I receive a lot of email. Some of it is SPAM, but much of it has to do with the articles I have written concerning various false doctrines and heresies of the Roman Catholic Church. Not surprisingly, many of the Catholic faithful disagree with what what I write. A few show grace in their communications to me, and make an effort to explain one or another of the teachings or practices of their cult. Others call me names, question the legitimacy of my children or the humanity of my antecedents.
Now and then, a non-Catholic will ask me for information he might use in witnessing to Catholics. I recently received one of those emails. Apparently, my correspondent had been discussing some of the rules of Roman Catholicism and he needed documentation to support his arguments. Specifically, he needed to refute his antagonist's position that, as far as the RCC is concerned, it is not a mortal sin to skip Mass or to go more than a year without receiving Holy Communion.
This is how I responded:
Actually, Roman Catholics are required to honor the Lord's Day by attending Mass every Sunday and holy day of obligation. They also are required to rest from servile labor on Sundays. As to the Eucharist; Catholics are required to receive the Eucharistic sacrament at least once a year during the Easter season.
2041 The precepts of the Church are set in the context of a moral life bound to and nourished by liturgical life. The obligatory character of these positive laws decreed by the pastoral authorities is meant to guarantee to the faithful the very necessary minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in the growth in love of God and neighbor.
2042 The first precept ("You shall attend Mass on Sundays and on holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor.") requires the faithful to sanctify the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord as well as the principle liturgical feasts honoring the mysteries of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the saints; in the first place, by participating in the Eucharistic celebration, in which the Christian community is gathered, and by resting from those works and activities which could impede such a sanctification of these days. [Cf. Code of Canon Law, cann. 1246-48; Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, can. 880 para. 3, 881 paras. 1,2,4.] . . . -- Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed., (C) 1994/1997 United States Catholic Conference, Inc.
The citation from the Catechism references the Code of Canon Law, where one might read:
Can. 1246 §1 The Lord's Day, on which the paschal mystery is celebrated, is by apostolic tradition to be observed in the universal Church as the primary holyday of obligation. In the same way the following holydays are to be observed: the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Epiphany, the Ascension of Christ, the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, the feast of Mary the Mother of God, her Immaculate Conception, her Assumption, the feast of St Joseph, the feast of the Apostles SS Peter and Paul, and the feast of All Saints.
§2 However, the Episcopal Conference may, with the prior approval of the Apostolic See, suppress certain holydays of obligation or transfer them to a Sunday.
Can. 1247 On Sundays and other holydays of obligation, the faithful are obliged to assist at Mass. They are also to abstain from such work or business that would inhibit the worship to be given to God, the joy proper to the Lord's Day, or the due relaxation of mind and body.
Can. 1248 §1 The obligation of assisting at Mass is satisfied wherever Mass is celebrated in a catholic rite either on a holyday itself or on the evening of the previous day.
§2 If it is impossible to assist at a eucharistic celebration, either because no sacred minister is available or for some other grave reason, the faithful are strongly recommended to take part in a liturgy of the Word, if there be such in the parish church or some other sacred place, which is celebrated in accordance with the provisions laid down by the diocesan Bishop; or to spend an appropriate time in prayer, whether personally or as a family or, as occasion presents, in a group of families.
The Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches agrees -- except for a few differences in Holy Days of Obligation -- Canons 880 and 881. I believe the above pretty well covers the obligation of every Roman Catholic to attend Mass on every Sunday and holy day of obligation.
Turning to the requirement of every Roman Catholic to receive the Eucharist at least once a year at Easter time:
2042 The third precept ("You shall receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season.") guarantees as a minimum the reception of the Lord's Body and Blood in connection with the Paschal feasts, the origin and center of the Christian liturgy. [Cf. Code of Canon Law, can. 920; Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, cann. 708; 881, para 3.] -- Ibid.
Canon 920 of the Code of Canon Law (Op. cit.), reads:
Can. 920 §1 Once admitted to the blessed Eucharist, each of the faithful is obliged to receive holy communion at least once a year.
§2 This precept must be fulfilled during paschal time, unless for a good reason it is fulfilled at another time during the year
And that pretty well covers the obligation for all Roman Catholics to receive the Eucharist at least once a year at Easter time. However, in case your RCC friend is really obdurate, here is a brief reading on the Precepts of the Church from page 134 of the 1969 edition of the St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism #2, the catechism copyright of which is owned by the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine:
281. Which are the chief commandments, or laws, of the Church?
The chief commandments, or laws, of the Church are these six:
1. To assist at Mass on all Sundays and holydays of obligation.
2. To fast and abstain on the days appointed.
2. To confess our sins at least once a year.
4. To receive Holy Communion during the Easter time.
5. To contribute to the support of the Church.
6. To observe the laws of the Church concerning marriage..."
282. What sin does a Catholic commit who through his own fault misses Mass on a Sunday or holyday of obligation?
A Catholic who through his own fault misses Mass on a Sunday or holyday of obligation commits a mortal sin.
On page 138 of the same catechism, one might read these words concerning Communion:
295. What sin does a Catholic commit who neglects to receive Holy Communion worthily during Easter time?
A Catholic who neglects to receive Holy Communion worthily during the Easter time commits a mortal sin.
That's a quick look at some of the Catholic man-made laws concerning church attendance and communion as they used to be. They are not quite the same these days. The Church that is "Always the Same" has dropped the old sixth precept and now has but five precepts. They do not accurately reflect the teachings of our Lord as found in Scripture.
When the Roman Catholic violates the laws of his apostate church, he is told he loses grace and, should he die in that state, will be condemned to eternal punishment. The Bible-believing Christian knows that God considers no day to be special or holy, as far as His Christian children are concerned, and has issued no commandment for Christians to gather in worship every Sunday or to participate in the Lord's Supper any set number of times or during certain seasons under threat of withdrawing His grace and canceling their salvation.
Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it.
He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. -- Romans 14:1-6, KJV [My empasis]
16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
18 Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, --Colossians 2::16-18, KJV [My emphasis]
Don't you find it interesting that, even among the Catholic faithful there is disagreement, or misunderstanding, over the most fundamental dogmas of Catholicism?
For Catholic readers, if you are not in compliance with the foregoing canons and doctrines, and haven't been absolved of the resulting so-called mortal sins by the so-called sacrament of Reconciliation, you may be well-advised to seek some way to get your relationship with the gods of Catholicism in order; not that that would have any sort of salubrious effect on your eternal fate. Alternatively, you could turn aside from the false teachings and false promises of Catholicism and seek instead safe haven in Jesus Christ, True Man and True God, of Scripture.
When walking in Christ, you'll find there's a lot less memory work, doctrinal confusion and need for the work of any priest other than our High Priest, God's Christ.
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.—Matthew 11:28-30, KJV