From Our Pastor: The Five Precepts of the Catholic Church (Part 2)
The Precepts of the Catholic Church are a description of the absolute minimum actions required of Catholics regarding the Church. If you haven't started these precepts, now is the time to start and never stop.
2. You shall confess your sins at least once a year.
a. We must prepare for the Eucharist by means of the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession). This sacrament "continues Baptism's work of conversion and forgiveness."
3. You shall receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season.
a. This "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."
For much of the Church's history, Her people didn't find themselves worthy of reception of the Eucharist. They would attend Mass very faithfully to fulfill the third commandment, they would go to confession every week too, but they wouldn't find themselves worthy or prepared to receive the Eucharist. So, the Church intervened for Her people and gave us these two precepts. The first to prepare for reception of the Eucharist, and the other to mandate that at least once a year during the Easter Season the faithful needed to receive communion to connect to the Easter celebrations.
This became known as the Easter duty. It didn't mean only going to Mass during Easter, as everyone always made Mass the priority, but that they MUST receive the Eucharist during the Easter season, which often meant confession very nearby in preparation to fulfill the Easter Duty. As dangerous as not seeing one worthy enough even with confession, that one would never receive, today the Church has an equally dangerous issue, that of Her people thinking themselves worthy with no preparation and not being concerned about a state of grace to receive the Eucharist.
We have gotten to the point that people think there is no such thing as sin, and that reception of the Eucharist is a right or even a requirement to attend Mass. Reception of communion not in a state of grace brings danger to your soul. I had some ask me, "If I can't go to communion why would I be here at all?" The answer is because you get to be in the presence of your beloved Savior and gathered with the community of faith that we need in our lives.
The being gathered as a community of faith in the presence of Christ makes us long for holiness and long for the unity we desire in reception of the Eucharist. That longing and being in His presence gathered together as a people of faith, call us to hurry to confession and prepare ourselves more fittingly to be in a state of grace. Anything that divides us from that grace we must work diligently with the pastor of the parish to rectify as soon as possible, including not being married in the Catholic Church in front of a priest and two witnesses. If you are not, come find me and we can work together to find reconciliation to prepare to come back into that state of grace.
We must be free of mortal sin, including going to confession at least once a year, fasting, and prayerfully prepare to receive Christ's true presence in the unity of the Eucharist. If you get the oil changed on your car every few months, you should do the same for your soul.
Do not let fear, pride, anger, past experiences, etc., keep you from this sacrament of God's loving mercy, which prepares you for the sacrament of His loving presence. Run, don't walk to these sacraments that fill us with His grace, but make sure you're in a state of grace to be able to enter into that union.
Rev. Steven Arisman