Common things Catholics forget they are supposed to do (or not do)


I often see posts from people who describe themselves (or are described by others) as being scrupulous. It should be very telling that I had no idea what the term meant and had to go look it up.

So I’m wondering if someone could provide a list of common mistakes or errors that a non-scrupulous Catholic like myself should keep in mind so as to not do those things.

I’m not really asking about the larger political or cultural issues, but more the ordinary things that I’m sure I’m overlooking. For example, it wasn’t until I went to a Catholic graduate school (purely incidentally, I had no specific desire to go to a Catholic School) where a friend informed me that you’re supposed to have the Eucharist on an empty stomach. I don’t specifically recall doing otherwise, but I know wouldn’t have thought anything of it before then.


Keep your gaze on the mercy of God, and trust it eternally. Do this and you will not fall to scrupulousity.


You should start by reading the basics—the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This is the basic doctrines and teachings of the Church:

Don’t fall into scrupulosity—it is a nightmare.


The Eucharist rule is actually that you don’t eat or drink anything other than water or prescribed medication within 1 hour before receiving. Your stomach likely isn’t “empty”, especially if you ate right before the 1 hour time window kicked in.

“Scrupulousity” is actually a mental condition similar to OCD and means that you have inordinate worry about committing a sin. People who have this disorder worry that they commit big sins by doing what the rest of us consider to be not sinful at all, like watching a TV comedy where a character gets drunk, or eating an extra sandwich for lunch on a day when they feel extra hungry.

Most Catholics are “non-scrupulous” in that we do not have this mental disorder. I myself am non-scrupulous. It doesn’t mean I’m unaware of church teachings.

What you are describing is more like you were just poorly catechized in that your parents or Catholic instructors didn’t properly teach/ remind you about the 1-hour time limit. It doesn’t have anything to do with scrupulous or non-scrupulous.


I’m not intending to glorify scrupulosity. I understand it’s undesirable, I’m just saying I have issues in the others direction. (Though, I’ve never heard of it being used in a non-religious context) And yes, I know it’s 1 hour, not “an empty stomach.”

Again not talking about doctrinal issues and teachings. I don’t believe (and I just looked through the Catechism I have in my desk drawer to the left of me, but maybe I missed where it is there) that the disciplines regarding the Eucharist are provided in the Catechism. I looked it up on Wikipedia and it states that’s it’s provided in Book IV, Part I Title III Chapter I Article 2 (Participation in the Holy Eucharist) of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, Canon 919.


Perhaps make a list of what rules you are curious about, or even if there is a rule regarding such a circumstance?


This is what I was meaning to get at when I called myself “non-scrupulous.” Rules aren’t the sort of thing I’m naturally curious about. It’s only that I know that my faith also has rules that I would even bother asking.

Not that I don’t have an interest in my faith, but lends itself more to the theology or philosophy behind it, rather than the practice of it. And from that perspective, I don’t see how one goes from that to specific rules like the one being discussed beforehand.


Begin with the Precepts of the Church


I hear ya. There were so many little things I didn’t realize I was supposed to do!

Like, I didn’t know I was supposed to show a sign of reverence when receiving the Eucharist. I didn’t know to kneel before entering a pew. I didn’t know to have an empty stomach before Mass.

I’ve gradually figured it out but wouldn’t it be nice to have a guideline sheet for new Catholics! LOL!


No requirement for an empty stomach. Healthy non pregnant people go without food for 1 hour before they receive. As the average Sunday Mass lasts an hour, if it begins at 10 AM you could eat a giant breakfast at 9 AM and still observe the fast.

Kneeling before entering the pew is a pious custom, giving respect to the Lord in the Tabernacle. If there is no/empty tabernacle, as is with every Church on Good Friday, out of respect we bow toward the Altar.

The bow before receiving should be printed in the Missalette or any hand Missal :slight_smile:


Are those actually rules or is that just viewed as proper etiquette?

But yeah, when I was young I remember I had a little plastic card with the ten commandments on them, and to a certain degree I was hoping for something similar here.



Some of these seem to be regional. When I am in Archdiocese of Philadelphia, everybody bows.

This week I was in Diocese of Cleveland. Nobody is bowing there but me.


When attending mass:
Dip your fingers in holy water and make the sign of the cross while looking at the tabernacle when you enter church.

Genuflect (if physically able) when entering a pew.

During the creed, bow your head at the appropriate part (it’s in the missal)

Please bow your head at the moment(s) of consecration during the Eucharistic prayer. If your church uses santus bells it’s when they are rung! If no bells, it’s when priest genuflects.

Bow before you receive both the body and blood of our Lord at Communion and make the sign of the cross after receiving both.

Stay until the final blessing from priest/deacon.


Those are all things that should have been covered in RCIA and I’m sorry that they were not!


Maybe making the sign of the cross after receiving the Eucharist is regional too. I have never lived anywhere where that is done.


The Eucharist fasting is one of the simplest rules (for most) that we have. I would have to literally be eating as I leave the house to break the fast.


I was raised Catholic. But those religious rules didn’t come across differently than simply being a child who does what he’s been asked. So it’s not necessarily obvious to know what’s a rule and what’s not.

For example, I grew up always receiving the body and blood, but most churches I’ve attended since have only provided the body. I’ve heard that it’s okay to receive one or the other, along with the underlying rationale. I don’t find the rationale compelling, but ultimately my perspective on that is irrelevant as I have no authority in the matter.

Clarification on the third precept, is that saying that’s it’s within the rules to not have the Eucharist outside of Easter season? I don’t recall ever being under the impression that this was the case, and looking at the first precept I would have assumed that taking the Eucharist would be part of faithfully participating in the Eucharist celebration, but maybe not?


There are people in the world who may not be able to get to a church on a regular basis because they live in a remotie area with no church, no priest, no transportation; or they are at war and everything’s disrupted; or they are in some oppressed country where priests have to sneak around and hide in basements saying Mass; or they are sick and homebound or in a nursing home or hospital somewhere and priests cannot regularly visit and maybe the sick person also has trouble swallowing the Holy Communion; or maybe somebody is not in a state of grace and can’t easily get to confession or resolve the issue causing the sin; etc.

These precepts have to apply to all different situations that might not involve the normal one where the church is easy to get to and has Mass every Sunday and confession time every week.

Obviously if you are in a position to be able to receive Eucharist at Mass every Sunday or even daily, then you’d be a fool not to do so (and go to Confession as needed so you could continue to do so). The precept clearly states that it is giving a minimum requirement.


If you are not in a state of Grace you are not to receive the Eucharist. Sometime during the Easter Season get yourself to Confession so you may make your Easter Duty.

There are also times and places where people may not be able to attend Mass, see a priest, for months and months on end.


No, I agree . It’s merely a pious custom And to be honest, seems a bit superfluous when we have just received the fullest grace possible in the Eucharist. What does making the Sign of the Cross add? The priests themselves evidently don’t think it is a rule - I have never seen a priest make the Sign of the Cross after receiving.

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