Receiving the Eucharist is a big deal to us Catholics, yes? Ok, good. Glad we are on the same page. However, I have this sneaking suspicion that our generation missed, or just wasn’t told often enough, some basic rules about receiving the Eucharist. Maybe the older folks are afraid we can’t handle them, or are just worried that we’ll think they’re uncool or something. Regardless, I’m letting the cat out of the bag.
(1) We have an obligation to attend mass every Sunday and on every Holy Day of Obligation. If we miss mass without a serious reason, we’re guilty of mortal sin and need to go to confession before we can receive the Eucharist again.
(2) We have an obligation to go to confession at least once a year. If it has been over one year since the last time you went to reconciliation, you should not be receiving the Eucharist.
***Update Re the Comment Box (in other words, stealing from the comment box):
“The once a year thing is interesting… the most recent code of canon law requires that we confess our grave sins at least once a year (989). Which, legally speaking, makes the most sense, since the sacrament of confession is actually only strictly necessary for the forgiveness of mortal sins. Venial sins do not need to be brought to confession in order to be forgiven.
However, practically and spiritually speaking, it makes sense that we would need to go to confession at least once a year, no matter what. Because even if we don’t need, strictly speaking, to confess venial sins in the sacrament of confession, we should, because it makes us aware of our sins, we receive grace and strength to overcome temptation and grow in holiness, and we actually hear the words of Jesus saying, ‘I forgive you'”
(3) We also have an obligation to receive the Eucharist at least once during the season of Easter each year. Translation: if you’re a baptized Catholic just going to mass every Sunday but not receiving because you’re aware of a mortal sin on your conscience, you need to go to confession sometime before Easter season is over this year so that you can receive communion.
The point of all of this: We cannot receive communion in a state of mortal sin. Just because we made our first communion when we were seven does not automatically make us forever eligible to receive. We have to live it out, too.
Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.
-1 Cor 11:27-30
Yes, you read that right: Sickness and even death as a result of receiving communion in the state of mortal sin. Of course, we should be wayyy more concerned about our spiritual health than our physical health, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking the two are mutually exclusive. There have been many miracles in which people were healed from physical ailments after going to confession.
I’m not usually about fire and brimstone, but pretending it doesn’t exist is just not at all helpful. The fact of the matter is that sometimes the truth is scary. That is, of course, until we decide to live in accordance with it.