Can a priest stop in the middle of Mass?

This is question for a novel that I am writing.

Is this permissible:

  1. priest is saying Mass.
  2. in the middle of Mass, the pastor informs the priest of an emergency and tells him to go
  3. the priest leaves and the pastor takes over the Mass

It’s a pretty urgent emergency. Lives are at stake.

Thanks for your answer!

Give the situation. Is there a reason the Pastor cannot take care of the emergency?

The problem with hypothetical situations is that they never happen.

I had a philosophy professor for my ethics class who refused to work with hypothetical situations for this reason.

He said, as I am going to say here, before I even attempt to answer this how about you give a real example of this happening.

How are lives at stake that the pastor can not deal with it but the priest celebrating Mass can?

If there is time enough for the pastor to come and interrupt the Mass is there not enough time for the celebrant to get though the Eucharistic prayer? and if there is enough time for that is there not enough for him to finish?

I know a priest who suffers from narcolepsy and is driven by a chauffer. He is competant to say mass and so forth but if the emergency call comes when the chauffer is not available, another priest must take the call.
Yes, interupting the celebrant to send him on a call that you can’t take yourself for health or other reasons is permissible. I will also assume for the purposes of this thread that you are dealing with a weekday rather than a Sunday liturgy.


I don’t know what the original post’er had in mind but I’m willing to play :smiley:

Paster gets a call that a parish member was in a horrible accident and is on the verge of death. They are keeping him alive but it doesn’t look like he is going to make it. The pastor is elderly and can no longer drive.

Thus, the quickest possible means to get a priest there is to send the one saying mass.

A few minutes COULD mean the difference between giving the last rites to someone who is still alive and arriving when the person is already dead.

Sir Knight is close.

Please, everyone, this is a novel, not real life. All I need to know is “Is it permissible?”


Instead of asking us knuckleheads, I’d ask a priest.

Pope John Paul II once stopped a Mass half way through. I believe it was in the United States on one of his pastoral visits. It was an outside Mass with many in attendance and a horrendous lightening storm broke out and knocked down a large tower. Truly life and death. The trouble with citing hard cases is that everyone ends up dumbing them down to cover everything.

Instead of asking us knuckleheads, I’d ask a priest

Ditto, Cat! As a writer myself (an unpublished novelist), I know that you’re better off getting information directly from an expert… and it’s not like you have to really stretch to find an expert in the field your protagonist is in! Try the AAA forum.

Good luck on the novel!

The Pastor or another priest must finish Mass if the celebrating priest passes out, is too ill to continue, is taken to the hospital, or dies. The celebrating priest must finish a Mass he has started as the main celebrant, unless one of the above happens.

As I’ve only taken a few philosophy classes, I don’t feel qualified to criticize your professor’s approach to philosophy. However, in response to most matters in life, I think this approach stinks. If you never explore hypothetical situations, you will not be prepared when they or similar situations arise. The Scout motto is “Be prepared.” We are fortunate that our military, emergency services, infrastructure planners, etc explore hypothetical situations.

Beyond the practical applications I mentioned, there are also obvious uses in better understanding theory. This is why St Thomas used hypotheticals.

[quote=ByzCath]How are lives at stake that the pastor can not deal with it but the priest celebrating Mass can?

Others have already given the good answer that the pastor may be unable to travel. The situation may also require a skill set (say Polish language fluency, or enormous strength, or the ability to squeeze through a narrow opening…:smiley: ) that the pastor lacks.

For sufficiently grave reasons, the priest can break off from offering Mass, yes :slight_smile:

The way you cited those four sounds like it may be almost verbatim from some authoritative source. Is this the case, and if so why is the hospital mentioned - are there situations where that might occur without any of the other three?

Yes. If the parochial vicar has superpowers and his equivelent of the “Bat Signal” has been illuminated, the pastor of the church can relieve him from celebrating the Mass and finish it for him.

I mean, that’s really the answer you’re looking for, isn’t it?

See, this is why hypotheticals do not work.

If a priest is that disabled he will not be named pastor. At best he would be administrator.

Hospitals have Chaplains on call for these kind of emergencies as in most life and death emergency cases in the ER there is no time to fine out who the persons pastor is and to take the time to call them. I speak from experience here as I worked full time for 5 years and volunteer for 17 years in the Emergency services.

But nice try.

From my experience, hypotheticals do not prepare you in any way to deal with something in a philosophical way. They don’t even work all that well in the Emergency services. That is why in the Emergency services we deal with real world things.

Hypotheticals are usually used to stump one or trick them into saying they would do something that is immoral.

Hypotheticals DO prepare you for things. The time to think things out is before hand when you can logically think things through and even seek advice from others and NOT when things are happening and you need to make split second decisions.

Uh, no. Our pastor had back surgery shortly after Easter and hasn’t been able to drive a car since. He’s still the pastor.

For crying out loud, that happened after he was named pastor, not before.

Ok, how about this very real possibility. What happens in the event of a tornado warning being issued during a Mass? Obviously this would require an evacuation. Could the congregation be moved to a safe location and the Mass continued? What if the particular parish wasn’t large enough to allow everyone to shelter in the same location?

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