How much of Mass do I really need to attend to meet my Mass obligation?I love this question, not really. It isn’t about what counts and what doesn’t count. It is about trying to enter into a deeper relationship with our God. And to ask “what counts” I think of Sheldon on “Big Bang” and his relationship contracts. I really don’t think it works that way and in fact much time is spent showing that we are in a covenant, not a contract with our God!
I frequently answer this question with, “Well, who was the only one to leave the Last Supper early”? When they look at me I just leave it at that, and smile. But this really is a much deeper question about our relationship with our community and God.
When does Mass start? I say it starts when we start getting ready to leave for Mass. The time before Mass is important too, it is time to mentality to show up fully present. At the doors, that is the state of mind that you start mass with. Hectic, harried, or peaceful and focused, or just trying not to tell a child what you feel the desperately need to hear.
What do we miss when late?
The first part of Mass is very important. We start with the Penitential Rite and the forgiveness of our sins. Before approaching the Altar we receive forgiveness, so that our hearts, minds and souls are more open to the grace of the Eucharist. So we have to be there by then and that is at the very beginning. So should we be running in at the last minute. I realize that family life can make this a challenge, but we used to joke with your dad we better hurry or we would have to follow the priest in, because he always had us there at least 20 minutes early. Later in life I would say, don’t worry, they can’t start without me. He didn’t see the same humor I did in that.
It always surprised me while signing in a choir that people would walk out and smile and wave at you singing the final song. Frequently the song would end to a half emptied building. Granted we were dismissed, but really what is a minute more..