Holy Day of Obligation: was I too late to Mass?

I walked into the church lobby (narthex?) right at the end of the opening hymn and before the Sign of the Cross. I got into the main part of the church after the Sign of the Cross.

I still fulfilled my Mass obligation because I got to Mass before the Gospel reading, correct?

One other question regarding Holy Days of Obligation: can we eat meat today? I read that we could.

Canon Law simply states you must participate in Mass on Holy Days of Obligation or evening before. The Church does not document anywhere that you are too late to fulfill that obligation if you arrive after a certain event. Many people have opinions and say you do not fulfill the obligation if you arrive at a certain time but they cannot support them with documentation.
You did fulfill your obligation. Don’t let anyone tell you you did not.

Thank you for the reply. What about for a Sunday Mass?

Yes that would not be considered not fulfilling ones obligation. For Sunday or Holy Day.

No worries.

I have a related question.
There have been times on a Holy Day, when I had attended the noon Cathedral Mass on my lunch break at work. However, if the Mass goes long, and I have to leave to get back to work, would that fulfill my obligation? The one time that happened, I had to leave pretty early (before the consecration). I’m not asking because I want to do as little as possible, but technically, does that fulfill the obligation?

Yes, you fulfilled your obligation.

There is no hard and fast rule (I’ve heard both the Gospel, and the start of the Canon as the cut-off).

It also depends why you are late. If you miss half of Mass b/c of an accident blocking the road, I don’t think God would fault you. If you purposely leave the house late, and try to time your arrival to the Gospel, that would probably be a different story.

God Bless

No. I would say that such does not fulfill the obligation if one leaves at that time. So one would want to go to Mass later.

The draw-bridge was up, so that took up around 3-4 minutes. I may have been to Mass on time if the draw-bridge didn’t open.

There is a Mass at noon at a different parish. I think I’ll go (I’m scrupulous).

Fr. Ronald Knox, in one of his sermons explaining the Catholic Faith for schoolchildren, says that the Mass is divided into three parts (up to the Gospel, from the Gospel to either the consecration or the Agnus Dei, I forget which, and from there to the end), and that to meet your obligation you have to be present for two of these in their entirety.

I can’t find this in the current code of canon law, so it looks as if either it was in the previous code and not in the present one or it was always a common opinion of casuists rather than an official ruling.


I would encourage you to resist such scruple. Also make sure you have a regular confessor to direct you and to give you principles to follow even. He would tell you the same.

No Pope, Priest, no Bishop, moral theologian …would say that arriving at that time does not fulfill ones obligation.

Prior to the reform of the Liturgy theologians noted what you noted regarding the Gospel or even those who would have noted the obligation was fulfilled even without any of the readings being heard…let along the very beginning of Mass! And the Church has not said since the reform of the liturgy that the obligation is not fulfilled if one misses the first parts…(and Canon Law actually has a canon that says if there is doubt of the law in canon law -it does not bind). And the Church does not want anyone to scruple over this …

Anyhow in the case described- no one would say it did not fulfill the obligation.

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