QUAERITUR: Late evening Sunday Masses

From a reader:

Several churches in my area hold Sunday Mass in the evening, in addition to in the morning. Is it permissible to attend these Masses if we cannot make morning Mass, or is it even permissible to hold Mass on Sunday in the evening?

Yes, it is permissible to have Mass at any time of any day (except on Good Friday and the times of Mass on Holy Thursday and the Easter Vigil).

If the Mass is on a Sunday you fulfill your Mass obligation, even if it is in the evening, even until midnight.

That said, I don’t think it is a good idea to have lots of Masses in the evening on a Sunday.  Let Sunday be Sunday.  Let people go to Mass on Sunday morning and then give the rest of the day to good things people should do on Sundays.   I fear that these late Sunday Masses merely enable people to put off going to Mass because, in the morning there are “better” things to do.

And that said, yes, there are those situations in which a person may be genuinely impeded from going to Mass on Sunday morning.  That is why there is a Saturday vigil and sometimes late Sunday Masses.  Still, this should not be common.  That is my opinion.

Nevertheless, the Church’s law is very permissive in this regard and the faithful have the right to avail themselves of Masses at any time of the day or night.

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  1. mhazell says:

    My wife and I attend Mass on Sunday evenings at 6pm. Parish attendance in absolute numerical terms is high, and the church building itself doesn’t have the capacity it should, so we do need three Masses (Sat 6pm, Sun 10am, 6pm). (The church is a modern build, and is defective in more than a few ways, but that’s perhaps for a church architecture topic.)

    We did attend in the morning for a time, but decided that we couldn’t cope with the absolutely atrocious music.

  2. This may sound absolutely curmudgeonian (if in fact, that is a word!).
    I hate the Saturday vigil Masses; an abuse, if you ask me…in this neck of the woods, it’s an opportunity for folks to get their “obligation” done in the midst of drunken revelry between a wedding Mass and the reception/dance.
    That’s just my take on it.
    What was meant for doctors/nurses/those who needed to work on Sunday for the good of others has become a way to “get it done with” so they can get drunk, have fun, and “sleep it off” on Sunday.

  3. As for Sunday evening Masses…well; yes, there are definite reasons why this might be permissible.
    Yet, Sunday morning Mass is still the “norm”, as far as I’m concerned.
    Call me a “rigorist”…but really, how can you really live “Sunday” unless you go to Mass in the morning of Sunday?
    There are reasons why this may not be the best option; but isn’t this the norm? Am I living in a “time warp” here??

  4. GirlCanChant says:

    My home parish has a 5:15 Mass on Sunday. It proved invaluable for those coming back from a weekend at the shore, as well as my friends in stage crew at the local high school. I also think that we’d have a lot less college students going to Mass if Masses weren’t available at night.

  5. webpoppy8 says:

    In our family, we call these the MLR – “Mass of Last Resort.”

    Father, I prefer Sunday morning, and I sympathize with the notion of observing the Sabbath but it’s a great mercy to be able to attend Mass on Sunday at 5:30 or 6:30. Only four of my kids are still home, and I’m working a second job to keep two in college. I know if I were better organized and thrifty I could observe Sunday better, but until then – well, the MLR is a mercy.

  6. JohnMa says:

    In Washington DC there is a Mass at 11 p.m. each Sunday! It is the most crowded Mass of the six at this particular location each week and is the only one with a schola. It is nice to know that it is there in case of a dire situation.

  7. QMJ says:

    The students at the university I attended called the Sunday evening Mass the “Sinners’ Mass.” That always annoyed me. When possible morning masses a definitley preferable, but thank goodness for the churches that offer an evening Mass because the morning isn’t always possible. To me it is the Saturday evening Mass which is more problematic than the Sunday evening.

  8. david andrew says:

    Ours is one of the few parishes in the area that offers a Mass at 5 PM on Sunday. We only offer it from the first Sunday of November through Palm Sunday.

    It’s my observation that the majority of people who attend this “Last Chance Mass” aren’t even members of the parish, and I’d be curious what the envelope counts are for that Mass. My personal opinion is that this Mass is a waste of resources for the parish, and one that people abuse rather than avail themselves of if their schedule legitimately prevents them from attending Mass on Sunday Morning.

    I think the Sunday morning obligation, along with the concept that Sunday should be Sunday needs to be restored. Families need to go to Mass together, eat their family meal together and let Sunday return to its place as a day for the Lord, for rest and for family.

    We need it, more than ever. Talk about being counter-cultural!

    (And, while I’m at it, I’d vote in favor of the Sunday “blue laws” forbidding shops and businesses from being open, too! There, I said it!)

  9. xavier217 says:

    My work (in a hospital) often precludes Mass attendance at my normal parish. As such, I am grateful for the 6PM Mass that I am able to attend on Sunday evening. While I would also vote for blue laws, there are many of us who still would be obligated to work despite them.

  10. cheekypinkgirl says:

    I love the 5 p.m. Sunday mass at our parish. My husband has to work his second job way past midnight every Saturday night, so this mass is a blessing to us. Especially since we have a toddler. The lower attendance at this mass (compared to packed Sunday mornings) means we can get a pew to ourselves and work on attention and discipline without feeling we are bothering others.

    The priest at our parish claims he felt called by the Holy Spirit to add the 5 p.m. mass. Once he did, he said the parish took in around an extra $1000 to $2000 per week. Additionally, many people who are NOT parish members come to this mass and have thanked him profusely for having it, since their job situations previously prevented them from attending mass. I think it’s a great time slot all around.

    The bottom line is that we live in the modern world with modern demands – we can no longer assume that everyone has a regualar M-F work schedule, especially in this economy. People are tired and stressed and over-worked. I’d rather see them attending a mass where they are awake, paying attention, and not feeling rushed.

  11. Sliwka says:

    My wife and I attend the 9pm Mass at the local CAtholic College (associated with the public University). It used to be 10pm, and is still occasionally called the “Last Chance Mass”.

    We go not because we have better things to do in the morning (although it does give her the opportunity to work with a particular boy with autism so his family can attend a Protestant community), but because it is the one we find most spiritually lifting. The Basilian community that runs the college has some of, I think, the most intelligent and faithful priests in the diocese that I’ve experienced (props also to the local FSSP). The Archbishop also says Mass there more than I’ve seen him say mass at his Basilica. It is also filled mainly with students, which is nice to see a new faithful generations of Catholics growing in faith.

  12. Patikins says:

    The mass at the Newman Center where I went to school had a 10 pm mass during the school year. I understand it’s been moved to 9 pm. I think they had an evening mass too (6:30ish). I normally went to the morning masses but the evening/night masses were always well attended the few times I missed morning mass.

    I wouldn’t be caught dead in the Newman Center these days though there is at least one other parish with a Sunday evening mass in the city. I’m glad they have it and I hope they continue.

    david andrew: I can’t speak for others but I (almost) always contribute to the collection when I am at a parish other than my own. I won’t contribute when there are major liturgical abuses, bad homilies or heterodox literature in the narthex/”gathering area”.

  13. cresci says:

    Maybe that can be very true for places where the proportion of catholics per priest is somewhat “swallowable”. But the case here in Brazil, for example, is that churches can accomodate 1000, 2000 people at most, and there are 10k to 20k catholics per priest, with a higher mass attendance rate than probably most parts of the world, and with a lower number of priests (mainly due to the hellins Liberation Theology who married a lot of priests and made another lot abandon the church in order to be laypeople).

    The average parish priest in big cities in Brazil will celebrate normally 4-5 masses on any given Sunday (I’ve seen bishops and episcopal vicars celebrating 6-7 and even 9, in a given opportunity), plus one or two Saturday evening masses and one Saturday morning mass. This number doubles or triples when there are more priests available in a single parish.

    In Rio de Janeiro’s busiest-schedule parish, there are usually three or four priests in duty. They have Sunday masses at 7, 8, 9, 10, 11:30, 13:00, 14:00, 17:00, 18:00, 19:00, 20:00, 21:30. This just in the main parish building, plus another three masses in one of the chapels in a nearby community.

    The average parish would have one mass at 7, other at 8:30, other at 10:00 or 10:30, some would add a 11:00 mass, and there would be one to two masses at around 17:30 to 19:00. These are usually classified on a “per target public” mass, meaning the first one would be an “Elders’ Mass”, the second a “Parish Sollemn Mass” or a “Mass in one of the chapels/communities of the parish on a rotating schedule”, the third a “Children’s (Cathechesis) Mass”, the 11AM mass when it exists is a “let’s finish it quickly to have lunch” mass, and the first afternoon mass would be a “Cathecumens Mass” and the second afternoon mass is the “Youth Mass”. This last one would be the longest, more ellaborate or sollemn, clapping and charismatic mass. If you don’t like it, there are the other former opportunities to hear mass (the Elders’ one being the non-sung quick-in-the-morning objective one).

    And still all the churches are usually packed with people at every mass.

  14. twherge says:

    I am surprised no one has mentioned Vespers. Having evening Masses on Sunday has helped many people, but it detracts from what is really needed for that time.

  15. cstei says:

    As someone who works night shift and often has to work Saturday evening I am thankful for the option of going to Mass on Sunday evening. Not everyone can go in the morning.

  16. Geoffrey says:

    “I am surprised no one has mentioned Vespers. Having evening Masses on Sunday has helped many people, but it detracts from what is really needed for that time.”

    I often attend Sunday Vigil Mass on Saturdays or Sunday evening Mass and usually privately pray Vespers beforehand. This thought has often crossed my mind. Both Vatican II and the Venerable Pope John Paul the Great encouraged Vespers to be a regular part of parish life. I think it would be nice if such evening Masses were joined with Vespers, as the rubrics allow, but I won’t hold my breath on that one!

  17. RickMK says:

    There is 1 church in my area that has an evening Mass. Thank goodness they do! I was traveling home by Greyhound bus, which was supposed to get in at 11:00 Sunday morning, which gives plenty of time to get to the 11:30 Latin Mass at a church not far from the bus terminal. I had done that before with no problem. But this one time the bus was extremely late: I didn’t get in until around 4:00 PM! Thanks to having that one late Mass available in the area, I was able to get to Mass that Sunday.
    It’s not necessary to have one in every parish, but it’s not good if there are none at all available in an area. There are times when it is impossible to get to an early Mass.

    Wasn’t there a time when Mass were not allowed late in the day? (I think that was back when the fast for Communion was from midnight the night before)

  18. KristenB says:

    I see a lot of evening Masses at parishes offering LifeTeen- and those are usually the LifeTeen masses with the praise band (that usually has it’s own name)

    The one time I have seen an evening Mass really work was with a parish that had the Dead Theologians Society in the evening, after Mass. They spent the first half of the meeting discussing the readings at Mass, and then their DTS meeting. The parish also offered an adult Catechism class at the same time.

  19. Cincinnati Priest says:

    I am not a fan of widespread Sunday evening Masses. It might be appropriate to have one in the largest parish of each region for those who are truly in need, or possibly rotated among parishes, or in the rare circumstances where the physical space can’t accommodate more morning Masses, but there are many drawbacks, many arising from the “law of unintended consequences.”

    1) It accelerates the cycle of people doing servile work on Sundays (or shopping, etc.) Why not? You can always go to the more “convenient” evening Mass and sleep in.

    2) Many parishes in my diocese have pressure to add such a Sunday evening Masses for convenience even though
    a. the churches have excess capacity at morning Masses
    b. it would be very difficult to get minor ministers to serve at these Masses
    It is part of the ballooning mentality of people looking upon the Mass and sacraments as a consumer good which should be designed around “my convenience”

    3) Finally, in the many dioceses that are experiencing priest shortages, many priests have just come off of saying 5, 6 or more weekend Masses, by the time you add in Saturday weddings, funerals, etc. What about the priest? I sometimes tell people that expecting the average parish priest to celebrate Mass every Sunday evening would be about as reasonable as expecting a parishioner who has just worked 60 hours a week to volunteer to work for the parish for about 2 hours EVERY Friday night. I don’t think many would go for that. Why would they expect it from their priest?

  20. DavidJ says:

    I don’t see exactly how having a late Mass makes it any more likely that the day becomes less abused. If a person is going to skip Mass, they’re going to skip it regardless of the time. If a person is going to do things they shouldn’t on Sunday, I doubt that Mass in the morning is going to stop them more than Mass in the evening. Making Masses accessible (to a point, of course) is a _good_ thing.

  21. MikeM says:

    I just prefer going in the evening. It fits in better with the rhythm of my week. As a student, I like to take some time on Sunday for restful relaxation time, but it’s inevitable that I will also have to do a fair amount of studying on Sundays. Going to evening Mass helps to break up the day for me. I can wake up, relax, pray… I’ll often go over the readings for the coming Mass… perhaps watch a football game. Then, I can head to Mass, stop and get dinner on my way back, and go spend a few hours at the library getting the rest of my weekend’s work done before I go to bed.

    I know Mass doesn’t have to be scheduled in order to suit the whims of my schedule like that, but it’s nice that it does.

  22. PaterAugustinus says:

    I’m wondering if the Roman Catholics on the list – especially those with a knowledge of l iturgical rubrics – can help me with a question related to the proper time for Mass.

    In the Orthodox Church, we generally hold that there is a window of time, within the cycle of the Office, in which the Mass ought to be offered. From my time in the Monastery, it seemed like this time was normally after tierce (third hour), but that perhaps this changed sometimes (it was difficult to tell, because sometimes tierce and sexte would disappear entirely, confusing me). There could be some flexibility as to when various of the Hours were chanted – one Monastery I know would chant Prime and Tierce, then celebrate Liturgy, and then chant Sexte and Nones, all in one stretch before 10 in the morning! – but, regardless of this flexibility in the time of the Office’ celebration, Liturgy had to fall in the right place within those Hours.

    In our Western Rite usage, the time for the celebration of Mass also dovetails with the Office. On Sundays, Feasts, etc., the main Mass comes after tierce. On ferias, the main Mass comes after sext. On specially penitential days – i.e., fast days – it comes after nones. It seems to me that the various times for Mass are intended to accomodate the fasting customs (greater length of fasting on penitential days, moderate fasting on normal days and no fasting on feasts and Sundays).

    Whatever the reason, the Orthodox Church seems to be preserving a concept, which the West also used to observe: the time for Mass is linked to the cycle of the Divine Office. Is this concept still preserved in Catholicism, at least in those locales where the daily round of services is kept up? How far can this concept be stretched in a parish or cathedral where the office is not chanted? We Orthodox, for example, would feel like a Sunday night service was really a Monday service. And we would consider it unusual to have a Sunday Mass later than ten or eleven in the morning, if it were offered on the main Altar. Priests could celebrate votive Masses without as much reference to the time of day, but these would be done in side Altars or chapels. Faithful who couldn’t come to the main Mass, i.e., the Mass of the day, would have to attend a Mass with some other commemoration (or perhaps the Day’s Mass with less ceremonial), celebrated on another Altar.

    To what extent do these sensibilities exist in Catholicism? If the custom has changed, how is the current custom conceptualized?

  23. basenji says:

    As a person who works rotating shifts, I’ve really come to value being able to attend the Vigil on Saturday evenings or the “Last Chance Mass” on Sunday nights.

    There had been mention of an EF Mass on Saturday evenings in my archdiocese but that seems has been tabled for a while. It’d be worth the sixty mile round trip, even in between back-to-back twelve hour shifts.


  24. Girgadis says:

    For working people, I think it’s great that they would have the opportunity to hear Mass on a Sunday evening. But I sincerely doubt that the majority of people in attendance are there because of their work schedules. It saddens me to think that some people prefer evening Mass so they can fit in as many weekend activities as possible. If we can’t make God the focus of our lives on Sunday, it’s likely we’re not making Him our focus the rest of the week either. And shouldn’t there be some small sacrifice on our part for the privilege of having a Mass to go to and receiving the Eucharist? The other thing that amazes me is that parishes will offer late Masses on a Sunday, but how many offer an early morning Mass on weekdays for people who have to be in work at a less than civilized hour but would like to get to daily Mass? Not too many.

  25. wolfeken says:

    I can see the reason for confusion. The argument put forth in the late 60s for the Saturday night-counts-as-Sunday-Mass was liturgically Sunday begins at first vespers on Saturday evening, so why not toss Mass in there too. However, why is it that Sunday evening does not count as Monday? How does Sunday become a day with 30 hours within it?

    One more reason to just stick with the calendar, rubrics, discipline, sacraments and liturgy of 1962.

  26. cstei says:

    In my humble opinion, Saturday night Mass should never have started to begin with. If an evening Mass is required why not have it on Sunday evening?

  27. Ceile De says:

    I think Life Teen Masses are a fit enough penance for those leaving their Sabbath obligation until the last minute…usually!
    I was in Kuwait last week and attended two back to back Masses on Sunday evening at the Catholic Cathedral, one Latin rite, one Syro-Malabar. Both packed. Sunday is a work day in Kuwait and it is hard for many to attend earlier, especially if they are domestic servants or laborers. I also noticed Friday is an obligatory day there and I am not sure if that is out of necessity for those Catholics who cannot get to a church at all on Sunday. I wish I had had more time to ask.
    One of the odd things of having a Saturday vigil Mass (which seems to be a favorite of older people in our parish) as well as a Sunday evening Teen Life Mass (which seems to be a favorite of older people in our parish – just kidding) is that we end up with a 31 hour Sabbath day.
    I am glad to see our Orthodox poster above but unfortunately am not in a position to answer the fascinating question.

  28. shadowlands says:

    If I put off Mass or indeed my rosary until later in the day, I notice it gets harder and harder to prepare or even desire to be part of either. That’s probably something horrible and undisciplined in me, but I know myself well enough by now. My set daily prayers, once started really flow, but the wrestle to get started presents itself each day. I hope I’m not revealing anything too awful admitting that. Still, better out than kept in, I suppose. I can pray throughout the day and night in a conversation type way quite readily, but the formal prayers require much effort of my will. And evening Mass means I have delayed and delayed, in my case. I appreciate the reasons others have given re work commitments etc.

  29. Margaret says:

    We are normally fixtures at the 11 AM Sunday Mass, followed by breakfast and “family time” with the grandparents. I am very thankful to God that my children have lots of relaxing time like this with their grandparents nearly every Sunday, and I think are being molded into the “Sunday rest” mindset.

    But last week we piled out of the house (in our Sunday best) only to find a dead battery in the van. While it did jump start eventually, it was too late to make the 11 o’clock, and we are far too many to fit into my husband’s little car. So I am also very thankful to God that there are Sunday evening Masses readily available. :)

  30. Vox clamantis in deserto says:

    Yes, going to a Holy Mass on Sunday morning is certainly preferable. It corresponds better to the time Resurrection (which is remembered especially on Sundays). It is a symbol of our personal preferences (first God, then other good things). But I can’t understand some comments…

    this Mass is a waste of resources for the parish

    In other words:
    The most holy sacrifice is…a waste of resources. The most holy sacrifice which is more valuable than anything else in this world…is a waste of resources. The most holy sacrifice which is the reason why the end of the world has not come yet…is a waste of resources. The most holy sacrifice in which we are offered everything for nothing…is a waste of resources.

    No. Never. Should a priest say the Holy Mass alone, should nobody else be present, in a huge cathedral, with all candles and lights lit, whatever the expenses be, all world gains infinitely.

    a. the churches have excess capacity at morning Masses

    Yes. And what does it mean? Is a holy mass valid only if, let’s say, at least two thirds of places are used?

    Yes, a church (a parish, a chapel, etc) needs money, and they must be used reasonably. But the business of a church is not to make a business. First of all, a church (priests in a church) provides Holy Masses and Sacraments. This is the first and by far most important. This is where money are to be “invested”. This is where I need a priest. I can’t offer to God the most holy sacrifice. I can’t confess and absolve myself. Only then, if there are some resources left, one can think of other activities.

    Thanks God for evening holy masses. The world has changed. Many people must work on Sundays, just to survive. Many people must travel on Sundays. They have a possibility to fulfill their Sunday obligation.

    And, there are lazy people. People which would not go to a morning Holy Mass, for whatever reason. They go only on Sunday evening. They do not commit a mortal sin (which they would commit without an evening Holy Mass). A sufficient reason for me. God is merciful and he sometimes sets “strange” rules to prevent people from sinning (compare with the legal polygamy in Old Testament – a man which would sin with two “wives” did not sin with two wives when polygamy was allowed). Then, the Church has to be merciful too. The Church never (or only very seldom) asks us to do the best things, good things are sufficient. To obey is sufficient. And an evening Holy Mass on Saturday or Sunday is sufficient. Not the best, if one can choose. But sufficient.

  31. woflken: why is it that Sunday evening does not count as Monday?

    Because of the way time in calculated in the Church’s law. In law, a day extends to midnight. Since this is a case of an obligation for the people (they must fulfill their Sunday obligation), the law is interpret as favorably for the people as possible. So, liturgical Sunday can begin at 1st Vespers and extend beyond 2nd Vespers to midnight.

  32. Miriam says:

    I live in a small town in northern CA and we have two parishes.

    St. Joseph mass hours (my parish)
    Saturday vigil: 5:00 pm
    8:00am, 10:00am, 12:00noon (Spanish), 5:00pm (Latin)

    St. Teresa mass hours
    Saturday vigil: 5:00 pm
    Sunday, 8:00 & 10:30am (Children’s), 3:30pm (Spanish) & 5:30pm (Youth)

    We have no children’s mass at my parish. We have a lot of young families who attend on Sunday and at daily mass we have lots of children and babies. Some of the daily mass participants at my parish are actually members of St. Teresa’s. The daily mass there is in a little side chapel with no kneelers and chairs.

    Both parishes has Eucharistic adoration.

    St. Joseph Eucharistic Adoration: Eucharistic Adoration every Thursday from 9:00am to 6:00pm,
    Benediction from 6:00pm to 6:30pm. We do not have side chapels.

    St. Teresa Eucharistic Adoration: Saturdays, 9:00am to 3:00pm, &
    First Fridays, 9:00 to 10:00am in the side chapel.

    There are occasions when I will go to Saturday vigil and I prefer that at St. Teresa’s. The priest who usually presides is 88 years old and recently celebrated his 60th anniversary as a priest. I just love him.

  33. PghCath says:

    While I am usually a Sunday morning Mass-goer, I love having a Sunday evening Mass available. Sometimes I attend it out of necessity, as when traveling. When facing a particularly tough week at work, I occasionally attend it by choice. I find that a Sunday evening Mass is a great way to gather strength for the week ahead.

    Come to think of it, I probably attend a Sunday evening Mass more during the fall than any other time of year. Here in the ‘Burgh, my usual 11:30 Mass becomes a “Speed Mass” during football season so people can get home and watch the Steelers. And while Pittsburgh is a football-obsessed Mass, I was in Albquerque, NM a few weeks ago and saw the same thing so people could watch the Cowboys. . . or the Broncos. . . or the Cardinals. . . or whomever they root for down there. I’ll take a quiet, prayerful evening Mass over a “rush to the parking lot” Mass any day.

    I agree with Cincinnati Priest that a Sunday evening Mass isn’t for every parish – some priests are just spread too thin. That said, I don’t think every parish needs a Saturday evening Mass either. In my experience, that Mass is attended by retired people who want to get an early dinner, not working people with irregular shifts. These people could easily go to Mass on Sunday. Considering that elderly parishoners are the backbone of so many parishes, however, trying to cut the Saturday Mass would be very difficult for a lot of pastors. Perhaps they should focus on other battles first – like ad orientum worship. . .

  34. PghCath says:

    That of course should read “football-obsessed town.”

  35. Elizabeth D says:

    In response to the Orthodox commenter, I think obviously that is true that the Mass/Divine Liturgy is the summit of a whole cycle of liturgical prayer into which it fits. In a monastic setting it may have a specific place in the rhythm of prayer, but in the Latin Rite currently Matins can be prayed at almost any time of day except that Compline should remain the final hour that is prayed before going to bed, and I think the Mass is like that also (and like Matins, it is usually most fitting to have it in the morning). Also surely true is what you say that the time of the Mass traditionally had a connection with fasting practices… practices which very sadly have been minimized in the Latin Church to the exreme, even by people for whom it would not be a hardship. I have come to feel that is something that has genuine value and can be recovered, to practice a Eucharistic fast from midnight before if practical, to practice the “stational” fast to the extent possible (Wednesday and Friday, one meal taken in the afternoon or evening), and for some Christians especially in monastic life but maybe even some of us laity to practice a regular fast (one meal per day, every day but Sunday, taken in the afternoon or evening), for all or part of the year. There is a good book by a scholarly French Benedictine hermit, “To Love Fasting” which describes his practice of this type of fast together with abstinence from meat, and recommends it. Scripture exhorts us to fasting and prayer, and it seems very right for patterns of fasting and of liturgy to be related to one another.

  36. david andrew says:

    Vox clamantis:

    My comment regarding “a waste of resources” was not a suggestion that a celebration of the Holy Sacrifice is a waste. I was addressing what was mentioned elsewhere: priests are already spread way too thin, often saying many Masses on a weekend, and often at more than one parish. Musicians too, such as myself, have been up since early in the morning to play for most (if not all) of the services. By the time the last morning Mass is over, we’ve already been at the church for half of the day. We then go home, rest for a few hours (often only two or three, after dealing with people coming up to the loft with questions, harangues, arguments, criticisms, or desiring to schedule a consult for a wedding or whatever), only to return to play for yet another Mass. In my case, I’m single and without familial responsibilities, but what about those who DO have a spouse and family that also need, want and deserve attention?

    Often it is difficult to find lectors, altar boys, ushers, etc., for these evening Masses. Demands on the physical plant also take their toll: energy prices to light and heat a large building are going up and up and up. In some parishes, there also needs to be a security guard on duty in the parking lot, and maintenance people (who must be officially on staff as such for insurance and workplace regulations) available before and after to secure the building, unless that becomes the responsibility of the priest (who, you’ll recall, has already said 5 or 6 Masses, perhaps at more than one parish, and has had no true Sunday time). These are a drain on the finances of a parish, because it all costs money to pay these bills and staff.

    We in the West are a culture driven by convenience and a powerful work ethic that marginalizes the importance of sanctifying time, life and space. In some countries a day’s or even a year’s wages is equal to one hour’s pay in this country, and in those countries they abandon the entire Sunday for celebration of Mass and being with the family. Often they risk persecution to be at Mass on Sunday, in a predetermined location at a predetermined time, that may or may not be convenient, risking income or even life.

    So, to my mind, the Sunday late afternoon Mass represents a much bigger issue: our culture’s inability to properly sanctify time, life and space and to honor the rhythms of life as expressed in the temporal and sanctoral cycles of the Church.

    I know we’ll never be able to go back to a time when Sunday was Sunday and a time for rest and a true Sabath. I know I don’t get a true Sabath (because I work for the Church), and I am often forced against my will to violate the third commandment so that others can attend Mass on Sunday evening.

  37. hawkeye says:

    These late Masses have their place for those who would not be able to attend otherwise. he Commandment to attend Mass on Sunday doesn’t specify a specific time. If the family spends the day together anyway, does it really matter what time they attend Mass? For people who work or travel on the weekends, this might be the only viable option. At least they are going to Mass. We have one Catholic college that has Mass at 10 or 11 PM Sunday for the students who are coming back from visiting family or who have been working during the day (mostly retail). They appreciate it. As the pastors say, “Now there is no reason for you to miss Mass.” Not that I am a fan of them, but most teen/Lifeteen Masses are held Sunday evenings in conjunction with their religious education/faith formation classes.

  38. TheRani says:

    I’ve been going to Mass every Sunday evening at 6pm for about 20 years now, and never thought there was anything wrong with it. Not everybody is an early bird. I prefer to go to Mass in the evening when I’m wide-awake and focused, instead of first thing in the morning when I’m half-asleep and grouchy.

  39. catholicmidwest says:

    I like evening masses too. I used to work swing shift and they worked very well for me then, and I learned to prefer the evening masses, which are more quiet and less filled with gum-chewing and running back & forth, in my experience.

  40. Phil_NL says:

    Well, here in Europe Sunday evening – or even Sunday afternoon – masses are quite uncommon.

    Basically, in the Netherlands, if for one reaons or another you fail to catch the 12:00 mass, you’re not going to assist at Mass at all that day. All other Masses tend to be earlier. Now there’s no objection to a 8 am Mass if you want to spent the rest of the Sunday in some other way, but for those who need the rest (read: sleep, from shiftworkers to the sick to those who just had a horribly busy week) the ‘standard’ options of 10 am and noon are far from ideal.

    Obviously you can overdo it, but the other extreme, restricting all Sunday Masses to the am part of the day, certainly has many drawbacks too.

  41. RichardT says:

    david andrew said that the Sunday evening Mass “is a waste of resources for the parish”, because most attenders are from other parishes which don’t have an evening Mass (and, he thinks, don’t put much money in the collection), and it costs money, effort and time to put on.

    Rather than regarding it as a “waste of resources”, why not think of it as a work of charity by the parish, towards those who might otherwise not be able to get to Mass on Sunday?

  42. catholicmidwest says:

    David Andrew. Life is tough all over. It’s your job. Get over it or get another one. You’ll find in any other job you might get, you’ll also have all kinds of pesky people asking questions and expecting you to do things…sorry, but true. Accountability is a fact of life.

    Masses are not about donation yield per mass, and this is a good thing. There are people who need evening masses because they work swing shift and have schedules that require it. There are also people who have custody problems with their kids and have to manage getting their kids to church on the weekend somehow. There are people with relatives who show up and won’t go away, and there are people who miss planes and have to get to mass. There are reasons for evening masses. Yes, they’re more work. Oh, well.

  43. RichardT says:

    Around here, Sunday evening Masses are very rare (in fact the only one I can think of within 45 minutes drive is an SSPX one). But nearly every parish has a Saturday evening Mass. Seems odd to me.

    But as a student I did used to go to a very well done Sunday evening Mass, which was combined with Vespers (with lots of Gregorian Chant) to make a beautiful service (despite being Novus Ordo, as some here might add). That was the Dominicans, so of course had the advantage of a resident community, but I’m sure something similar could be done in a normal parish.

    And dont worry, David Andrew, we didn’t need any musicians, so you could stay at home.

  44. Re: resources, it’s pretty darned hard for my parish to get enough servers for any Sunday Mass, especially since sports teams play on Sunday. I don’t think we’ve had a crucifer server for the last three or four months; and last week, only one lector showed up for one of the most attended Masses. So obviously we need to cancel Sunday Mass altogether, right? :)

    Re: Sunday evening Mass, there’s a downtown parish that’s been offering a 6 PM Sunday Mass for the last forty years at least. It has probably been the biggest factor in keeping that big beautiful church open, despite having pretty much nobody residing inside the parish boundaries. There’s also Benediction right before Mass; and I think if you stay long enough they say the Rosary. The occasional shadow of such beauty cast across my life in moments of need has been a precious resource to me, and to many others.

  45. ndmom says:

    People are busy, and if offering a Sunday evening Mass prevents them from missing Mass entirely (whether or not they have a “good” reason for being unable to attend earlier in the day), who could possibly object?
    Music is not necessary — the musicians can stay home and rest. Lectors, servers, and ushers can be “volunteered” from the pews. The priest at the daily Mass I often attend simply asks for a reader and several EEMs, and there are always enough folks who step forward to help.
    Now, what would really be nice is more confession times….

  46. eiggam says:

    We have a 7 pm Sunday Mass at our parish and it has fairly good attendance. I was surprised by the number of families at the Mass. I think that some of the children of divorced parents are able to attend mass as the practicing parent can still bring the child to Mass if there is split custody.

    Our neighboring parish has a Life Teen Mass at 5 pm, but not during the summer. That mass has gotten better as the priest line up has improved (but the rock music is abysmal). The Life Teeners migrate over to our parish in the summer.

    Also, I am in the process of job hunting and I am amazed that the availability that one is expected to have for a factory job or even working in a department store. It is very hard to find a job with the same hours for each day of the week. Your prayers are appreciated as I have been out of work for 5 months. I’m sure that I will be able to attend mass on the weekend if I don’t opt for the 12 hours a day Fri/Sat/Sun Option. (Yes, that really is a shift!)

  47. Chrissy says:

    Healthcare, for one, needs those late evening masses. I work at a Catholic hospital and have supported my family through some hard financial times by working nights and weekends – I attended the Sunday 5pm mass every week with my family before my shifts.
    David Andrew – feel free to stay home. Thank you for your service, but I come for Jesus, and quality music is gravy. Your concerns about Church resources aside, the “bigger issue” you mention leads to the conclusion that we should leave the hospital bedsides devoid of all Catholic caregivers on Sundays, due to the fact that only church musicians may work on Sunday. I don’t think so! As to resources, I would love it to have a beautiful, lights OFF, sound system OFF, NO EEMs, everyone clustered in the front few pews (singing what we can) type of Mass. I would even chip in for some candles. ;-)

    However. If my Parish, or my Diocese, were to direct me to a certain mass (say, downtown were the majority of the hospitals are) thoughtfully scheduled specifically to serve weekend working Catholics, and did so in an attempt to better serve the parishioners as a whole, I could see the cancellation of several parish’s evening masses for lack of priests or being too broke to turn on the heat. It is just that I am almost certain that they haven’t given a thought to lil’ ole me, and I will need to fight tooth and nail to maintain my access to the sacraments. Sure, Bingo in the parish hall probably does bring in more money than 5pm Sunday. But it doesn’t save souls. Period.

  48. Chrissy says:

    eiggam: I know, right? I worked that shift, but nights. Friday night, Saturday night, Sunday night, 6:45pm to 7:15am. It is killer. On the other hand, I sure prayed a lot during the nights! Praying for work for you. God Bless.

  49. The Cobbler says:

    Re. liturgy of the hours: If I recall correct, at Franciscan University one could attend Sunday afternoon Mass, head straight to dinner afterward, and then head straight back for Vespers after that. Not sure if that’s ideal, but it flowed with an interesting harmony for me on the occasion I had to do it that way.

  50. david andrew says:

    Catholicmidwest said:

    David Andrew. Life is tough all over. It’s your job. Get over it or get another one.

    Say that to the priests I’ve spoken with who have shared these concerns with me.

    Chrissy said:

    David Andrew – feel free to stay home. Thank you for your service, but I come for Jesus, and quality music is gravy.

    Thank you for your support.

    I’m truly sorry if my comments offended.

    And, thank you for the reality check.

  51. steve14530 says:

    If this Anglican can give an opinion, the problem with a Sunday evening Mass is that people should be in church on Sunday evening for evening prayer, having already received the Eucharist earlier in the day. Does this mean there should be no evening mass? Of course not, but it should be subsidiary to Vespers.

    If we could get the majority of parishioners to go to Matins, Mass, and Vespers every Sunday, and on the other six days to go to either morning or evening prayer, we would be about half way to church unity not to mention, have a better formed laity.

    I do not pretend that my parish achieves this, I only point out that Sunday is the Lord’s day and the foregoing is what we should be striving for.

  52. irishgirl says:

    I have never been to a late evening Sunday Mass myself, but there is one parish in my hometown that offers it at 5 pm.
    The TLM chapel that I now attend used to have just one or two Masses A MONTH in the late evening-I think 5 or 5:30 was the time. It’s at 12:30 in the afternoon now, and we got word last week that there will be Mass every Sunday and holy day (before, it was every Sunday except the 2nd one) ! WOO HOO!

  53. ndmom says:

    “If we could get the majority of parishioners to go to Matins, Mass, and Vespers every Sunday, and on the other six days to go to either morning or evening prayer, we would be about half way to church unity not to mention, have a better formed laity.”

    Not sure I am understanding this correctly, but it sounds as though you’re suggesting that folks make not one, not two, but three separate round trips to their local parish on Sundays. I don’t think that’s going to happen.

  54. hawkeye says:

    I think some may be missing the point. David Andrew, you seem to be a very unhappy person in your work with the Church. Mass is for the people, and priests realize that the only way many people can (I use can purposely) get to Mass is if one is celebrated in the evening. It may not be ideal, but it’s all they have. When I look at priests I know in my diocese, they never cease to be doing some sort of work. Many have full-time jobs with the diocese in addition to their pastoral work in the Church. Chalk that up to lack of priests. Then they get bombarded with requests for home Masses, blessings, private confessions, weddings, funerals, annointings, school Masses (for schools which don’t belong to a parish) conferences, hospital visits, retreats, meetings, grumbling parishioners, 6AM daily Masses to accommodate working people, the list goes on, and all with a smile on their faces. This is true love of God and people. No one said being Catholic would be easy. I don’t know if you get paid for what you do, or if you donate your time. Try to work it out with the pastor to limit your time at the Church if it bothers you so much. But as one priest told me, “It’s not about you, it’s about the whole Church and what’s best for everyone.” I know very few priests who actually take “their day off.” If you aren’t doing what you do for the honor and glory of God, you may think about changing what you do. You just seem so unhappy. I will pray for you that you find peace in your work with the Church.

  55. steve14530 says:

    “Not sure I am understanding this correctly, but it sounds as though you’re suggesting that folks make not one, not two, but three separate round trips to their local parish on Sundays. I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

    No What I am saying is that a Sunday schedule at a parish should look something like this:

    8 a.m. Early said Eucharist – Low Mass
    8:40 a.m. Coffee and Fellowship for those at 8 o’clock mass
    9 a.m. Matins
    9:30 a.m. Christian Education
    Sung Mass
    10:30 a.m. Choral High Mass
    Coffee and Fellowship for those at 9:30 Mass
    11:40 a.m. Coffee and Fellowship for those at 10:30 Mass
    12 noon Noon Office
    12:15 p.m. Parish Lunch and Fellowship
    Sung Mass
    1:15 p.m. Parish Charitable – Missionary Activities (4 hours)
    Coffee and Fellowship for 12:15 mass
    5:30 p.m. Vespers
    6 p.m. Low Mass
    6:30 p.m. Coffee and Fellowship for 6 Mass

    Thus the fully involved parishioner would have the following schedule on Sunday

    9 a.m. Matins
    9:30 a.m. Christian Education
    10:30 a.m. Choral High Mass
    11:40 a.m. Coffee and Fellowship for those at 10:30 Mass
    12 noon Noon Office
    12:15 p.m. Parish Lunch and Fellowship
    1:15 p.m. Parish Charitable – Missionary Activities (4 hours)
    5:30 p.m. Vespers

    Is this ambitious? Yes. Are all or even most parishioners going to keep this schedule? No, but then most parishioners are not going to be monks or nuns, but that does not mean the monasteries should be closed. Like wise just because the majority of parishioners are not going to come to the full day of worship, that does not mean it should not be offered.

    Further, note that this schedule allows committed parishioners with less time the following possible schedules.

    8 a.m. Early said Eucharist – Low Mass
    8:40 a.m. Coffee and Fellowship for those at 8 o’clock mass
    9 a.m. Matins
    9:30 a.m. Christian Education


    9 a.m. Matins
    9:30 a.m. Sung Mass
    10:30 a.m. Coffee and Fellowship for those at 9:30 Mass


    12 noon Noon Office
    12:15 p.m. Sung Mass
    1:15 p.m. Coffee and Fellowship for 12:15 mass


    5:30 p.m. Vespers
    6 p.m. Low Mass
    6:30 p.m. Coffee and Fellowship for 6 Mass

    Other schedules for those with intermediate amounts of time are possible and just going to one of the five masses on this schedule is also possible for those with less time. No one dislikes the post V2 hymns that make it sound like the congregation is worshiping itself rather than the Triune God, but the fact is that a church is supposed to be a community that forms individuals for the Lord’s service, not just a sacrament factory. The behavior of some who arrive to mass late and then depart immediately after receiving the most blessed sacrament is an outrage. It is as much an abuse as clown masses.

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