You certainly have to be at Mass for the entire Cannon (Eucharistic
Prayer for those post Vatican II converts) in order to receive Communion.
And then, surely the canon has no meaning unless you are here for
the Prayer that comes right before it in which the Priest calls down the Holy Spirit to be
with him, so you definitely have to come before the priest says the Blessing over the
Then in order for the Blessing over the Gifts to have any meaning
at all you surely must state exactly what it is that you believe, so then you have to get
there in time to say the Creed. It only makes sense.
But what sense would the Creed make if you weren't present for the
prayers of the faithful? If we truly believe that we are a Catholic Community you must be
present to raise up the prayers of your brothers and sisters in faith. So you have to
arrive before the prayer of the faithful.
Of course, how on earth would you know what to pray for without the
sage wisdom that you gain from the Homily? So you absolutely have to get there in time to
hear the Homily.
What good, though, is the Homily, if you haven't listened to the
word of God imparted in the readings that the Church sets out for that particular Mass? I
guess it is important to arrive before the Liturgy of the Word.
But how can you gain anything from the Word of God without first
praising Him? So you should really get to church in time to proclaim the Gloria.
And then how can you praise God before first recognizing your
sinfulness and asking forgiveness? This is so integral to truly receiving the sacrament.
You need to be at church in time to say the Confiteor.
The opening prayer and psalm are very important as they set the
tone for the entire celebration. It would be a good idea to get there in time to hear the
Now, really before all of that begins, you must celebrate the fact
that your community has joined as one voice to celebrate the Sabbath, so you really need
to be there to sing the opening song too.
And how can you possibly enjoy the opening song with your parish
family without first spending some time in silent prayer, setting aside your worries of
the outside world, placing yourself in the Divine Presence of Christ in the Tabernacle?
This must take a little time.
So if you really want to fully experience the Communion offered at
Mass you need to show up at least 15 to 20 minutes before the Mass begins so that you have
sufficient time for personal prayer and reflection.