Taking communion in a state of mortal sin?

Hello everybody! I have a couple of questions regarding the issue of taking communion in a state of mortal sin. This is a serious problem for me, and I’ve confessed it but different priests have been giving me conflicting ideas regarding this issue

[LIST=1]
*]Most of the priests I’ve confessed this to, go along with the idea, and grant me absolution.
*]One priest that I went to often, told me that it was impossible for someone like me to “take communion in a state of mortal sin” because I was actively seeking God’s forgiveness. By going to confession, taking communion, and receiving the sacraments, this eliminated the possibility.
*]One priest gave me a similar idea. He said that since I am struggling with mortal sin, taking communion is something I’m supposed to be doing. Therefore, also eliminating the notion that “I’m taking communion in a state of mortal sin.”
[/LIST]

What are your thoughts everybody? This has left me confused on this issue.

When you have made a good confession you are no longer in mortal sin and therefore can receive Communion.

This is what he means, if you didn’t bother going to confession you couldn’t receive Communion.

It seems like the priests from 2) and 3) are perhaps trying to address the issue of culpability regarding the mortal sins you are struggling with. Perhaps what they are suggesting is that the mortal sins you commit lack full culpability and thus you should not refrain from receiving Eucharist. I suggest that you directly discuss this with one of those two priests and consider trying to confess to that priest more regularly so he can guide you through this.

It is not my place to say this is the case, but seeking clarification from one (or both) of these priests would be the best way to resolve this.

Hi followingtheway,

There’s a theory out there that if someone is addicted to a particular mortal sin, then arguably the addiction removes culpability to such a state where the mortal sin is no longer mortal in their case because they are not freely choosing to do it, but are rather driven by addiction. The mortal sin becomes venial sin in their case. It MIGHT be that the priests 2 and 3 are referring to this particular theory.

Personally, I’d advise against receiving communion if you’ve committed a sin that’s generally considered mortal. Look at it this way: If it is mortal and you don’t receive, you’ve not made the situation any worse. If it is venial, you can make a spiritual Communion and God in His mercy and grace can grant you the same effect as if you had received Communion. Therefore, there’s no reason to risk receiving Communion in the state of sin. Keep in mind that while the above theory does carry out some weight, it’s difficult to imagine a scenario where a person has lost the ability to freely choose to not commit the sin, and at the same time, retained the ability to discern between mortal and venial for that particular sin. So the bottom line is, although the theory carries weight, the effect is the same, you should still refrain from receiving Communion if you’ve committed a sin that’s generally regarded to be mortal. Go to Confession first.

Here’s my advice to you: pick a priest to be your confessor. Go to confession to him and confess your sins, then note that you struggle with this particular sin and ask him if you can regularly confess to him to help beat it. Assuming he says yes, try to confess to him regularly. Once a week if possible. That’s not to say you can’t confess to other priests if he’s not available, but just follow his advice over the advice of other priests. It’s important to have one voice to listen to, particularly when struggling with sin.

I hope that all made sense and helps you. Please feel free to reach out to us if you continue to struggle. If you want to talk about your sins privately, you’re welcome to PM me if you find it helpful.

Peace and God bless!

If one has committed mortal sin - yes one is to go first to confession before receiving Holy Communion.

That is not the same where there was no mortal sin committed (ie lack of full advertance or complete consent even though there was grave matter involved…).

(Find a Priest who one knows is faithful completely to the Church to assist you - unfortunately - especially in a big city - one can run into sometime a Priest whose advice is not)

But yes if one has “committed” a mortal sin - one is to repent and go to confession first.

Catechism:

*“Anyone conscious of a grave sin must receive the sacrament of Reconciliation before coming to communion.” *(CCC 1385)

scborromeo.org/ccc/ccc_toc.htm

(note grave sin means there mortal sin).

Can’t go wrong by going to confession before communion.

It is more than a “theory” - it is doctrine. It is a matter for his confessor to determine and provide ongoing advice.

*IF *that advice is to receive communion even though one has committed a particular act of grave matter, noting an ongoing issue of diminished cuplability, then that should be the course of action. He should, however, be careful to choose a confessor who is faithful to Church doctrine and will help him overcome this sin (and others).

Yes, it is a matter for a regular confessor to advise him on.

But if he chooses priests 2) or 3) from above, we already know what that advice will likely be. And it differs from what you have said above.

The key issue with either priests 2) or 3) is to discern whether they are correctly applying doctrine, and providing sound advice, or whether they are a bit loose with it. They may, for example, be making the error of the “fundamental option theory”, where a priest will think a person is not capacble of committing particular acts of mortal sin because their overall orientation is towards God. This idea has been rejected by the Church and if a person is concerned their confessor is making this error, they should clarify or perhaps choose another confessor.

Again, I think seeing either or both priests 2) and/or 3) above and seeking clarification will be most helpful for the OP.

1 Like

As usual in a reasonable God, there are always exceptions as 1457 states:

"1457 … Anyone who is aware of having committed a mortal sin must not receive Holy Communion, even if he experiences deep contrition, without having first received sacramental absolution, unless he has a grave reason for receiving Communion and there is no possibility of going to confession. "

It is also good to know that it is possible to be in a state of grace even before actual Confession … if one is capable of making a perfect act of contrition. That would of course include the intention to go to confession in a timely fashion - ordinarily before going to Communion.

*1452 When perfect contrition arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, contrition is called “perfect” (contrition of charity). Such contrition remits venial sins; it also obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible. *

If you’re struggling with habitual sin, you should seek out the advice of a regular confessor and follow his advice. He will be able to tell you what you should do if you fall into sin and don’t have time to confess before receiving communion. Nobody here can really tell you what you should do.

Yes but “exceptions” are just that - exceptions.

Not ordinary occurrences. Hence the other quote from the Catechism that I noted uses the word “must”. And then the above notes that an exception would involve very particular requirements …ie. grave reason, no possibility for confession…etc…

As to an act of perfect contrition that too is part of the requirement for such an exception. But is not a reason alone that one may receive Holy Communion after committing a mortal sin (I note this for clarity).

Canon Law:

Can. 916 A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to …receive the body of the Lord without previous sacramental confession unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess; in this case the person is to remember the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition which includes the resolution of confessing as soon as possible.

vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P39.HTM

Hence to the Compendium issued by Pope Benedict XVI simply notes again without mentioning an exception:

“Anyone who is conscious of having committed a grave sin must first receive the sacrament of Reconciliation before going to Communion.”

and further it states:

When is a person obliged to confess mortal sins?

Each of the faithful who has reached the age of discretion is bound to confess his or her mortal sins at least once a year and always before receiving Holy Communion.

vatican.va/archive/compendium_ccc/documents/archive_2005_compendium-ccc_en.html

An exception is an exception and by nature not a normal occurrence.


The question in this case for the person who posted and his confessor is not such an exception really - but was there mortal sin committed or not…

Hi underacloud,

Thanks for the reply. For the benefit of the OPer and others who may be viewing this thread and going through a similar situation I believe a brief clarification of my previous post is in order.

Of course, the preconditions for mortal sin are doctrine. The theory comes into play on how it is applied. Addiction doesn’t necessarily guarantee that every act is no longer of free consent. Hence, my personal preference of going to Confession first and allowing the priest to help you discern. I’m not saying the other way is wrong, just that it seems the less safe route. And of course, advice from a confessor should take precedence over personal preference.

The OPer is free to do this, but that may not be the best option. Firstly, (as the OPer noted) the majority of priests in Confession advised continuing to go to Confession and not receive if committed. Only two advised otherwise. So the question is what to do with CONFLICTING advice. Unless the OPer were to gather all the priests into a room and have them hammer out an agreement, it would seem to me the best way forward would be to pick a single priest to be a confessor, and then let his advice take precedence over any others.

Hopefully that helps clarify what I was getting at. Thanks again for your reply!

God bless!

Yes, I agree with safety first, and then seek ongoing advice from a regular confessor.

The OP referred to priest 2 as a “priest that I went to often”. It seemed his advise was more personal and indepth than that offer by most of the others, who, as the OP noted, “go along with the idea, and grant me absolution”. Perhaps these other priests are not so much offering tailored advice as churning through confession lines in a big church? Only the OP could clarify.

It would not be wise to seek priest 2 (or 3) simply because his advise is softer on this issue. But if he knows the OP well, and the OP is confident that this priest is theologically correct in his advise, then he *may *be a good regular confessor.

I agree that picking one priest is a good way to go. But which one? How to pick? It is difficult to “assess” confessors, but this is what the OP really needs to do now.

Yes I think everybody understands the obvious wisdom you are sharing Bookcat.

Thing is, book people don’t like acknowledging exceptions because it makes black and white rules messy.

Exceptions help people understand the principles not the rules written by someone who cannot possibly write rules to account for every situation.

A mature faith understands principles not limited rules.
And it is the privilege of mature persons to apply principles in their own lives.
Most of the time that will mean following the rules…but not always.

So next time you quote a seeming black and white rule it would be just and fair to quote the exceptions as well. Then people can understand principles as well as rules.
We want mature Catholics here, not immature ones wouldn’t you agree?

On a retreat once the priest gave a talk about mortal sin, scrupulosity and advancing in holiness. It was all centered around the orientation of one’s life and relates to your second and third points. We had to privately answer specific questions about our spiritual life. Were we conscious of God every day and did we look to Him even in times of mild distress. Did we stay in a prayerful state and communicate with God, even if only for short periods at a time. Did we frequently elevate our thoughts toward the spiritual. Were we always faithful to Mass attendance and did we receive the sacraments on a regular basis. If an affirmative answer was given to questions like these, he said it was actually very difficult to commit a mortal sin. If your orientation is to please God as much as possible, then the idea of deliberately cutting yourself off from Him would be a horror and unthinkable. Remembering the 3 conditions of mortal sin, to make a fully conscious choice to commit a serious act that would be immediate death to the soul is normally not possible for someone who lives for God and wants to remain in Him. I hope this helps, but what you’ve written above in #2 and #3 affirms my understanding of this talk.

Further thoughts to my previous post. As we advance along the journey, we see sin more clearly and it is common to become more distressed over them. What I once had no qualms about doing, can suddenly become more serious in light of the illumination given by the Spirit. Because of the nature of sin itself and the on-going conversion toward holiness one wants to do nothing to offend God. This is when a learned spiritual director/confessor becomes rather necessary, lest we drive ourselves crazy. Although it is a completely different matter from scrupulosity, there is a new awareness and dimension to be considered.

Bookcat is a “book person” …who knows quite well that there are exceptions - and is glad to know and even to note them. But also to note that yes they are* exceptions*…and not something one runs into ordinarily in life (and there are very particular requirements for such).

And the Church focuses there on the normal way of things - not exceptions.

If one has committed a mortal sin one must go first to confession before Holy Communion. Could there be exceptions to such? Yes. But the Catechism and Compendium do not rush in to noting such in that 1385 - why? Because they are exceptions by nature not the normal way of life.

“Anyone conscious of a grave sin must receive the sacrament of Reconciliation before coming to communion.” (CCC 1385)

Hence in the Compendium issued by Pope Benedict XVI simply notes again without mentioning the exception:

“Anyone who is conscious of having committed a grave sin must first receive the sacrament of Reconciliation before going to Communion.”

and further it states:
**
When is a person obliged to confess mortal sins?**

Each of the faithful who has reached the age of discretion is bound to confess his or her mortal sins at least once a year and always before receiving Holy Communion.

vatican.va/archive/compendium_ccc/documents/archive_2005_compendium-ccc_en.html

An exception is an exception and by nature not a normal occurrence.

If there is one part of the catholic faith that I still don’t understand fully, it is the teaching of not receiving Jesus in the eucharist if in mortal sin.

I’ve read comments about God not being able to be in the presence of evil/grave sin but that obviously isn’t accurate.

I understand it is the teaching that mortal sin divides us from God, removes the grace inside us. But why is that a reason that we can’t receive Jesus.

I really struggle with this, not b/c I am living in mortal sin, but b/c it saddens me to think of those that cannot receive communion.

I’m wondering if anybody thinks this is something that the church may change in the future?

Can anyone explain the reasoning for this teaching for me?

Hi CatholicSooner,

Thanks for posting. I commend you for trying to understand this teaching rather than just ignoring like (unfortunately) some choose to do. It’s important that when we hear a hard teaching, we resist the temptation to harden our hearts and instead try to understand it.

I’d like to remind you that we experience Jesus in ALL sacraments - not just in the Eucharist. Confession is the sacrament where we receive and experience Jesus’s mercy.

When you commit mortal sin - you sever the relationship between yourself and Jesus. In order to re-establish that relationship, you must first admit your wrongdoing and express contrition. It’s also important to remember that sin affects your relationship with Jesus, as well as your relationship with yourself and others.

An analogy I sometimes use would be a man who cheats on his wife and is caught. Obviously - the relationship between himself and his wife has been severely ruptured. However, if the man expresses true contrition, admits his wrongdoing, and makes a firm amendment to not do so again - the trust can be rebuilt and the relationship restored. This is why we go to Confession prior to receiving Communion if we’ve committed a mortal sin.

I hope you find that helpful!

Yes, it is a sin to take Communion in the state of Mortal sin.

Are you scrupulous? Then I would suggest confessing to the same priest if possible and listening to him.

It could be that the two priests you mentioned were being specific to your situation, regarding your culpability. They might have discerned that certain sins you confessed did not meet the criteria of “mortal sin”.

It depends what you mean by “in mortal sin.”

It is fairly clear you are not committing mortal sins but rather engage in habitual grave matter.

Thus venal - but still good to have a regular confessor… without the desperation.

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