EWTN.com - Late to Mass: "Late to Mass
Question from alex on 10/4/2008:
Is it possible to be too late to Mass in order to receive communion?
So many people seem to have no idea about this. I heard from an old holy priest that it used to be commonly observed and taught that if one comes so late so as to miss the Gospel reading, he cannot go to Communion - and he added that this had long been a custom, and that even in many popular Churches of old where all the altars were being used at once and Masses were said one right after the other on each one, that in these cases, one could receive whenever he might walk in on a mass, but he had to stay for the next Mass until he had heard all he had missed.
I have always followed this teaching, myself, with never any problem or scruple - God has seemed to always provide a way for me to receive daily Communion in accord with this rule. Not that sacrifices never had to be made in order to recieve, but they all seem slight to me now and I have no regrets about them.
But my question is, does the Church still teach this? I have read as many liturgical documents of late as I could, but have not seen anything explicit. But there is one that does declare:
One should not approach the Table of the Bread, unless he has been at the Table of the Word.
This was several years ago, it was published during the papacy of JPII; and I don't quite remember the name of it - Dominus something or other.
Do you have an explicit answer on this?
Answer by Rev. Mark J. Gantley, JCL on 10/10/2008:
There is nothing in the current law of the Church that permits a person to arrive once Mass has started and still receive Holy Communion. There is also nothing that says that a person cannot receive Holy Communion if one has arrived late.
I think that the circumstances need to be examined. If a person is habitually late and is at fault for not planning enough time to arrive before Mass begins, then perhaps that person should not receive Holy Communion. On the other hand, if a person was at home caring for a sick child and couldn't leave in time, or if the person unexpectedly gets caught in a traffic jam that was due to a traffic accident, then I don't see a problem with receiving Holy Communion.
So basically, the law does not provide an answer. But an examination of the person's intentions and the circumstances need to be considered."