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The establishment of the Easter Duty


For ages, Christians did not need to by obliged by an express commandment to confess their sins and receive Holy Communion. It was only in 1216 that the fourth general council held in the church of St. John Lateran in Rome made the annual Easter duty a solemn precept. The decree of the council is thus worded: “Let each of the faithful who has attained the age of discretion, confess secretly all their sins to their own pastor at least once a year, and let them take care to perform to the best of their ability the penance imposed. Let them also receive, at least at the festival of Easter, the Sacrament of the Eucharist, unless, by advice of their confessor, and for some just and reasonable cause, they may deem it right to abstain for some time from communion. Failing in this, let them be denied entrance into the church during life, and Christian burial at their death.”

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