I've noticed that nowadays most people who attend Mass receive the Eucharist. It seems like all who are Catholic receive it.

I have read that it was way different in the past. People could attend Mass on Sundays and not receive the Eucharist, if I'm correct.

Mass obligation actually says nothing about receiving the Eucharist unless I have missunderstood the term participation.

Can. 1247 "On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are obliged to participate in the Mass."

Is the doctrine nowadays that it is very important (although not an obligation) to receive the Eucharist if you as a Catholic attend or hear Mass?

2 Answers 2


The Church only requires the reception of the Eucharist at least once a year; it's a precept of the Church:

To receive the Eucharist at least once a year, during the Easter Season (known as the "Easter duty")

(Although one must attend Mass on all holy days and Sundays.)

The encyclical Frequent and Daily Reception of Holy Communion (Sacra Tridentina) by Pope St. Pius X encourages more frequent reception of Communion.


While you are only obligated to receive the Eucharist once per year, and during the Easter season (Can 920), you should receive communion any time you are at Mass and you are not conscious of grave sin (Can 916). The document Sacra Tridentina makes it clear that the council fathers at Trent believed the faithful should receive often, quoting the council

The Holy Council wishes indeed that at each Mass the faithful who are present should communicate, not only in spiritual desire, but sacramentally, by the actual reception of the Eucharist.

The same document further recommends to Catholics not only to receive often, but daily

Moreover, the desire of Jesus Christ and of the Church that all the faithful should daily approach the sacred banquet is directed chiefly to this end, that the faithful, being united to God by means of the Sacrament, may thence derive strength to resist their sensual passions, to cleanse themselves from the stains of daily faults, and to avoid these graver sins to which human frailty is liable; so that its primary purpose is not that the honor and reverence due to our Lord may be safe-guarded, or that it may serve as a reward or recompense of virtue bestowed on the recipients. Hence the Holy Council calls the Eucharist "the antidote whereby we may be freed from daily faults and be preserved from mortal sin."

Unfortunately, you may notice that a far greater number of Catholics approach the altar for communion than appear in the line for confession. This is a major problem, as the Church also requires that all Catholics confess their grave sins at least once per year (Can 989). It seems very unlikely, given the large discrepancy between attendees at Mass who receive and attendees at Confession that Catholics generally are observing this precept to Confession.

Moreover, as mentioned above, canon law forbids any Catholics conscious of grave sin from approaching for communion, so that even confessing your grave sins once per year is not sufficient. You should confess your grave sins as often as you commit them or become aware of them, whether that is yearly, monthly, weekly, or daily.

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