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Confession and Holy Communion
For those who may have strayed a little in the past year or so, a timely reminder that Holy Mother Church requires you to receive the Sacraments of Confession and Holy Eucharist at least once in the period of Lent.
At least, I have always understood it to include Confession but a quick check in the Catechism Compendium shows that only reception of Holy Communion is required.
Perhaps some learned theologian or canon lawyer could shed some light on this?
Not that it matters too much. If you have strayed at any stage (and, even if you have not) Confession during Lent is a very good thing.
And, of course, before you may receive the Body and Blood of Christ you do need to ensure that you are free from mortal sin.
The reason for the 'Easter Duty' rule is pretty obvious really.
The Church wants us to confirm that we are still members; if we drift we go into freefall spiritually, we begin to suffer the face in the mirror syndrome; we lose touch with the sort of person we should be.
We become secularised.
It's a little like eating alone, on every occasion. Over the years you imperceptibly lose the rationale for good manners.
Gradually you take short cuts and, before you know it you're down on the carpet gnawing at bones.
It is, of course, an added serious sin to fail to observe your Easter Duty but, if you have fallen away you may draw comfort from the words of Bishop Tobin of Providence Diocese in the US.
He issued this plea a couple of Christmases ago but the message still holds good for Easter, whether you have strayed, lapsed or are inactive.............
"....I decided against “fallen-away Catholic” for it suggests someone falling off a fence or out of a tree. The image isn’t helpful.
And there’s really no such thing as a “former Catholic.” If you were baptized a Catholic, you’re a Catholic for life – even if you haven’t been to Mass for years, even if you’ve renounced the title and joined another Church. Your baptism infused your soul with Catholic DNA – it defines who and what you are.
Thus, I’ve chosen the title, “inactive Catholic,” because even though you haven’t been “active” in the Catholic community for awhile, especially by attending Sunday Mass, receiving the sacraments and otherwise participating in the life of the Church, you’re still a Catholic. Sorry . . . you’re stuck with us!
Perhaps the exact name isn’t very important though. What’s more important is why you drifted away from the Church, why you stopped coming to Mass, and what we can do about it.
Did you leave the Church because you disagree with some of the Church’s teachings and practices; or because you found it boring and “didn’t get anything out of it”; or because someone in the Church offended you or disappointed you; or because you just got a little complacent, spiritually lazy, in the fulfillment of your obligations? Let’s look at each of these reasons.
If you left the Church because you disagree with the fundamental teachings of the Church I’m afraid there’s not much I can do to help you. The essential teachings of the Church on matters of faith and morals aren’t negotiable – they weren’t made up arbitrarily by human beings but, in fact, were given to us by Christ. They can’t be changed, even if they’re unpopular or difficult to live with. I hope that you’ll take some time to really understand what the Church teaches and why. Sometimes, we find, good folks get bad information and that leads to confusion and then alienation.
If you left the Church because you found it to be boring and “didn’t get anything out of it,” well, I understand. Sometimes, it’s true, leaders of the Church haven’t fed the flock very well – sometimes we haven’t provided sound and challenging teaching and preaching, and sometimes our worship has been banal and bland. Perhaps we haven’t been very kind or welcoming. I apologize for that; we can and should do better.
On the other hand, when you attend Mass it shouldn’t be all about you – the focus is God! You should attend Mass to give, as well as receive – to worship the Lord, to ask forgiveness of your sins, to thank Him for His gifts and to pray for others. And for Catholics the most important reason to attend Mass is to receive the Holy Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Christ, the Bread of Life. You can’t do that anywhere else! If you left the Church because another member of the Church offended or disappointed you, I’m truly sorry for that offense and in the name of the Church I sincerely apologize. I hope you’ll forgive us and give us another chance. Members of the Church – including priests and bishops – are completely human. Sometimes we say things and do things that are totally unacceptable, even immoral. But let’s face it – we belong to a community of sinners – that’s why we begin every Mass by calling to mind our sins and asking for God’s forgiveness. The virtue of forgiveness is an essential part of the Christian life – we all need to seek and grant forgiveness now and then."