Am I excommunicated?

I was recently looking at a passage on New Advent on Frequent Communion and found this piece of information:

“In the Middle Ages, “the Age of Faith”, Communion was less frequent than at any other time in the Church’s history. The Fourth Lateran Council compelled the faithful, under pain of excommunication, to receive at least once a year”

I have basically been in a state of mortal sin for more than a year, and feeling that, were I to confess the sin in question, it might be insincere to confess since I have not been able to overcome this particular sin (and this is something on which I am not really looking for advice—obviously I know I should confess and pray the rosary, beg the saints for help, etc not to do this sin), so I have not taken communion in more than I a year. I already knew there was an obligation to take communion once a year, but I assumed I was just adding another mortal sin to the pile (one that seems endless, because honestly, I sometimes feel like, according to at least some Catholics, pretty much everything I do could count as a mortal sin). But I didn’t think I was excommunicated. After hearing about the Pope apparently shortening the un-excommunication process for women who’ve had abortions for the year, I can only assume that, if I am excommunicated, I need to go through some sort of complicated process before I can even call myself a Catholic anymore, and I don’t even know where to start.

Seek out a priest, confess, and have him guide you back to a healed relationship with God.

DO NOT take the opinion of those on a social media website, regardless of its mission or constitution, to give you a definitive answer on the status of your relationship with God or the Church.

Peace and all good!

Just go to confession, dear. :heart:

We don’t try to heal our bodies before we go to the doctor. So why are you trying to heal your soul before you go to confession? :shrug:

There have been times when I’ve gone to confession multiple times in a single week because of repeatedly falling into mortal sin. The wonderful priests to whom I have confessed have never told me to get my act together before returning to the sacrament. On the contrary, both in the confessional and in private conversations, these priests have told me to just keep trying, to confess when necessary, and to focus on Christ’s love for me, His plan for my life, how He can use me to serve Him in this life – rather than my weaknesses.

Go to confession. Tell the priest your concerns, ask your questions, receive absolution, and move forward. It really is that simple!

God bless you, dear one! Be assured of my prayers.


As far as I know, failing to receive Holy Communion once a year is not a cause of excommunication.
If someone has told you it is, could you please ask them for the reference, because I would like to know. I was unable to find anything like that in the Catechism of the Catholic Church or the Code of Canon Law.

The Code of Canon Law would indeed be the relevant place to look. Like you, I’m unaware of a canon that states that failing to receive Holy Communion at least once per year results in an automatic excommunication. There are various sins which would meet that criteria—ranging from schism to abortion—but I don’t believe that disobeying the Church’s mandate with regard to yearly Holy Communion is one of them. Having said that, I’m no canon lawyer.

Furthermore, struggling with a particular mortal sin is no reason to remain in a state of objective enmity with God. That’s one of the least prudent things a person could do. We absolutely should go to Confession and get into a state of grace as soon as is possible after falling. To do otherwise is to be ignorant of the great graces that are poured into our souls during Confession.

Being in a state of mortal sin is to be spiritually dead. You can’t even have supernatural faith in such a state. I absolutely urge you to go to Confession and, I’m sorry to be blunt, don’t be foolish with regard to this. It is no way insincere to confess sins against which you struggle, and to actually intend to not commit them. It is in every way foolish to refuse to take medicine for something that will kill you if you refuse said medicinal aid.

Like others have noted, I wouldn’t assume any internet site run by laity will give you the correct Catholic Church’s answer. I’m not even sure every priest gives the correct response in every instance. But no you do not have to go thru some complicated process before you can even call yourself a Catholic anymore. Not if you were baptized or confirmed in a Catholic church. God’s blessings and peace be with you.

Failing to meet one of the basic obligations of Latin Rite Catholicism doesn’t incur excommunication.

Instead, it is a mortal sin of disobedience if you purposefully didn’t go to Confession at least once a year. By this I mean that you would have to not just say to yourself “I won’t go to Confession, even though I realize this is serious,” but you would have to say, “Mwahaha! I hate the Church and I hate being Catholic, and I now flout the Church by refusing to confess even once in every 365 days! Mwahaha!”

(Okay, maybe I exaggerate, but you have to be intending disobedience.)

If you’re not sorry yet for your big sin, you can still work on other facets of what’s going on with you. You probably need to talk to a priest.

There is no penalty of excommunication for failing to receive Communion at least once a year. We can be certain of this because very few sins call for automatic excommunication in Canon Law. And the only other type of excommunication is imposed by a Church authority – in other words, you would be contacted by a Bishop or the Vatican and told in writing.

Also, the obligation to receive Communion once a year is remitted (taken away), if one has a grave reason. For example, the divorced and remarried may not receive Communion. And they do not commit an additional mortal sin by failing to receive. So if you declined to receive due to unworthiness, it is not an additional sin.

So work on avoiding whatever sins you feel tested by, and go to Confession regularly. As long as you are working on giving up all your grave sins, you may receive Communion after a good Confession. Perhaps you should go to Confession each Saturday and Mass that evening, every week. Or receive Confession and Communion as often as your confessor and your conscience indicate.

Offer sacrifices wherein you feel most bound.

In the Catechism of the Council of Trent, it says:

“Lest any be kept away from Communion by the fear that the requisite preparation is too hard and laborious, the faithful are frequently to be reminded that they are all bound to receive the Holy Eucharist. Furthermore, the Church has decreed that whoever neglects to approach Holy Communion once a year, at Easter, is liable to sentence of excommunication.”

As for going to confession, like I said, I understand your advice is well intentioned, but its not what I came here to discuss. I need to know if I need to drive to Little Rock to ask the Bishop if I can even go to confession.

Kevin12 - Remember what the Catechism says about sin.

1859: “Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God’s law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice. Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin.”

1860: “Unintentional ignorance can diminish or even remove the imputability of a grave offense. But no one is deemed to be ignorant of the principles of the moral law, which are written in the conscience of every man. The promptings of feelings and passions can also diminish the voluntary and free character of the offense, as can external pressures or pathological disorders. Sin committed through malice, by deliberate choice of evil, is the gravest.”

Please don’t second guess your status in the Church based on what you read online. Seek out a priest first. There are levels of culpability. You can not be held fully accountable for what you didn’t know. Can you imagine where we would all be if that were true?

I went to confession, and the priest said I wasn’t in fact excommunicated. I took communion. I doubt, though, that I will make it to next Sunday without committing a mortal sin…but if most traditionalists on this forum are are correct about what is mortal sin, I’m sure I already committed a few just driving back from Mass.


And don’t worry about what “most traditionalists” say on this site. Go with the Church, and do not be swayed to the right or to the left.

God bless you and be at peace.


And I’m sure you know exaggeration when you see it…right?

As you said, a person needs to be sincerely sorry for their sin in confession with the mindset of not committing the sin again. A woman guilty of abortion isn’t automatically forgiven in this year of Mercy unless she goes to confession with that sincere sorrow and desire to repent for that sin

To your question, mortal sin doesn’t automatically excommunicate one from the Church. But think about this. If you died in mortal sin, you’d go immediately to hell. 1035

Look at the consequences for these sins if one dies in them. They keep one from heaven .

links are operational

*]Titus 3: 10 Reject a factious ( [FONT=&quot]αρετικν )[/FONT]man after a first and second warning, 11knowing that such a man is )perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned.
*]Ephesians 5: 3-5 fornication, covetousness……5 Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure man, or one who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
*]Hebrews 10:25-26 missing the eucharist deliberately on Sunday, then no sacrifice for sin for THEM but a fiery judgement that consumes the adversaries of God. #[/FONT]
*]Hebrews 12: 16 - 17 immoraliy, is selling your inheritance
*]Galatians 5: 19 - 21 sexual immorality,πορνεία,impurity [FONT=&quot]ἀκαθαρσία and debauchery [/FONT][FONT=&quot][FONT=&quot]ἀσέλγεια[/FONT]; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions [FONT=&quot]διχοστασίας[/FONT], factions 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, will not inherit heaven [/FONT]
*]Romans 16:17… dividers [FONT=&quot][FONT=&quot]διχοστασίας[/FONT] don’t serve our Lord but Satan. Stay away from them. (see consequences for this above in in Gal 5:19-21)
*]Colossians 3: 5-6 immorality,πορνείαν lust,[FONT=&quot][FONT=&quot]πάθος ἐπιθυμίαν[/FONT] evil desires and greed, which is idolatry, …rath of God is coming [/FONT]
*]1 Corinthians 6: 9 - 10 no sexually immoral πόρνοι , , nor idolaters, nor adulterers [/FONT], nor male prostitutes, nor homosexual offenders [/FONT] ]10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.
*]Revelation 21:8But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, as for murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their lot shall be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
Do everything in your power to break whatever habit you’re struggling with.

We see like in an old-fashioned mirror (which weren’t very bright) and we exercise choice weakly. It’s the fact of some seeing and some exercising that counts.

The truly full-on Christians may not necessarily be the ones who think they are.

Nobody has the prerogative to decide* for *us where we’re at. At best they should give us tools, probable pointers, which we should apply at our own discretion and initiative in the light of our own journey.

Let’s be like galaxies joyful in their creation, spiralling outwards and not inwards. Let’s dialogue with God: “Can you expand on that?”

The space between our ears is the most important space on earth. Let’s fill it with extra-good, mega-good stuff. My late Dad used to say “Always have an enquiring mind”. He also used to say, “Use your discretion”.

God is not a perfectionist and is a bad theologian. (That’s very different from saying bad theologians are God.) To model ourselves on, we must discern good models.

As to habits if any: in my story, God used lateral thinking. I decided to re-embrace some favourite subjects to read about in my childhood and youth. For a person of different skills, that might translate as a craft. Aeroplanes, words and landscapes helped me see God’s work with human beings, and just plain understand all sorts of things. I regret I hadn’t exercised my mind enough decades before.

Good stuff (good stuffing) helps us get away from “I’ve insufficient hope to measuring up to a mean God” type thinking.

The Good Lord wants to be a Friend to us. Morals and achievements come into it somewhere in their own way. But it goes far beyond and above those things.

In my own story I’d have been stuck without a spread of friends in more than one church. Which of the people in your life model the glow of friendship with Christ?

This is the sort of thing my prayers trickle and stream out of.

It’s one thing for something to be going on. It’s another, that we notice it.

For some reason I’m not allowed to reply directly to some of your other threads so I’ll try and reintroduce things you’ve touched on before.

Keep posting about where you’re at as it’s a way of getting more input. Seek input over intake. There’s over 480,000 of us here so you might get a different selection of replies next time!

This is a terrible misapprehension. We should never let fear of future sin keep us from Confession.

The sentence of excommunication is of the temporal authority; it is of Canon Law, which can change. It is not an unchanging dogma. The new code of Canon Law, signed into effect by Pope John Paul II in January 1983, removes all past excommunications, including the one cited above, with only a few remaining. There is currently NO excommunication for not receiving Communion once a year.

Also, Bishops typically delegate to the pastor of each parish the ability to lift excommunications. So ask your pastor. He will tell you that you are not excommunicated. But even if you were, for some reason, he could lift it.

If you think I didn’t know I would go to hell if I die in mortal sin, I can assure you I do. If you think scaring me into not sinning is going to help me, you’re wrong and I actually told you in the original post I wasn’t looking for that kind of advice. As for your quotes—the stacking of quotes about damnation and hell-fire from the Bible or the saints is exactly what I was talking about when I said I didn’t want that kind of advice. It is exactly this sort of stacking of quotes by people on this very forum that has made me feel more alienated from the Church than I ever have been in my life, and your ignoring my request, far from doing me any good, has just made my problem worse.

But regardless, I’ve gone to confession and I’m going to try to not sin, but not because a bunch of quotes, but because I choose to do it.


Keep going to Confession. The more you go, the more graces you receive to help you in your battle with sin, even venial sin.

If you are particularly worried, most parishes have confession on Saturday right before the Saturday Vigil mass. Then you don’t have to worry. Go to Confession, Mass directly after.

And speak with your priest and let him know you may be suffering from scrupulosity. It can be a tough cross to bear, where a person believes things that are not sinful are sin, and venial sins are mortal. A good priest can work with you and help you to properly determine actual sins versus being over-scrupulous.

There’s a confession right before the Sunday 8 PM Mass here (it’s a college town), so I may just go to that more often.

In any case, I’ve gotten what I need, so I’m unsubscribing from this thread. Thanks to those who offered encouragement, and I’m sorry if I was a bit curt to anyone.

From reading your post it sounds like you have excommunicated yourself. Excommunication is basically separation from the sacraments until that person can obtain a state of grace.

You have voluntarily removed yourself from the sacraments which honestly can cause spiritual harm. If it were me I would go to confession, tackle the sin head on and do what I could to be in a state of grace.

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