Q. What happens when work schedules interfere with Sunday Mass? Are we allowed to attend a Saturday Mass instead?
A. It is an unfortunate reality that in much of modern society, Sunday is no longer observed as a day of rest but yet another day on which we can spend money and thus compel others to work. For your part, do not be afraid to ask your employer if you could arrange to have some part of Sunday off to attend Mass. I know that, as a priest, I have written letters for people to their employers asking that they allow them to go to Sunday Mass and many have agreed.
In addition, also remember that most parishes offer a Saturday evening Mass that fulfills your Sunday Mass obligation. Pope Pius XII, back in the 1950s, restored the ancient practice of a Saturday evening Mass that anticipates Mass the following day, and so any Catholic is permitted to make that Mass their Sunday Mass. It is also common in most major cities for there to be a Sunday evening Mass, sometimes even as late as 7:30 or 8 pm. Or, if you are an early riser, many parishes offer Mass as early as 7 am. There are usually so many options available to make Sunday Mass that most people would be hard-pressed to use this as an excuse.
However, if it is utterly impossible to make a Mass on Saturday evening or sometime on Sunday due to work and you will likely be fired from a job that is vital to your economic survival, the Church is certainly sympathetic to your situation. You are encouraged to nonetheless keep Sunday holy, taking some time that day to pray.
If work were to prevent you from attending Sunday Mass for extended periods of time, you might need to consider whether this line of work is an obstacle to your own salvation in Christ. For to build up earthly treasure that will perish and forfeit heavenly treasure that lasts for eternity must not be taken lightly…
Perhaps we should also consider what we are personally doing to help restore Sunday as a day of rest. For example, if we make more of an effort to avoid shopping on Sunday, going to restaurants, movie theaters, and so on, business owners may be compelled to be closed on Sundays!