What's the point of going to Mass if you're in a state of mortal sin?

What’s the point of going to Mass if you’re in a state of mortal sin? Why bother going at all if you can not participate in Communion? Why should one feel devoid, left out and isolated whilst everyone else goes on to consume the Host/Precious Blood :frowning:

Why not just stay at home?

Thank you,
Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk

Because the reality is you’re NOT devoid, nor left out nor isolated, but joined in prayer and worship with your fellow Catholics, and partaker of the sacrifice of Calvary, even if you don’t receive Communion. Even if you’re in mortal sin. You can, after all, make an act of Spiritual Communion as you would if, for example, you couldn’t receive because you’d failed to observe the Eucharistic fast or something.

There’s a good reason why even those in mortal sin are required to go, on pain of further mortal sin. Our presence at the Eucharist obtains special graces for us, even when we don’t receive. And when we’re in mortal sin we need God’s grace much more than at other times, even to take those first steps towards repenting our sins and resolving to go to confession. THAT is a very worthy reason to go, even if our presence achieves nothing else.

For many centuries, until the time of Pope Pius X roughly a century ago in fact, most people, even those in a state of grace, did NOT receive Communion every time they went to Mass. Nor nearly every time. Even St Joan of Arc, holy as she undoubtedly was, ordinarily received (depending on what accounts you read) either once a month or once a year. The ‘once a year’ rule had to be instituted precisely BECAUSE people were becoming too reluctant to receive the Eucharist.

They certainly obtained great spiritual benefit from attending Mass even so, regardless of not receiving. Hence weekly attendance ALSO being the rule.

Even the desire to go to Mass, whether you are in a state of sin or not, is the stirring of God’s grace within you. God never stops calling. Why not answer his call to the extent that you are able? Perhaps you’ll find you are able to hear more than you originally thought possible.

Jesus,our Lords peace be with You.
Eugene my friend,I want say a word about my bad english,this is Your third question I ansver,and yes,You do have good questions,good enough to ansver them your self. OK,if You are in a state of mortal sin,You confess first,in almost every Church over the world there is time to confess before mass. If You get a penace,wich is what You will get for a mortal sin,You do not go and recieve communion BEFORE You have done what the priest tells You to do. Simple? Yes. But I have one question to You. Why do a mortal sin?

For a believing Catholic with habitual or Mortal sin on their conscience , that pew can be a pretty lonely place at Communion time. Quite a while back, I remember having to frequently refrain from receiving Communion while fulfilling my Sunday obligation because of sin. It went on for several years and more often than not I was refraining … and the pew was never a comfortable seat at Communion time. You might say I was buying a little more kleenex at that time (;)) .

A person is still fed with God’s Word in the first part of the Mass.

It might be helpful to try looking at the second part (the Liturgy of the Eucharist) this way when one is obliged to refrain from Holy Communion:

First of all, it is possible that perhaps not everyone else who is going up to receive Holy Communion may be properly disposed to do so. Thank God for your conscience.

One side of the coin is that , because of sin, you are prevented from receiving Holy Communion. The other side of that same coin should be that you believe that Jesus is personally present in the Eucharist … otherwise the first side of the coin makes no sense. In this light, refraining from reception of Holy Communion because of the state of one’s soul can be seen as an act of respect towards the True Presence.

In the Eucharistic Prayer, ranking directly after the words of consecration, the next most important words repeated are “we offer”.

So either in your heart (I used to ask my guardian angel to do it) place this act of faith - of respect/belief in Jesus about to become present in the Eucharist, on the paten so that Jesus may offer this together with the priest and the faithful to God the Father … and I used to make sure that I placed all the sadness, the hurt, of not being able to receive Holy Communion on the paten too.

Remember that the Sacrifice of Calvary is made present for us again (re-presented) at the Mass … the foot of the Cross is a great place to beg for favors.

Too many of us are unaware that a person can still bring very much to offer God at Mass - even when they are obliged to refrain from receiving Holy Communion (that “sadness” and “hurt” part is a big one). If a person does this, the opportunity to receive the sacrament of Reconciliation will likely be made more available ( I think of it as The Father running to embrace the prodigal son “while he was still far off”).

I’ve personally found the Rosary to be of immense help to overcome certain sins with God’s grace. Now, I’m at a point where I need to attend daily Mass for my life to make any sense at all. But occasionally, on certain days , the priority is still to first seek the sacrament of Reconciliation .

Mortal sin is God’s /the Church’s way of telling us that something we are doing or that some type of lifestyle is harmful to our souls.

(… just my own limited opinion above).

Bohm Bawerk, I believe you really should listen to what the others have said in this thread. Though receiving the Lord in the Holy Eucharist is the high point of the Mass, it is not the only reason for going to Mass. For starters, the Church teaches it is a mortal sin to miss your Sunday obligation unless you have serious reasons for doing so. So you would be adding sin on top of sin just to avoid feeling bad about not being able to receive.

Also, by going and not receiving you may actually help some of your fellow Christians. Sounds strange, right? Well, at least in the US, the Sacrament of Confession has largely fallen into disuse unfortunately. Many Catholics receive even though they may be in a state of mortal sin because the Church’s teachings on sin just don’t make them “feel good”, or perhaps they simply are poorly catechized. Either way, seeing you sitting in the pews not receiving might possibly be what someone like this needs to see one Sunday to give them a tiny wake up call about their spiritual lives. The recent Pew Forum report revealed not only how poorly Catholics knew their own faith in the US, but also shockingly stated that 45% of Catholics in the US believe that the Eucharist is only the symbolic representation of Christ’s Body and Blood! So clearly many Catholics need to be informed about this severe error in thinking, and as Saint Francis would agree, talking to people is not the only way to express the faith. Actions speak as well, like sitting in a pew and not receiving.

Lastly, I want to add that going to church on Sunday even if you are not in a state of grace can be very good for your soul. I know how it feels to be the one in the pew not receiving. The last time I had to remain in my seat I was the only person in the whole church who did so. A woman who was going up to receive was quite confused by my behavior and I had to embarassingly let her know it was ok to go around me in the pew because I was not going up. She looked at me like I was an alien from another world. But this was all good for me. It was humbling. It showed me as I watched all those people walking up to receive our Lord that I had really messed up. That this is what I was giving up by my sinful behavior and that if I wanted to receive this amazing Gift then I needed to try harder to follow Christ.

Had I not gone to Mass I might have been able to block all this out and not “feel bad” about it. But it was good for me to feel bad. I was supposed to feel that way and it helped me to remember that God should come before everything else in my life. Anyway, I’ve rambled on far too long. I hope I and the other posters can convince you of the necessity and benefits of going to Mass even if you cannot receive. God bless you.

Fantastic post. 5 star indeed :smiley:

Thanks for all the help and advice guys,

Thank you,
Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk

I’ve had this very thought myself recently. I’m having a horrible struggle with a sin that has consumed me on and off for my entire life. I go to confession often and pray for the grace to avoid the temptations that plague me, and then I fall again.

It’s very easy to fall into despair. I’m there right now. I haven’t been to confession for a month, but I should have gone weeks ago. I dread going to Mass this morning because I know I shouldn’t receive, but then I don’t want my family to wonder what’s up with me.

I’m just at the point that I keep asking myself, “What’s the point of all this?” Why do I keep trying when it feels like I’m doing it all by myself. I’ve tried to commit myself to getting better through the sacraments, but they haven’t been working. I’ve tried spiritual direction, but I always just find myself right back where I started.

Sorry to hijack a thread like this, but all of this failure is really hard on a person’s faith. Intellectually, I know that I need to get back up and try again, but my heart just isn’t in it.

Forgive yourself, God does.

IF you repent, sure. You still mustn’t receive Communion until you’ve been to confession, though. St Paul’s warnings against receiving unworthily should make that clear.

You should go to mass for the Love of God. Not for what you “get out of it.” By the way- you get to pray, to hear the Word of God preached, to be present at the Sacrifice of the Eternal Son to the Father…all very good reasons, whether or not you are in the state of grace. Also, by going, you give the Lord that avenue of grace to work for your conversion.

Also, Jesus was quite alone in His suffering for our sin. Is it really so terrible for us to suffer the awful “isolation” of being on the pew when others go forward to receive Our Lord if we are not in the state of grace? Not hardly in light of His Sacrifice. The main point, however, is to be less self-centered about why we go to mass. It is really not all about us. It is all about Our Lord.

Uggh. I’ve been there. (I suppose most young men probably have.)

Thanks for doing this, jtodisco. In my own parish, a few years ago almost no one refrained from communion; today, there is a steadily growing cluster of non-communicants, and people are starting to get used to dealing with them. I don’t think the number of serious sinners is increasing, either. I think we’re seeing increased respect for the Sacrament and growth in the courage it takes to visibly refrain from communion in full view of your whole parish community. It may seem odd that a period of mortal sin can be an occasion to grow spiritually, but courage and reverence are certainly virtues.

If any catechists are reading this: please teach your second-graders not only how to receive communion, but how and when not to receive communion. No, your second-graders are almost definitely not going to be committing any mortal sins any time soon, but one day they will, and if they (and their community) are not taught that refraining from communion is a normal and important practice, they are placed in great jeopardy of compounding their sins with the added sin of sacrilege.

I went for I think about a year before I had the courage to go to confession for the first time in a very long time.

Why can’t I tell my sins to God. Doesn’t God hear all and forgive us. Years ago I respected Priest but now that I know they commit the same sins as me or worse then I don’t see why I should confess to them.:mad:

God hears you, but to have that absolute certainty that your sins have been forgiven and absolved by our Lord, we need to go to Confession. There is a difference in the severity of sin (i.e. Venial sin and Mortal sin). In the Old Testament, there were some specific sins that were said to “punishable by death” (usually through stoning, if memory serves me correct). Clearly, the belief that the some sins were more severe than others predates even the Catholic Church. Hence, all mortal sins need to be absolved before receiving Communion.

As for priests committing the same sin as you or worse, perhaps so. But during Confession, the priest does not act as the priest himself, but rather, as a tool of Christ (“In persona Christi”). It’s a misconception that we confess our sins to our priest; the priest merely acts as the tangible tool of God.

I hope that helps, and God bless you :slight_smile:

Thank you,
Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk

I have one word for you:


It is the inexhaustible source of renewable grace.

When I went to Mass I ususally had this consern since most often than not I had some mortal sin keeping me from receieving the Eucharist. It just seemed to be another depressive in my life, and I have plenty of those already…

Just so its clear in my mind,

Was there ever a time in which a priest was not a sinner like you and me?

Lets put that one aside. The Sacrament of Confession is the inexhaustible source of renewable grace.

Grace is what strengthens your soul to resist temptation and allows for you to have repentance.

There is no repentance without grace. Mortal sin and sin in general corrode grace from your soul, so that, you become more and more accustomed to a life of sin or a life of the body and less used to a life of prayer and a life of the spirit.

Jesus is throwing you a bouy and you are rejecting the bouy 'cause you want to swim it out on your own.

C’mon buddy. Go to confession, be brave. These are heroic times we live my friend…no place for spiritual cowardice.

Go to Confession!

Is it actually a mortal sin to not fulfill one’s Sunday obligation? If so, I have been receiving the Eucharist while not in a state of grace.
At my church, confession is only available on Saturday mornings, and I do plan to go this Saturday, but now I feel more filled with shame.

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