Receiving Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin

I would like to know why the Catholic Church insists that those in a state of mortal sin should not receive Holy Communion. I know what St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians as well as what other saints have stated, but Jesus didn’t send Judas away at the Last Supper. Also as we read in the Gospels, he ate with sinners and He himself said that He has come for sinners and not the righteous. So why has the Church decided to keep sinners away from receiving the Lord within themselves?

I am not against confession as I understand this is definitely needed for forgiveness of our sins.

I know of a Catholic lady who said she had not been for confession for a long time but always attended Sunday Mass because she wanted to receive the Lord. She said she experienced a sense of comfort and peace. Experiences in her personal life had led her to understand that a deep sorrow for sins and a good Act of Contrition was enough. Eventually of course she went for confession.

Could this not have been the Lord working in her who gave her guidance?

I personally feel we should allow the Lord to work within those sinners receiving Him. Who is man that he should keep his fellow brethren away from our Redeemer?

What are your views?

The Eucharist provides the soul with an outpouring of innumerable sacramental graces.

In an ancient prayer the Church acclaims the mystery of the Eucharist: “O sacred banquet in which Christ is received as food, the memory of his Passion is renewed, the soul is filled with grace and a pledge of the life to come is given to us.” If the Eucharist is the memorial of the Passover of the Lord Jesus, if by our communion at the altar we are filled "with every heavenly blessing and grace," then the Eucharist is also an anticipation of the heavenly glory (CCC 1402).

When one is in a state of mortal sin, however, the person has deprived his or her soul of sacramental grace.

Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself. It results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace (CCC 1861).

This deprivation of grace means that no further sacramental graces can be received until that original grace has been restored by means of Reconciliation. In fact, one can receive none of the sacraments (except for Baptism and Reconciliation) while in a state of mortal sin.

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 (CCC 1446).

To answer the original question, go to 1 Corinthians 11:29. I looked at several translations and checked several commentaries. In short, 1 Cor. 11:29 states He who eats and drinks without recognizing the body, eats and drinks a judgment on himself. ** “Recognizing the body” is two fold, i.e., recognizing the presence of Jesus, in the fullness of his body, blood, soul and divinity in the Eucharist, and recognizing our unworthiness. If we pray “Lord, I am not worthy…”, even when we are in the state of grace, how much more so if we are in mortal sin. This can only be removed by sacramental absolution, the sacramental anointing of the sick or by perfect contrition. The Church does teach that we ARE NOT **to receive the Eucharist when in mortal sin. To receive the Eucharist when in mortal sin, is to commit an addition sin of sacrilege., also a mortal sin, but more so, as it shows direct disrespect for God himself.

Granted, none of us know whether your friend did or did not have mortal sin on her soul. If she capriciously missed mass, etc. she would have been in mortal sin and thus compounded sin.

Your friend’s understanding of sorrow and forgiveness just does not comport with Church teaching. I am happy to see that she has gone to confession. Through sanctifying grace, we receive the three theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity (love). When in mortal sin, we have lost the virtue of Charity and it is the other two virtues working in us which bring us back to confession. God never stops working in us, but it is we who must turn to him. He does not force himself upon us, but is always there for us.

It’s very simple, really.

The Church’s guidelines for receiving are that a person is to be in a state of grace. If a person is not in a state of grace, they need to be reconciled to Christ through the Church in the sacrament of penance. That’s it.

It doesn’t matter one iota what a person “feels” or “thinks” about the matter. The Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church. The Church has established guidelines and that is just the way it is.

If a person is ignorant of these facts, the it is very possible that their degree of culpability is diminished, but that is for Christ to decide, not us.

Anyone who is in a state of mortal sin should go to confession before receiving communion.

Why is it so wrong to receive Communion in the state of mortal sin?

Christ didn’t lay down any rules when he instituted the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper. All he said was “Do this in memory of Me”.
Rules for receiving the Eucharist are men-made.

1 Corinthians 11:27 - Of course it is St. Paul who is saying this and not Jesus, but it is in the Bible and therefore Truth. Take it or leave it.

How do you know what rules he laid down? Every word that Jesus instructed the Apostles with is not in Scripture. He said many things that were not recorded. He instituted a priesthood to confect the Eucharist and care for the people. This is something that comes from the church that is the Pillar and Foundation of Truth as scripture tells us. Obviously the apostles were teaching this right from the get go and we have St. Paul who wasn’t at the Last Supper teaching it as well. It has been consistently taught by the church throughout it’s whole history.

Christ spent a lot of time with sinners. He told them to Sin no More. He tells us no less. He calls us continually to repentance. That is the grace he can give us when we are in mortal sin. There is a certain security and comfort in that. But no more. We have to take him up on his offer and repair that conduit of grace by repenting and confessing.

When we receive the Eucharist we are sealing a covenant with God, a sacred promise. We are saying yes, Lord I love you, I will agree to be your son or daughter. I will follow your ways. I swear this to you.

If we are in mortal sin we have chose another path we have turned away from God. Mortal sin is choosing something to such an extent that we can no longer love God if we follow it. Christ said a man cannot have two masters he will love one and hate (the Greek means loves less) the other.

God the father of mercies is always there willing to forgive us. If any human being is eagar to be forgiven then Christ is always 1000 times more eagar. Christ wants everyone to come back to Him.

If we have chosen mortal sin we have disowned ourselves as sons of God. If we want to come back into His loving presence, we have turn back to Him and ask for forgivness, by going to confession.

People often say it is so hard to go to confession. Is there anything that we should not endure to receive the Holy Eucharist, it’s a gift of such intense love from God.

If you want to use the Bible, just refer to the passage from the Gospel of Matthew, 16:18, wherein Jesus is quoted as saying to Peter (and which applies to all of his successors, i.e., the popes), "I for my part declare to you, you are "Rock,“and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will entrust to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven,. Whatever you declare bound on earth shall be bound in heaven, whatever you declare loosed on earth shall be loosed in heaven”

With this authority, given by Jesus, the Church infallible teaches truth. I see by your post you say you are Catholic. To be Catholic, one must believe all that the Church believes and teaches. There are some today that pick and choose what the want to believe. Today we call them “cafeteria Catholics.”. In years past they were called heretics.

The man made rules, as you call them, are made by the Church, through the authority given by Christ to Peter and his successors. .

First and foremost thank you all for the time and effort put in to contribute towards this post. I really appreciate it and found each and every one helpful.

I am a practising Catholic myself and yes when one is a member of any club/organisation/society, one has to follow all the rules laid down and one cannot pick and choose. I also don’t label people and leave the judgement job to God.

However since there was one person who was guided back to becoming a better Catholic (as mentioned in my first post) it made me think whether it would have been better if the Church used its binding authority to say that it is “best practice” to be free from mortal sin when receiving the Eucharist rather then making it a must. Would there then have been more sinners wanting to be better Catholics with the Lord working from within them, calling them to repentance? Maybe not, however one will never know. I still can’t however get rid of the fact that Jesus said He came for sinners and that He didn’t throw Judas out when He gave his own Body and Blood to eat and drink with His own hands when instituting His own sacrament. Yes, St. Paul wasn’t there and neither was he with Jesus when He went preaching the Gospel.

I know the Church cites one of the references as 1 Corinthians 11:27. Don’t think any of those who were with Jesus e.g. Peter, Mathew, John or James have written anything to this effect. Of course my knowledge of the Bible is not perfect and I could have missed something. The more I ask and get answers the more I can educate myself.

By the way, St. Paul has also said the following.

1 Corinthians 14:
As in all the churches of God’s people, 34 the women should keep quiet in the meetings. They are not allowed to speak; as the Jewish Law says, they must not be in charge. 35 If they want to find out about something, they should ask their husbands at home. It is a disgraceful thing for a woman to speak in church. :(:confused::ouch:

Hmmm:hmmm:
Please note I don’t have anything against St. Paul:)

Well, as a man, I don’t get to ask any questions during Mass either you know.

I think a pertinent question is “What is the nature of the Church’s rules?”

Is a priest (usually) able to read hearts? Can he really know when a regular private citizen is in mortal sin (I say this to distinguish from people who make their sins public knowledge)? The answer of course, is no, and so we have a rule without any possibility of temporal consequences. It’s sort of like jaywalking in Toronto. It’s not illegal (as I’ve heard), but it’s still a pretty stupid idea.

So why then does the Church have a rule that it cannot enforce? Because it’s Scriptural, and thus, it is God’s Law, not ours. It is not a disciplinary measure, it is a divine revelation of the way things are.

Jesus allowed Judas to receive His Body and Blood for the same reason He lets us do anything: He respects our free will.

1 Corinthians 11:26-27
Douay-Rheims
26 For as often as you shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, you shall shew the death of the Lord, until he come.
27 Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord.

Let’s remember that the reason for rules laid down by the Church are to aid in our salvation. The rules are not an end in themselves, nor are following them the sine qua non of salvation. Also, let’s keep in mind that only God knows who is or is not in a state of mortal sin. That’s why the Church rule says those who are conscious of “grave” sin must first receive sacramental confession. IT’S A DIRECTIVE TO MAKE SURE YOU ARE NOT IN A STATE OF MORTAL SIN BEFORE YOU RECEIVE since “grave” sin is only 1 of 3 requirements for mortal sin. Whether that grave sin constitutes mortal sin or not, the point is be cautious and humble before God. It’s a call to holiness and a reminder of our fallen nature.

Can and should the rule not be followed? In the individual circumstance that may well be the right answer. That is what pastoral decisions are all about – a prudential tailoring of rules to the individual in Charity for their salvation considering the possible scandal to others. NOTE: “scandal” refers to action that cause others to sin or leads them away from salvation. “Charity” is the theological virtue related to Agape – unselfish total giving God-like love – not some namby pamby synonym for being nice.

In short, the Church is concerned that those who are unworthy change their life. We, even ourselves, may not know if we are in a state of mortal sin, but we do know if we are guilty of grave sin. The rule is one given in Love-Agape – to hopefully lead us to repentance through Christ, and not to eat and drink to eternal death by guilt for the body and blood of Christ. Whether we violate the rule in a prudential application of Pastoral concern grounded in Charity is something that is always available.

Actually the Church is MORE restrictive - it says if you are conscious of grave sin. Grave sin being only one of three requirements for a sin to be mortal, the Church is trying to head off greater sin.

I know what St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians as well as what other saints have stated, but Jesus didn’t send Judas away at the Last Supper.

Glad you know what Paul says. It’s very important. BTW who says Judas was guilty of Mortal sin while still at the table? He had not yet acted the full measure of his betrayal.

Also as we read in the Gospels, he ate with sinners and He himself said that He has come for sinners and not the righteous.

Presumably that is why the Church does not exclude us for any sin, but grave sin. Indeed, if we are not actually in mortal sin, the Eucharist is a great boon. The concern is the additional sin we commit if we are indeed in mortal sin. the church is acting to protect us from our own sinfulness and hubris.

So why has the Church decided to keep sinners away from receiving the Lord within themselves?

see above

I am not against confession as I understand this is definitely needed for forgiveness of our sins.

I know of a Catholic lady who said she had not been for confession for a long time but always attended Sunday Mass because she wanted to receive the Lord. She said she experienced a sense of comfort and peace. Experiences in her personal life had led her to understand that a deep sorrow for sins and a good Act of Contrition was enough. Eventually of course she went for confession.

Could this not have been the Lord working in her who gave her guidance?

I personally feel we should allow the Lord to work within those sinners receiving Him. Who is man that he should keep his fellow brethren away from our Redeemer?

What are your views?

Christ chose to dwell in sinlessness inside his Mother. He prepared her to be full of Grace. We should offer him no less when he will dwell inside us for a short period. We can’t be as full as she was but we can be as close as we can be.

I think if you are going to trust the church that she actually holds the ability to confect the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ then it makes sense that we can trust the church to teach us all we need to know about receiving Him.

The church also teaches that we do not receive any grace from the Eucharist if we are in a state of mortal sin. We may trick ourselves into feeling good from such an experience but we still cannot receive the grace from any Sacrament save confession and baptism while in a state of mortal sin.

Baltimore Catechism wrote:
255. Q. Does he who receives Communion in mortal sin receive the body and blood of Christ?

A. He who receives Communion in mortal sin receives the body and blood of Christ, but does not receive His grace, and he commits a great sacrilege.

Council of Trent wrote:
The Council of Trent: Canons on the Eucharist wrote:
Canon 11. If anyone says that faith alone is a sufficient preparation for receiving the sacrament of the most Holy Eucharist,[52] let him be anathema. And lest so great a sacrament be received unworthily and hence unto death and condemnation, this holy council ordains and declares that sacramental confession, when a confessor can be had, must necessarily be made beforehand by those whose conscience is burdened with mortal sin, however contrite they may consider themselves. Moreover, if anyone shall presume to teach, preach or obstinately assert, or in public disputation defend the contrary, he shall be excommunicated.

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