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Shawn wrote:

Hi, guys —

I was reading a book about mortal sin and was somewhat confused about a few things.

It said that all mortal sin needed to be confessed before receiving the Holy Eucharist.

I agree but it also said that Holy Communion only needed to be receive once a year and mortal sins only needed only be confessed once a year. That said:

  • If one has committed a mortal sin, but prays an Act of Contrition, can they just wait until Easter to both go to Confession and receive Holy Communion?


  { If one has committed a mortal sin, based on the precepts of the Church, is this permissible? }

Paul replied:

Dear Shawn,

Church laws, like these, indicate the bare minimum for us to maintain a minimal relationship with God through His Church.

A mature Christian doesn't look for minimums but seeks to please God daily. Praying an Act
of Contrition for mortal sin doesn't make a person right with God unless they resolve to go to Confession at the next reasonable time they can, and even then, they cannot receive Holy Communion until they go to sacramental Confession, with the exception of being in danger of death.

Remember, for sin to be mortal it has to meet three criteria:

  1. it must be grave matter
  2. there must be sufficient knowledge, and
  3. it must be done with full consent of the will.


Mike replied:

Hi Shawn,

You have hit one area that has always confused me and where the Church may wish to revisit.

You said:

  • If one has committed a mortal sin, but prays an Act of Contrition, can they just wait until Easter to both go to Confession and receive Holy Communion?

Technically, Yes, and meet the minimum requirements [Catechism Reference] but, in practice, someone should not wait a year to go to Confession if they have committed a mortal sin.

The first precept tells us we are obliged to attend Mass on Sundays and on Holy Days of Obligation but attend does not mean attend and receive Holy Communion, though most people do.

The problem I see is that there is no uniformity between the minimums one has to:

  • receive
    • the sacrament of Confession and
    • the sacrament of the Eucharist and
  • attend Mass.

There is a (1 to 1 to many) minimum relationship, instead of a (many to many to many) minimum relationship.

I would humbly recommend the Church consider changing the frequency relationship or criteria between the first, second, and third precepts for the good of the Body of Christ.

Someone new to the Church, or returning to the Church, may be more prone to receiving the Eucharist when they are not in a state of grace if they don't understand the precepts correctly or have been poorly catechized.

Separate from the minimum requirements, the United States Bishop's Conference has recommended all Catholic families go to Confession at least on a monthly basis. I personally recommend that people with more important roles in the Church receive the sacrament of Confession more often.

Pope St. John Paul II went to Confession weekly, even if occasionally it was just devotional.

Just my opinion.


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