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Dear Father Angelo,

This morning a doubt arose while discussing among friends about the precepts of the Catholic Church: Do not go to confession for over a year, or not receiving communion on Easter day, are mortal sins?

Thank you in advance if you can find a moment to answer me.

I wish you a good night and a good continuation of this season of Lent.

Yours sincerely,


Dear Mattia,

1. Confessing at least once a year and receiving Communion at Easter are two of the five precepts of the Church.

The purpose of these precepts is specified in the Catechism of the Catholic Church in these terms: “the obligatory character of these positive laws decreed by the pastoral authorities is meant to guarantee to the faithful the indispensable minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in the growth in love of God and neighbor” (CCC 2041).

2. The two precepts you mentioned are then presented as follows:

The second precept (“You shall confess your sins at least once a year.”) ensures preparation for the Eucharist by the reception of the sacrament of reconciliation, which continues Baptism’s work of conversion and forgiveness (CCC 2042).

The third precept (“You shall humbly receive your Creator in Holy Communion 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” (CCC 2042).

3. The precept to confess at least once a year is sub gravi for those who find themselves in grave sin.

In fact, being in mortal sin exposes to the risk of eternal perdition, that is, to hell.

The Church solicits for their eternal salvation by forcing them to save themselves.

As you can see, that is a great act of charity the Church does towards those who calmly live, staying in mortal sin, uncaring about the main objective of their life that is eternal salvation.

4. The third precept of receiving Communion at Easter is again the minimum required for a Christian since Christ said: “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you” (Jn 6:53).

Since the life, which the Lord speaks of, is Himself defining Himself as “I am the way, the truth and the life”, it is impossible to keep that life and defend oneself against so many dangers without feeding on Him.

To indicate a minimum, the Church designates it at Easter.

5. Easter does not necessarily mean the day of Easter, but the Easter period until Pentecost.

Still, Easter is particularly significant because Jesus instituted that sacrament on the evening of the first of the three days of Easter (which stands since the Mass in Coena Domini on Holy Thursday until Sunday of Resurrection).

Receiving no Holy Communion even during the Easter period means not caring at all one’s own spiritual life and voluntarily exposing oneself to the incursions of the common adversary.

6. In the Roman Catechism we read: “Lest any be kept away from Communion by the fear that the requisite preparation is too hard and laborious, the faithful are frequently to be reminded that they are all bound to receive the Holy Eucharist. Furthermore, the Church has decreed that whoever neglects to approach Holy Communion once a year, at Easter, is liable to a sentence of excommunication. 

However, let not the faithful imagine that it is enough to receive the body of the Lord once a year only, in obedience to the decree of the Church. They should approach it more often; but whether this often means monthly, weekly, or daily, cannot be decided by any fixed universal rule. 

St. Augustine, however, lays down a most certain norm: Live in such a manner as to be able to receive every day

It will therefore be the duty of the pastor frequently to admonish the faithful that, as they deem it necessary to afford daily nutriment to the body, they should also feel solicitous to feed and nourish the soul every day with this heavenly food. It is clear that the soul stands no less in need of spirituality, than the body of corporal food

Here it will be found most useful to recall the inestimable and divine advantages which, as we have already shown, flow from sacramental Communion. Manna, which was a figure of this Sacrament, refreshed the bodily powers every day. 

The Fathers who recommended the frequent reception of this Sacrament may also be cited. The words of St. Augustine, Thou sinnest daily, receive daily, express not his opinion only, but that of all the Fathers who have written on the subject, as anyone who will carefully read them can easily realize. 

As we learn from the Acts of the Apostles, there was a time when the faithfuls approached Holy Communion every day (cf. Acts 2: 42-46). All who then professed the faith of Christ burned with such true and sincere charity that, devoting themselves to prayer and other works of piety, they were prepared to communicate daily. 

This devout practice, which seems to have been interrupted for a time, was again partially revived by the holy Pope and martyr Anacletus, who commanded that all the ministers who assisted at the Sacrifice of the Mass should communicate-an ordinance, as the Pontiff declares, of Apostolic institution (cf. Apud Gratianum, par. 3, dist. 2, c. 10).

It was also for a long time the practice of the Church that, as soon as the Sacrifice was complete, and when the priest himself had communicated, he turned to the congregation and invited the faithful to the Holy Table in these words: Come, brethren, and receive Communion; and thereupon those who were prepared, advanced to receive the holy mysteries with the most fervent devotion. 

Later on, when charity and devotion had become so cold that the faithful seldom approached Communion, it was decreed by Pope Fabian that everyone should communicate thrice every year: at Christmas, at Easter, at Pentecost.

Unfortunately, so extended was the decay of faith and piety that not only was this holy and salutary law unobserved, but Communion was deferred for years. The Council of Lateran (1215) therefore decreed that all the faithful should receive the sacred body of the Lord, at least once a year, at Easter, and that neglect of this duty should be chastised by exclusion from the society of the faithful.

7. Nowadays, entering a Church is no longer forbidden. But that sanction was significant in order to indicate that such behavior is, de facto, a form of self-excommunication.

I bless you, I wish you to often approach the Eucharist, even daily, because the graces, which are each time communicated to you, are immense.

Father Angelo