Catholics become members of the Church by the grace of Baptism. This sacrament establishes a personal, spiritual and canonical relationship to the Catholic Church which cannot be revoked unless it is formally and intentionally renounced by the individual. Even Catholics who are excommunicated remain members of the Church.
Membership in the Catholic Church assumes a person's intention to participate as fully as possible in the spiritual and sacramental life of the Catholic faith community. As a general rule, active participation includes weekly attendance at Sunday Eucharist; personal prayer; assent to Catholic doctrine, moral and social teaching; a continuing effort to grow in one’s understanding and practice of the faith; and a contribution of time, talent and financial support to the parish and to those in need. If you have children, the Church expects that you will participate in the faith formation of your children (see our Baptism Covenant here).
According to the Precepts of the Church, Catholics are expected to confess mortal sin at least once a year, receive Holy Communion at least once a year during the Easter Season, attend Mass on Holy Days of Obligation, and follow rules on fasting and abstinence established by the local conference of bishops.
Actual participation in the spiritual and sacramental life of the Church may vary from time to time and person to person, depending on a wide variety of personal and spiritual circumstances. In the end, of course, Jesus says that everything depends upon how we have lived our lives. The Church expects no more from its members than Jesus expects from his disciples: to love God as best we can with our whole being, and to love our neighbor as our self.
• If you have questions or concerns about your status in the Catholic Church, visit with a pastor or parish staff member, a confessor or a trusted spiritual guide.
(See also “How Do I Become More Active?” and "What If I Don't Agree with Some of the Church's Teachings?")
• Traditional "Precepts of the Church."
• Summary of Catholics' Rights and Duties Under Canon Law.
• Catholics' Sunday Obligation.