A priest mention during his homily that in the very early Church, it was believed that the act of recieving the Eucharist banished all sin in the soul of the reciever since Christ in the Eucharist could not dwell or be received in the presence of sin. This apparently was before Confession became formalized with rules and procedures by the Church. I had never heard of this before. Could it be true of the early Church? If it were true, what would this mean for the theology of the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist? Your comments and thoughts would be very appreciated.
I don’t know where that priest gets his information, but I’m pretty sure he is wrong. The following is from this website, from an article entitled “Who Can Receive Communion?”:
"Out of habit and out of fear of what those around them will think if they do not receive Communion, some Catholics, in a state of mortal sin, choose to go forward and offend God rather than stay in the pew while others receive the Eucharist. The Church’s ancient teaching on this particular matter is expressed in the Didache, **an early Christian document written around A.D. 70, which states: “Whosoever is holy , let him approach. Whosoever is not, let him repent” (Didache 10). "
I have read that receiving the Blessed Sacrament can absolve venial sins, but when a person is in a state of mortal sin, they are spiritually dead, and as one priest described it, giving communion to a person in mortal sin is like trying to feed a dead person. Doesn’t work.**
That’s awesome. If you are reporting it correctly, you got to hear a priest, during the homily, share shoddy theology, shoddy history, all while encouraging receiving the Eucharist unworthily and denigrating the importance of confession. Confession may be have been “formalized” in ways but it was instituted by Our Lord, as all the sacraments were. If Communion forgave all sins, what fool would ever go to confession?
Communion does forgive venial sins. Not mortal sins.
What would he say to St. Paul’s injuction not to receive unworthily, I wonder?
Maybe he was just referring to venial sin only?
Confession was of course present in the very early Church…from Jesus. It was practiced differently than today…but it was there and practiced.
For more info…see Jimmy Akins New book (I do not have it yet so I can not tell ya the page…)
The very fact that Paul warns Christians in his letter to the Corinth to examine themselves…before receiving communion…and about eating and drinking condemnation to oneself…means…that yes Jesus can “received” in Holy Communion…but such is not good for those in mortal sin…
That being said…the Eucharist can of course wipe out venial sins…(see CCC).
Don’t be so quick to bash the priest. My understanding is limited, but I believe back then, they understood the threshold for sin becoming mortal sin was much higher. When sacramental confession was conferred, it was done publicly for grievous sins, and long term sometimes life long penances were required.
This was of course during a time of persecution, where really only those truly devoted to our lord joined the faith. The common mortal sins of today, such as adultery, fornication and birth control, would probably have not been an issue among such Christians in those days. Mortal sin they understood probably dealt with apostasy, treason, and murder, all sins that threatened the very survival of a particular Christian community.
So the priest’s sermon is probably technically accurate, but dealt with a different situation and understanding of sin in the past as compared to today. The priest would be wise to make such a distinction in the future to avoid confusion.
Huh??? Where do you get your information from that “they understood the threshold for sin becoming mortal sin was much higher?” Are you saying that some sins that are mortal now were not mortal sins then? You don’t think sexual sins were common then? You don’t think that people were jealous and angry and greedy and dishonest back then? If you believe that, you certainly haven’t studied very much history.
Trust me, people have not changed. The problem with our world today is not that we are committing more sins than past generations. Our problem is that we no longer call sin what it is - now we call sin “lifestyles” and are forbidden to judge one another!
No, No, No. I’m speaking about WITHIN the Christian community. Of course within the greater Greeco-Roman society, debauchery was rampant, and these sins were equally deadly then as today. But for those that actually risked there lives amid the persecution of the day for Christ, Baptism would have wiped away all these sins. These major sins were simply not tolerated and would get you kicked out. Getting back in required absolution and the aforementioned severe penances.
The sins that one would commit having undergone years of catechism before Baptism would then only be venial even by today standards, which the Eucharist does in fact wipe away. Hence WITHIN the Christian community, the statements made by the priest the OP mentioned would be accurate. I’m simply trying to provide the missing context that the priest may have not been aware of or didn’t properly explain. His statement about the early Church is accurate when the proper context is provided.
“Threshold for sin becoming mortal sin was much higher…” admittedly might have been slightly backwards and confusing, but basically meant I that one had to really screw up, because the consequence of mortal sin were so severe. To sin mortally, you KNEW you sinning back then. Within the Christian community, it was rare, and consequently, sacramental confession was both rare and memorable. Today, you’re not as aware, so its easier to gravely sin and confession is much more readily available.
But back in the earliest days of the Church, the everyday sins in such a community were indeed forgiven by Christ’s true presence in the Eucharist!
The Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition (Ignatius Press). 1 Corinthians 11: 17-33. on Abuses at the Lord’s Supper, The Institution of the Eucharist, Partaking of the Eucharist Unworthily.
Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) 1385-1389
There is some truth in what he said.
In his book the healing power of the Eucharist, Fr John Hampshe says that recieving the Eucharist cleanses us from venial sins!! You must be in the state of grace. (this goes without saying)
There may be some conditions however. I guess you’d need some contrition. I’ll try to find you some more info.
Does anyone know if theese conditions exist and what they are?