If late to mass, does it fulfil the sunday obligation?

Straightforward question here: if you’re like 2 minutes late to mass (like I was today), does it still count for the Sunday obligation or do I need to find another Mass to go to?

Aeden, This is not a question for anonymous people on the internet. Use your own good judgment.

If you cannot judge for yourself, this is a question for your pastor at the end of Mass. We do not know the circumstances of how you came to be late-- such as weather, family circumstances, etc.

I am not sure how one would quantify “two minutes late” anyway. Seems quite scrupulous actually.

If you are in doubt, ask your pastor. The Church has no point in the Mass at which you can arrive and have fulfilled or not fulfilled your obligation. The Church does not present the obligation in that way.

We should strive to be there for the entire Mass, and even beforehand to prepare ourselves properly. But things out of our control happen and God understands our intention and our motivation and whether or not our lateness was through no fault of our own or through neglicence.

Go talk to your pastor.

Indeed. One time a local pastor decided to lock the doors once the Mass procession began. (He let the late comers finally come in before the homily.) His reasoning was that those who did arrive on time who were trying to follow the readings shouldn’t have to be distracted by others pushing them down the pews and walking down the aisles.

He only did this a few times until people learned their lesson.

Before Vatican II, it was taught that you need to arrive before the Collect in order for your obligation to be fulfilled. Hence, you would see people arriving during the Gloria.

This is no longer taught, but I still go by it.

I laughed when I read this. :smiley:

Actually, before Vatican II, there were any number of “deadlines” that were taught, basically depending on your pastor or bishop’s ethnic background, the spirituality of the order of priests or nuns or brothers, the strictness of one’s teachers and parents, and a host of other factors.

The most extreme one I’ve heard is that as long as you get there before the Homily ends, you are technically going to hear both parts of the Mass. In my family and parish, we were taught to get there before the end of the Gospel. I’ve also heard earlier ones. (Never before heard one as early as the Collect, though! Your parish was hardcore!) Father Z has had canon law discussions pointing out that you can also hear the Eucharistic part of the Mass at one Mass, and then hear the readings part at another, and thus get a whole Mass in.

Basically, these various deadlines are not supposed to encourage lateness or minimum attendance. Rather, they are meant to set your mind at rest if you should happen to be running late, and to encourage people who are running late to go to Mass and not just stay home in despair.

Mother Church is generous and kindly, and she knows that these things sometimes happen. That doesn’t mean that we should mess with our obligations on purpose; we go to Mass out of love, not to check off a box. But these things do sometimes happen.

It was my understanding, that if you missed the Gospel, you have missed Mass. However, this is best answered by the priest as there may be mitigating circumstances for being late. I would go to confession anyway and clear my conscience. The priest in confession would best answer. God bless.

I was told by one priest that arriving before the "Holy Holy, was his definition. I arrived a little later once and asked if I should go to confession and mass on Monday and another asked if I had seen communion, and he was satisfied when I told him yes.

I try to go to another Sunday mass if past the Holy Holy. This makes sense to me. A person can read the readings and say the prayers but we can’t bring Jesus into bread or wine. I always try to read all the readings and hymns if late at all.

Depends on the reason and when you entered mass. I always thought you needed to be there by the Gospel. Also, if this is a chronic thing, you should leave for mass a little bit earlier.

My personal litmus test that I use for myself is if I arrive in time to hear the priest say “…And we begin this Mass in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” then I’m not late. If I arrive a minute or two after that but in time for the Penitential Act, I think I would consider that the Mass counts, but I would go to confession later for being late. But if I get there after the beginning of the Penitential Act, I will try to go to a later Mass. If that was the last Sunday Mass, then I would stay for the rest of the Mass and confess it later that I was significantly late.

Depends on the reason and when you entered mass. I always thought you needed to be there by the Gospel. Also, if this is a chronic thing, you should leave for mass a little bit earlier.

You certainly may have been told this, but it is NOT true. There is no document of the Church that says if you miss X part of the Mass or you arrive by Y part ofthe Mass, you have or have not fulfilled the obligation. We are to assist at the entire Mass.

I agree that there is no official teaching about how much of the Mass one must be present for in order to meet one’s obligation.

But just for fun I will share what I was taught back in the 1960s and what seems to have been what my parents were taught prior to that. We were told you had to be present for the Offertory, the Consecration, and the Communion rite in order to meet one’s obligation.

Wow! I’m shocked at all the responses. I too was told as long as you hear the Gospel…
having said that though, I would presume that at least 30 people at every Mass at my parish don’t attend a Mass that “counts”. The ushers leave them in the narthex, and let them in between readings. They are asked to sit toward the back. But that’s ALL that is ever said.

Wow. Seems like we need instruction and clarification big time! At least about confessing if nothing else.

I was taught by the Jesuits, waaaaaaaay before Vatican II, that if you were late for Mass, but were there for both the reading of the Gospel and the Consecretation, then you fulfilled your attendance obligation. They did say though, that if you were late for Mass without a good reason, it was a venial sin. They said it was incumbant upon the individual to leave home in sufficient time to get to Sunday Mass on time…That included traffic jams, missed busses, etc.

The way I see it is at the job even on time is considered late. And when someone arrives on time or late to their job they aren’t surprised when they get called out for it. People get fired for being late to their job. But, when we go to Mass we are checking in with the Ultimate Boss. So, it makes sense that the standard would not be any less than the standard we have for getting to work on time. And every part of the Mass is important or it wouldn’t be in the Mass. :slight_smile:

Excellent! :thumbsup:

Gosh, I never thought of it that way. :blush: How could I demonstrate more respect with my actions for a human boss than for the Ultimate Boss. Very nice, I like the way you put it.

Thank you for the compliment. I got the idea for this from my time in the military where one can get into big trouble for being even a little late to duty.

What does going to church have in common with obeying orders at the job or in the army? God is not a military superior or an employer who hires and fires people according to their economic efficiency… He’s our Father. If a child arrives late at a family dinner, he’s not thrown out and disowned, but received and celebrated just like the other children. The children who arrive the latest are totally equal to the first ones. The relationship between parents and children is obviously different from the relationship between officers and soldiers or bosses and employees. If God saw us merely as his hired hands or military subordinates, the idea that a sinful man who repents before death can be totally equal with a saintly monk in the eyes of God would be absurd.

My mother used to say: God doesn’t sit with a whip and a watch in his hand, ready to punish and throw out those who arrive late at the Sunday Mass. Not that she ever used to arrive late; it was just to make a point.


The emphasis of my point wasn’t about God’s punishment but about the respect we should be showing for Him. Jesus said if we love Him we will keep his commandments. Why do people show more respect for our human employer than to God? By making sure that we are never late for work but thinking that being late for Mass is no big deal we are saying that God is no big deal and that our work is more important. The fact that God loves us and our employer doesn’t should be more reason for us to show respect to God by keeping his commandments and not being late for the Mass. By the way, I’m not saying that I’m perfect. I owe an infinite debt of gratitude to God for his love and mercy in forgiving me the sins I have committed against Him.

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