Is it a sin to arrive late to mass after the gospel is read?

Is it a sin to arrive late to mass after the gospel is read?

It’s probably not a good idea if you intentionally arrive late so that you only get a partial homily and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Or if you arrive late because you weren’t responsible and didn’t go to bed at a decent hour because you were playing. Or whatever.

But, say, you’re traveling, and you look up the church time website, and it says Mass is at 9:30. And you get there… and, oops, their website was wrong, and Mass is actually at 9:00. That’s not a sin.

Suppose you’re trying to get to church with your kids. And suppose one of them accidentally spills cereal all over his church clothes five minutes before you walk out the door. So you’re running 15 minutes behind schedule, because you need to clean up the mess, clean up the kid, get the kid re-dressed, and so on.

Suppose you oversleep because you were working until 2 AM Saturday. You look at the clock and realize, “I can’t make it in time.” So you pick a different Mass in a different place to go to. But suppose there’s no other later Mass within an hour’s drive. You do your best.

But whenever I get to church late, even with a good reason, I generally don’t take communion if I’ve missed that much of it. But the idea is to generally get to your seat 10-15 minutes ahead of time, if possible, so that you can spend some time internally preparing for the Mass, rather than trying to get in the building five seconds before the opening hymn starts.


Is this a Mass to fulfill your Sunday or Holy Day obligation, or just an extra Mass you decided to attend during the week? You are under no obligation to attend extra Masses, so being late for them can’t be a sin.

Assuming it’s a Sunday or Holy Day obligation Mass, what caused you to be late? Illness? Your 5-year-old suddenly spilling juice all over himself? A traffic accident that caused you to be stuck for 15 minutes? Or were you doing some fun activity that you stayed at too late to get to Mass on time?

If you didn’t get to Sunday or Holy Day obligation Mass on time because you were lazy or doing some other fun thing, then maybe a sin.
If you were unavoidably late because of something beyond your control (illness, cleaning up the 5-year-old, a traffic accident suddenly happening in your path) then not a sin as you did your best to be on time.


This reminds me of the old church I went to. There was one couple who were habitually late, ridiculously so. I’m talking up to a half hour, week after week. They had two small kids, but so did lots of us. I was an usher and it became very annoying to fit them in so I began scouting things out well ahead, knowing they would be coming in well after the start of things. Even so, two occasions stand out among all the others. First was the time they showed up after church had ended, casually strolling in and going straight to the coffee line.

The second was truly bizarre. It was a wedding, and this couple, typically, were very late and wound up coming into the church just as the bride and her dad were going up the aisle. They actually joined the procession and began looking for seats, grinning broadly that they were somehow now the center of attention. And of course every home video of the event shows this goofy, smiling couple walking up the aisle right behind the bride. Needless to say the family was livid.

I’m getting irritated just thinking about it.


We have an obligation to attend mass. All of it. There is no “cut off” of when you can be late or not late and meet the obligation, despite some people giving answers like “at the gospel”. This simply isn’t Church teaching.

So our obligation is to attend the whole mass on Sundays and Holy Days. If we are late and can go to another mass, we should.

If we are late and can’t go to another mass, the obligation is mitigated (such as late because of flat tire, late because of taking care of family, late because roads were bad, weather, traffic accident etc.) or we should examine our conscience (late because we dawdled, late because of our own fault, etc) and decide if we need to confess missing our obligation.

Talk to a priest if you are having trouble discerning sin.


Is it your fault you are late or is it something else?

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Here at CAF, we’ve joked about coming just in time to get in line for Communion… and then leaving right after!

:beer: “Hold my beer, mate. I’m late for Mass.”


Outstanding. LOL

The Sunday before last, my family and I slipped in right after the Homily. There were circimstances beyond our control, and it was the last Mass Sunday evening. :slightly_frowning_face:

I tried to salvage it by reading and discussing the 3 readings back home at the dinner table.

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I have seen this at non-obligatory weekday Masses. One person who does it is the groundskeeper at a church. Presumably he is “on the clock” (I don’t think he’s employed by the church itself but rather is a contractor they hire to cut the grass and prune the shrubs, and likely has other clients) so cannot just take a half hour out of his day for Mass, but he comes in at the end of the line for Communion, receives and goes back to work.

Many of these “Mass” posts assume one is attending an obligatory Sunday Mass. They don’t seem to realize that a lot of people also attend Mass when it’s not required.

It’s about respect and reverence for Our Lord. If it was a one time accidental thing then I would say no. But if it is something that happens often without a VERY good excuse then I would think you need to take it to your Priest in Confession. Even this one time if you are having questions about it talk to your Priest. People who do it continually KNOW they are doing it and they really need to ask themselves why and what can they do to change it.

WOW… seriously, wow…


I can only imagine. That is pretty shameless “the rules don’t apply to us” behavior. Some people do have serious problems getting places on time because they haven’t figured out how to get around their ADHD or whatnot–or maybe they have a caretaker for a family member at home who is always late, who knows–but they’re usually at least cognizant that this fault is difficult for others to put up with.

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We have a family at our parish that has five young boys and a newborn girl. They are always early. They take the last row in case one of them starts to be disruptive, but honestly, they are the best behaved group of kids I’ve ever seen.


YAY that is amazing. God Bless them.

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Little sis will have big brothers to always come to her defense.

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I had been told that you can’t receive Communion if you arrive after the Gospel is read. Or something like that.
Any truth to that?



If you’re consistently arriving that late, this may indicate a problem you need to address. It’s above my pay grade to tell you if it is a sin or not. Even though I’m Orthodox, I once had a priest who told us that we should refrain from communing if we come to liturgy after the gospel reading.

Not unless you consider your lateness to church to be a mortal sin. Also, presumably you are talking about a Sunday or HDO Mass. If you’re just in the church for an extra Mass on a weekday or weekend then there’s no sin in coming late, as I stated above, because you aren’t required to come at all.

There are Latin rite priests and sisters who will tell you all kinds of things in this regard. It’s not an official teaching of the Catholic Church.

(We’ve been over this before on lots of old threads.)

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