The Eucharistic Precept in a Time of Pandemic

The Eucharistic Precept in a Time of Pandemic

The Eucharistic Precept in a Time of Pandemic

Canon 920 §1 obliges Catholics to receive Communion at least once a year after they have received Communion the first time. This general principle is further specified in paragraph two, which states that the precept must be fulfilled during the Easter season, though a just cause permits reception at another time during the year.

A year in canon law is 365 days. So as long as a person has received Communion within the last 365 days, the obligation has been fulfilled. More specifically, in universal law the Easter season runs from the Easter Vigil through Pentecost. By indult of the Holy See granted to the bishops of the United States at the Second Plenary Council of Baltimore (1866), however, for the purpose of this obligation, the Easter season extends from the first Sunday of Lent through Trinity Sunday. Given that most stay-at-home orders occurred after March 1 this year, AMS subjects who received Communion during the early weeks of Lent satisfied the precept this year.

Finally, canon 920 §2 states that a just cause excuses the faithful from the precept of receiving Communion during the Easter season. This year’s unusual pandemic situation or any long-term illness—not to mention the physical or moral impossibility of receiving Communion—excuses from the precept.

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