Being late for weekday mass, and communion

Different priests have said different things about this.
Once, that was about two years ago, I was very late for a weekly mass, I came shortly before communion, and the priest said at weekday masses it was different and I could still take communion.
Another priest last year said the same thing.

Then, this summer, I went to communion even though I had been late and after mass talked to the priest, and he said that the mass was a whole, the liturgy of the word and the liturgy of the Eucharist together, and out of respect it would have been better not to come to communion (but since I hadn’t known or hadnt been sure, it wasn’t a sin that I did come). Now I was confused and asked still another priest and that one said it was ok to come if I was here for the part that had to do with communion.

So I had all these different viewpoints on my mind when today I came to mass late (not purposely, of course). I came after the first reading, during the responsatory psalm. So I wasn’t sure if I could go to communion or not, but I really felt the desire to go. So I went up to the priest as the last person and asked him. He seemed to waver a bit at first but then said, yes, I could, but to say a prayer afterward (I think he meant after mass). Which I did and was happy. :slight_smile:

Now, is there any official guideline about this? Or is it a matter of interpretation? I wonder what other people have heard or read about this matter. Thanks :slight_smile:


Some priests are too liturgical for our own good, I’m afraid. It isn’t necessary to be on time for Mass in order to receive communion during the week, since you aren’t even obliged to attend Mass during the week.

Old saying - better never than late :slight_smile:

Our weekday Mass is maybe 30 minutes in duration. How many minutes late are you talking about in comparison?

This is a completely different subject, but at our Saturday Mass, pews of people leave right after Communion. They don’t even stay to hear Father say, “The Mass is ending, go and serve the Lord.”

How unbelievably rude is that!

Notice how some of us can never be on time, but can always be exactly 5 minutes late? That is the problem and that is where your solution lies. If you have doubts, and you do, I would abstain from receiving in such cases. Since communion is important, change those ingrained bad habits and find a way to arrive on time.

Any time you receive communion, whether it is a Sunday or a weekday, you are supposed to be “properly disposed” to do so. “Properly disposed” is a rather vague term. It means that (on top of all the “letter of the law” requirements) you are also in the right mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual condition to do so.

Being late for Mass does not in and off itself have an impact on whether or not you can receive communion (so long as you haven’t already received that day) but it may impact whether or not you are properly disposed to receive communion. Often the same reasons that worked to make a person late for Mass are those which might make you improperly disposed.

If you take more time than necessary to get ready for Mass, if the dog gets sick on the rug, if you spill something on your clothes and have to change, if the car won’t start, if the neighbor stops by and complains because your child left toys in her yard, if traffic had to be re-routed due to an accident, if you find out your spouse forgot to pay the electric bill, if you trip on a loose brick on the walkway into your parish church… any of those things *might *put you in a state where you are not properly disposed to receive communion (as well as make you late). The stress from being late to Mass might itself be enough to have that effect on you.

But it’s just as possible that you could be late to Mass and still be properly disposed. You have to search yourself and decide.

As far as what the priests say goes… There are priests who think being late is in and of itself a reason to make you indisposed. I think they are improperly projecting their personal beliefs onto you.


There is no definite rule on this. Instead, it’s left up to the prudent judgement of the individual priest. It comes down to the standard of “properly disposed” (see SMHWs post) and also “at a reasonable time.” Different priests will interpret these differently, and sometimes even vary their standards depending on the individual’s circumstances. For example, someone who has a habit of arriving during the Our Father every week (for no good reason) might not be admitted to Communion, but someone who is occasionally late due to caring for an elderly relative might be admitted to Communion without any hesitation.

Even though there is no hard rule, the general practice is that a person should be there at least to hear the Gospel. Being there for the start of Mass is the ideal, of course.

So the different answers you received from those priests were all correct. You simply heard each one’s way of interpreting and applying “properly disposed” and “at a reasonable time.”

Everyone has it right but let me add this:

You are allowed by law…which law and where not sure?
but you are allowed by law to recieve communion only twice in one day.
The only stipulation is that the second receiving must be done by attending a mass.

What this means is that the general cutoff time for showing late applies,
whether that is at the end of the homily or before the beginning of the consecration…not sure.
It also means that the first time of the day that you receive communion it can be at a communion service, such as a wedding with no mass but w/ communion, whatever those situations are…to include getting off work at 5:00PM and showing at a 5:00PM mass just in time to receive communion if its the first of the day.

Now really, I think the priest may be addressing you subjectively and seen enough of you to suspect/know that you are being lazy and late. If thats the case you can certainly step it up a bit.

Canon law cited in this link:

There is no official rule on this. However one argument from one priest made a lot of sense to me. He said that part you should never miss at Mass is from the Offertory to the time the priest receives. Because that is the sacrifice of the Mass.

But thats just an opinion. But the best one I heard so far. Or maybe second best. I heard another priest that all parts of the Mass are important and so you should be there from entrance hymn to closing hymn.

The above all seems reasonable to me.

On a more general note, if you find that you are habitually late for weekday Mass, it would be a good idea to discern the cause, and remedy it, if possible.

For example, if it’s because you can’t leave work until a certain time, try getting to work a few minutes earlier in the morning, so that you can book off a few minutes earlier, to get to Mass on time - if your boss will permit this, of course! :slight_smile:

There is a 5:30 evening Mass every day at our Cathedral. It’s in a side chapel right off the main church. Many people arrive early or on time, and many others arrive so late that there is no more room in the chapel, and they sit in the nave. An extraordinary minister of Holy Communion distributes Communion at the back of the chapel, and all the people in the nave receive. No one bats an eye. Most of these people arrive as soon as they can after work. It’s not a matter of carelessness or laziness. They do the best they can, and they get to Mass, which is better than most people do. How dare anyone suggest that these latecomers not receive? Weekday Mass is totally optional, and since one may receive Holy Communion outside of Mass, there’s not a requirement to be present for a whole Mass in order to receive.

Sunday would be different. If you are so late (through your own fault) that you do not fulfill your obligation to attend Mass and do not intend to rectify that, then you should not receive. But there is NO obligation on weekdays!


Since there is no official word on how late is too late, there is technically no “so late that you do not fulfill your obligation.”

Also, take note that the first Communion you receive in a day may not be during a Mass. So even if you arrive just in time to be the last person to receive Communion, and for the sake of argument lets say you do not fulfill your obligation by then, then yes you can still validly and licitly receive Communion.

twice now, not what he says.

Notice how some of us can never be on time, but can always be exactly 5 minutes late? That is the problem and that is where your solution lies. If you have doubts, and you do, I would abstain from receiving in such cases. Since communion is important, change those ingrained bad habits and find a way to arrive on time.

What a condescending and sanctimonious response. This whole question is a liturgical purist’s scruple, not a communion recipient’s!

Prior to Vatican II it was quite common for people to receive Communion daily outside of Mass! Many people showed up to a weekday Mass just to receive Communion and leave. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it. And there is nothing wrong with attending a weekday Mass and being late for it…occasionally or even chronically…since one is not even required to attend weekday Mass! How absurd to scold someone for that!

Always remember that if you are in any doubt about the advisability of receiving actual Communion, you can pray for a spiritual communion. I did this for many Masses when I longed for Communion but was not yet Catholic, and in later years when I was Catholic, I would abstain when I was suffering from morning sickness and I thought I might do the Host an indignity. ( If I was sick with something possibly contagious of course I would not have been at Mass at all). I think that you cannot go wrong if you abstain from Communion because of love and respect for God and His Church.

I don’t think that there’s an official rule, but my personal rule would be that if I miss the penitential rite, I shouldn’t generally join the communion line.

You can always say the Act of Contrition before joining the line to wipe away your venial sins.

If it is not your second Holy Communion that day…yes if one is prepared one may receive…even if late for Mass… (of course it is best to be able to be at the whole Mass…but the Church permits one to still receive unless there is some other reason not to…)

The Church even allows for Holy Communion outside of Mass…

No such rule…by the way.

And ones venial sins can be forgiven in any number of ways…including the Church notes in the CCC by Holy Communion

just be sorry and go to Communion…(unless otherwise not prepared)

Yes there is…:slight_smile: a “so late that you do not fulfill your obligation”

One does not need an official word to know one has not fulfilled ones Sunday or Holy Day obligation…

and one can look to the older moral theology works …

Good information from CA’s Jimmy Akin:

there for the poster there is also the note there from Jimmy:

“YOU DON’T HAVE TO PARTICIPATE IN MASS IN ORDER TO RECEIVE COMMUNION. That’s why there are Communion services. That’s why the Church’s documents EXPLICITLY note that it’s licit to receive Communion even if you just happen to be walking through a church when Communion is being distributed.”

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