Is it ever Ok to leave Mass before it ends?
Answer: This is an interesting question because beneath the surface there seems to be an assumption that if it’s okay, then why do we have to stay after we receive communion? The short answer is “no,” but we definitely want to go a bit deeper as we consider why.
First, when we think about questions like this, we must consider this in adult terms. If there is something gravely important that we need to do, then we must attend to that. However, if it is a matter of convenience or preference, then we really have to stop and think again. First, while we always want to recognize the importance of sacramental communion in the Mass, we also need to understand how important the time of thanksgiving and prayer after communion is. This is summarized in the Prayer After Communion offered by the celebrant and then we are also commissioned to “Go forth” during the Dismissal of the Mass, reminding us that we have been entrusted with a gift — the Word of God and the Presence of Christ in the sacrament — and that we are to share that gift with others.
If we simply leave after we receive communion, we risk two things. First, there is the possibility that we will turn our reception of communion into a purely personal, individual experience that is separated from our common experience of worship — and communion in the fullest sense — and, second, we lose an opportunity for gratitude and serious reflection if we simply leave after communion. This time of thanksgiving, reflection, and, ultimately, missioning, are important and, in the end, an essential part of the celebration of the Mass.