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Question 

Dear father Angelo.

I have been following your page for some time and have a few questions to ask you. I wanted to know if it is possible to receive Communion in a state of mortal sin, since our priest says that we should not abstain from Communion even if we have not confessed our sins. He says that nobody is worthy. I am talking about mortal, not venial sins.

I look forward to a clarification from you, because I am a little confused.


Priest’s answer

My dear reader.

1. Your priest says nobody is ever worthy.

This is in some aspects true.

However we have to distinguish between the unworthiness that is common to all men, and an unworthiness that is specific, because it is caused by grave sins that one has not repented of.

2. The generic unworthiness is that of the Centurion, whose faith the Lord praises when he says that in no one in Israel he had found such faith (Mt. 8,10).

Knowing that the Lord was about to go with him he said:”Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed” (Mt 8,8).

The Church, when it’s time to receive communion, puts the words of the Centurion on our lips to remember the greatness of the Mystery of God who makes Himself food and nourishment for men.

So that before giving us the Body of Christ she asks us to do an extra act of purification, because God will not enter a soul polluted by sin (Wisdom 1,4).

3. But when Saint Paul says: “Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself” (1 Cor 11,27-29) he does not talk about a generic unworthiness, the one by which not even an Angel would be worthy of receiving Holy Communion, but about a specific unworthiness, that is the one coming from unrepented mortal sin.

4. If one does not make this distinction and says that we are all unworthy regardless, we would have to conclude that by receiving Holy Communion we all would eat judgment on ourselves, which is absurd.

5. Unfortunately some come to the conclusion that if all are unworthy then all can, or even must, receive Communion.

And so – whether or not one has examined oneself and repented as attested by the Sacred Scripture – all men, even those who have fornicated or committed adultery, even if they committed sodomy or have not gone to Mass for years, even those who have practiced or procured the sin of abortion as doctors or nurses, or have profaned the Eucharist, or given false injurious testimony against their neighbor, etc., all are strongly encouraged to receive Communion, and are looked down upon by their priest if they don’t.

6. It’s hard to understand how one could come to such a conclusion.

7. Perhaps we could point out that – as our Lord reminds us – each of us talks out of the store of goodness in our hearts.

Even a priest can lose the sense of sin!

If he has lost the sense of sin he cannot even feel what it’s like to be in a state of sin or to be in a state of grace, and even more, he cannot feel the effects of Holy Communion.

Maybe I am wrong, but I have the impression that some do not realize that they are publicly revealing the secrets of their heart as they speak.

8. Saint Thomas, in his comments to the words of Saint Paul of 1 Cor 11,27-29, says that we can be unworthy of receiving Holy Communion in many ways.

Some, he says, are unworthy on account of their lack of devotion and distractions.

Then, if that is the case, we are all unworthy.

However such unworthiness, he adds, does not disqualify us from receiving the sacrament because these are imperfections or venial sins.

Others are unworthy on account of mortal sin, and they cannot receive the sacrament if they have not gone to confession first.

Finally some receive it unworthily because they approach the communion with the intention to sin mortally. And this kind of unworthiness is even more serious because they cannot even go to Confession until they have removed from their hearts the intention of continuing to sin mortally (Comment to 1 Corinthians 11,27)

I thank you for your question, I recommend you to the Lord and I bless you.

Father Angelo