Obligations of Ukrainian Catholics in the United States

The following laws are quoted, with few changes only for clarity, from either the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches (CCEO), the Major Archbishop's Canons, 2018, (MA), or the 1999 Pastoral Guide of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the United States of America (i.e., Particular Canons for the United States) (USA):

For Ukrainian Catholics in the United States, the following days are Holy Days of Obligation according to the Pastoral Guide:

  • All Sundays of the Year

  • Theophany of our Lord, God, and Savior, Jesus Christ (January 6th)

  • Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos (March 25th)

  • Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ (In 2023, May 18th)

  • The Prime Apostles Saints Peter and Paul (June 29th)

  • Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos (August 15th)

  • Nativity of Our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ (December 25th)

According to Canon 881 of the Code of Canons for the Eastern Churches, the time to fulfill the obligation runs from the evening before the day, until the end of the day itself. According to Pope Pius XII in his apostolic letter "Christus Dominus", evening is defined as "not... before four o’clock in the afternoon." Therefore a service must begin exactly at or later than four PM from the preceding day to fulfill this obligation.

If a Holy Day, for example, the Nativity, falls on a Monday, and you attend an evening Sunday service, you do not fulfill your obligation for both days, in this case you must attend two different services to fulfill your obligation.

Regarding fasting and abstinence, the following rules are obligatory for Ukrainian Catholics in the United States according to the Pastoral Guide:

  1. Abstinence from meat on all Fridays of the year except those which occur in privileged weeks and on holydays of Our Lord and of the Mother of God.

  2. Abstinence from meat and all dairy products on the first day of the Great Fast (Lent) and on Good Friday.

  3. Abstinence from meat, in addition to eating only one full meal and a smaller snack, milk products being permitted in accordance with local custom: on Christmas Eve, Theophany Eve, Exaltation of the Holy Cross (September 14) and Beheading of Saint John the Baptist (August 29).

  4. During the Great Fast, the faithful may also maintain the tradition of abstaining from meat on Wednesdays.

Privileged Weeks, i.e., those weeks in which the laws of abstinence do not oblige, are the following:

  1. Nativity of the Lord (December 25) to the day before the Eve of the Theophany (January 5) inclusively;

  2. The Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee to the Sunday of the Prodigal Son;

  3. Sunday of Pascha to the Sunday of Saint Thomas; (The Sunday after Pascha)

  4. Pentecost to the Sunday of All Saints. (The Sunday after Pentecost)

The periods of penitence and their respective duration are:

  1. Great Lent, extending from the Monday after Cheesefare Sunday to the Saturday of Lazarus. And Great and Holy Week, extending from Great Monday to Great and Holy Saturday inclusively.

  2. The preparation for the Birth of Jesus Christ in the Flesh (Pylypivka) begins on the day of the feast of Saint Philip (November 15), and lasts until the Eve of the Nativity of Christ (December 24) inclusively.

  3. The Apostles’ Fast (petrivka) extends from the Monday following the Sunday of All Saints, and continues through to the day preceding the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul (June 28), inclusively.

  4. The Dormition Fast (Spasivka) begins on August 1 and lasts until the Eve of the Dormition of the Blessed Virgin Mary (August 14), inclusively.

General rules governing abstinence:

  1. Meat is to be understood as including not only the flesh but also those parts of warm-blooded animals that cannot be melted down, e.g., the liver, lungs, blood, graves, etc. Although it is not the authentic practice of the Tradition. the meat of fish and crustaceans may be eaten, as well of those mammals, that live constantly in water, as, e.g., whales.

  2. Dairy Products are to be understood as comprising product derived from mammals and birds, but not regarded as meat, e.g., cheese, lard, butter, milk, and its by-products, eggs, etc.

  3. Fats of plant origin, e.g., those derived from olives, coconuts, seeds of the sunflower and of the pumpkin, may be used.

  4. Voluntary penance, prayers for the intentions of the hierarchs of the Church, Bishop of Rome, the Major Archbishop, the Metropolitan, and the Eparchial Bishop; voluntary offerings to the Church, the seminaries, the Church in Ukraine, self-denial of alcohol, smoking, attendance at entertainment, etc., may be supplementary only with permission of a confessor. Bread and water alone is a good fast.

  5. Priests who possess a pastoral assignment are empowered to grant dispensations or relaxation from the laws of abstinence to individual persons as well as to individual families.

  6. The following are exempt from abstinence:

(1) the poor who live on alms;

(2) sick and frail persons;

(3) convalescents who are returning to their strength;

(4) pregnant women, and mothers who are nursing their children;

(5) persons who perform hard labor;

(6) children who have not completed their seventh year of age;

(7) Persons have completed their 59th year of age with permission of their pastor or confessor.

Yearly Requirements:


Reception of Holy Communion:

Every Catholic is obliged to receive Holy Communion at least once a year during the Paschal Season. Paschal Time extends from and is inclusive of the period of the Triodion and the Pentecostarion. Therefore, if one is conscious of mortal sin, one is bound to make a valid confession in order to fulfill this obligation. (USA)

The faithful of the Ukrainian Church are encouraged to receive Paschal Communion in their own Church if they can do so without serious inconvenience. (USA)

The Following Requirements Relate to Specific Circumstances:


Reception of Holy Communion:

With the exception of priests who have the obligation to binate or even trinate, reception of the Holy Communion is can only be received once a day unless the person is in danger of death or for another genuine spiritual need or special circumstances. (USA)

The participation of the faithful in the Most Holy Eucharist includes proper personal prayer preparation and Eucharistic fasting, which is abstinence from eating or drinking for at least one hour before the beginning of the Divine Liturgy or the reception of Holy Communion (if it is completely outside of the context of the Divine Liturgy). Natural water and medicines do not violate the Eucharistic fast. (MA)

The faithful are encouraged to follow a more intensive prayerful preparation and to observe a stricter Eucharistic fast, in particular to receive the Most Holy Eucharist on an empty stomach. (MA)

A person who is conscious of serious sin is not to receive the Divine Eucharist unless a serious reason is present (e.g., danger of death) and there is no opportunity of receiving the sacrament of penance; in this case the person should make an act of perfect condition, including the intention of confessing as soon as possible. (CCEO)

When a child has reached the age of seven he/she is then yearly bound by the obligation of the Paschal Duty. (USA)


Religious Education of Children:

Parents have a serious moral obligation to oversee that their children receive adequate religious instruction offered by the canonical Ukrainian Catholic parish despite the school which their children attend (public or private, even if it be of another Catholic Church sui iuris, i.e. Roman Catholic) or “home school” which the children attend. (USA)