Recieve the Eucharist Once a Year

I’ve been reading the 6 Precepts of the Catholic Church (the duties of a Catholic) and one of the precepts is “To receive the Eucharist at least once a year, during the Easter Season (known as the “Easter duty”)”.

Do some people go to mass and not take communion? I don’t understand why that is one of the precepts if the first precept is to attend mass weekly. I guess in my mind mass infers communion. Where am I going wrong here? Why is the obligation to receive the Eucharist only once a year?


That is a modern phenomenon. In days past, people had a much more robust sense of their sin. This may have been overly exaggerated into never feeling worthy of receiving the Eucharist. Hence the positive precept to receive it at least annually. Of course, in many places still today one does not have regular access to a priest or Mass and may only be able to receive on an infrequent basis.

There are people now who go up every week and give no thought to the fact that they may be a state of uncofessed mortal sin, or otherwise not properly disposed. This would be an underdeveloped sense of sin and proper disposition towards the Eucharist.

There are many reasons people refrain from going to communion on any given week: did not maintain the one hour fast for some reason, have not had an opportunity to confess a serious sin, are not properly disposed for another reason such as anger, preoccupation, etc.

And there are also many in the pews that are unable to receive due to an irregular marriage, or other impediment to the sacraments. So this precept serves as a call for them to get their situation recitifed.

Perhaps in thinking that everyone should go up every week, when you are not privvy to their personal situations and reasons that they should in fact not go up. And we should all examine our conscience each week before we receive to see if there are any reasons we should not.

See above

The obligation is to go to Mass, not to receive Communion.

The thing is, no matter what ouir state, we are still obliged to attend: if we are in an irregular marriage, if we don’t believe, if we are in a state of mortal sin, if we have been excommunicated… despite any of those and a few more excuses people could come up with, we are still obliged.

If anyone does not receive Communion, I assume they ate too close to Mass. My children did this once when we arrived early at a church with some wild berry bushes nearby :o and I once totally forgot and drank some soda right close to the church :o

But whatever tye situation, the Church wants us to consider cleaning up our acts during Lent.

In the early Church, all who were present at the Eucharistic celebration were expected to partake of the Eucharist. Those who were not able to receive, either because they were catechumens or penitents, were dismissed before the liturgy of the Eucharist began. During the middle ages, penitents were no longer dismissed from the Mass, but they did not receive the Eucharist. Beginning in the middle ages, many people began to feel a general unworthiness to receive the Eucharist. Coupled with strict fasting requirements, this resulted in the laity rarely receiving Holy Communion. The church has always seen this as a problem and encouraged frequent reception of Communion, while keeping in mind that we should not receive if we are aware of serious sin. The requirement to receive Holy Communion at least once a year was an attempt by the Church to insure that the faithful would be nourished by the bread of life at least that often.

I was reading that prior to Pius X, the common practice was not to receive communion unless one went to confession as well. Thus the precepts the way they are written. Pius X stressed more frequent communion by stating that only mortal sins require confession. Then Pius XII stressed more confessions. So it brings us to cultures, some of where (like the English Mass) virtually everyone receives and others (like the Spanish and Polish Mass) over half of the congregation sits in their pews during communion.

BTW, some Orthodox (and other) members call communion without confession a “decadent” practice.

Which is why I’d love to see the Church increase the fast obligation to 3 hours for food, 1 for drink. That way more people wouldn’t be able to receive b/c of eating too close to Mass and there would be less of a “stigma” of sitting in the pew (when you are one of a very few sitting in the pew during communion, it’s like wearing a sign saying "Hi, I committed a mortal sin!)

Guess what? If people aren’t staying in the pews due to a mortal sin, they aren’t going to stay in the pews for fasting. Why do you want less people going to Communion?

Don’t worry about a ‘stigma’ of remaining in the pew. I’ve had to do it for unconfessed sin as well (the confessional closed before Mass and I was next in line). They shouldn’t be concerned that you are still in the pew, any more than we should worry that they are in line. If I do notice, I figure that people either broke the fast, or are awaiting communion to the Church.

It’s hard to assume that people broke the fast as you’d have to almost be eating as you pull into the parking lot to do so (the fast is one hour before receiving, not one hour before Mass begins). I’d only like to see less receive b/c so many receive in a state of sin - remember we can eat unto condemnation as well as unto forgiveness depending on our disposition. People would more likely stay in the pew if more people did it on a weekly basis. Right now (as the OP attests) most people equate going to Mass with receiving. That really shouldn’t be.

Tell that to those who are screaming at bishops to withhold communion for certain politicians and others.

At the point of the Eucharist, and at this point in my life, I am only concerned with my own state of grace, and not those around me. I don’t know anyone else’s state of grace or their interior life by how they look on the outside. I have been trying to pray, as I receive the Body and Blood of Christ, for all those in attendance at Mass, and also for specific people or groups not at Mass.

It can be taught from the priest, such as during the Homily, or even in the weekly bulletins, how to receive the Eucharist, and how to do so in a state of grace; when to receive or not to receive. I think it’s important though, not only to teach/inform of what to do, but why to do it that way.

Yes, I do have a difficult time with well known public figures receiving Communion while professing their belief in abortion, same-sex marriage and other things against not just Church teaching, but the rule set forth by God. But until my neighbor publicly confesses a belief in abortion, or same sex marriage, to me, it’s not my place to comment on his reception of the Eucharist.

ETA: I believe I should have said fewer. If my son was here, he’d be appalled, clearly payback for trying to teach my mom how to say ‘washer’ correctly (no R! :slight_smile: ). :slight_smile:

I sort of like this idea. I used precisely this excuse on occasion when I was a teenager (at that time the fast was from food and water from midnight until receiving.) I didn’t want to tell my mother I couldn’t receive because of sin; I just said, oops I broke my fast, which I did by taking a drink of water.

I sort of like this idea. I used precisely this excuse on occasion when I was a teenager (at that time the fast was from food and water from midnight until receiving.) I didn’t want to tell my mother I couldn’t receive because of sin; I just said, oops I broke my fast, which I did by taking a drink of water.

Don’t worry, I make that same mistake myself. (You’re right it should be “fewer” if there is a number involved.) Also make the mistake in misspelling “receive” until I see someone else do it. :slight_smile:

Thanks for the replies. All very interesting.

By the way, I noticed one of you said I attested to everyone at mass receiving communion and from another comment I get the feeling that they think I am judging those who do not take communion at mass. I did not mean to claim trends at mass, nor to imply any judgement on those that do not take communion at mass for whatever reason. I am not Catholic and have never been to mass. I am merely learning about the faith and this is one question that came up and I wanted to see some opinions on it as I did not quite understand, for some reason or other.

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