At what point does it count as missing mass?


Last week, I arrived very late at mass, but made it just in time to see the priest bless the host. Did that count as a mass? I didn’t receive, obviously, since I missed the gospel, but it did bring up an interesting question: at what point is it missing mass? I’m not asking for the sake of something like “how late can I leave?” but out of honest curiosity about what point it is that I would need to attend another mass on Sunday to fulfill my obligation.

Here’s another question: if I attend Sunday mass after, say 5:00 PM, does it count as a Sunday mass or a Monday mass by the same vigil mass reasoning that allows Saturday evening masses as part of the Sunday obligation?


You have definitely missed Mass if you arrive after the Gospel IMO, though others will say you must be present “from veil to veil” that is from the offertory until the end of the ablutions after Holy Communion.
In the case you have presented, you have 100% missed Mass and would be required to attend another to meet your obligation if this is possible.

Any Mass on a Sunday counts as a Sunday Mass though if the next day was also a Holy Day of Obligation then a Mass late in the Day on Sunday could be used to fulfil that. (People argue over whether you can fulfil two obligations at once)

The reason is that a day of the 1st class (a solemnity) starts at dusk rather than midnight, though it normally ends the same as any other day. This is not the case with any other days so Sunday evening is Sunday not Monday.


Each day has a specific set of Mass Readings… such as The First Sunday of Lent… or today, June 30, 2013 - Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

The Priest is offering a very specific Mass. A Mass late on Sunday (9 pm) is the Sunday Mass, because (if) that is the specific Mass being offered. The prayers and readings are for that Sunday Mass.

A weekday Mass, such as tomorrow, July 1, 2013, Monday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time has specific prayers and readings. The priest will offer that Specific Mass.

If you attend a Wedding Mass on Saturday evening… it is a Wedding Mass. The readings and prayers are for the Specific Wedding Mass. This would not be the same as the Readings and prayers if it was the Vigil Mass offered on Saturday evening.

(However, a wedding couple can choose to have the priest offer the actual Vigil Mass and add the “wedding sacrament portions to the Mass.” That Mass would actually be the Vigil Mass for Sunday.)

There are some days that have different Masses for offering at different parts of the Day. The Easter Vigil Mass is a different Mass than the Easter Sunday Mass. Meaning different prayers and Readings are used. However, both the Easter Vigil Mass and the Easter Sunday Mass meet the obligation of attending Mass on Sunday.


To me, ‘miss’ means ‘miss’ - means not attend something, even in part.

If you arrived at a football stadium and were there for the last quarter of the game you wouldn’t say you ‘missed’ the game, would you? Or at least you’d be very wrong to say so. It would be correct to say either that you missed part of the game or more simply got there very late.

So as far as I am concerned if you arrived at the Consecration and stayed for the remainder of Mass you didn’t miss Mass, you missed the Liturgy of the Word and/or were late.

If you were late without good reason you may not have fulfilled your Sunday obligation (I vaguely remember being told as a young’un that one should be present for the Gospel as well as the Liturgy of the Eucharist, since Mass is comprised of the Liturgy of the Word as well, which is also important. If you have the ability to attend another later Mass I think you ought to do so.


I’m getting mixed answers here, some posters are saying yes, some are saying no. Perhaps I phrased my question wrong: does the Church have a specific standpoint on what part counts as missing mass? I was there for the consecration, which is the whole purpose of the mass, so I wouldn’t think it counts as missing, but I don’t know.


Aeden, don’t add anymore anxiety to yourself. There is no cut off time, it’s worship to our God, not a hockey game.

If you tried your best to get to mass, there was no harm.

If your conscience is bothering you, take it to your priest in confession, or ask for a dispensation.

Often here, inquiries are answered with strict legalism instead of the realization of how the Lord’s yoke is light, not heavy.

A even though there is an obligation, attend mass out of desire instead!


Just to be clear, a wedding Mass on Saturday evening meets the Sunday obligation even if the readings are not the Sunday readings.

What matters is the time – the day itself or the evening before – not the readings.

Here is what canon law says:

Can. 1248 §1. A person who assists at a Mass celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the feast day itself or in the evening of the preceding day satisfies the obligation of participating in the Mass.

It says nothing about what readings are used.


You are going to get mixed answers here. Its a group of people with all types of backgrounds giving you answers that you probably aren’t going to find an exact answer.

You can talk with your priest.

I once arrived at a parish for a reason other than Mass on a weekday. I was happily surprised to see Mass was being offered and attended for the remaining Mass. I really would have liked to receive Holy Communion, but did not as I had missed the Readings. I spoke with the priest after Mass and he told me that I could have received Holy Communion.

You arrived for Mass late last Sunday. If it was me, I would have looked at why I was so late and decide if I should attend Mass again later that day. Was I doing my best to attend Mass? Did I run into something unexpected that caused the delay?

To address “the consecration, which is the whole purpose of the mass”, … I would disagree that the whole purpose of Mass is “the consecration”.



No, a Wedding Mass offered on Saturday evening does not meet one’s obligation to attend Sunday Mass.

The bride and groom and every Catholic who attended the Saturday evening Wedding Mass is still obligated to attend either a Vigil Mass on Saturday evening or a Sunday Mass.



The reason you are getting mixed answers is because you are thinking about it the wrong way.

It’s not an issue of a certain amount of the Mass ‘counting’, and the Church doesn’t officially say you must be there for a certain part or a certain length of time. The simple principle is: be there for the whole shebang - from the first note of the entrance hymn to the last of the recessional - unless you are prevented through no fault of your own.

Treat it like attendance at a birthday party or wedding. Ideally you will be there for the whole event, but in any case for as much of it as you can.


Rose - the fact that the readings and prayers are different for a wedding doesn’t matter. They would be different if you went to an Eastern Divine Liturgy or an EF as opposed to an OF as well, but all equally fulfil the Sunday Mass obligation.


Thank you, SuscipeMe and Lily, for the correction on Saturday evening wedding Masses.

From: Fr. Mark Gurtner, J.C.L.
Pastor, St. Anthony of Padua Parish
Adjutant Judicial Vicar, South Bend Tribunal

Nothing in the law states that it has to be a particular “kind” of Mass in order to fulfill the obligation. Nothing in the law states even that to fulfill the Sunday obligation, for example, it must be a Mass in which the Sunday readings are heard. Thus, if one were to attend a Sunday afternoon Nuptial Mass, this would certainly fulfill the obligation. If one were to attend a Saturday evening Funeral Mass, the obligation would be fulfilled. Even if the celebrant illicitly changed the readings and prayers for a Sunday Mass, the obligation would still be fulfilled.


@Aeden - The Commandment is “Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day”, instead of “You are required to stay in the church for the mass from the first ring of the bell to the last word of the priest”.
So if you arrived for mass late (Offertory, Consecration), you can always continue to “keep holy the Lord’s Day” by additional prayers and meditations, in the church or at home. You can read from the Bible and/or pray the rosary (these were the old methods recommended by my priest, especially when there was no other mass available); as for the missed part of the mass, you can easily find online the readings, the Pope’s homily, other homilies and texts that discuss these readings.


Thank you all for your responses and insights.

@Neofight: I do enjoy the mass, it is actually the highlight of my week and I"m looking forward to daily mass in college.

@RoseMary131: I suppose you are correct, as it is based on keeping holy the sabbath day, but it always struck me that the consecration and reception of the host was the highlight thus and the main purpose of the mass.


To fulfill the obligation, we must “assist at Mass”. Not part of the Mass.

No, the Church does not give a “point” at which you may arrive late or leave early.

You are expected to be at the entire Mass. If you are not, have you really assisted at that Mass? These are the questions you should ask yourself as you determine whether or not you have fulfilled the obligation.

I would say you did not assist at the Mass in its entirity, therefore you did not fulfill your obligation-- unless it was because you were unavoidably detained (for example flat tire) and there are no other Masses or you were caring for infants/ill/elderly (in which case you have no obligation).

You should bring it up with your pastor for guidance.


We had an example of this just yesterday. Saturday, June 29, was the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul. That feast is of a higher rank than the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, so (assuming the Ordo was followed) the Masses offered yesterday evening were that of Sts. Peter and Paul rather than the Sunday Mass. But the Sunday Mass obligation was still fulfilled by attending Mass on Saturday evening.


We have no obligation to attend weekday Masses, and thus can receive the Eucharist even without attending the entire Mass.
We have an obligation to attend Sunday Mass with full, conscious and active participation.


I was always taught that if you arrived after the gospel then that is the same as missing mass completely.


I think that to receive the Eucharist one should attend the ‘whole’ of the mass.

You wouldn’t mean to go to a dinner and only turn up for the dessert now would you! It would be disrespectful. Jesus should be shown the utmost respect.


Terrible analogy.

The simple fact is that the rules for receiving Holy Communion and the rules for fulfilling the obligation to attend Mass on days of obligation are unrelated.

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