With some fear and trepidation I broach again the topic of the worthy reception of Holy Communion.

Clearly the topic has been much in the news in the recent past and has intersected with politics, for the usual demands are that politicians be denied communion for their support of abortion, euthanasia and matters related to so-called Gay “marriage.”

Bishops for their part do not appreciate being baited and/or drawn into making disciplinary actions that many will see as political (even if they are not) and one-sided (generally Democrats would receive the discipline).

And, thus, while prudentially concluding that the such disciplines would generally backfire, the Bishops are then excoriated by many theoretically loyal Catholics for malfeasance and/or dereliction of duty. It is a major mess and field day for the devil who brings in a harvest of wrath.

I too have suffered great wrath from many readers here how are furious that I do not “take the bait” and slam the bishops. I of course will do no such thing, for they are shepherds and Fathers to me and, if I were to have any burden under their leadership, I would speak to them privately and as to a father, respectfully, never drawing the faithful into attitudes of dissension and disrespect, or to legalistic notions that they only need to reverence the bishops in a few restricted matters.

And yet, in today’s reading (Wednesday of Week 13) came the clarion warning to us all from the Prophet Amos that we should be very careful approaching the divine Liturgy with hearts full of sin and injustice and hands stained with blood and oppression. As always, Amos words’ leave no room for face-saving niceties:

I hate, I spurn your feasts, says the LORD, I take no pleasure in your solemnities; Your cereal offerings I will not accept, nor consider your stall-fed peace offerings. Away with your noisy songs! I will not listen to the melodies of your harps. But if you would offer me burnt offerings, then let justice surge like water, and goodness like an unfailing stream. (Amos 5:21-24)

And old African American song says, What if God is unhappy with our praise? What if God is unhappy with the way we live? We must change the way we walk, we must change the way we talk. We must live a life that’s pleasing to our king….

Cardinal Ratzinger in his memo Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion reminds us all:

Presenting oneself to receive Holy Communion should be a conscious decision, based on a reasoned judgment regarding one’s worthiness to do so, according to the Church’s objective criteria, asking such questions as: “Am I in full communion with the Catholic Church? Am I guilty of grave sin? Have I incurred a penalty (e.g. excommunication, interdict) that forbids me to receive Holy Communion? Have I prepared myself by fasting for at least an hour?” The practice of indiscriminately presenting oneself to receive Holy Communion, merely as a consequence of being present at Mass, is an abuse that must be corrected (# 1).

Commenting as he was on the questions of abortion and euthanasia the Cardinal said further:

Regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, when a person’s formal cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws), his Pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church’s teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist. (# 5)

Note that the Cardinal, Now Pope Benedict, speaks of the role of pastors. For while it is frequently bishops who get the venom of the faithful, it is the pastors of wayward Catholics that have the first obligation to both warn and instruct the faithful, politician or otherwise, when serious sin becomes evident in the life of any.

Pastors have the duty first to instruct in a general sort of way that the faithful ought not approach the Sacrament of Holy Communion if they are aware of serious (mortal) sin, or are in grave disunity with the teachings of the Church. It is usually helpful to instruct them based on the scriptural admonition of St. Paul:

Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world. (1 Cor 11:27-32)

The context of St. Paul’s admonition makes it clear that he has in mind serious sins that include more than merely sexual matters, but also matters that extend to a grave lack of charity toward others, something which too few judge as very serious today.

And thus the Pastor ought to instruct in a general kind of way, taking care not to excite grave scrupulosity, but being clear of the need for regular confession, especially in the case of habitual serious sin.

More specifically the pastor may sometimes need to approach certain individuals and, after ascertaining the facts, warn serious sinners in a private and clear way to repent and to stay away from Communion until such time as they are ready to do so wholeheartedly. Cardinal Ratzinger cited this as a clear duty of pastors.

For my own part, and speaking in a very general sort of way, I have indeed undertaken this duty in more than a few cases to warn certain individuals in serious sin to repent. This was not, in every case, sinners who were only in sinful sexual liaisons, and almost never did it include politicians. It also included certain people who were exhibiting a very grave lack of charity or causing serious harm in their family or the parish.

It was my duty in all such cases not only to warn them that they should stay back from Communion, but also that they risked Hell. For when one is in so serious a state that they should refrain from Communion, this is not their only problem! The prospect of strict judgement and hell are also very serious and real likelihoods.

Hence, when the Church teaches on the manner of receiving communion worthily, it is good and important to broaden the discussion beyond certain politicians or certain subjects. Otherwise it appears that our agenda is more political than spiritual. Pastors (and Bishops too) thus should look to teach on this matter in broad as well as specific ways.

There are many sins that can and should exclude one from receiving Holy Communion unless and until repentance is manifest and Sacramental confession is received (or, in specific circumstances, a perfect act of contrition with the intent to receive the Confession is made):

  • One may habitually skip mass, and thus be in mortal sin.
  • One may ridicule sacred things or person and thus harm seriously the faith of children or others.
  • One may give grave scandal or harm the reputations of others in serious ways by gossip.
  • One may be gravely lacking charity or unreasonably refusing of mercy.
  • One may be seriously derelict in their duties toward parents or family.
  • One may be seriously insubordinate and cause grave harm to unity.
  • One may be reckless in their behavior and thus seriously endanger the lives or well being of others.
  • One may have procured or assisted in the procuring of abortion.
  • One may be in sinful and wrongful sexual liaisons, have engaged in seductive behaviors that led others to sin, or may be sexually uncontrolled and irresponsible.
  • One may born false witness or told lies that seriously misled, endangered others or caused others to make seriously wrong choices or conclusions.
  • One may have taken from others, or failed to render what others were due in significant ways.
  • One can be seriously derelict in their duties to the poor and needy.
  • And one can be locked into serious greed that unreasonably seeks to posses what belongs to others or is needed by others.

We tend, in our culture and times to emphasize certain things to the exclusion of others. But there are many things from which we should repent and which, when repentance is lacking should require us to step back from the Sacrament of Communion, the Holy Sacrament of love, union and charity.

Jesus says,

Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” (Matt 5:23-24)

We all do well to, as St. Paul says, “examine ourselves,” and be frequent in confession if we are going to frequent the altar. Again, to quote the Pope (then Cardinal Ratzinger):  The practice of indiscriminately presenting oneself to receive Holy Communion, merely as a consequence of being present at Mass, is an abuse that must be corrected.

And this admonition is for us all, not just for some, lest we fall condemned under the word of Amos above or of these similar words from Isaiah:

“The multitude of your sacrifices— what are they to me?” says the Lord. “I have had more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals;….Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations— I cannot bear your evil assemblies. Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts my soul hates. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. “Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken. (Is 11:11-20ff).

Though it is right that we trust in God’s mercy, the door to that mercy is repentance and humility. God is clearly not pleased with presumption, vain worship or sinful Communion.  A message for us all.

38 Responses

  1. Ryan Ellis says:

    If the first “line of defense” here is the local pastor, do you think that the well-justified complaints about public scandal many of us have should be directed at that level, and not the episcopal level? If, for example, several nationally-known pro-abortion Catholic politicians were notorious weekly communicants at a particular parish, should the pastor be called to task if the situation persists?

    • I think so, at least that is where to begin. I know it does happen at the parish level, but not as often as it should. For example a certain politician in a certain Archdiocesan parish was told by the pastor that they should not come forward for communion given the very public and critical role taken on gay “marriage” that had been passed as well as abortion etc… I am aware that the politician did comply but since has only rarely attended. It is more difficult to know what to do when the politician or some other public sinner refuses to comply and in such cases a lot would depend on how “manifest” (to use canon 915s term) the situation is. But Canon 915 does eventually envision simple and public refusal of the sacrament to certain persons. Actually my more frequent concern is that many serious sinners are not being warned by their pastors at all. While it is true that pastors cannot be expected to know every thing going on in a parish, there are in fact, as I list any number of rather serious and unrepented things that may be taking place that, when he does know about he should privately but clear warn people about. I remember a time recently when I told some one that unless they repented I did not see how they could avoid going to hell, they were shocked and angry and said they had never had a priest in any parish speak to them in that way. Sad testimony really, given the situation and the grave lack of charity involved she should have heard from any number of us over the years.

  2. Alicia G. Mendiola says:

    In this modern days, we humans do not anymore FEAR GOD. I too was so much guilty of this in my old life.. Because i strongly believe in His love & mercy, i tend to take for granted that He too can be hurt, because He created us in His image and likeness. And He loves us first before we love him. Now, whenever i exchange ideas on God’s mercy, i always remind my neighbors that Yes, God is love and merciful, but HE IS ALSO JUSTICE.

  3. Nathan says:

    I wonder how many Catholics even know they should be staying away from Communion for the above listed reasons. Hearing this preached in Mass a few times a year (especially at Easter and Christmas when a multitude of normally absent parishioners suddenly appear) might be helpful. But, then again, how many topics can possibly be covered in the Homily?

  4. Mary says:

    Msgr. Pope – would it be O.K. to make copies of your wise words and ask my parish priest to insert them in the bulletin? Too many people are in the dark about the worthy reception of the Eucharist. And if it is O.K., how would you suggest I present the idea? I don’t want to offend anyone by suggesting they don’t measure up to you!

  5. TheInformer says:

    hooooooo boy! The day I hear ANYTHING like this from any priest or bishop during the Mass will be a singularly momentous day!

    I could pack my car full of the pablum and softsoap I hear from the pulpit every day at Mass!

    Furthermore, I must go to the holiest of holy parishes………everybody, elderly and others, goes up to receive communion every single solitary day! Conscious decision? Hmmmmmm…..maybe. Or maybe “everybody’s doing it!”

    Wish there was such motion toward the confessional, but father puts out the placard for about an hour on a Saturday and perhaps 20 people show up!

  6. TaylorKH says:

    We need to support our Bishops and Clergy at least as an act of love for God.

    I saw a band of people (group of about 20 people) in front of the Basilica Shrine of the Immaculate Conception yesterday protesting against our Bishops’ efforts in the Fortnight of Freedom (for getting involved in matters involving politics, i.e., the HHS Mandate). Did they then go in to participate in the Holy Eucharist?

    This small groups effort was a blind and misdirected act – all of that energy attacking our Bishops who are simply prophesying for their own and the People’s freedom to do God’s Will – as they have been battling to do against Evil for many centuries.

    This band of mis-directs should be talking to their Congressmen and being involved themselves in the spiritual and political fight for religious freedom.

    As well, we would all do well to speak and write more carefully of our government officials. I noticed the great charity with which our Clergy speak of our government leaders. This is the example that we should follow.

  7. stefanie says:

    Well stated, Monsignor.
    And the opportunities to preach this do occur from time to time in daily Mass readings — unfortunately, not so much in the Sunday readings — and certainly not at the Christmas and Easter readings. Preaching fearlessly is a constant challenge, I’m sure, which is why everyone should be praying for their priests and pastors on a daily basis.
    Much of what you wrote is already in a good examin of conscience. I require all my RCIA and Adult Confirmation students to reflect upon a three-page examin of conscience in the two weeks prior to their reception of their baptism or reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I cannot make them confess anything, but it is my duty and spiritual obligation to present the facts of ‘what is sin’ and then allow the Holy Spirit to convict them.

  8. RichardC says:

    Amen and neat song.

  9. BHG says:

    “I too have suffered great wrath from many readers here how are furious that I do not “take the bait” and slam the bishops. I of course will do no such thing, for they are shepherds and Fathers to me and, if I were to have any burden under their leadership, I would speak to them privately and as to a father, respectfully, never drawing the faithful into attitudes of dissension and disrespect, or to legalistic notions that they only need to reverence the bishops in a few restricted matters.” Oh Msgr, would that we all approached our disagreements in this way, with each other and ESPECIALLY with our priests and bishops. In my irish, the new pastor has been rewarded for his efforts to educate and edify the faithful by public pillorying and an exodus of those who did not like being “talked down to.” Complaints and comments continue to stir the pot and we are an unhappy parish indeed, all in the name of “righteous indignation” over perceived mis-treatment. The Devil is enjoying it indeed!

  10. Scott Quinn says:

    There is a lot of rubish regarding the reception of Holy Communion and the reasons for or against. The modern Church errs on the side of We-all-need-to-be-receiving-communion-as-often-as-possible end of things. Of course, it was St. Pius X who pushed this effort on the faithful, which was then hijacked by modernists in their effort to dilute the meaning of HC. A more fundamental (and much better) approach would be to prohibit manifest unrepentant sinners and heretics from entering a church in the first place. In the liturgy before everything went crazy (LBEWC), we see the liturgy divided between those who were confirmed members (though not as we understand confirmation) and those who were catechumens. The former were dismissed before the Creed. What is wrong with taking a similar approach today? Why should authentic Catholics have to sit in the same church (and Church) as cynical, manipulative politicians, whose onlyagenda in being there is to present their bona fides to a particular voting bloc? And before anyone weilds the charity club in defense of this despicable practice, what is wrong with some tough love before one enters church? Msgr. Pope has his own political battles to wage, and he is no doubt correct in treading lightly where the authority of bishops is concerned, but at some point these same bishops–individually–to whom he shows deference need to “Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything more is from the evil one.”

    Enough, already, of this sissy codling of anti-Catholics.

    • Byzcat says:

      It is interesting to note that St Mary of Egypt was physically prevented by an “invisible” force from entering the Church of the Holy Sepulcher where the true cross was being venerated. She, a prostitute and whore at the time, immediately repented and became a great Saint who is venerated to this day. Perhaps barring the very public sinners from Church as was done in the “old days” might bring a few to repentance and serve as a signal warning to the rest of the Faithful…

    • Reginald says:

      Scott,
      Your comment made me think of the exchange of the ‘sign of peace’ (at a very awkward time in the Mass BTW…). Just who are we exchanging this sign of peace with? Do we know if we are truly in communion with them? Family and friends, sure, but strangers too? I wonder what greater significance this exchange really means — I thought it was a sign of unity, but for those who are knowingly (to themselves) unworthy to receive, are we truly in union with them at this time? (Or maybe it doesn’t matter, I’m just not comfortable with this exchange.)

  11. Senora Dave says:

    Monsignor,
    I agree that all in the hierarchy should be doing more. The politicians (especially the Democrats), to whom you referred, are leaders of this country and set moral tone and moral behavior examples for the rest of the country. With the “power of the podium” they possess, their message plays to those who are the most susceptible to being manipulated, the poor and uneducated. Their example has not been to encourage free will assistance and/or programs by the rest of us to help those in need. Instead they have promoted, encouraged and legalized one the most heinous serious sins of all, abortion. To complete their efforts, Catholic adoption agencies were ‘ham strung’ and driven them out of business by regulations. My hope is the Holy Father will step in and chastise them directly.

    • Hegelian Dialectic says:

      The Democans and Republicrats are 2 wings on the same bird. There is no difference between political parties. It’s a magician’s trick. While you watch the “fight” amongst the puppets, the unseen hand does the real work of “the one” (U.N.) agenda. All people who are not for Christ are anti Christ. It doesn’t matter which banner they march under. The Holy Father will not, unfortunately, chastise anyone. He participates in the religious services of pantheists and animists and he speaks at the U.N. and cultivates that ‘special’ relationship. It is up to the local pastors to stand for what is truly Catholic in their parishes. They need to take whatever heat comes their way and let the chips fall where they may. We are heading toward a wet martyrdom…

  12. Zen says:

    Thank you Msgr. for the list above! I wish many catholics will read the Cathechism of the Catholic Church for the full explanation of the ten commandments. Then we will probably see more going to confession!

    With regards to priests giving communion, I often wonder if they really wish they could withold the Eucharist from some who come to the altar! Unfortunately, I think they could not for that might be passing judgement on the person. I think it is the communicant’s responsibility to prepare themselves to be worthy of receiving the Eucharist. And not only to be free from mortal sin, but also to be humble and respectful in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. I shudder at the way some people line-up and receive communion – but I could not impose my rules on them, could I?

  13. Tom Reynolds says:

    Monsignor, I assume one could / should add contraception, a grave moral evil, to your list; up to 82 to 87% of sexually active Catholics (recent poll and study) choose to contracept.

  14. Fr. Fizzlewit says:

    Msgr.’s point is well taken as regards the seriousness of denial of Holy Communion to those “who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin” (cf. Canon 915) as well as the vitriol that has been visited upon Bishops who are reluctant to do so. Missing from his citation on the memo, however, was the paragraph that followed his citation, #6. “When these precautionary measures have not had their effect or in which they were not possible,’ and the person in question, with obstinate persistence, still presents himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, ‘the minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it'” (cf. Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts Declaration “Holy Communion and Divorced, Civilly Remarried Catholics” [2002], nos. 3-4).”
    The presence of an exception in which precautionary measures are not possible would indicate that a prior conference with such a person is not always & everywhere mandatory. There is no wording anywhere in the memo that would preclude effecting such a denial without such a conference. It would be hard to imagine politicians who claim to be Catholic being unaware of the Church’s teaching on the grave nature of abortion and homosexual acts. In view of such knowledge they would fall into the group of people designated by Canon 915. The Prefect of the Church’s Supreme Court, albeit as a private opinion, has articulated this on a number of occasions. To require such a warning in every case would be like my objecting to being arrested for murder for discharging a firearm into a crowd, claiming, “Not fair! Nobody told me beforehand that if I shot my gun into a group that someone would get hurt.”

  15. TaylorKH says:

    The key and essential point: We should frequent the Sacrament of Penance if we are going to frequent the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

    I do not think it possible to obey the Lord’s command to love Him with all of the heart, soul and might if we are not examining our consciences and finding reason to go to Confession. As such, we sin by not even caring

    Care more.

  16. GWScott says:

    Surely one sin, at least for those who should know better, is to refuse to make the pronoun agree with the antecedent. (Might be grounds in a better world to limit the franchise. (We really do need to start somewhere, and perhaps work up to property requirements and a nodding acquaintanceship with the classical languages.)) “A certain politician… was told by the pastor that THEY should not come forward….” Really, Msgr., you should set a better example for the impressionable youth. If we cannot trust you in matters of simple traditional grammar ….

  17. TJWalsh says:

    This list strikes me as a well-intentioned but misguided example of the relativism prevalent in today’s Church. It implies abortion and contraception have equal weight with the other points in the list, with the clear conclusion of an all-or-none approach to refusing Holy Communion. With all due respect, that tactic is simply a strawman intended as an excuse to avoid taking action against the public scandal of the Democrats.

    • What did you think of the quotes from Amos and Isaiah?

      • TJWalsh says:

        In my humblest of opinions I thought them interesting but irrelevant to the most important point your article took great pains to avoid. Most of the faults in the quotes and your list serve to show the necessity of the Sacrament of Penance to regain the proper state of grace before receiving Communion. But they are private sins and offenses that bring little if any public scandal to the Catholic Church. To use them as a smokescreen to justify taking no public action against those guilty of promoting and abetting the public scandal sins of abortion, contraception, homosexuality, and women’s ordination does a terrible disservice to your flock.

        • Perhaps I took “great pains to avoid” because that is not what my article is about. You have completely missed the point of the article, I suspect, because you see only through the lens of politics. My article is about you TJW and Your sin. Look to your own soul TJW and stop making presumptions about me or others you just don’t happen to like. You have other agendas and axes to grind, sounds like political blogs are more to your view, this however is a Catholic blog. Further you speak like a true liberal (to use your jargon) in insisting that certain sins are bigger than others and that private sins are somehow less egregious wounds to the body of Christ than public ones. Last time I checked privates sins nailed Jesus to the cross just as much as public ones. Personally I think you give public scandal TJW by your attitude and your us vs them mentality. You would do better to say “we sinners” than, like a pharisee to put yourself in a less egregious category. As for your holier than though attitude – confession for you. And as for your smug dismissal and judgement of clergy, consider that God did not make you a bishop and that there may a VERY good reason for that.

          • TJWalsh says:

            I only intended to give some feedback and never intended to attack a member of the clergy. So I will end this here. However, for the record, I am not a liberal. To the contrary, I am about as conservative as it is possible to be. And yes, I do insist certain sins are bigger and more egregious than others. I believe in the concept of venial sins, mortal sins, cardinal sins, and sins that cry out to Heaven.

            • Hegelian Dialectic says:

              Yes, and here I recall something about millstones …
              ….the parish priest doesn’t “feel comfortable” in disciplining parishioners because he probably hasn’t had the best formation (given what has happened with seminaries in the past 50 years) and may not be leading an exemplary life either, and thus he feels uncomfortable in bringing up what are uncomfortable truths to his parishioners (in private). Confession is an absolute must for a Catholic. It indicates how far down the wrong path Catholicism has gone when Msgr. has to post this stuff.
              This should keep a Catholic busy for a bit: look at The New Roman Missal (Rev. F.X.1945 Lasance, 1945 copyright) and starting at page 1793 Examination of Conscience, then The Ten Commandments of God, the Six Commandments of the Church, The Seven Deadly Sins and the Opposite Virtues, The Four Sins which Cry to Heaven for Vengeance, Nine Ways of Being Accessory to Another’s Sin, the Seven Spiritual Works of Mercy, The Seven Corporal Works of Mercy, Preliminary Examination, Examination on the Ten Commandments of God, Examination of the Precepts of the Church, After the Examination, An Act of Contrition, Invocations (to the Blessed Mother), the Confiteor, and Thanksgiving After Confession.

  18. I Like the Church Fathers says:

    The problem with leaving this matter to parish priests is that many of them don’t feel comfortable “doing discipline”. They often say it’s up to the bishops to tell them what to do. But, then we have members of the episcopacy who say it’s the responsibility of the parish priests. This is why the Church needs strong leadership at the top levels.

  19. Patricia says:

    It breaks my heart every Sunday at Mass when I see only 5 or so people going to Confession before Mass and everyone in the church (approx. 200 people) receiving Communion. It’s also heartbreaking to see the disrespect for the Holy Eucharist shown by so many. Children are no longer taught to approach the Eucharist with their hands folded, most of them walk up with either their hands in their pockets or their arms swinging as if they’re walking through the Mall. And adults as well as teens arriving at Mass in shorts, mini-skirts and halters as if they’re going to the beach. And the pastor never mentions proper dress. The majority of Catholics have lost respect for the Holy Eucharist, many do not believe It is the Body and Blood, etc. so it’s no wonder they receive Communion without first confessing their sins. Why bother? They believe they are only receiving bread and wine.

  20. Annely says:

    Monsignor, great points as always, especially regarding the broad spectrum of reasons for us not to present ourselves for Holy Communion. I understand your point about the priest being the one to decide. However, I wonder whether in some instances it might be more efficacious for someone’s soul to have that person be excommunicated (after all other attempts are made to bring them around). Asking someone not to receive will prevent scandal and save the person from the sin of receiving unworthily, but will it provide the jolt they need to ‘wake them up’ to the seriousness of the state of their soul? Anyone above the age of forty might benefit more from the shock and seriousness of being excommunicated than the more palatable alternative of being asked not to receive, and thus might help to bring repentance sooner. Just a thought.

  21. Susan Fox says:

    Thank you, Monsignor for your instruction. I, for one, am grateful to be reminded of MY responsibility to approach the Body and Blood in fear and trembling for the state of my soul. I count you among the most reliable voices in my ongoing quest for virtual spiritual direction. Our local pastors are horribly over worked and have no time for much personal interaction of that kind.

    There are people who must admonish sinners. Not all of us are required to practice all of the works of Mercy with equal enthusiasm – may God be praised. But all of us can pray like mad, and pull mightily on that log in our own eye. ( I hope the grammar police are having donuts.) Okay, pull mightily on those logs in our own eyes.

    As I see it, the guides to receiving communion worthily are meant to be taken seriously by each of us for our own salvation and although I realize that we are responsible for one another, we can be easy in our minds speaking the truth in love and letting the chips fall where they may. God will sort it all out and maybe we should refrain from speaking of excommunication unless we want to be held up to public discussion and deliberation of our own sordid little sins.

    I am suddenly reminded of Nietzsche’s disdain for Christians who claim to believe in the real Presence and yet don’t crawl on their hand and knees, to receive their God. That idea has always given me pause. Our gracious God obviously expects so little of us and is so forgiving of our sins.

    A final thought: I believe I may only count on being forgiven to the degree I am willing to forgive others. I think that means concerning myself with praying for Mercy for all of us as an antidote to the poisonous sin of judging the sins of another.

    Please pray for me and I will, as always, continue to pray for you and everyone who posts here.

  22. Maria says:

    I have parents who receive Holy Communion every Sunday but haven’t been to confession in several years. I don’t think they have done mortal sins but it still bothers me that they don’t go to confession. But since I’m their child and still live with them, it might be rude of me to bring this up. Though I mentioned it a few times… What should I do?

    • Hegelian Dialectic says:

      Lead by example; go to frequent confession and make sure your parents know about it when you do. God bless.

  23. Ben Fields says:

    What qualifies as seriously derelict in duties towards parents or family?

    • Well, of course we are presuming that the son or daughter in question is an adult. And in such cases, adult children have the obligation to see that their parents are properly cared for in old age, that they have access to necessary medical care, have proper housing etc. Likewise, there is a duty to regularly call or contact in some manner ones parents, treat the with respect and patience. Etc.

  24. Ben Fields says:

    The list is extremely helpful and just the sort of thing I was looking for. I had previously been using the ten commandments as my EOC but things that clarify mortal and venial are what I need (ahem). I will use this every Sunday. I have greatly enjoyed your posts to this site (being led to them by Catholic Answers Forums usually) and your appearances on Catholic Answers radio show. God Bless!

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