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When MUST you get to Mass?

submitted by Maggie Geene

In the "how far can I go and still not sin" days of my youth, a bunch of us asked a priest on retreat just how late you could be for mass and still validly receive communion. Well, he stated it in this way, and it has left a very big impact on me: and still makes me laugh.

- You certainly have to be at Mass for the entire Cannon (Eucharistic Prayer for those post Vatican II converts) in order to receive Communion.

-And then, surely the canon has no meaning unless you are here for the Prayer that comes right before it in which the Priest calls down the Holy Spirit to be with him, so you definitely have to come before the priest says the Blessing over the Gifts.

-Then in order for the Blessing over the Gifts to have any meaning at all you surely must state exactly what it is that you believe, so then you have to get there in time to say the Creed. It only makes sense.

-But what sense would the Creed make if you weren't present for the prayers of the faithful? If we truly believe that we are a Catholic Community you must be present to raise up the prayers of your brothers and sisters in faith. So you have to arrive before the prayer of the faithful.

-Of course, how on earth would you know what to pray for without the sage wisdom that you gain from the Homily? So you absolutely have to get there in time to hear the Homily.

-What good, though, is the Homily, if you haven't listened to the word of God imparted in the readings that the Church sets out for that particular Mass? I guess it is important to arrive before the Liturgy of the Word.

-But how can you gain anything from the Word of God without first praising Him? So you should really get to church in time to proclaim the Gloria.

-And then how can you praise God before first recognizing your sinfulness and asking forgiveness? This is so integral to truly receiving the sacrament. You need to be at church in time to say the Confetior.

-The opening prayer and psalm are very important as they set the tone for the entire celebration. It would be a good idea to get there in time to hear the opening prayer.

-Now, really before all of that begins, you must celebrate the fact that your community has joined as one voice to celebrate the Sabbath, so you really need to be there to sing the opening song too.

-And how can you possibly enjoy the opening song with your parish family without first spending some time in silent prayer, setting aside your worries of the outside world, placing yourself in the Divine Presence of Christ in the Tabernacle? This must take a little time.

-So if you really want to fully experience the Communion offered at Mass you need to show up at least 15 to 20 minutes before the Mass begins so that you have sufficient time for personal prayer and reflection.

Here we thought once and for all we were going to have a priest tell us the last possible minute we could sneak into the back of church and still validly participate in Communion, and he gave us a lesson in why the Mass was so beautifully structured so that no part of it is dispensable. The next Sunday, and for many Sunday's after, we could be found coming into church well before the start of Mass.

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