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I got to Mass late yesterday (like at the start of the Homily during a weekday mass, so really only about 7 minutes - because of an unexpected detour) and I told my wife that we shouldn't go up for communion and she said that it wasn't our fault and I said nothing because you shouldn't talk at Mass, right?

But my kids heard us and were a bit perplexed. So, rather than not know something and live in ignorance, I'd like to know if there is a hard-and-fast rule for what the latest time one can arrive at Mass and still receive the Eucharist and if any circumstances might change that. For instance, I'd imagine that people waiting for confession might not be fully engaged in the Liturgy and still be likely to receive Our Lord. And if we have to take the kids out entirely, etc...

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Late for Mass, can I still receive the Eucharist?

At a week day Mass, I see no problem. Being late however should be avoided if at all possible.

First of all, we must distinguish between receiving Communion on a week day Mass and a day of obligation. Reception of the Blessed Sacrament on week day Mass is permitted, even if we are late for the obligation to attend Mass in non-existent. Canon Law permits us to actually receive Communion outside of Mass during non-obligatory days. Thus it is in essence a non-issue. Communion may be received a second time in a day, providing that the second reception of Holy Communion is within the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

The Code of Canon Law (No. 917) stipulates, "A person who has received the Most Holy Eucharist may receive it again on the same day only during the celebration of the Eucharist in which the person participates, with due regard for the prescription of Canon 921, 2." Following this lead, Canon 921, 2 stipulates, "Even if they have received Communion in the same day, those who are in danger of death are strongly urged to receive again." Succinctly, a person may receive Holy Communion twice a day. - How Many Times a Day May One Receive Communion?

If we were to receive Communion at a second Mass on a week day or at a first one on a day of obligation, when is considered that we have arrived too late to receive Our Lord in Holy Eucharist?

In other words when it that we have not attended Mass because we have arrived too Late?

When I was in the seminary, we were taught that if we missed the offertory, it was considered that we did not fulfill our Sunday obligation to attend Mass (or Mass on another day of obligation).

Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum puts it this way:

Like most priests, I am loath to give a straight answer to this question because, in a way, it is a catch-22 question for which there is no right answer.

It is true that before the Second Vatican Council some moral theology manuals placed arrival before the offertory as the dividing line in deciding whether one fulfilled the Sunday obligation of assistance at Mass. But after the liturgical reform, with its emphasis on the overall unity of the Mass, modern theologians shy away from such exactitude.

Mass begins with the entrance procession and ends after the final dismissal and we should be there from beginning to end. Each part of the Mass relates and complements the others in a single act of worship even though some parts, such as the consecration, are essential while others are merely important.

To say that there is a particular moment before or after which we are either “out” or “safe,” so to speak, is to give the wrong message and hint that, in the long run, some parts of the Mass are really not all that important. It may also give some less fervent souls a yardstick for arriving in a tardy manner.

Although I prefer not to hazard giving a precise cutoff moment, certainly someone who arrives after the consecration has not attended Mass, should not receive Communion, and if it is a Sunday, go to another Mass.

Arriving on time is not just a question of obligation but of love and respect for Our Lord who has gathered us together to share his gifts, and who has some grace to communicate to us in each part of the Mass.

It is also a sign of respect for the community with whom we worship and who deserves our presence and the contribution of our prayers in each moment. The liturgy is essentially the worship of Christ’s body, the Church. Each assembly is called upon to represent and manifest the whole body but this can hardly happen if it forms itself in drips and drabs after the celebration has begun.

Thus people who arrive late to Mass have to honestly ask themselves, Why? If they arrive late because of some justified reason or unforeseen event, such as blocked traffic due to an accident, they have acted in good conscience and are not strictly obliged to assist at a later Mass (although they would do well to do so if they arrive very late and it is possible for them).

If people arrive late due to culpable negligence, and especially if they do so habitually, then they need to seriously reflect on their attitudes, amend their ways, and if necessary seek the sacrament of reconciliation.

Depending on how late they arrive they should prefer to honor the Lord’s day by attending some other Mass, or, if this is not possible, at least remain in the Church after Mass is over and dedicate some time to prayer and reflection on the readings of the day. - Communion for Late Arrivals at Mass?

Even on Sundays we may receive Communion twice provided that the second time round is during the celebration of the Mass.

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This is an opinion, but you shouldn't receive communion on any day unless you have been present for the Gospel reading.

Factually, if you miss the Gospel reading on a Sunday or Holy Day of Obligation, it doesn't fulfill your obligation and you should not receive communion. However it doesn't seem to be per se illicit if you receive communion without attending the Liturgy of the Word at a daily mass.

Msgr. Stuart Swetland answers this question here.

  • As does this answer. – jaredad7 Aug 30 at 17:08
  • Mea culpa, I read your answer too fast. – Ken Graham Aug 31 at 12:32

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