Can one fulfill their Easter Duty to Recieve Holy Communion during the Easter Season at a Communion Service that is not a Mass?
Does one have to be at a Mass to fulfil the Eucharistic Precept of the Church or does Recieving Holy Communion at any time during the time frame fulfil one’s obligation?
The Canon about this does not say anything about having to Recieve at a Mass, but only during the Easter season:
Can. 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.
Not a theologian, Bishop, canon lawyer, but wouldn’t the fact that the Sunday Mass obligation has been suspended pretty much worldwide since March mean that the Easter duty would be suspended also in 2020?
I did some research that indicates the USCCB considers the Easter Duty to be fulfilled any time between the First Sunday of Lent and sometime after Pentecost, such as Corpus Christi.
Therefore, if you received Holy Communion during Lent, you’ve already fulfilled your Easter Duty. If you cannot do so, of course, the pandemic and lack of public Masses is a more-than-just cause for doing it elsewhere.
There is nothing in the canons about Mass. The precept is the reception of Holy Communion. If you were sick and an EMHC brought it to your hospital, that would be fine. If you were dying and a priest gave you Viaticum, also fine.
I’m in the same boat. I haven’t attended Mass (only live streaming) since before Easter… but I did finally have the opportunity to receive holy communion the evening of Pentecost during a small (20 people) prayer service at the parish. I considered it my Easter Duty. Hopefully will get to Mass soon, but right now we are still limited to 50 people per Mass.
First of all, the Canon Law says “receive holy communion”. It doesn’t say “receive Communion at a Mass”. Don’t read extra requirements into the law. Presumably you could receive in any way allowed by the Church, which would include Mass, or a legitimate Communion service, or by clergy or EMHC bringing Communion to you at home or in the hospital/ nursing home, etc.
Can. 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.
Second, if you’re in the USA, the “Easter Season” time window for receiving holy communion for “Easter duty” normally (i.e. in years without pandemics) runs between the first Sunday of Lent and Trinity Sunday. It does NOT start on Easter. So if you received on or after the first Sunday of Lent before all the shutdowns started, you already fulfilled your “Easter duty”.
If you’re in another country, check what your bishops have put in place there.
Third, Canon 920 section 2 has stated that “for a just cause” your holy communion can be received at another time of the year. Obviously if you’re in an area where the churches are closed, or if you feel your health or that of your loved one would be jeopardized if you went out to Mass and received Communion right now with the pandemic happening, then you can receive later on when things are more comfortable. Or even count a communion you received in January or February as fulfilling your annual requirement, if things don’t calm down enough to where you feel comfortable receiving. Several dioceses have posted instructions basically saying this.
Funnily enough, the Code of Canon Law wasn’t written with pandemics in mind! Law is typically written for ordinary circumstances whereas the times we’re living in at the moment are anything but! If the Sunday mass obligation is suspended where you are then that’s all you need to know. Keep the sabbath holy through online mases (if you can), prayer and spiritual reading; then return to the sacrifice of the mass when you’re able to do so.
I would check on the website of the episcopal (bishops’) conference for the country in which you live. I live in England and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales have granted us dispensation from the Easter Duty this year.
I’m finding it interesting that your bishop is doing that while other bishops/ clergy in the US are putting stuff on their websites saying, “The Pope has waived the Easter Duty for 2020”. I know I saw this someplace recently because I went googling for the Vatican document saying the Pope had waived the Easter Duty and didn’t find anything. To make matters worse, some pastors are using the word “Easter duty” in its colloquial sense to refer to going to confession around Easter time.
Fortunately, I was able to punch both the Communion and Confession cards multiple times during the USCCB-defined “Easter season” (first Sunday of Lent to Trinity Sunday) so I don’t have to worry about it, but I can see how people are getting confused.