What is the Eucharist?
The term “Eucharist” refers both to the eucharistic sacrifice — the Mass — and the sacramentally transformed bread and wine that, by the words of Christ and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, become Christ's body and blood. Catholics ordinarily receive holy Communion during the Mass because the Mass is both the sacrificial memorial in which the sacrifice of the cross is perpetuated and the sacred banquet of communion with the Lord's body and blood.
Why are Catholics normally obligated to attend Mass?
As Catholics, we are invited by God to gather together in community and participate fully in the Sunday Eucharist, which is the “source and summit of the Christian life.” Participation in the communal celebration of the Sunday Eucharist is a testimony of belonging and of being faithful to Christ and to his Church” (Catechism no. 2182). The Sunday and holy hay obligation is not something God asks of us out of his own necessity or need to be worshipped but, rather, a gift to the faithful for our own spiritual well-being, happiness, and eternal salvation.
Does this mean everyone is obligated to go to Mass again?
No. The Church has always recognized that there are “serious” or “grave” reasons that prevent Catholics from attending Mass. Examples include if a person is sick or homebound, caring for such a person, living in or visiting areas of the world where access to Mass is impossible, or working to support one’s family.
I am unsure if I have a “serious reason” to stay home, what should I do?
Anyone who is unsure about their personal situation should speak with a priest.
Why should I come back to Mass after many years?
Perhaps you have been away from the church for a short while or a long while. The reason you are thinking about coming back is because you have come to realize that material things do not bring peace and fulfillment. You have been feeling a pull inside you, hearing a little voice beckoning for you to turn back to the Lord and rejoin the Catholic Church. These are the urgings of the Holy Spirit. We pray that God might provide wisdom and judgment to those considering a return to the Catholic Church and give them the strength to act upon the results of their discernment.
What do I need to do to come to Mass?
Anyone, whether practicing Catholic, inactive Catholic, ex-Catholic, other Christian, or someone not in a church, is welcome to come to Mass. For those who have been away from the Catholic Church or have not participated in Catholic worship, attending Mass is a very spiritual insight into the Catholic faith. All are welcome!
What do I need to do to return to the sacraments (receive holy Communion)?
We should start with the assumption that you have received formation and have received the sacraments of penance and Eucharist (holy Communion). If not, then sacramental preparation would be needed prior to receiving those sacraments. Being away from the practice of your Catholic faith would normally mean that to return to the Communion table one would have to go to confession first. In any event, attending Mass and participating in any of the other rich fare offered by the Church is highly recommended. In many cases, a valid confession would be the only step necessary to begin receiving holy Communion again. The best advice would be to contact your parish office to schedule an appointment with a priest to discuss your specific situation.
What do I need to do about a marriage outside the Church?
If you have married outside the Catholic Church, there are many factors that will determine what will need to happen for you to have your current marriage recognized by the Church and be able to return to the reception of the sacraments such as holy Communion. None of this stands in the way of attending Mass and participating in any of the other worship, educational offerings, or social opportunities offered by the Church. Because of the many possible scenarios, the best advice would be to contact your parish office to schedule an appointment with a priest to discuss your specific situation.