Doubt about time for fulfillment of Easter duty


I have yet to fulfil the duty to receive Communion during the Easter season. (The last time I received Communion was, if I remember rightly, last Pentecost). Despite the fact that the Code of Canon Law refers simply to “the Easter season”, the priest acting as administrator of my parish has stated on multiple occasions that the Easter duty may be fulfilled from Ash Wednesday to Trinity Sunday inclusive.

I searched this forum and found many posts stating that, by virtue of an indult, the prescribed period in the United States is the First Sunday of Lent to Trinity Sunday. I, however, live in Ireland, and the best information I could find on the situation here was an article from the old Catholic Encyclopedia which states that here the period extends from Ash Wednesday to the 6th of July (the octave of the feast of SS. Peter and Paul)—a period even broader than that referred to by my parish administrator.

Tomorrow is the last day of the Easter season proper and I am most likely not in a state of grace. It is too late for me to make it to Confession in any church this evening. My own parish church offers Confession on Sunday mornings before Mass, but I would prefer not to avail of it: there would be many people around arriving for Mass, and I prefer confessing to priests I don’t know personally.

Would I be justified in trusting my parish administrator, and so not going to Confession tomorrow morning but rather postponing it until next Saturday and Communion until Trinity Sunday? (I will be meeting the administrator on Monday for an unrelated reason and I can discuss the matter with him then, but of course the Easter season proper will already be past by that point.)

Apologies for the length of my question. Help would be greatly appreciated.


I’ve always held to Trinity Sunday but I don’t know the rules in your area. However, the sooner the better as they say.


The receiving of communion once a year is a minimum set by the Church, but is by far not enough. God bless!


EWTN stated here that the Easter Season ends on Trinity Sunday.

[LEFT][size=2]Q. I can find nothing in the Catechism regarding this but from other sources I’ve learned that fulfillment of the Easter Duty (obligation) in the U.S. and Canada requires confession in any parish and Communion in one’s own parish. This must be done between the first Sunday in Lent and Trinity Sunday. Is this correct? Thank you. [/size]

A. The Easter duty is the obligation to receive Holy Communion. It is required by canon 920: “§1. After being initiated into the Most Holy Eucharist, each of the faithful is obliged to receive Holy Communion at least once a year. §2. This precept must be fulfilled during the Easter season unless it is fulfilled for a just cause at another time during the year.” The obligated to go to confession is related in the sense that, in order to receive Holy Communion, one might need to go to confession first in order to be in a state of grace.

The Easter duty is a minimum requirement in order to motivate people to receive the sacraments. Ideally, a Catholic receives Holy Communion at every Mass that he or she attends.
The dioceses of the U.S. have an indult which allows the fulfillment of the Easter duty from the first Sunday of Lent through Most Holy Trinity Sunday. This may be true for Canada as well. (I am not sure.)The requirements from the 1917 Code of Canon Law regarding the fulfillment of this duty in one’s own parish have been dropped. So it can be fulfilled anywhere.


I am aware of the American position; there seems to be a consensus in that regard. However, my question relates to the Irish position, and all I have to go on are two contradictory sources: my priest (Ash Wednesday to Trinity Sunday) and a century-old encyclopedia (Ash Wednesday to July 6). I am worried that both may be wrong: that there may be no indult in force in Ireland at all, or that there may be an indult in force which extends only to Lent and not to the period after Pentecost. But it would be very inconvenient for me to seek out Confession tomorrow and I would like to postpone it another week if I could.

I wonder whether I might be comforted by Canon 14 of the Code of Canon Law: “Laws …] do not oblige where there is a doubt about the law.”


I would go with your priest. :slight_smile:


Is there a reason you think your priest is in error? I would think he would know, and if he is not correct, the error is on him, not you. You, after all, followed your Pastor’s direction in good faith. We really are not expected to be Canon Law experts–we should be able to trust our priests–they are our shepherds.


Not really, apart from the fact that I cannot find anything confirming his statements on the Internet (and that the Catholic Encyclopedia article does muddy the waters a bit). But priests do not always get things right—for instance, this particular priest, despite having no dissident tendencies, once delivered a homily on faith that quite clearly contradicted the First Vatican Council’s condemnation of fideism. And with lay reception of Communion so frequent now, knowing with certainty the precise nature and extent of Easter duty indults is not, I would imagine, something that most priests consider a matter of pastoral urgency.

I suppose that had I been in this situation a few decades ago I would simply have trusted the priest, but now that (with the advent of the Internet) so much information is so easily available to so many people, I feel (perhaps wrongly) that we now have a responsibility to “fact-check” that we might not have had before.


You can go to confession and communion to satisfy your Easter obligation during the weekdays as well. But you probably knew that.


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