Heavenly Matters: To go or not to go to Church
Hi Father Danny,
I am a catholic who grew up in the Philippines, where the whole family would always attend mass, specially on Sundays. I have recently moved to northern Norway. I do not know any Filipinos here.
I’ve heard that the closest catholic church is 1.5 hour drive from where I live. Having in mind that the weather here is very cold, with lots of snow, do I need to go to the neighbouring town to attend the catholic mass, or can I just pray at home?
Thank you father.
Teresa V. Elliasen, Norway
The third commandment obliges us to attend mass every Sunday and the rest of the holy days of obligations like December 8, Immaculate Concepcion, December 25, Christmas Day and January 1, Feast of the motherhood of Mary. Because God commands us, so He expects us to fulfill it. However, though God is a God of justice yet he is more of a God of love that is why he understands the limitations that we face in fulfilling these obligations.
Driving or travelling to get to church in the biting weather of Norway especially during the often unforgiving Scandinavian winter, with the thick snow, blizzard and everything, can really be a daunting task. I believe during snowstorms it could even be more dangerous to attempt to travel to get to church. God fully understands this.
In times that it is impossible for you to hear mass you can pray at home, do it regularly and not only as a substitute for not being able to go to church.
However, I would also like to remind you that when opportunities open like the onset of summer comes, when you can drive to the church and attend mass already, do hear mass. What you should avoid is falling into the habit of making excuses to yourself even when it’s not difficult anymore for you to fulfil your obligation to God. Because if women give pogi points to boys for good behaviour so does God give you heavenly points for taking an effort to follow his sacred obligations without, of course, jeopardizing your safety. Keep in mind though that we are not only after the heavenly points that we would be getting but we should look at this obligation more as devotion. We do it because we love God. We should not do it because we feel obligated neither should we do it out of fear of being hit by a lightning, experiencing all the misfortunes in the world, or of encountering any adversities. We should do it simply as a devotion, commitment and an affection to God.
Your situation reminds me of our less fortunate brothers and sisters who live by the slopes of the mountains in thePhilippines. Going to church every Sunday for them is a very difficult task thus fulfilling the obligations of attending mass during Sundays just like you, is also problematic to them, but just like you God fully understands them too when they cannot always attend mass every Sunday and the other days of obligation.
When I am asked this question I realize how fortunate are those among us who have cars, motorbikes, bicycles or public transportation and different choices on how to go to church. Furthermore, it also reminds me how fortunate are we when we are in a place where there are lots of churches to choose from, with mass and other services being done regularly.
Remember God loves you
You can reach Fr. Danny at firstname.lastname@example.org