So why DO people leave Mass early?


Yesterday my son was struggling with asthma and we sat in the narthex during Mass. It let us have a little more breathing room than if we sat in the pew with my husband. He counted the number of people who came in late, after the first hymn started, just to entertain himself. It was well over 100 people!

But what surprised me from our vantage point there by the door was just how many people left during communion. I knew that frequently others around us wouldn’t be there after they received, but I hadn’t realized that so.many.people. left the church immediately after receiving. It was many, many more. It was impossible to count but had to be more than double of how many he had counted on the way in, so easily 200 or more.

So why? Why do people like to leave early? Why not stay and hear the blessing and the actual words, “the Mass has ended…”? The Episcopal church I went to with my Dad as a child had a nice, formal exit system :wink: as the priest and the cross recessed, each pew would recess behind it from the front to the back. I don’t know if people dashed out ahead of time but certainly no one would have ever pushed ahead of the priest to get out the door first!

What’s the hurry!?


Sort of makes you wonder how many would even be there if it were not for the obligation.


I can think of a few reasons. Often there are time constraints. Suppose for example you are caring for an elderly or sick person, and a friend offers to stay and watch while you go to Mass which in your town is only offered on Sunday at 9 a.m. (believe me there are plenty of little towns like that).but that person needs to go to his or her service at 10 a.m. So YOU need to dash out of Mass at 9:45 in order to get back and allow your friend to get to church.

Suppose you have children who have a sports game. Again, your church only has a 9 a.m. Sunday service, and the kids need to be at the playing field by 10:30 and the venue is a good 45 minute drive --again, you leave at 9:45 in order to fulfill both obligations as best as possible.

Suppose you are caring for someone with mental health issues, and you arrange that you go to church and meet them after Mass at 10:15. . .but they start to have an anxiety attack and call you (your cell of course being on vibrate) during Mass to please come NOW. . .

So yes, there are reasons people might need to leave early. . .


We’ve left Mass only a few times early, generally for some social obligation. Not really right, but sometimes you can’t be in two places at once…

More often, we’re doing something at the church for when people are leaving, or some other church related thing, and will usually step out after communion at that point to set something up, be ready when people arrive, etc. Not our preference and we try to keep that to a minimum, too, or go to a different Mass if possible.

I’d add to the list – why do people think it’s okay to come in and talk before Mass? This should be a time of prayer and reflection, not catching up on the week’s events. You’d think that with FB, Twitter, etc, people would already know all there is to know.


The combined total of which are a small minority compared to general apathy.


I’m sure many people have a valid reason for leaving early. Some however are just in a rush to be the first out :frowning: I notice so many keep their coats on during Mass as well…I believe it was Scott Hahn who asked, do you go a friends house for dinner and keep your coat on so you can hurry out?
For me, I refuse to get ready to leave until the final song has ended. So to any one that finds themselves sitting to my right…hold your horses this girl isn’t moving :slight_smile:


Simple. Lack of Faith.


As a non Catholic visitor to Catholic masses I have always been surprised at how many people enter late and how many leave after they receive communion. I understand circumstances arise that can make one late, and I understand some may need to leave early for very important reasons. Nonetheless, I remain surprised at the number of people who seem to have these issues.

Is that really a good reason? When I was growing up children’s sports leagues were on Saturday and Sunday was a day that very little was scheduled besides church activities. I’ve witnessed the change but I can witness to the fact that this is not out of any necessity, as if sport were a necessity anyway. Then again professional sports certainly were played on Sundays. In the South plenty of good Christian folks were eager to get home from church to watch the race. I don’t know if Europe is like this but my experience in post-Christian Europe, at least Germany, was that sports games were not on Sundays and most businesses were closed.

The bottom line is we tend to blur needs with wants. Our faith would be strengthened if we reexamine what we think we need.


[edited]To quote Fr. Larry: As a priest, I have an exceptionally good view of the back of the church and the people scurrying out sometimes between Communion and the time I get to the door. It’s like leaving a baseball game at the seventh inning to get out of the parking lot first. The Mass is not a baseball game-- it’s so much more important. The ending of Mass is important, too. After Communion it only makes sense, if we really believe that we are receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus Himself, that we take some time in prayer, not be dashing for the car! The “Prayer after Communion” prayed by the priest sums up what we have done during Mass and the Blessing sends us home with Jesus with us. The priest or deacon says, “Go forth, the Mass is ended,” but that does not mean ‘it’s over, we’re out of here, forget the stupid song!’ It’s a sending out in which we are told to take the Mass with us into the world. The final song is the entire community proclaiming what we learned in our Scripture readings (that’s why it’s not just a matter of choosing a favorite song). Anyway, the point is that we devote a little less than an hour a week in praising and worshipping God as Jesus told us when he said, “Do this in memory of me.” Do we really need to rush to get out to save a few minutes? By the way, do you know who the first person was to leave Mass early. It was Judas leaving the Last Supper - and that did not turn out well!!!


I think that having a ‘valid’ reasons for leaving Mass early is the exception rather than the rule. For most people it is just habit. I don’t understand it at all.


True. But at a friend’s house, they would have somewhere to put my coat. Where do you put it, while in church? I have only seen coat racks at one parish. And there, people hung up their coats.

For me, I refuse to get ready to leave until the final song has ended. So to any one that finds themselves sitting to my right…hold your horses this girl isn’t moving :slight_smile:

Does that mean that you won’t let people by you?


And I think this is why we don’t see this so much in other churches. For our Protestant brothers, if they had conflicting responsibilities, it wouldn’t necessarily be a big deal to miss services on any given Sunday. But for Catholics, we (hopefully) are getting to Mass even when it’s hard.

I attend a very small parish where Father knows everyone. :smiley: It’s extremely rare that anyone leaves early. No one wants to be on Fathers radar that way. We used to have some senior citizens that took a county van to Mass and they would leave early since the van came about 5 minutes before Mass typically ended but they must have changed the van schedule since I don’t see that happening any more.


Work. My husband goes in extra early on Sunday to try to get back home, pick me up, and head for Liturgy. Getting there right on time is tough because you can be sure he’ll have to wait for a train, or the roads are extra slick, or some traffic lights were out, etc. I know folks who have to work later and they hurry out to get home, have a bite to eat, and make it in. I do remember a time when nothing was open except emergency services. Sundays were for families. Side note, our priest does ask for quiet before Liturgy, and quiet after Liturgy. If you want to visit, go to the ‘outside’ of the church, whether that’s indoors or out. I am always shocked at the noise level in RC churches. why is that good for us? (not looking for a reply, that’s another thread)


A lot of parishes that I have been to like to read you the entire bulletin at the end of mass before issuing the final blessing. It seems like a waste of everyone’s time.


I will leave about once a month early due to work. To me it is better to go and leave a little early then to not go at all.


Ah, the legendary “Coat Rack” thread, started by Cat years ago (possibly when Cat first joined CAF, which would be quite a few years ago!).

The thread went on for pages and pages, and eventually had to be shut down because of the back and forth debate about “Protestantizing” the Catholic Church by adding…shudder…coat racks!


Anyway, someone pointed out to me that the Lord God instructed the Israelites to eat the Passover with their shoes and coats on, ready to leave in a hurry. So I think it’s appropriate to leave a coat on during Mass.

Not to mention that this winter, our nave has been uncomfortably cold. Brr! Even Cat leaves her coat on, and when she plays the piano for Mass, she leaves her gloves on between hymns!


I can’t agree with people who hold that attitude. There are so many services offered in the churches that they wish to have people aware of. They work hard providing these opportunities and they want to ensure that every person is aware of them. Often, the priest will also mention something that did not make it into the bulletin on time. Besides, many people do not bother to read it!

There are many things that seem like a “waste of time”. Things like airline stewards reviewing emergency procedures. But, if you are one of the few involved in an emergency, you are grateful!

Besides, we are there to fulfill a requirement of God. I can’t imagine He would find the excuse, “The end is too boring.” to be sufficient.



Personally, I do not agree with people leaving early for no reason at all. I find it disrespectful.

However, I think there are two ways to curtail this this:

  1. Keep announcements brief and only mention important or complicated topics. Do not simply read the entire bulletin.

  2. Sing as many verses of the closing Hymn as needed. Do not sing 5 verses if the priest exits after the 1st one. Now, there are some special times where you would want to sing the whole hymn (Christmas, Easter, or if it was a Prayer to song like a Hail Holy Queen, etc). But people should not be kept there to simply hear the cantor sing.

The above is what my parish does. However, I was baptized and confirmed in a parish where they would sing 4-5 verses every Mass and the priest would exit during the 2nd or 3rd. People would leave (but not anywhere near the number the OP was reporting).

God Bless.


Personally I do not find any social engagement is a reason to leave early. We are talking about less than 10 minutes! Even care for the sick seems to be a weak reason except in extreme cases. This practice should be extremely rare, but as the OP said, it is a huge issue! (Yes, there are legitimate reasons- but make sure that 10 minutes is truly necessary.)

The final portion of the Mass contains one of the most important messages of the liturgy- thanksgiving! If people throw a birthday party for you at a friend’s home, do you leave immediately after receiving your gifts? Do you race out telling your well-wishers, sorry but I’ve got something more important to do? What is more important than praising the glory of God?

In my parish a tiny handful of people leave early. Mostly because our priests have regularly reminded us of our duty to stay through the end of the final song. Because of this kind instruction people get to Mass on time and leave appropriately.

It is only a few minutes for our Lord who offers us ETERNITY!

Side note:
I have worked in a parish where the laity was afraid to leave early! Father knew EVERY name and would say aloud, “Mrs. Jones, I see you are unable to complete your obligation today?” (I was horrified that he would do this!) He also called parishioners if they missed more than one or two Sundays in a row. He was a SPITFIRE, but amazingly well-loved and respected! (At least by those who didn’t leave the Parish! ) :eek:


In my church we hold CCD classes before and after Mass. The teachers are REQUIRED to leave after communion in order to beat the kids to the classroom. Even if I am a EMHC I have to leave out the back of the sacristy as soon as I have finished. I hate it. I so wish we could REQUIRE the parents to wait a few minutes with there kids so we can go to the classrooms first. Father feels that be inconvienent for the parents as so many of them do not attend Mass and only drop off the kids for CCD.:eek: Makes me crazy:rolleyes:

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