When Does Mass Finish


I just read the following instruction from a local liturgist:

The liturgical documents of the Church remind us that Mass is concluded when the last song is ended.”

A) Is this accurate, or is there more to it than that?
B) Can someone provide citations from documents that say this, either specifically or the combined passages from which this conclusion can be logically drawn?


No. It is not anywhere near accurate.

The Roman Rite does not even include any such thing as a “last song.” This is strictly an American adaptation (nothing wrong with it, but it’s not universal).

If one thinks about it without trying to make things complicated, it’s quite obvious exactly when the Mass ends…

It ends when the deacon proclaims “Ite Missa est” meaning “the Mass is ended.” :rolleyes:

Perhaps this “local liturgist” is unaware of this deacon’s proclamation? :banghead:

Regardless of what language is used, or which of the options is employed, when the deacon says “the Mass is ended” it’s pretty clear that the Mass is indeed ended.


Ite Missa Est. Or Go The Mass is Ended.


Sometimes I think our choir would like Mass to end when the last song ends. Especially the times they sing all 5 verses of a song, three of them sung after the priest leaves.

To me, at least, it can’t be any clearer than saying “The Mass has ended.”


Well, the GIRM reminds us of no such thing since it doesn’t even mention a song:



As others have pointed out, properly speaking, in the Roman tradition there is no such thing as a last song. There is nothing especially wrong with it, but it is not required, and not even mention in the rubrics.

There is something to be said for a completely sung Mass, then when the deacon sings the “Ite Missa est,” the procession leaves in silence. That’s very solemn imho.


Mass ends after “Ite missa est” and “Deo gratias,” as a “closing song” or “recessional hymn” are never mentioned in the rubrics, but rather sprang up as a common devotion to follow Mass


I think many of you might be blinded by technicality. The point the liturgist may have been trying to make was a simple, civil, and logical request to avoid the “judas shuffle” where some bolt for the exit from the communion line, and those who observe the “the mass is ended…” , but head for the parking lot, cutting off the processional and destroying the reverence of the post-mass ambiance that many use for a time of prayer.

Your in depth knowledge of rubrics, and execution of the liturgy is commendable, but perhaps a tad of an over reaction.



I was thinking the same thing. I don’t question all of the scholars here, of course, but I have seen people jumping out of the pew in front of the celebrant to get to the doors, which is highly disrespectful.
On the other hand, a choir director that doesn’t cut off the last hymn in a timely fashion (if the celebrant has fully processed out and you continue with 5 verses because you have 5 verses??? for what reason? To make a point?) That’s nuts.
But I have to say, staying at least until the music stops is nice. Not obligatory as everyone has pretty much pointed out, but it’s nice. The music is also a prayer. At least it’s supposed to be. At one of our Masses, once the priest hits the back door, the servers literally run to the sacristy, throw off their albs, race around the altar blowing out candles, lay people hurry to the front to remove the lectionary, clear the credence table, etc. Really annoying if you want to stay and pray post Mass. As a result, we get people talking, standing the aisle laughing, visiting. I think that is more what is at the heart here. Of course the rubrics are the rubrics.


Sounds like this local liturgist may also be in the choir. :slight_smile:



I believe that Mass ends with “The Mass is ended” but I also think it’s rude to leave before the priest and ministers have recessed.

I’ll qualify the next by saying that I’m not in the choir and have no vested interest in this, beyond that of the PIP. A hymn has a beginning, middle and end and it is the whole that teaches the lesson. I see no point starting a 5-verse hymn and only singing two verses. That’s what leads to singing a hymn about the Trinity and omitting the Holy Spirit verse. Either sing it all or pick a hymn with fewer verses. Better yet, go with an instrumental recessional.


So, wait, Mass ends with “Ite, Missa est”? And so our response of “Deo gratias” is just as extra-liturgical and unnecessary as the recessional hymn?


Well no, people of course mean the invocation with its response.


Feeling particularly literal tonight?

The Mass is over after the final dialog. Is that better?

Beyond that the only thing the Missal says is that the priest withdraws with the lay ministers. No requirement for a recessional.


Mass is ended, when we are told “The Mass is ended.”

But that doesn’t mean we can’t use the manners our mothers taught us.

I always stay until the celebrant gets through the doors. And I have taught my son that you should be in your seat with enough time to pray and get settled before Mass begins. And for our purposes, Mass starts when Father’s foot enters the Nave and doesn’t end until his foot leaves the Nave.

And I have no idea why the choir continues to sing. The joke is that since they practiced all 5 verses, by gosh they are going to sing all 5. :shrug:


The alternatives are:

–“Ite ad Evangelium Domini nuntiandum”
–“Ite in pace, glorificando vita vestra Dominum”
–“Ite in pace” with “alleluia, alleluia” added during Easter season.
In English, these could be rendered along the lines of “go to announce the Gospel of the Lord”; “go in peace, glorifying the Lord with your lives”; and simply, “go in peace (alleluia, alleluia).”

The original Latin final message, “Ite, missa est,” has not been modified.

Alternatives to “Ite, missa est” approved by Rome


Yes, a very good point.

The OPs question was about “when does the Mass end?” not “when is it polite to leave?”

The question itself might seem insignificant or merely academic, but it points to a larger issue.

Contemporary “liturgists” (I cringe even typing the word) have made it a regular practice to confuse issues by switching such questions to justify their own personal changes to the Mass.

How many times do we hear “No, it’s not in the rubrics, but it’s still right or necessary to add it to the Mass” ??

Why do we ask visitors to stand up before the penitential rite? “because we must.”
Why do we repeat the alleluia after the gospel? “because we must”
Why do we change the words of the Lamb of God? “because we must”

Just a few typical examples to make the point.

Now, the question here is NOT about making changes to the Mass; however it is about liturgists changing the questions to suit their own priorities.

When liturgists answer the question of “when it it polite to leave?” by saying “the Mass is over [when]” they are confusing two different issues. They know that they are in a much stronger position when they can say “you’re leaving before the Mass is over” instead of saying “it’s impolite to leave before the hymn is finished.”


My feeling was that a line was crossed at “the liturgical documents of the Church remind us”. There are no documents that say any such thing, and it was inaccurate (but let us hope not intentionally misleading) to say that there were.



But in this context, I think it’s safe to say that we can use just one formula to make the point without having to type all the different variations in every post.

It’s important to remember that these variations are perfectly legitimate, and also to note that they convey important messages such as “go and announce the Gospel” instead of just “go home you aren’t a Christian again until next Sunday’s Mass”

Answering with the simple “Ite Missa est” is merely the most concise response; it’s surely not the only one.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.