We camp a lot and usually go with our closest friends who are non-Catholic. On Sunday my family finds the local Catholic church and we attend Mass. On occasion, when our friends care to go to church, we want to be together to share God’s word. But if we all choose to attend their Episcopal service (or any other denomination for that matter) have I met my Sunday obligation? And, since their communion is not intended to be the actual body of Christ is it wrong for me to receive it knowing it is only a wafer?
There’s a number of questions bundled in here. Let’s sift them out:
[list]Does a non-Catholic Christian service meet the Sunday obligation?[/list]
No. According to the Code of Canon Law only a Catholic eucharistic liturgy can fulfill the Sunday obligation:
The obligation of assisting at Mass is satisfied wherever Mass is celebrated in a Catholic rite either on a holy day itself or on the evening of the previous day (canon 1248).
[list]What do I do if I am traveling on a Sunday and there is no Mass available?[/list]
[list]If my non-Catholic friends want to attend an Episcopal service, may I substitute going to Mass with attending their service?[/list]
While it is perfectly fine to attend a non-Catholic service as a guest so long as one meets one’s Sunday obligation at a Catholic Mass, it would be problematic to choose to worship at a non-Catholic Christian service for the sake of fellowship at the expense of attending Mass. Mass is your first obligation; if it is reasonably possible for you to go while traveling, that is where you as a Catholic belong. Fellowship with friends is a fine thing, but of lesser importance to your Catholic obligation to attend Mass.
Of course, if a non-Catholic church is near your travel venue but there is no Catholic church, you are dispensed from your Sunday obligation but could choose to accompany your friends to their church as a guest.
[list]May I receive communion in a Protestant church?[/list]
No. By receiving communion in a Protestant church you would be giving the impression that you as a Catholic believe Protestant communion to be equivalent to Catholic Communion. It might also give scandal to those Protestants who know you to be a Catholic to see you receiving Protestant communion when they know that the Catholic Church does not ordinarily admit non-Catholic Christians to Catholic Communion.