In a poll conducted by Bishops in the U.S. which was released in
April of 2008:
68 % of all Catholics surveyed believed that they could be in good standing with the Church without going to Mass / Divine Liturgy weekly.
30% said they go to Confession (Reconciliation-Penance) less than once a year and
45% said they never go at all.
The truth of what “a Catholic in good standing” must do is summed up in the following items known officially as “Precepts of the Catholic Church” (Церковні заповіді):
The five precepts of the Church are set in the context of a moral life bound to and nourished by liturgical life. 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.
1. The first precept "You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation" requires the faithful to participate in the Eucharistic celebration when the Christian community gathers together on the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord. In 1996 the Vatican’s Instructions for Applying the Liturgical Prescriptions of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches recognized in paragraph 64, that “The Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches thus provides for the possibility, inspired by n. 15 of the Orientalium Ecclesiarum, to satisfy the precept of Sunday either by participating in the Divine Liturgy, or by taking part in the Divine Office.” Thus, the 1999 PASTORAL GUIDE OF THE UKRAINIAN CATHOLIC CHURCH IN THE USA, states: "Art. 170 - Although every Catholic may fulfill his obligation of assisting at the Divine Liturgy, Vespers or Matins on Sundays and holy days in any Catholic church, our faithful should as a rule attend their own parish church," and Article 460 further reiterates this: "Art. 460 - The celebration of the Canonical Hours, especially Matins and Vespers must be introduced where they have fallen into disuse in parishes, especially since the decision of the Holy See (of Rome) now allows these canonical services to satisfy the Sunday and Holydays obligation of the faithful by their participation in them." So if – on a particular Sunday - the Divine Liturgy is being celebrated at an inconvenient time, one should attend the Matins or the Vespers, rather than not attending any service at all.
2. 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 (confession-penance), which continues Baptism's work of conversion and forgiveness. In authentic Byzantine spirituality four times a year is more acceptable but the minimum stated here is at least once a year.
3. 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.
4. The fourth precept "You shall keep holy the holy days of obligation" completes the Sunday observance by participation in the principal liturgical feasts which honor the mysteries of the Lord, the Virgin Mary, and the saints. Ukrainian Catholics have all Sundays and Twelve Major Feasts to strive for, while the minimum requirement for being a “Catholic in good standing” includes Sundays and January 6, March 25, Ascension Thursday, June 29, August 15 and December 25. So if, for example, you ask a priest to issue a sponsor certificate for you, claiming in effect that he is a credible witness to your being a “Catholic in good standing,” and he refuses to do so, that probably means, for starters, that you are not living up to precepts one, two, four and six in such a way that he can say, without lying, that he personally witnesses you as doing so. You may either see if another priest can honestly be your witness; or, have courage and take the hint for what it is: you are subtly being invited to become a Catholic in good standing. Try and see it from his point of view: are you perhaps asking a priest “to participate in your sins”? Why are you surprised he doesn’t want to do so? Do you really want your priest to lie or to cheat for you?
5. The fifth precept "You shall observe the prescribed days of
fasting and abstinence" ensures the times of asceticism and penance
which prepare us for the liturgical feasts; they help us acquire mastery
over our sinful instincts (passions) and acquire freedom of heart.
The fifth precept also states that the faithful have the duty of
providing for the material needs of the Church, each according to
his/her abilities. Each of us should volunteer our time, offer our
talents without a salary, or donate from our “treasure”, for the good of
For the official texts please refer to # 2041-2047 of the Catechism of the (Roman) Catholic Church - Катехизм (Римо) Католицької Церкви