Mass as penance: can you recieve communion?

Let’s say someone was in mortal sin and went to confession. As penance the priest prescribed to go to the daily mass for that day, if this was not possible he prescribed some prayers. If it was possible to go to mass and the said person did, would the penance take effect after the mass had been fully celebrated, or would it take effect once the mass begins so that the person could receive communion without causing sacrilege?

I’ve been given a penance of receiving Holy Communion for my family and friends at the following Mass. So, if your penance is to go to Mass, you are able to receive Holy Communion.

Hi, Tonaw!

To be clear, your sin is forgiven at the moment that the Priest forgives them (in persona Christi) in the confessional. You are then in a state of grace, assuming a good Confession was made, and may receive Communion at any time.

The penance must be done, yes, and part of what makes it a good/valid Confession is that you do intend to do the penance. But it’s not like the sin is still there, waiting for the completion of the penance for it to be forgiven. The Sacrament of Reconciliation has already been received. If you died (God forbid!) right after walking out of the confessional, you don’t get sent to purgatory (or hell) because you haven’t yet done your penance!

So, in your case, you do not need to wait until after your penance (going to Mass) is complete before receiving Communion. The sin is forgiven and, assuming you haven’t committed any new mortal sins, you are in the proper state to receive. So receive!

God bless!

As penance.

What matters is: did he retain absolution until after the penance was fulfilled, or did he grant absolution? :slight_smile:

We are sort of used to receive absolution before penance. It’s not always that way. Sometimes we have to do some sort of reparation before we can be absolved.

In this case, I see no impediment to Holy Mass if absolution was given. And what a beautiful penance!

I don’t think Mass should be used as a penance. That should be freely done in my opinion and never conditional to absolution Ever.


As the other posters have noted, your sins are forgiven at the moment the priest says the words of absolution. A person does not continue on in a state of mortal sin until they do their penance. Their mortal sin is already gone once they step out of the confessional.

One poster noted you may have to do reparition before sins are forgiven so thus my comment.

I’ve never heard of “retained absolution,” only that someone either receives absolution or does not. Could you give me some documents to read about this?

My understanding has always been that at the point the priest says “I absolve you…” your sins are forgiven. You still need to do the penance, of course, but your sins are no longer an issue.

I never have heard of such a thing either.

Using the Mass as penance seems wrong to me, and something that priests would never do. The Mass is the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, and the Last Supper. It is a source of grace in and of itself, and the Eucharist is a sacrament. Penance is a personal sacrifice made with the intention to amend our lives. That does not apply to the Mass, which would be in another category.

I’m probably not explaining it well. I just haven’t ever heard of the Mass being used as a penance.

Maybe to go to a Mass which included 5 or 6 crying babies, now THAT would be a penance. :wink:

Does it matter if the priest intended today’s Mass as in any daily Mass or intended the repentant to reflect on a specific Saint whose Mass happens to be today?

Pardon my vocabulary, I’ve not practiced in awhile.

Matter not to the OP but to oneness of penance.

But every prayer and good work is a source of grace in and of itself. The Bible is a source of grace. Confession is itself both a source of grace and a sacrament. By your logic we should never be assigned any prayers or good works or scripture passages to reading the confessional. And for that matter should never even go to confession.

The level of grace makes no difference to the argument. Besides which the Mass contains within itself a Penitential Rite - a mini-confession if you like (although not effe give for mortal sins) so the two are not separate as you seem to think.

Well, I knew I wasn’t explaining it correctly. I felt like I was fumbling around in a dark closet, trying to explain myself. I will see if I can find something on line that expresses it more clearly.


Well, note my amendment to my post. Part of the Mass is itself penitential in nature and is even called the Penitential Rite. Can’t explain that away. There is no mythical divide as you seem to think between penance and Mass.

That’s not what I mean. The Penitential Rite is for our venial sins, and it is part of Mass. I am trying to figure out why a priest would assign going to Mass as a penance, instead of suggesting it as a helpful influence and a source of grace.

Also, the OP seems confused as to when absolution actually takes place. Absolution happens within the confessional, not when the penance is completed.

That’s what I meant, though maybe I expressed it in a confused way. If the priest absolves the penitent, he is absolved. However, if the priest says: “first do this, then come back” and does not yet gives the absolution, then he must first do the penance (or whatever the technical term may be, perhaps reparation) without still being able to receive Communion, and only then he would be absolved and be properly disposed for Communion.

However, I think it’s a rare thing nowadays - unlike in the days of the Order of Penitents :o

The priest I most often confess to always uses Mass as penance. He says to offer the Mass next time I go as it is the highest form of prayer one can offer.

I think it can be both. We should also pray the rosary, read the bible, do good works, etc regularly, though these are consistently assigned to me as penances. In the Mass, we offer worship to God. Why not offer this up to God as penance for our sins? Especially if the Mass isn’t a required one.

But is that really assigning going to Mass as the penance itself? Or is it offering up the Mass as a prayer for penance? It may seem as if I am splitting hairs, and again I lack the right words to express what I am thinking.

Like, does the priest say, “Go to a weekday Mass, in addition to your Sunday obligation,” or does he say, “The next time you go to Mass, offer it up as your penance.”

I also don’t believe Mass should be offered as a penance. I think both are strange.

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