Unusual incident at Mass, has anybody else experienced this?

I went to Mass this morning, Mass was scheduled to start at 9am, but at 9, nothing happens. About 9:10, somebody comes from the sacristy and announces “Sorry for the delay, Father is hearing somebody’s confession”. Mass eventually started at 9:20am. Just wondering if anybody else has ever witnessed a Sunday Mass being delayed by 20 minutes to hear somebody’s confession?

At our parish, we have confessions 30 minutes before each Mass. Sometimes Father is late getting Mass started because he is in the confessional still. I have been in line waiting and when it is time for Mass i go ahead and take my seat. So far the 2 times i have had to do that i was not in mortal sin (i just try to go to confession at least once a month). I really dont have a problem with Mass starting late due to this because i figure who ever is in there may really need the sacrament. But i do see people start getting anxious, looking at their watches and looking around for Father.

Strange thing is there were no confessions scheduled before Mass, the confessional was in my line of sight and I didn’t see anybody go in or come out. And if Father is asked for confession just before Mass he usually asks the person to see him after Mass. That’s what made the incident seem so unusual :shrug: It’s possible it could have been a one-off emergency, which may explain why it took nearly 20 minutes?

He’s a good priest. If someone needs the Sacrament before Mass, then Fr is right to take the time. Receiving Communion in a state of mortal sin is a mortal sin in itself, so best he heard the confession before Mass in order to allow the person to receive Communion.

I’m making assumptions of course, but even so, considering what Christ endured for us, a few minutes of our time doesn’t seem too much of a burden :wink:

God Bless

It does seem like that was the case. 20 minutes is a long time for people to wait. I admit I would be annoyed but that is my own impatience and selfishness.

I have seen this happen. I figure that person really needs to be heard, and the Priest is doing the right thing. It does not hurt any of us to wait. We should pray during that time for the person going to confession and the Priest.

I haven’t seen it happen, but I think the correct thing for the priest to do is to say, mass is at 9am go to mass you can receive the Eucharist as long as you come directly after Mass.

While confession is important, Mass is also important, I wouldn’t want Mass starting 20 minuets late, the priest could have continued to hear confessions after Mass without putting any souls in danger.

Three days a week, our priests have confessions scheduled for 45 minutes until 15 minutes before Mass begins. We do have two priests, but not infrequently there is only one on duty that day, and he must therefore intelligently judge whether or not he can take just one more confession before he must head to the sacristy and vest for Mass. 95% of the time he judges wisely, but sometimes a delay cannot be helped. I have never ever seen a 20-minute delay but I have seen a few noticeable ones.

[quote=“The Gospel according to Matthew, chapter 18”]12 What is your opinion? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray?
13 And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray.
14 In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.


I generally have not had this happen. But I trust that it was a serious enough situation and I’d rather the priest hear the soul out rather than brush them off so they can start mass.

One time before Saturday mass – I waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited for my confession… a wild punk rocker looking guy with a nose ring finally came out and then the priest came out and he looked like he had just come back from war. :wink:

The priest was highly apologetic to me that it had taken so long and had to start mass soon and asked me if I could come back later. I told him it was okay and just found the situation more amusing than anything else.

The Oratory I attend now has priests in the confessionals while the mass is ongoing so we are covered. :thumbsup:

What if he started well before time but the confession was longer than usual? my confession last week was over an hour long *do you want to hear what we were saying? * and the poor Franciscan friar missed vespers although we started much earlier. should he have cut me short? or should I have abbreviated the confession?

it is absolutely offensive for a priest to habitually be late; but some occasions warrant it. it falls under the virtue of prudence for the priest to make the right choice in these special occasions.
priests, medical doctors and policemen deserve more concessions than others because they deal directly with human lives.

***above all, why can’t we enjoy time spent with God? what if God intentionally delayed the priest because he wanted your (plural) company and attention… did you give Him the attention He needed or you spent the biggest chunk of the time mulling over the time?

(I respond because I read that you are a seminarian).

Unless the person was on his deathbed, the priest should have made him wait till after mass. It is the penitent’s problem if he couldn’t receive at that mass. I would worry that some of the parishioners may have had time constraints such as a baby sitter at home or possibly a situation where some people in the family come at one mass and others at a later mass. I don’t think everyone should have been inconvenienced by one person when it wasn’t actually an emergency. After mass should have been soon enough. There is no requirement to receive each Sunday.

Well, we don’t know what happened, so I think the most prudent thing to do is to assume it actually was an emergency :slight_smile: I’m sure the priest would only keep a churchful of people waiting 20 minutes for something proportionately important!

After mass should have been soon enough. There is no requirement to receive each Sunday.

This is something which concerns me as well–our idea that we should or get to receive every Sunday without regard for the states of our soul, or even whether we have properly fasted or not.

Given that the OP said “unusual incident” – I wouldn’t have taken too much issue with it, myself. It’s probably best to respect the priest was dealing with a situation we know nothing about and it took longer than priest and penitent expected.

If something like this was becoming a habit, then yes, it does become an issue and it would be better for the priest to counsel them on their own time in a way that doesn’t impede mass time. But it sounds like this was out of the ordinary.

I was present one time when Mass was delayed because of a Baptism. They had an adult baptism ceremony prior to the Mass, and then the Mass started about 45 minutes later than normal.

I agree…

This a tricky subject. I think that the priest should have waited until after Mass to hear the confession. The person could have attended Mass and refrained from Holy Communion if he or she was in a state of mortal sin. I think the priest could have and may have caused a big inconvenience for some people unless Mass was done at the same time as if it would have if it began at 9. Some people may go to Mass and have to go to work right after it, which my mother does, and some people have other events that they plan on attending right after Mass. Of course, in life you should always expect inconveniences, but this probably could have been avoided. We will never know the real reason behind this emergency confession, however.

Our parish has daily noon Mass and confession right before it. We have had instances where Father has had lines, usually around Easter and Christmas, where Mass is 10-15 minutes late.

What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. (Matthew 18:12-13)


This. There’s a very real possibility that the priest agreed to hear the confession anticipating it was going to be a run-of-the-mill confession that would be over in a couple of minutes, but once the penitent got going, it was obviously someone in distress. It would be pretty hard to stop once started, and no doubt the priest was very concerned for this soul. Or perhaps it was clear from the start that the penitent was in distress and needed immediate attention.

I think the priest did the charitable thing by hearing the penitent’s full confession. He gave the penitent his undivided attention instead of looking at his watch, being restless, or cutting him short.

By doing so he may have saved a soul and who knows, a life. No doubt some folks were irritated that they wouldn’t be read, fed and turned around in 45 minutes. Once our parish priest came in very late, for Mass. He then explained that he was called to the hospital to comfort a couple who had just given birth to a stillborn child. The pain on his face that said it was one of his most difficult hospital visits ever said it all. I don’t think anyone begrudged him. He was in tears.

Pastoral duty goes beyond ensuring Mass is over in 45 minutes…

thank you for this response obviously we are kinda reading into the situation when we know very little.

First I was talking about a situation where the priest may have had 5 or 10 more people left in the confession line or something and he saw them all before saying Mass. Now in that situation I understand the pastoral care the priest is showing to his people but there is no need to do that. Assuming the priest didn’t have to dash out right after mass (if he did he wouldn’t have started 20 minuets later, and with the exception of life and death I would hope that a priest would be willing to sacrifice many things if he was called to hear someones confession, I hope I’m the same way as a priest) he could have heard the confessions after Mass. I believe that you can receive the Eucharist if you were in mortal sin before Mass, had the full intention to go to confession before mass but because the line was to long you didn’t make it before mass. You say an act of contrition before receiving the eucharist and make the full intention to go to confession immediately after mass.

Second I think you are talking about a situation where someone may go to confession for a very long time. Now I believe that some people may need that from the priest they may have been away from the Church for years and years and they just have to lay it all out to the priest and that takes an hour. But I would warn people about making super long confessions. If a priest is hearing confessions for 30 minuets before mass and lets say he averages 8 confessions averaging about 3 to 4 minuets 5 at the most, if you go in there and take up all of his confession time, while you may have needed that you have deprived 7 people from being forgiven of their sins. I strongly suggest if there is something real pressing on your heat that every time you go to confession you spend 20 minuets with the priest, I would suggest instead of going before Mass, make an appointment with the priest for spiritual direction and confession. He would be completely willing to do that.

When I become a priest God willing, I would never cut someone off, but if someone knew that their confession would be lengthy I wold prefer that they call and make an appointment over coming to me when I only have 30 or 45 minuets before mass to hear confession. When, God willing, I’m in a city parish there is a good chance I will have 45 minuets of confession before every daily mass and before sunday mass. Where 8 people come on average. (there are a couple parishes in my diocese that I know of that people just stream to the Church daily to confess, I may be an associate at one of those parishes so I would probably be in the confessional daily hearing 5+ confessions, and if I’m not saying the daily mass at that time I may be hearing confessions during mass) But when I have pretty much 5 minuets per confession if someone comes in for 30 minuets that ruins the chance for others to give their confession.

I want to make this super clear, I would never cut someone off or deny someone to give a lengthy confession. But if you know that you have a tendency to confess a lot or maybe every time you confess you spend 20 minuets with the priest. Instead of denying other people the opportunity to go to confession, schedule an appointment with the priest and confess than. I always confess after my spiritual direction the beauty of this is that if I need to confess a lot I can do that, and there is no risk of denying the ability of someone to confess.

Sometimes I fear that people turn confession into spiritual direction. There is nothing wrong with that, but confession is a sacrament not a consoling session.

Note: I still have a ways to go with my formation so take what I say with a grain of salt.

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