ASK FATHER: I have to work on Saturday and Sunday at Mass times. Can I receive Communion anyway?

From a reader…


I’m currently scheduled to work on both Saturday and Sunday and this doesn’t give me to time to attend a full mass in person.  However, I would be able to leave work during scheduled lunch break to drop by a mass in session to receive Holy Communion.

Is this acceptable if I am able to watch an entire Sunday mass for that weekend or am I not allowed to receive Holy Communion because I wasn’t there for the entirety of the Holy Mass?

There’s no Mass at any church when you are not working?  That’s rough.  I hope that doesn’t happen very often, given the importance of Sunday.  Holy Church recognizes that life is messy. That is why she has canons such as can. 1245.

Watching Mass over the internet or some other means does not fulfill your obligation (if you are in a diocese where the COVID dispensation is no longer in force)

You might contact your local pastor and ask him to dispense you from the Sunday obligation.  According to the Code of Canon Law for the Latin Church in canon 1245, pastors of parishes have the ability to dispense your obligation in individual instances or commute your obligation to some other pious work.

You can’t just assume that you have the dispensation or commutation. You have to receive it.   But such a dispensation should not be too hard to obtain.

Canon 136 clarifies that the exercise of executive power (e.g., a dispensation) is valid over one’s subjects, even when they are outside of one’s territory, as well as over travelers who are present in one’s territory.

Many bishops grant this dispensing power to all priests, not just to pastors of parishes.

Hence, if you are looking for a dispensation or commutation, you generally need not look too far.

If you are outside of your parish, or not able to contact your parish priest for whatever reason, you might inquire of another priest.  Ask if he has the faculty to dispense or commute.  Otherwise, you can call the local chancery office and speak to the vicar general (who would have power to dispense), the chancellor (who would either have it or would know who does), or someone in the tribunal (who would usually know who has dispensing power).

As far as receiving Communion is concerned.  I, frankly, don’t have an objection to the occasional Communion outside of Mass.  The Church has a rite for it in the traditional books.  It was and is done for, for example, choir members who couldn’t come to the rail at Communion time.  But to pop into church at Communion, receive, and then dash out again just seems… off.  First, it could scandalize people.  Also, it could scandalize you!  Weaken your sense of reverence, even though you originally did this out of desire for the Eucharistic Lord!

Keep in mind, also, that many of the greatest saints we venerate today received Communion only a few times a year.  Perhaps you could take a page from their manual for holiness and wait a week.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, 1983 CIC can. 915, ASK FATHER Question Box and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. tgarcia2 says:

    I can empathize. Working for an airline I have the unfortunate luck of working 12 hr shifts (0700-1900) on Sundays. This rotation I worked weekends. Next bid I got every other Saturday off…going to aim for Saturday Vigil (yes it’s NO but it’s all I got).

  2. Simon_GNR says:

    As Father Z implies in his post, and has I think intimated several times before, it wouldn’t do the Catholic Church any harm for us to get away from the very modern idea that we “have to” receive Holy Communion at every Mass we attend.

    It must be really tough having a job whose hours of work do not allow one to attend Mass on a Sunday or even a vigil Mass on a Saturday evening. I’m thankful that I’ve never been in that position myself. I do sympathise with the enquirer, but I agree with Father Z that’s it’s not quite right just to slip in and out of Church as communion time. It has always annoyed me seeing the minority of people who queue up to receive communion and then walk straight out of Church without even going back to their pew, as if they think “I’ve got what I want out of this Mass so I’ll go now.”

  3. Chiara says:

    May I suggest looking for a parish that is connected to a Newman Center? My parish is the home of the University of Akron Newman Center. Long ago, a former pastor instituted a Sunday evening Mass specifically because he was tired of hearing the students tell him they had to miss Mass because they were travelling home to visit family. Father began with a 10:30 PM Mass, which, these many years later, has been moved to 8:00 PM. It is very well attended, not only by our excellent and faithful Newman students, but by various others with the same problem as the writer of this post – they work as snow plow drivers, nurses, police officers, doctors, etc., who work at necessary jobs and are unable to make it to Mass on Sunday mornings or Saturday vigil. We normally have a crowd of 300-400 in the congregation. Very best of luck to the writer of the question – my father was a snow plow driver, and I was a Public Works dispatcher. I know how very difficult it sometimes is when we must both fulfill our Sunday duty and be responsible for working at jobs which save the lives of others.

  4. ProfessorCover says:

    In my area one Church offers a NO Mass around 6PM on Sunday night for students when the university is in session. I thought it was for those too hungover to make it to a Sunday morning Mass. But in 1969 when I was a freshman in college, the Catholic students in my corps of cadets unit all drug themselves out of bed for a 6 or 7 AM Sunday mass and then went back to bed. When I left the Episcopal Church and began going to a Latin Mass I remembered this partly because I met people who would plan their travels so they could always make a Latin Mass. Finally, my parish priest recently told me many of his English Mass parishioners think their Sunday obligation is to receive Holy Communion, not to assist at Mass! It is as if they don’t understand that graces also flow from assisting at Mass.

  5. Pingback: TVESDAY EDITION – Big Pulpit

Comments are closed.