By the Publisher,
Love One Another! 4/2004 → Catholic Church
We may not receive Holy Communion when in a state of grave sin. Holy Communion is the most intimate encounter with the person of the Resurrected Jesus, who desires to impart His spiritual gifts and heal our souls and bodies. For our part, we ought to be suitably prepared and disposed.
Jesus complained to Saint Faustina: “When I come to a human heart in Holy Communion, My hands are full of all kinds of graces, which I want to give to the soul. But souls do not pay any attention to Me; they leave Me to Myself and busy themselves with other things. Oh, how sad I am that souls do not recognize Love! They treat me as a dead object” (Diary, 1385). Above all, we may not receive Holy Communion in a state of grave sin. Saint Paul warns: “Everyone is to recollect himself before eating this bread and drinking this cup; because a person who eats and drinks without recognizing the Body is eating and drinking his own condemnation. In fact, that is why many of you are weak and ill and some of you have died” (1 Cor 11 : 28-30).
In his encyclical on the Eucharist, the Holy Father, John Paul II, clearly states: “Saint John Chrysostom, with his stirring eloquence, exhorted the faithful: ‘I too raise my voice, I beseech, beg, and implore that no one draw near to this sacred table with a sullied and corrupt conscience. Such an act, in fact, can never be called ‘communion’ – not even if we were to touch the Lord’s body a thousand times over – but ‘condemnation,’ ‘torment,’ and ‘increase of punishment’.”
Along these same lines, the Catechism of the Catholic Church rightly stipulates that “anyone conscious of a grave sin must receive the sacrament of Reconciliation before coming to Communion.” I therefore desire to reaffirm that in the Church there remains in force, now and in the future, the rule by which the Council of Trent gave concrete expression to the Apostle Paul’s stern warning when it affirmed that, in order to receive the Eucharist in a worthy manner, “one must first confess one’s sins, when one is aware of mortal sin.”
The two sacraments of the Eucharist and Penance are very closely connected. Because the Eucharist makes present the redeeming sacrifice of the Cross, perpetuating it sacramentally, it naturally gives rise to a continuous need for conversion, for a personal response to the appeal made by Saint Paul to the Christians of Corinth: “We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5 : 20). If a Christian’s conscience is burdened by serious sin, then the path of penance through the sacrament of Reconciliation becomes necessary for full participation in the Eucharistic Sacrifice.
The judgement of one’s state of grace obviously belongs only to the person involved, since it is a question of examining one’s conscience. However, in cases of outward conduct, which is seriously, clearly, and steadfastly contrary to the moral norm, the Church, in her pastoral concern for the good order of the community and out of respect for the sacrament, cannot fail to feel directly involved. The Code of Canon Law refers to this situation of a manifest lack of proper moral disposition when it states that those who “obstinately persist in manifest grave sin” are not to be admitted to Eucharistic Communion (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 36-37).