After a serious sin, is Confession necessary before receiving the Eucharist? On whose authority?

I think I have seriously sinned through bad sexual actions, but do not know whether the sins were mortal. (I presume that since I don’t know whether they were, they weren’t.) I have repented and prayed about the matter, and feel I am forgiven. I will attend Confession as it is regularly scheduled next week, but is Confession necessary before receiving the Eucharist tomorrow?

That is, after one disobeys the Church, is it necessary to be reconciled to the Church before receiving Holy Communion?

I’m getting a little confused between the authority of the Church and the authority of God. The Church’s authority comes from God, but when do you refer to the Church, and when to God, and so on…? We have three persons in the Holy Trinity, each with his own authority – right? – and then the Church … it gets confusing.

Why wait? Go to Mass early tomorrow and ask Father if he will hear a very brief confession.

Well, I’ve heard here that priests are very busy on Sundays, and thought I’d be helping if I went when they’ve scheduled it.

That’s true, but I’ve never met a priest yet who wouldn’t give you a minute to confess one sin. Just go early. Don’t ask him when he’s getting ready to march up to the altar.


If the three things necessary to commit a mortal sin weren`t there, They include full knowledge, grave matter, & full consent, then no mortal sin was committed.

Well it seems whenever I sin, one of those three is unclear upon retrospection.

Well then it wouldnt be a Mortal sin, Must be FULL knowledge, GRAVE Matter ,& FULL Consent. I have heard it said that its hard to commit a Mortal sin because most of the time the three things necessary to make it mortal aren`t there. Talk with your confessor about it when U get the chance

I said no, but that is only if you are really unsure if what you did was a (mortal) sin.

If the sin was mortal, and you know or have a good idea that it was, you should go to confession first. But we have to be careful not to fall into scrupulosity.

Advice is from Ligouri’s Scrupulosity Anonymous Newsletter:

[quote=]You shall not confess doubtful sins in confession, but only sins that are clear and certain.

Of all of the correspondence that I receive, I would say that this issue is the one that occurs most often. “What does a person do if they are not sure that they committed a sin?” For this reason, this is a very important commandment to remember because it clearly states the truth: Doubtful sins don’t count! There is no need to confess something that does not clearly and certainly exist. In fact, it is harmful to one’s self to confess that which is doubtful. Again, such a practice is not at all helpful and must be resisted.

Now I can almost hear some of you saying, “I am not sure if I doubt that I sinned or if I am just trying to fool myself to believe that I am doubting that I sinned.” This thought in itself demonstrates that you are in fact doubting and so, therefore, the commandment comes into play: You shall not confess doubtful sins.

The Holy Trinity shares the same authority in that the Persons are in perfect agreement about truth.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

1446 “Christ instituted the sacrament of Penance for all sinful members of his Church: above all for those who, since Baptism, have fallen into grave sin, and have thus lost their baptismal grace and wounded ecclesial communion. It is to them that the sacrament of Penance offers a new possibility to convert and to recover the grace of justification. The Fathers of the Church present this sacrament as "the second plank [of salvation] after the shipwreck which is the loss of grace.”

1415 “Anyone who desires to receive Christ in the Eucharistic Communion must be in a state of grace. Anyone aware of having sinned mortally must not receive Communion without having received absolution in the Sacrament of Penance."

I realise that somewhere in your question is a need to know where the Church obtains the authority to speak for God regarding the Sacraments.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church

1485 “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week,” Jesus showed himself to his apostles. “He breathed on them, and said to them: 'Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained”’ (Jn 20:19, 22-23).

874 Christ is himself the source of ministry in the Church. He instituted the Church. He gave her authority and mission, orientation and goal:
In order to shepherd the People of God and to increase its numbers without cease, Christ the Lord set up in his Church a variety of offices which aim at the good of the whole body. The holders of office, who are invested with a sacred power, are, in fact, dedicated to promoting the interests of their brethren, so that all who belong to the People of God . . . may attain to salvation.[389]

895 “The power which they exercise personally in the name of Christ, is proper, ordinary, and immediate, although its exercise is ultimately controlled by the supreme authority of the Church.”[427] But the bishops should not be thought of as vicars of the Pope. His ordinary and immediate authority over the whole Church does not annul, but on the contrary confirms and defends that of the bishops. Their authority must be exercised in communion with the whole Church under the guidance of the Pope.

1422 “Those who approach the sacrament of Penance obtain pardon from God’s mercy for the offense committed against him, and are, at the same time, reconciled with the Church which they have wounded by their sins and which by charity, by example, and by prayer labors for their conversion.”

1441 Only God forgives sins. [Mk 2:7] Since he is the Son of God, Jesus says of himself, “The Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins” and exercises this divine power: "Your sins are forgiven."Mk 2:5, 10; Lk 7:48.Further, by virtue of his divine authority he gives this power to men to exercise in his name. Jn 20:21-23.

1496 The spiritual effects of the sacrament of Penance are:

  • reconciliation with God by which the penitent recovers grace;
  • reconciliation with the Church;
  • remission of the eternal punishment incurred by mortal sins;
  • remission, at least in part, of temporal punishments resulting from sin;
  • peace and serenity of conscience, and spiritual consolation;
  • an increase of spiritual strength for the Christian battle.

1497 Individual and integral confession of grave sins followed by absolution remains the only ordinary means of reconciliation with God and with the Church.

I would say that this is serious. Sexual sins are serious because they are sins against the sixth commandment. I do not know if I have gotten to you in time, but, as others have indicated, do make every effort to go to Confession before Mass. Show up very early if you have to do so. If you do not have a chance to go to Confession, I would refrain from receiving Our Lord. Remember the admonition that St. Paul gave to the Corinthians about unworthily eating and drinking the Body and Blood of Jesus.

The Church’s authority comes directly from no less than Jesus Christ, Himself when he told St. Peter that he has the power to bind and loose. The Church acts in Jesus’ name under the direct authority of the Holy Father.

My personal view is that when it comes to Confession - when in doubt confess, if you can’t don’t receive until you do. Our Lord will still be there at all the Masses you attend after your next Confession, after all.

Certainly, since you’re not talking half an hour and a long list of serious sins here, the priest would probably be willing to hear your confession. Get there as early as you can though, just so he’s not too rushed.

When in doubt, go to Confession.

If in doubt, confess, unless you struggle with scruples, in which case do the opposite.

I have heard it said that its hard to commit a Mortal sin because most of the time the three things necessary to make it mortal arent there.

This is potentially dangerous thinking, in my opinion. We are sinners, and we do commit serious sins with full knowledge and consent. We must face and fight our sinful tendencies, not gloss over them by making the truth sound prettier than it is.

Confession is necessary before Holy Communion when one has a mortal sin because, by mortal sin, the soul has separated itself from the Lord and Holy Communion auguments a soul’s union with the Lord: If a soul were to recieve Jesus in the state of mortal sin, it would be like one of the damned trying to reach Heaven, and the one would surely be calling judgment upon itself. It is necessary for a soul’s union with the Lord to be restored in Confession before augumeting its union with the Lord; you cannot augument what isn’t there, so to speak. And going to Confession before Holy Communion is a Commandment of the Lord, prefigued in the Old Testament (Ex. 19:21-22) and fulfilled in the New Testament (1 Cor 11:23-30).

I would suggest the following amendment:

If in doubt, confess, unless your confessor has told you that you struggle with scruples, in which case do the opposite.

Trying to self-diagnose scruples without getting a second opinion from one’s confessor (and a regular confessor is very helpful here) can result in a person convincing himself that he doesn’t need to confess sins that he really ought to confess. A sort of reverse spiritual hypochondria, if scruples can be considered a sort of spiritual hypochondria.

Great amendment. I agree.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit