Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Confession Before Holy Communion? Is No One Guilty of Mortal Sin Anymore?

When is the last time you heard a homily instructing the faithful about mortal sin?  I can't remember when I heard one.  CLEAR instruction on mortal sin is needed in our churches and Catholic schools!  No wonder almost every Catholic in the pews presents themselves before the Lord to receive Him in Holy Communion, and yet very few Catholics go to a priest for sacramental Confession!  How many Catholics might be leading seriously sinful lives and yet think they are good Catholics and don't hesitate to receive Holy Communion? 

From a reader in response to this post:
"A priest once told me that all sins of those present at mass are automatically forgiven at the time of uttering the words LAMB OF GOD WHO TAKES AWAY SINS OF THE WORLD, HAVE MERCY ON ME. And he said all present should then receive Holy communion without confession."

Answer:  The Catholic Church is very clear that sacramental Confession is not REQUIRED before receiving Holy Communion if a person is NOT guilty of any mortal sins.  However, if a person IS guilty of mortal sin they MUST confess their sins to a priest in the sacrament of Confession/Penance and receive absolution before receiving Holy Communion. 

 The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

According to the Church's command, "after having attained the age of discretion, each of the faithful is bound by an obligation faithfully to confess serious sins at least once a year."56 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.57 Children must go to the sacrament of Penance before receiving Holy Communion for the first time.58

Without being strictly necessary, confession of everyday faults (venial sins) is nevertheless strongly recommended by the Church.59 Indeed the regular confession of our venial sins helps us form our conscience, fight against evil tendencies, let ourselves be healed by Christ and progress in the life of the Spirit. By receiving more frequently through this sacrament the gift of the Father's mercy, we are spurred to be merciful as he is merciful:60

~ Excerpt from Catechism of the Catholic Church ~

~ Catechism of the Catholic Church: Article 8 on Sin ~

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