In many parishes, people leave Mass at different time. Some people leave right after Communion, some during the recessional hymn, and some stay after Mass to offer a prayer of thanksgiving. So when should we leave after Mass?
Msgr. Stuart Swetland weighed in on this question recently on Go Ask Your Father™, saying:
“The answer to this question of when should we leave Mass, I believe, is when we have made a thanksgiving after Mass. The law says that Mass is ended when the priest blesses us and the deacon or the priest tells us the Mass is ended. That is when the Mass is over.
It is appropriate, and I think polite, that we stay in the pew while the singing is going on, because that is part of our thanksgiving that we give in that recessional hymn. But I think most Catholics (unless there is something they immediately have to do for some reason or those with very young children who have trouble as it is with the length of Mass) we should stay after Mass to make a proper thanksgiving.
You know, we’re never closer to Jesus this side of heaven than when we have just received Him in the Eucharist. And having received Him into our souls, we have become a living tabernacle of His presence. This is a time for us to, very tenderly and very honestly, give Him thanks and praise, and to dwell and abide in the intimacy of our one-flesh union with Him in the act of receiving Communion worthily.
This is such an efficacious time, a fruitful time of prayer and thanksgiving. So, I think most people should stay after the music has completed, after they have finished singing the last hymn.
Start small, maybe two or three minutes to start, but the goal should be about 5 to 10 minutes of thanksgiving. Talk to the Lord and let your heart speak to Him.
I know you’ve had time, especially in a big parish when Communion takes a while, to make a thanksgiving and have a meditation after you receive or while you wait to receive Communion. And that’s very important prayer as well, of course. But I think that time after Mass to really speak, as Cardinal Newman put it, as heart speaking to heart, that is such a powerful time, that I recommend doing it that way, to say a thanksgiving.
So by the law, yes, the Mass is ended when the priest pronounces it and we receive the final blessing and are sent forth by the deacon or priest. But the proper thing is for the community to sing, with fullness of voice and mind, and then to give the proper thanksgiving.
And then we should go out and mingle with those we have just worshipped with. We should greet them, talk with them, and hopefully carry on a social relationship with our fellow parishioners.”
Listen to the full response below: