The 18-Minute Mass

veil, mass, tradition


veil, mass, tradition


The Church lays down a minimum for attending Mass and receiving the Eucharist.

The Church obliges the faithful to take part in the Divine Liturgy on Sundays and feast days and, prepared by the sacrament of Reconciliation, to receive the Eucharist at least once a year, if possible during the Easter season (CCC 1389).

But what would striving toward the maximum look like? The same point from the Catechism of the Catholic Church immediately adds:

But the Church strongly encourages the faithful to receive the holy Eucharist on Sundays and feast days, or more often still, even daily.

So it would be a reasonable goal for a Catholic, who is already attending Mass each Sunday and receiving Holy Communion in a state of grace, to attend one more Mass each week.

An ideal would be to attend Mass and receive Communion daily.

Who goes?

I have been doing this for over thirty years. When I was thirty, it seemed like I was always the youngest person there. It was the case then and still is today that daily Mass is mostly attended by retired persons. This makes sense in terms of what I just heard a wise priest say: “The purpose of old age is to pray.” There is so much to pray for!

Still, I am very gratified to see men begin their day with Mass before heading off to do their professional work, young mothers with their very young children, even young single persons and teenagers attending, just because they want to be there.

I’d like to propose that some parishes provide a way for non-retired people to more easily attend Holy Mass daily. This will be a Mass that will be convenient, beautiful, reverent, without any hurry whatsoever, and celebrated during the noon hour: the 18-minute Mass.

The 18-minute Mass

Many people are not aware that the Novus Ordo stripped to its bare essentials is very beautiful. If celebrated simply it can be very reverent and edifying. What do I mean by bare essentials? Drop the hymns, take out the personal greetings and commentaries, eliminate the lectors, omit the prayers of the faithful and offertory procession, place the credence table close to the altar, leave off the Kiss of Peace, and distribute communion under one species. What is left takes very little time. There is lots of silence. The beauty of the words and readings, of the gestures, vestments, and vessels comes to the fore. There need be no hurry whatsoever.

What about the homily? It is not required, but most who assist at Mass would be very happy to have a one or two minute, carefully prepared, pithy homily that makes one important point.

What is the benefit?

Why should we want to attend Mass more frequently ourselves and to see more Catholics do the same? Here’s why. Ours is a sacramental religion. We require grace and we get it mostly from the seven sacraments. The greatest of these is our daily bread, the Eucharist. Add to this the opportunity to hear the Sacred Scriptures and prayerfully offer up intentions.


Why not make the Mass more accessible? Witness the Monday through Friday Mass schedule for St. Peter’s in the loop in Chicago: 6:15, 7:15, 8:15, 11:40 a.m., 12:15, 1:15, 5:00 p.m. These Masses are short without being hurried and are geared for commuters arriving and departing the suburbs by train or able to slip away from their offices around noon. Not every parish need do this. Just one that is easy to access.

Assuming our busy, non-retired Catholic has an hour for lunch, her schedule would be something like this:

12:00 – 12:10:       Leave for Mass

12:10 – 12:30         Assist at Mass

12:30 – 1:00          Eat some lunch, maybe run an errand, and get back to her other business.

If Mass was easier to access, more young Catholics would include Mass in their schedules.  Imagining the greater abundance of grace, and what a beautiful impact that would have on society makes the 18-minute Mass a worthwile consideration.

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22 thoughts on “The 18-Minute Mass”

  1. I must show my love for your kindness giving support
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  2. The time of day wouldn’t work. I have to be available from 9:00 am to 5:00 to job search (required).

    Late afternoon would be best.

  3. My parish church has an 8:00 am Mass Monday thru Friday and on First Friday at 7:00 for what is called the Manresa Mass for those that have attended Manresa Retreat. Even though retired I prefer a Mass around 12:00 Noon since not being an early riser, therefore occasionally will attend 11:15am at the St. Benedict Abbey. Since living 40 miles from the City, when there I will attend the Masses that are available at three different churches around 12:00 Noon. Our Mass at my parish church and the ones I attend in the City average 20 minutes.

  4. I watch mass every morning on EWTN through my computer. I send my angel to adore the host and ask that graces from it be brought to me. Hopefully this is done! All busy and retired could do this if they can’t get to daily mass.

  5. The 18 min. mass sounds great —even on Sundays. All that singing and music playing is not necessary. Saying the psalms would mean much more! to all I think. The greetings to each other -forget it or have it at the beginning so others can see who’s there!!! It’s also germ ridden and I don’t shake hands.

    I think it is necessary tho’ for the priest to do something that would reteach all what they are experiencing when the priest consecrates the host and wine. Many are not paying attention, some even go out to the bathroom at that time and still take communion! More learning should be done in that respect,

  6. St. Martha in downtown Sarasota FL has had a 22-minute Mass, including short homily, at noon and a 5:30pm Mass for quite a while, Monday-Friday.

  7. I think the ’18 minute Mass’ could be the answer for many struggling parishes that can’t afford the overhead of multiple Masses on the weekend on top of daily Mass. The Mass should or could be thought of as being about quality not quantity in terms of duration. I think younger people would respond very well to this.

  8. When I was in grad school some (mumble mumble) years ago, there was a church close to the university that was the favorite of Catholic students on days of holy obligation. The pastor had what the students called “the St. Pat’s Mini Mass”. It was an 18-minute mass held at 7AM so that students could get to Mass, get out and get back to dorm cafeteria, and still make their 8AM class. Those that slept in could still make the Newman Center noon mass, which, while not quite a mini-Mass, was still succinct and finished in time for the students (and teachers) to get something to eat before their next class.

    Sadly, St. Pat’s was among the buildings destroyed when a tornado hit the city on Good Friday.

  9. The laity are always better off with 20 minutes of mental prayer. This is the wisdom of the saints and one is not required to set their prayer schedule to the priest’s schedule. Plus, this suggestion excludes Eastern Rite Catholics who may not have the Divine Liturgy celebrated every day.

    1. The Eucharist is the source and summit of our Catholic faith, so I’d hesitate to say mental prayer is better than the Mass. There can be time for both.

    2. Kevin, sorry for the late reply, but here is a wonderful quote from St Alphonus di Ligouri, “Mental prayer is the blessed furnace in which
      souls are inflamed with the love of God. All the saints have become saints by
      mental prayer” He said that “It is morally impossible for him who neglects
      meditation to live without sin,” because of its incompatibility with sin:
      nobody can continue the practice of mental prayer in the state of mortal sin.
      He will either repent or quit the practice of mental prayer.
      I have asked many people who are very serious about the spiritual life and who offer spiritual direction, “If a lay person comes to you and they truly only have 30 minutes available each day for prayer, should they choose daily Mass or mental prayer?” In every instance, the person has responded, “Mental prayer.”

  10. I have been blessed with the opportunity for 18-20 minute Masses for much of my life. For years, there w a brief mass at noon near my office. The 6;30 Am Mass in my parish was always 20-25 minutes. I could be at work by 7 Am. Now, I am retired and often visit the Benedictine Monastery near me for 6:30 AM mass. That Mass must be finished by 6:50AM since the Monks return to continue their morning prayers. Now here is the somewhat surprising thing: these Masses most often accompanied by a 2 minute homilette are often more meaningful to me than the Sunday liturgy. Thanks for the article!

    1. I have had the same experience, Dick. In order to deliver a short homily, the priest must specially prepare it. I think this is why they can have more impact.

  11. Growing up m parish priest had mass times down to a science. As for the homily, I remember many hot summer Sundays as we sat sweltering in the church without AC or fans and he, a large man in his vestments, would deliver a 17 word homily “It may be hot here, but it’ll be a lot hotter where some of you are going”. Sort of a haiku homiliy

  12. Also, I would like to add that unless one works very near a parish with noon Mass, it is impossible to attend if you must travel to get there. Also, how can anyone know if a parish has an “18-minute Mass?”

    1. The scheduling of Mass is up to the pastors in our Diocese. And at my parish, we parishioners may submit our wishes to the pastor. But ultimately it is up to the pastors to address the need. At this point it seems that all the pastors in my area only want to supply daily Mass between 8 AM and 12:10 PM. The devotions at my parish (Stations, Divine Mercy, Adoration, etc.) all take place between Noon and 3 PM during the week. Which leaves all of us who work during business hours out of luck. But I think your idea is excellent! Maybe if others would ask their pastors, a parish somewhere around here could have Mass and devotions in the early evening. God bless you!

  13. For all my adult life, I have longed to attend daily Mass and other devotions. Except for very short periods, however, it has been impossible.

    The reason for this is that nearly every Catholic parish in a 25-mile radius of my medium-sized city in well-populated, Catholic, northeast Ohio only has Mass at 8:00 or 9:00 in the morning or at noon.

    I and a great many of my fellow Catholics work during business hours, Monday through Friday. I have to be at work at 7:30 AM, I have a 30-minute lunch, and I work until 4 PM. I expect others have similar schedules, with a bit of variance.

    There are virtually no parishes in my area which offer an evening Mass after 5 PM. Adoration at my parish takes place between 10 AM and Noon once per month. Stations of the Cross take place at 3 PM on Fridays during Lent. Daily Mass is at 12:10 PM.

    When I was on parish council, I attempted to discuss this with my pastor. He became angry when I brought up the subject. He is a fine priest and a good man, but I suspect he likes to keep the parish on “business hours” as well.

    It is no mystery to me why most of the people who show up at daily Mass are the elderly or otherwise unemployed. I do not begrudge them this, but it would be nice if the Clergy would stop complaining about those of us who are younger or working not taking advantage of daily Mass and other devotions. I appreciate my retired fellow parishioners, but the younger of us also need some spiritual attention. Families with children, college students, and those of us in the workforce are routinely ignored in this area, and often scolded for our lack of piety. Perhaps this is the reason.

  14. Dear Kevin,
    I agree with you that Mass should be more than once a week. If I did not have the sacraments and especially the Eucharist my marriage would have been a thing of the past several years ago. (It’s rough going through a marriage with a spouse who was the recipient of physical abuse with a broom stick when she was a child. That brings along a whole host of mental/personality issues that I’m having to deal with. When things get really tough I also make a visit to the Most Blessed Sacrament. I may have spent around 3-4 hours total with our Lord this past week).
    I pray for your continued success in ministry. Please pray for us.
    (Born in Chicago – now living in the lone star state)

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