The Sunday Obligation

Preamble: I have posted this question in the L&S Forum because the crux of my question concerns fulfilling my Sunday obligation as a Latin Catholic. No parts of this post are intended to offend non-Catholic Christians; I am just asking some technical questions.

I know that as a Latin Catholic I can fulfil my Sunday obligation:
[LIST=1]
*]On Saturday evening or any time on Sunday;
*]In any one of the 23 sui iuris Catholic Churches in communion with the Roman Pontiff;
*]In any liturgical Rite or Use of any of the Churches in no. 2 (above);
*]Whatever the Mass is celebrating: a Sunday, solemnity, baptism, confirmation, wedding, etc.
[/LIST]
I know that I could not fulfil my obligation by any form of worship service in any member of the Anglican Communion or any Protestant ecclesial community.

I have read on some occasions on posts on CAF that Sunday obligation can be fulfilled in Orthodox Churches. I believe this to be incorrect. Purely on a point of technicality aren’t we in the Catholic Church still in schism with the Assyrian Church, Eastern Orthodox Churches, and the Oriental Orthodox Churches? Therefore, how could we fulfil our Sunday obligation in an Eastern Orthodox Church?

As it often comes up in similar posts what is the position between the 23 Catholic Churches and the Assyrian Church, Eastern Orthodox Churches, and the Oriental Orthodox Churches concerning sacraments? Does the Catholic Church allow us to receive sacraments from these Churches? Will the Catholic Church allow members of these Churches to receive sacraments in the Catholic Church?

sui iuris and the 22 Eastern Catholic Churches sui iuris in full communion with the Latin Bishop of Rome.]

Take note that in some places, inter-communion has been allowed. Example is the Chaldeans and the Assyrian Church of the East

vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/documents/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_20011025_chiesa-caldea-assira_en.html

Also I read somewhere that the Ukrainian Catholics and Ukrainian Orthodox allowed intercommunion during the time of persecution by the Soviets.

Although in ordinary circumstances, there normally isn’t intercommunion. I believe more Orthodox believe that Catholic Sacraments could be invalid, or at the very least question its validity. Its more likely for a Catholic to seek Sacraments from an Orthodox priest than for an Orthodox to seek Sacraments from a Catholic priest.

If one is unable to attend a Catholic Mass, of whatever rite or form, then the obligation is dispensed (of course, for a just reason).

If one can attend (I mean, the practical possibility) a Divine Liturgy of the Eastern ‘Orthodox’, one need not, in fact should not.

What do you mean “should not”? There is no such law prohibiting us from going to Orthodox parishes. I know of Eastern Catholics who would frequent Orthodox parishes for Vespers, especially if their own parish doesn’t have them.

However valid their sacraments may be, to worship knowingly outwith of the Church Christ founded is a serious problem.

The Catholic Church does teach that the Orthodox Church is a true Church. We acknowledge they are founded by the Apostles and are part of the entire Chruch.

For your reading: vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_letters/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_02051995_orientale-lumen_en.html

excerpt (bold is mine):

Our Eastern Catholic brothers and sisters are very conscious of being the living bearers of this tradition,** together with our Orthodox brothers and sisters**. The members of the Catholic Church of the Latin tradition must also be fully acquainted with this treasure and thus feel, with the Pope, a passionate longing that the full manifestation of the Church’s catholicity be restored to the Church and to the world, expressed not by a single tradition, and still less by one community in opposition to the other; and that we too may be granted a full taste of the divinely revealed and undivided heritage of the universal Church which is preserved and grows in the life of the Churches of the East as in those of the West.

If one is unable to assist at Mass on a day of obligation because there is no access to any valid Catholic church then the obligation is dispensed. One should however “devote themselves to prayer for a suitable time alone, as a family, or, as the occasion permits, in groups of families.”

Can. 1248 §2. If participation in the eucharistic celebration becomes impossible because of the absence of a sacred minister or for another grave cause, it is strongly recommended that the faithful take part in a liturgy of the word if such a liturgy is celebrated in a parish church or other sacred place according to the prescripts of the diocesan bishop or that they devote themselves to prayer for a suitable time alone, as a family, or, as the occasion permits, in groups of families.

All Catholics may freely worship in the Divine Liturgy of our sister Orthodox churches at any time. There are *many *posts elsewhere on CAF about when and if it is ever appropriate for a Catholic to present oneself for Holy Eucharist there.

Reception of the Holy Eucharist is not part of the Sunday obligation for a Catholic.

Matthew: I think most of the answers you seek are in the Vatican’s Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism.

Don’t forget that going to an Anglican use Catholic Church is perfectly acceptable - this being one of the Anglican Churches that has come into Communion with the Catholic Church.

I know it may seem like splitting hairs but when you talk to soldiers who are say in the military you will find choices can be somewhat limited.

Thank you for that. I’m not going to split any hairs either but if I may I’ll clarify: I see the Anglican Use as a liturgical Use of the Roman Rite. So when I’m being at my most pedantic and calling Roman Catholics Latin Catholics I include the Anglican Use in them.

I’m not fond of the term ‘Roman Catholic’ as the ‘Roman’ can still have perjorative connotations here in the UK. That’s why I either use Catholic or if I need to make sure I mean western Catholics as opposed to the Eastern Catholic Churches I use the adjective Latin.

If I say Anglican I’m always referring to the Church of England and those other national and provincial churches in communion with Canterbury which constitute the Anglican Communion.

I know Anglicans come in many shades and some consider themselves catholic, some consider themselves protestant, and some as both. As a courtesy to them I usually itemise them as separate from all other Protestant ecclesial communities.

I see where you are coming from. Especially given the country of origin of this post. Sometimes this does make things a bit dicey here on CAF :slight_smile:

The difference between Anglicans and Orthodox is this:

-If an Orthodox Church is in Communion with Rome, they are called an Eastern Catholic Church. When not in Communion, they are still at true Church with valid Holy Orders, valid Sacraments, and valid Apostolic Succession
-If Anglicans come into Communion with Rome, they become part of the Roman Church. If not, they do not have valid Orders, so no valid Mass and no valid Sacraments outside of Baptism and Marriage. Even Baptism now comes into question as more liberal Anglicans may have adopted invalid Baptismal formulas.

Thank you, Mark.

Thanks again Mark, if anyone wants a printable/savable form in pdf you can access it at this link.

Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI have both participated in vespers with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, who is Orthodox.

Two popes felt it was OK… including the current.

And the Rite used by the Eastern Orthodox is the same as the Rite used by the Eastern Catholics of the Byzantine Rite, save for the Papal commemorations.

Yes but by the Pope being there it also was Catholic. Please do not take that out of context. Pope Benedict the XVI like his successor is also in talks for closing the schism - there are many things done throughout the year that are done ecumenically.

The Pope does not participate when he attends Evensong by an Anglican parish; he sits and witnesses. He does participate with the EP.

Keep in mind: An Orthodox cleric is received by Vesting and the professions of obedience and of the faith. He makes the statements of belief, promises to obey the bishop, and asks for incardination. The bishop can then assign him as any other priest, no “retraining” needed. (Usually, such priests are assigned as parochial vicars, just to be safe, for their first assignment or two.)

But, Vespers is, of course, not a sacrament therefore no problem concerning sacraments when there is a shared celebration of Vespers.

When the Pope visited Great Britain this past September he participated in a Church of England celebration of Evensong.

It is not an issue. The Divine Office is not a sacrament.

Right. There are Eastern Catholics go to Orthodox parishes for Vespers. This is not an issue as there is no Eucharist, just prayers. I’m planning to go too some time in the future.

Just to clarify:

Is this a theoretical question?

Or, is this a practical/pastoral question (i.e. you are in a situation where fulfilling your Catholic obligation is difficult)?

Just wondering. Thanks.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.