, December 7, 2013

It is NOT a sin to miss Mass due to impossibly icy roads

I know I don't usually post on Saturdays, but we received an unprecedented email from our pastor this evening, letting us know that all Sunday Masses (including the ones scheduled for tonight) were canceled for the weekend.  I've never lived somewhere where all Sunday Masses were canceled due to inclement weather, but then again, I've never lived somewhere where all the roads, the church parking lot, and the walkway up to the church were solid sheets of ice either--and here in Texas there just isn't enough road-clearing equipment to get the job done, especially when the high temperatures will remain either at or below freezing until Monday afternoon.

Some other parishes in the area didn't have to cancel Masses because one or more of the parish priests lives on the church premises and can say Mass whether or not the congregation can be there.  As one such parish noted on its website, though, "Those that can not safely make it to the church have had their obligation dispensed.  So please use caution and your best judgment to stay safe."

It's a good reminder to all of us who will experience inclement weather this weekend.  It is not a sin to miss Mass on a Sunday when you are putting yourself or others at risk of harm in an attempt to get to the church.  Icy roads are a serious hazard to safe travel, and if you can't leave your house and safely get to work or the store or anyplace else, you aren't under an obligation to drive on those same roads to try to make it to Sunday Mass.

How dangerous is too dangerous?  While that will obviously depend on your location, your means of travel, your experience driving on snow or ice, etc., I find that one good place to check is your local department of transportation.  Right now, ours shows locations of ice all over local roadways, contains comments such as "Travel discouraged due to black ice;" and a Tweet from a local Txdot official says that road clearing equipment is being brought in from out of state, but local residents can help by staying off the roads tonight and tomorrow.  Other advisories in our area say quite clearly that any non-emergency travel is discouraged.  When the people responsible for maintaining safe roadways tell you that travel is a bad idea, I tend to listen.

UPDATE: Several area churches are reporting that Msgr. Berg, the Fort Worth Diocesan Administrator, has granted a dispensation from attending Mass in the Fort Worth Diocese due to the weather.  I've never seen this done--historic, I think!
Those that can not safely make it to the church have had their obligation dispensed. So please use caution and your best judgment to stay safe. - See more at: