May 5, 2019 – Ruminations by Fr. Pat

We are in the midst of our celebration of the Easter Season – The Lord is Risen! The Lord is Risen, Indeed! There is one question that comes up now and again. It is: What is the Easter Duty? and Am I still obligated?

In 1215 the Easter Duty obligations were set forth in the Fourth Lateran Council, which stated: “Every faithful of either sex who has reached the age of discretion should at least once a year faithfully confess all his sins in secret to his own priest. He should strive as far as possible to fulfill the penance imposed on him, and with reverence receive at least during the Easter Time the sacrament of the Eucharist”

The Current Code of Canon Law states: After being initiated into the Most Holy Eucharist, each of the faithful is obliged to receive holy communion at least once a year (Canon 920 §1). This precept must be fulfilled during the Easter season unless it is fulfilled for a just cause at another time during the year (Canon 920 §2). It also states: After having reached the age of discretion, each member of the faithful is obliged to confess faithfully his or her grave sins at least once a year (Canon 989).

The Easter Duty lays out the bare minimum for participating in the Life of the Church. It is a merciful means to help the faithful to stay on their sacramental path toward Resurrection in Christ. The Church also recommends “for the Christian faithful that venial sins also be confessed” (Canon Law No. 988 §2). Receiving Holy Communion in the state of grace every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation and frequenting the Sacrament of Confession should be the norm for Catholics. To once a year go to sacramental confession and receive Holy Communion at Easter Season is to recognize the Church’s role in helping us gain our salvation.

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