EDITED: Does the church not do a good job of teaching who can receive the sacraments?


Are we really doing a bad job of teaching this, or are people just stubborn and openly deny the churches teaching? I feel its that people are more stubborn. I know plenty of people who are against church teaching yet take communion. At least in my area, quite a few know that they shouldn’t but do anyway. Would more teaching help or will this always be a problem since people by nature are stubborn and rebellious and feel its wrong to deny someone communion?


I think it’s a little of both. I have belonged to a parish in which it was never discussed who should receive communion and who shouldn’t and then we switched parishes (due to moving) and that priest has mentioned it in several homilies and yet there are people who go up that probably should not be. Sometimes I think people are just really ashamed of having people seeing them stay in their pews and they just go up out of not wanting to be embarrassed. I think priests are really trying to concentrate on the fact that it is a great to do the right thing by not receiving. Once I went up even though I could not receive because I wanted my children to get a blessing from the priest and he gave me a nice pat on the shoulder and a smile for not receiving in a state of mortal sin.


Personally, I think it is both. For anybody who is invested in the Faith enough to do more than merely attend Mass once a week–that is to say, those who seek learning, who read, who actually explore their faith–it is abundantly clear what is sinful and whether we should receive the Eucharist or not.

But for our brothers and sisters who only punch a time card on Sundays but haven’t reached out any further, I fear the exposure they receive to Church teaching is rather limited. I rarely hear a homily addressing reconciliation, let alone discussing what is mortally sinful.

And ultimately, I think that some people will always have so much pride that they will think they know better than the Church.


In many countries communicants do not go to Communion pew by pew as it is done in the U.S. When people just go in no particular order, it is much, but much less obvious when someone does not go. :thumbsup: Why is it done pew by pew? :confused: I am curious! :slight_smile:


I’m not sure Luz, I think it is just so it stays more orderly but I know what you are talking about. When I was in Rome it was a free for all at every mass and I was almost too scared to go up and receive because I thought I was going to be crushed! lol:D


I think many people believe in God as I do but who have not had a good education in the Catholic faith. They go to communion because they don’t know any better and I think and hope that God will look kindly on these people.

Now that I know better and understand that I am not worthy, I sit at the back of church every Sunday whilst everyone else goes for communion.


Oh my! No! I did not in any way mean to go up like a cattle stampede!!! :bigyikes: [FONT=Arial]:ehh: Goodness gracious!! One goes with reverence. [/FONT]

Being “orderly” does not mean one does not get crushed. Years ago my parents and I would get pushed (actually shoved!) from behind because we walked too slowly for Communion AND back!!! We decided to be the last ones Receiving. The people did not like that either! [FONT=Arial]:tsktsk: [/FONT]


The real question that begs an answer is why are we so concerned with the state of other folks’ souls when they go up for communion, when we should be concerned mainly about our own?

We have no way of knowing the true state of one’s soul… whether the “stubbornness” really is so, or is merely ignorance or poor catechesis, or whether just simply they are at a different point on their spiritual walk with Christ, or whether, simply, love and charity cover a multitude of sins?

That really is between them, God and their confessors.

Had it ever occurred to anyone that the sacraments can bestow graces that may help those on a different point of their walk with Christ become better Christians? Is it up to us to decide how and when God bestows those graces?


Sometimes I think that those of us that are well formed in the faith are the ones in the most trouble.

Let me explain; I see threads on this subject and it always makes me think about my own parish and how almost all go up to receive. I suppose that for the most part, they are more worthy than I, because either they;

  1. Don’t know or don’t remember what constitutes a grave sin according to the Church, which if this is the case means they may not be as “accountable” as one who may be well-formed.
  2. Are years ahead of me and practice the teachings of the Church very carefully.
  3. Are young people that have a long way to go and will eventually be led in their own way towards a well-formed conscious, in which case I would gladly give up my spot receiving if it meant they could instead.
  4. They may go to confession at different parishes.

So I truly focus on the fact that I’m probably one of the few who should consider receiving most seriously. I am right in the middle in age between the young and the old, and deep in my own struggles, praying for the Lord to lead me through them all.


Yes we should mind our own business but in Christian kindness we have to let others know they should not be receiving in a state of mortal sin because it puts their souls in danger.


Isn’t that the job of their pastors? Because we aren’t their priests, we don’t know what was last said in the confessional and when that last was.

Because none of us is capable of determining whether someone is in a state of mortal sin or not, and to say to someone “you shouldn’t receive in a state of mortal sin” is uncharitably assuming that they are in a state of mortal sin, which is placing our own soul in danger, and most certainly isn’t “in kindness”.

Even a confessor can’t always be absolutely sure if a sin is truly mortal, that’s Gods province, but he can make a pretty good determination and can absolutely absolve both mortal and venial sins.


No, that has never occurred to me.

You should never receive if you are protesting against Church doctrine or feel that you’ve committed mortal sin. If you cave in out of your herd instincts, then you are compounding sin with more sin.

One of the signs that accompanies taking the Host is an acknowledgement of your community with the Church. That’s why it’s called communion. It’s an oxymoron statement to say that receiving communion when you are not in communion is a mysterious way of helping you regain communion. It isn’t. It is adding insult to injury.


Great Answers everyone! I guess IMHO that at least in my area (my church is rather small, but I live in a predominately Catholic area with a lot of priests and parishes) is that people just don’t care. Not that they necessarily are rebelling, but they couldn’t give two hoots about whether they are in mortal sin because it seems as if a lot of people just go up, and i’ve even heard people say “it’s between me and God” to justify it.

Sometimes though it might be because people are afraid not to go. One of my biggest sins was receiving in a state of mortal sin. A lot of it was because once as a teen about a decade ago, I didn’t go up to receive with my family. That week had also been a tough week for me, but I didn’t go because of a certain sin. Anyway I knew I couldn’t go, but my mom asked "what’s wrong. Do you not believe anymore?) and I wish I knew what to say. Instead I just went to communion even though it was wrong. I bet a lot of people have this problem. Also a lot of accusations might get thrown around if someone doesn’t go.


I was wondering if anyone had that experience and how often someone who knows they shouldn’t receive does so because of nosy people. I’ve not gone to communion when I couldn’t get to confession and one time a friend who sat next to my mom and I asked her within earshot of me if things were “okay.” Another time it was just me and a different person asked if I “was okay.” It’s rude, intrusive and weird. It’s obvious that they know something is wrong and not going to communion should signal a specific thing that is wrong (mortal sin.) No one should ask anyone anything and in charity, it should be ignored. I want to add one more experience; another person came up to me after confession and wondered what I could possibly confess because I was so “holy.” :rolleyes: I haven’t thought about this in a while but it’s kind of disturbing how interested certain people -]were/-] are in my spiritual life.

Just so you know I don’t attend that parish any more.


Good for you!:thumbsup:


I guess I didn’t mean you should personally go up to someone and say they shouldn’t receive communion but to bring it up in a more impersonal manner. Also Oralabora the Church absolutely does know some sins are mortal such as missing mass and having sex outside of marriage, etc so a priest does know that certain sins are mortal and others are not.


The church knows those sins are grave matter. It means that they can be mortal sins provided the other conditions are met. The degree of culpability is something that is difficult to know for sure; a good confessor can usually figure it out but often it falls into a grey area.

The Church is very clear on this:

1857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: “Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.”

1858 Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments, corresponding to the answer of Jesus to the rich young man: “Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother.” The gravity of sins is more or less great: murder is graver than theft. One must also take into account who is wronged: violence against parents is in itself graver than violence against a stranger.

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 heart133 do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin.

(Catechism of the Catholic Church)

You absolutely do not know the state of someone’s soul. Let’s say someone frequently absent at Mass. You have no way of knowing whether they had good reason. For example I rarely go to Mass in my parish. I’m a Benedictine Oblate and I go to Mass at the monastery; others may prefer a neighbouring parish due to more convenient Mass times, or it’s closer to an elderly relative and they help them get to Mass. Or that person may have a young child or an elderly parent to care for, or themselves may have a health issue.

The person having sex outside marriage may have mitigating circumstances, such as pressure from their partner. Or they may be having difficulty accepting that teaching and need time (and God’s grace) to come around.

You simply do not know from appearances what is going on inside someone’s soul. So even casually saying “people who miss Mass are in a state of mortal sin and shouldn’t receive” may prove highly insulting to a person having serious issues with elder care that you don’t know about. They may deeply wish to be at Mass but perhaps every other weekend they alternate care with a sibling, or have no siblings to assist and can’t make it to Mass.

The person having sex outside marriage may deeply wish to stop but is having great difficulty doing so in spite of frequent confession. Difficulty resisting temptation, fear of losing their partner, etc. They may be working weekly with their confessor to try to find a solution. But the seal of the confessional ensures you wouldn’t know that.

You simply don’t know, which is why, as my wife likes to say, it’s always best to “shut the flippin’ up”. We have no business being busybodies.

Instead of being rule-filled when it comes to others, we should be grace-filled and treat every person, every sinner (of which we are one) as the Rule of St. Benedict says “as if Christ Himself was present”. Because He is. Everyone of us has an image of Christ in us. That is the light in which we should deal with persons, and when it comes to sin, it is our own conversion we should be working on.


Thank you for clearing up the 3 conditions for a mortal sin for me. I did not know that so I thank you for teaching me something new.

However I still disagree that we should never bring up not receiving communion in a state of mortal sin. I think a person probably knows in their heart if they are in a state of mortal sin. And even if we don’t know, they should know if they should be receiving or not. So by saying that in a very general manner you are not assuming they are in a state of mortal sin but if they are then they might think twice about going up therefore avoiding further grave sin.

If you never said anything to them it would be like hanging out constantly with a homosexual friend that talks about his sexual relationship with his boyfriend to you and you don’t bring up your beliefs and disapprovement of the sexual relationship. If a young lady who you know is having sex with her boyfriend and living with him and is not being forced into anything wouldn’t it be kind to bring not receiving up to her? Maybe she doesn’t even know that she’s not supposed to and by telling her this in a kind and loving manner you are helping her to preserve her soul.

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