Why Do People Leave Mass Early?

Why do some people leave Mass early? For some it might be a matter of getting to work or back to a loved one they are caring for or possibly just to visit the lavatory. I suppose in some cases they can’t wait 12 more minutes to take medication or eat something to help their blood sugar.

What about the others?

I asked 9 people I know well why they leave Mass right after communion each week. I chose them because I knew them, I could ask them away from Mass and I knew none of the conditions listed above applied to any of them.

Not one could answer. No excuses no nothings, just faraway looks or smiles or looks of embarrassment or anger depending on the individual.

When did this leaving Mass after communion come into vogue? How come it doesn’t stop?

Decades ago, I saw a sign in the narthex of a church that said, “Judas left before Mass was over, too.”

It can stop. In my home town parish the priest chided, instructed the parishioners about leaving early. This was when I was very young but every parish I’ve visited or moved to since has stood out because of the many people that leave early. I see more doing it now (hometown parish) so the effect wore off but it took about 30 years.

I can’t remember leaving early on a Sunday, and not many people in our parish do. I have left early from a Daily Mass gone long, though, because I do have a specific time that I am required to be at work. I remember one that was a HDO - I had to be at work for 7:05 or 7:10 - there was a bus waiting there to take us somewhere else, and the only Mass I could make it to at my parish was 6:30. I think I left somewhere around the Our Father. Nearly killed me. But I did the best I could do.

In my mother’s parish many of the senior citizens are dropped off at Mass and picked up by their children or grandchildren. They leave right after Communion to meet the people who are picking them up.

Last Sunday our pastor had to stop and tell people that it is a rule that people should not leave until the priest left the altar. He was quite upset.

My husband leaves Mass early. He feels that there is not much left after communion, so why stay. I think that he just got into the habit and is just doing it because he has always done it. I brought up the fact that Judas left the Last Supper early, but he just ignores me. :shrug:

To beat the mad dash in the parking lot after Mass. Now I’m NOT approving of this, but stop to think what comes after communion. 1. All the unused Hosts are put into the ciborium, which then are placed into the tabernacle. (By Father) 2. In my parish after Father sits down, the prayer for vocations is recited by Father and the congregation. 3. When that’s finished Father will stand for the Post Communion prayer. 4. He’ll sit down again while the announcements are being read by a lay person. During this time a second collection for our building fund (For a new long overdue church) is taking place. 5.) After that is finished he’ll do the final blessing and dismissal. So, basically some people might think there is nothing spectacular taking place. They received the Word of the Lord, heard the homily, and received Holy Communion. They might feel " Well I did what was required of me, nothing more, nothing less." Of course, I’m just guessing.

Again in my parish, I’m not sure how many people actually leave. Since I tend to sit in the front near the parking lot side door ( South side). So I don’t see. Anyway most of the exits would go out the back doors. The only times that I’m aware is when some of our Lifeteen leaders have to open the auditorium before the teens leave en mass from church to go to Life Night. We are supposed to have 1 1/2 hours of time for Life Nights with them. (Starting at 5:30PM to 7PM.) However, our 4:15PM Sunday Mass usually starts late and then goes over. So, between that and having all the teens gather, sign the attendance sheet, get refreshments, and find their groups. We have lost a half hour. That’s my little pet peeve. The majority of early exits are during the recessional. People (and the teens) leave before Father passes them. So, our Youth Minister pointed that out to the teens during the Life Nights. She said to them you are wait until Father passes by you, then you could go.

There are several reasons. Some are good reasons, but I think most are not.

Some good reasons is that people have gotten sick during mass and had to leave early. Other times it might be work or medical personnel on call all weekend. I know that there are some people who are very judgemental on medical personnel about this and think that they should not answer an emergency call/beep until after mass. Although… that is until their own loved one has the emergency. They are also sometimes the ones who are the first to sue the medical professional - especially when they discover that if he/she answered the call a half hour, 15 min, 10 min earlier, their loved ones would have been ok. But I digress.

When I’ve seen people leave early, it’s usually after communion. I know a few who do this and it’s their belief that they stayed for the most important part and the rest of it is just announcements that they don’t care about. Then I think the major one is what someone else mentioned. Many don’t want to wait in line to get out of the church parking lot. They have this mindset to push and get out before everyone else. It’s not a good reason in my mind, but I know that it is the reason for many of them. My family usually just waited in church for about 10 to 15 minutes longer after mass. Then we went out to the car and the parking lot was fairly clear. My Dad’s mind was, “Why sit in a car when we can sit in here and pray?”

Another reason is that children’s sports teams schedule games every single weekend and usually during the most inconvenient times. So, families will leave mass early to get to the game on time. I’m not saying I agree with this, but I know that happens.

At my parish, we’re in the city, so I don’t see the mad rush to get out as much as I have in the suburbs. There are a few that leave, but many stay to pray or to walk around the cathedral or take the tour of the cathedral afterwards. Others want to stay and hear the organ postlude. But I think because many of the people in the congregation are visitors, they tend to make a point to come to our parish for mass, whereas at home parishes, that would be a different story.

I can’t speak to why people would habitually leave Mass early, but keep in mind that emergencies do come up.

I would normally never leave Mass early-- can’t remember the last time I did-- until this past Sunday. I had multiple children down sick in bed. I ran out to an earlier Mass than normal, but needed to be home again in very short order so that my husband and the non-sick children could still get to Mass after me.

Strictly speaking, I was dispensed from the Sunday obligation entirely due to caring for sick family members, but I desperately wanted to get to Mass. So I left as discretely as possible right after receiving, and made acts of thanksgiving to Our Lord on the ride back home.

Just from looking at me, however, a bystander would not have “seen” any good reason for my leaving early, even though I had one…


I used to leave before communion because I knew I shouldn’t receive.

Probably because we are now in a society that people do not have any patience. Mass is more of a chore for them than a gift. It’s like leaving a few minutes early before a sport’s game is over with to beat the crowd.

When I was growing up, our family always left immediately after the first verse of the last hymn—or when the priest had passed our row. We’d scuttle out the side door, barely saying hi to the nice elderly usher who thought of us kids as his adopted grandkids.

My dad made sure we got there early so he could position the car in the best parking spot, and so he didn’t get “hemmed in” as he put it, by the other cars. Our church was in the city and had an odd-shaped parking lot.

We’d pile into the car and ZOOM out of there, my dad praying the lights would be in his favor, so we could get to the restaurant for breakfast before everybody else showed up. If we made it in time, we wouldn’t have to wait for a seat.

When I grew up and people would ask what religion I was, I’d say, “We worshipped at the International House of Pancakes.” Because honestly it seemed like my parents were just aligning everything so they could get to BREAKFAST as soon as they could. :rolleyes:

Years later the priest had figured out that people were exited as he passed their pews, so he’d wait at the altar until the entire dismissal hymn was sung. You never saw so much squirming in the pews! :smiley:

Our priests will sing all the verses on our hymn sheet, then at the last verse, they’ll start to process out. That might be another reason why we don’t have many people leaving early.

It seems, at least in the area of the US where I reside, almost everyone is in race. Whenever I’ve taken the train home from Manhatten during rush hour, you should see how ridiculous some of the people look rushing out of the train, then running up the stairs to the parking lot and garage so that they can get out first. I’m sometimes half tempted to put my foot out and see how far they fly across the aisle or up the stairs. :stuck_out_tongue: Of course I wouldn’t do that. But all of them are truly racing each other. And they become very crossed if you are in their way.

That attitude has made its way into our Sundays as well - and I’ve experienced some cross people in the church parking lot. We’ve gotten programmed to always be the first out and the first in, etc. and to jam pack our day with too many things so that we have no time to reflect on what’s important. So many people do not know how to slow down to pray and to really think about life. That’s very sad.

Ditto, I have yet to begin RCIA but I still occasionally attend Mass and I usually (not always) leave once my row is cleared to go up for communion.

In a way it sort of feels like something I’m not invited to participate in so, its as if for me the Mass ends there.

Excepting the sort of reasons given by the OP, I think this hits the nail on the head. It starts as a “oh, this little bit isn’t worth much, I’ll skip that”, which grows into a habit.

but stop to think what comes after communion

the final prayers and a blessing come after communion!

I like to go back to my pew, kneel and pray. I have just received Christ, I’m not thinking of beating the crowd in the parking lot!

It’s not just announcements and singing. I can’t imagine just up and leaving without taking the time to at least thank God for giving His Son to us!
I understand if you are ill or really need to get to work, but outside of that, I can’t think of another good reason for not staying.
Is a whole hour too much to give to our Lord after all he has given to us?

After reading through all these postings I am inclined to agree. Some people begin leaving early for whatever reasons, legitimate or not. Then it catches on with more and more largely because other people leaving early justifies (in their minds) them leaving early because they have no real understanding of the Mass (note the posting on “what happens” after communion) and/or it takes just a little tiny bit less effort to go to a shortened Mass.

I’ll bet at least 25% (and probably closer to 50%) leave right after communion in my parish. It’s sickening and it’s embarrassing.

Its been going on for at least twenty years or so. It didn’t happen too much in the pre Vatican II days but it did happen on occasion.

I think it happens today because far too many people feel the only reason to come to Mass is to see their friends, receive Holy Communion and leave. Other than that it really means nothing to a lot of people

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.