Are Eastern Masses valid? Should Catholics receive Communion at them?

By November 6, 2014 13 Comments

Full Question

Are Eastern Masses valid? Is it lawful for a Roman Catholic to attend and receive Communion?


Let’s make some distinctions first: In the East, the liturgy that Roman Catholics call the Mass is called the divine liturgy. Some churches in the East are in union with the Catholic Church and others are not. Those that are in union with the Catholic Church are called Eastern Catholic; those that are not are ordinarily called Eastern Orthodox.
The Consecration of the Eucharist during the divine liturgy of both the Eastern Catholic churches and the Eastern Orthodox churches is valid. A Catholic of the Roman rite of the Church can attend an Eastern Catholic divine liturgy and receive Communion during that liturgy without problem, and the Eastern Catholic divine liturgy would fulfill the Sunday/holy day obligation. Although Catholics can occasionally attend Eastern Orthodox liturgies as a guest, those liturgies do not fulfill the Sunday/holy day obligation to attend Mass. Catholics ordinarily should not receive Communion at an Eastern Orthodox divine liturgy, though there are circumstances in which this is permitted.
If you have trouble discerning whether a particular Eastern church in your community is an Eastern Catholic or an Eastern Orthodox church, call your local diocese and ask.
—Michelle Arnold


  • Nonso says:

    If someone come to mass during reading can the person receive communion?

  • Jack says:

    \\If you have trouble discerning whether a particular Eastern church in your community is an Eastern Catholic or an Eastern Orthodox church, call your local diocese and ask.\\
    The local diocese would NOT necessarily know, as most Eastern Catholic Churches in the USA have their own bishops and diocesan structures separate from the Roman rite.
    That’s because Roman rite bishops’ jurisdiction is PERSONAL and extends ONLY to faithful of the Roman rite.

  • Antony Chirovsky says:

    As an Eastern Rite Catholic myself I’d like to point one thing out. In the East the “obligation” is not to attend the Divine Liturgy/Mass, but rather it is an obligation to gather. Thus, in the East, any Sunday or Holy Day obligation can be fulfilled by either Vespers, Matins, or Divine Liturgy.
    These are all quite beautiful services and, while Vespers and Matins do not have any consecration or distribution of the Eucharist, they often contain far more of the thematic elements for any given feast while the Divine Liturgy largely focuses on the Eucharist and, ideally, these three services work best in concert with each other.
    It is also worth mentioning that, while Vigil Masses are common in the West, in the East we often have Vespers, or “All-Night Vigil” combining Vespers with Matins, so that, if one is Western and visits during a Vigil service, it may not fulfill the Roman/Latin obligation requirements.

  • Haries Sankaradhas says:

    I love Jesus Christ.

  • mikeloria says:

    Some Eastern Orthodox have a closed communion which means you must be Eastern Orthodox to receive communion. This is at least how it is at my Romanian Orthodox Church. Fasting the day of and confession is required. Some priests say one confession, one communion. Some say once per month for confession if you want communion. This varies and my understanding is that the Greek Orthodox are more open. What is beautiful is that an infant is not only baptized in Orthodoxy, but also is confirmed and ale to receive communion. All children up to about 7 years old receive communion. Once you are around 7, confession is required. IMHO: both the Eastern Divine Liturgy and Roman Catholic Mass are absolutely valid and are beautiful worships to God and to faith. I love them both and I wish there was more synergy. The differences(although seem large in the eyes of some theologians), are nothing compared to the commonalities.

  • roland says:

    Hi I would like to know what does the law say of Catholics receiving at an Anglican church and why cant they in turn receive at a Catholic Church?

    • roland says:

      thank u

      • Apostolic ordination. When you guys changed your ordination practices you no longer have (according the Catholic Teachings) valid ordinations. You can best get your question answered from a Ordinate priest. I would recommend e-mailing the priest at the Cathedral parish or Our Lady of Walsingham in Houston, Tx.

  • Kelsey says:

    Roland, I think this might help:
    -The Holy Orders (priesthood) of the Anglican church are invalid, therefore their communion doesn’t contain the True Presence of Jesus.
    -In the Catholic Church, you first have to receive the Sacrament of Communion/Eucharist before you can receive the Eucharist at Mass. This Sacrament is given after one is baptized and receives Reconciliation/Confession. I am entering the Catholic Church this Saturday, and I will receive both the Eucharist and Confirmation on that day, I can’t wait!!

  • Deacon John-Saturus says:

    In general, the Orthodox Church does not permit Roman Catholics (anyone else who isn’t Orthodox) to receive Communion in our churches — even if the visitor’s own church *would* permit it.

  • FWK says:

    Eastern Rite and Latin Rite Catholics are all Roman Catholics.

    • Antony Freishyn-Chirovsky says:

      No we are not. “Roman Catholic” only applies to those Catholics who follow the Roman Rite. “Latin Catholics” applies to other Western Rites, most of which have completely fallen out of use although the old Sarum Rite in England is occasionally exercised at the discretion of bishops there. These are Latin Catholics who are not Roman Catholics, although the distinction in the modern era is moot since the Roman Church absorbed all other Western Rites into its own.
      There is no, “Eastern” Rite. Rather there are several Eastern Rites. The most common is the Byzantine Rite although there are others including the Alexandrian Rite which the Coptic and Ethiopian churches use.
      In the same way that the Roman Rite and other, mostly theoretical Rites are members of the Latin/Western tradition, the Byzantine and Alexandrian and other Rites are members of a Greek/Eastern tradition.
      The Roman Rite, and Roman Catholics, are not technically at the top of the “hierarchy” of Western Rites, let alone can they lay claim to include any of the Eastern Rites. That is an absurd claim.

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