A question about receiving communion unworthily


I have read, and believe it to be true, but am open to correction, that after one receives the sacraments of matrimony or confirmation while in a state of mortal sin, once the person goes to confession and is forgiven the sin, the graces of the other sacraments are then given to him. Is the same true for the Eucharist. Suppose that one goes to mass and for a stupid reason receives communion (while in a state of mortal sin), immediately after mass, he goes to confession and confesses both sins (the first mortal sin, and receiving communion unworthily). At that point, to the graces and effects of the Eucharist he received take effect? If not, why is this different than the other sacraments?



Confirmation is a “Character” sacraments - a character is imposed on the soul and one could say Marriage is a kind of “quasi-character” or at least state of life Sacrament. So it is ongoing…so they are rather stable -enduring.

As to the Eucharist - the Eucharistic Species only remains several minutes so the Eucharistic Presence does not remain (-maybe 15) though grace too is involved.

One receiving knowingly in a state of mortal sin ordinarily commits another mortal sin…so at the moment I am sure as how things would play out if the person then went to confession. It may simply be that they are restored to grace at confession…and that the grace of the Holy Communion being* impeded* at the time of reception will not have further effect. Unless perhaps not much time as passed. Much there is speculation of the moment.


From what I have been told, you may receive the Eucharist in the state of mortal sin if you are prevented from having the sacrament of penance before, but intend to receive it directly after the Eucharist. After the sacrament of penance yes you receive the graces. However one should one receive the blessed sacrament if they know they will receive the sacrament of penance directly after mass. (Such as Father saying, “no, I don’t have time for confession now, see me right after mass and I can hear your confession.”)


Marchelli, I believe your understanding is correct, but it is not exactly what I was asking.
Bookcat, thank you for the response. I think you are likely correct, confirmation, marriage, etc being a “character” sacrament, ie a one time event that leaves a indelible mark on your soul, makes the behavior of the graces a different from the Eucharist. For the Eucharist, it is impeded and will not have later effect. That makes sense to me. Thanks again for the response.


If you read the canon law, it states you can do it if it’s absolutely necessary, or something to that effect. So when is it absolutely necessary to receive the Eucharist?


I would say that that does not apply to the laity. It would appear to apply to a priest - a priest has committed a mortal sin. There is no possibility for him to go to confession before he has to say Mass. He could make an act of perfect contrition, say Mass (he, of necessity must receive both the Body and the Blood of Christ at that Mass) and later make his confession.

I cannot imagine any situation where it would be absolutely necessary for any lay person to receive the Eucharist.


No not normally.


1385 To respond to this invitation we must prepare ourselves for so great and so holy a moment. St. Paul urges us to examine our conscience: "Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself."218 **Anyone conscious of a grave sin must receive the sacrament of Reconciliation before coming to communion. **

On the possible exception when for grave reason…



I am not sure that is correct. I think, in the situation you explained, you would be expected to refrain from taking communion. I am pretty sure we cannot take communion under any circumstance while in a state of mortal sin. You cant just commit a mortal sin on Saturday night (after confession times are over) go to Mass sunday morning and say “Well, since I cannot receive confession until Monday morning now, but I truly intend to go, I can take communion”

The exception my be if you are close to death, cannot receive the sacrament of reconciliation for whatever reason but made a act of perfect contrition. But I would talk to a priest or Deacon about these things, not just a layperson.


I can think of parents perhaps who “force” their kids to go or on First Communion Day, where the kid may have broken his fast or something like that.

But then the onus is on them.


Just to clarify I had a priest hear my confession after mass because he was late to the confession times before mass and arranged to hear mine after. I did not receive communion and he remarked to me afterwards that I could have received because I was receiving the sacrament afterwards.

Perhaps he was poorly informed. On the question of graces being applied, I honestly have no clue.


Penance gives sanctifying grace even for those not in a state of grace, and both Penance and Eucharist give and increase of sanctifying grace for those already in a state of grace. Also, actual grace is given by these and a distinctive sacramental grace, corresponding to their respective purpose.

So the distinctive sacramental grace of the Eucharist was not received.The effect of this sacrament, which is produced in the soul of one who receives it worthily, is the union of him or her with Christ. Since by grace a person is incorporated in Christ and is united with his members, the consequence is that grace is increased by this sacrament in those who receive it worthily, and that every effect that material food and drink produce for corporal life — sustaining, increasing, repairing and delighting — this sacrament works for spiritual life. For in it, as Pope Urban said, we recall the gracious memory of our Saviour, we are withdrawn from evil, we are strengthened in good and we receive an increase of virtues and graces. Council of Florence, Session 3, Feb 15, 1438Once reborn and strengthened, we are nourished by the food of the divine eucharist. But if through sin we incur an illness of the soul, we are cured spiritually by penance.
Council of Florence, Session 8, Nov 22, 1439

In Penance the sinner is healed and re-established in ecclesial communion. In the Eucharist the sinner is healed of any venial sins, but never lost ecclesial communion.


I think I have heard cases where a priest cannot hear everyone’s confessions before Mass so he gives a “general absolution” to all who did not get their confessions heard and they are free to receive communion provided they do intend to go to confession asap afterward.

I don’t want to cause confusion to anyone, so please, nobody take my word that this is completely true and acceptable. I do not know. Just trying to make sense of it myself too.


Can. 916 A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or to receive the Body of the Lord without prior sacramental confession unless a grave reason is present and there is no opportunity of confessing; in this case the person is to be mindful of the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition, including the intention of confessing as soon as possible. [This is a truly exceptional permission that needs to be properly understood. It requires moral or physical impossibility to go to Confession and the necessity to receive Communion - such as a priest who MUST celebrate Mass.]

Answered by Colin B. Donovan, STL



The Eucharist is different in that not only are you sinning against the grace of God, but you are sinning on or against God Himself. You are placing Christ Himself into an unholy place (your stained body/soul). We need to cleanse our soul and body with Confession before receiving Him.


Remember, the Mass is making present the sacrifice on Calvary. So which part of the crowd are we joining? Are we joining those who nailed Him to the cross, or are we joining His mother watching silently? We need to be more cognizant of how we approach Calvary and Christ.

Also, we must not forget, just as when He willingly went to His Passion, without resistance, He also comes to us in the same manner. He presents His Body and Blood to us, in a COMPLETELY humble and defenseless manner. He is entrusting Himself to us COMPLETELY. So the question becomes how will we treat Him? Will we treat Him like Mary and Joseph did, when He came as a helpless baby, and protect and love Him? Or will we treat Him like the crowd on Good Friday, and nail Him to the cross as He left Himself completely defenseless?


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