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Contrite Carol wrote:

Dear AskaCatholic,

I'm sorry if I e-mail you too much but I have a very important question. Tomorrow my Grandma and I are going to church and I think I'm in grave sin.

If I tell her I can't go to Communion, she would question me and make me receive or maybe even sit down and throw a huge rant about how I need to receive Communion.

I can't go to Confession because my parents won't let me nor will my Grandma let me go. My next school Confession is in December and that's a very long time from now.

  • Can I receive Communion under circumstances that I can't go to Confession in a very long time?
  • Will I also go to Hell if I die?

Carol

  { Since I can't get to Confession before Mass, can I receive Communion to avoid a huge family rant? }

Bob replied:

Carol,

I would suggest that you find a way to get to Confession, despite the fact that your family is making it difficult. You can ask a priest anytime — before Mass, after Mass, in the supermarket — it doesn't matter; just get it done. If you have serious sin to deal with, start with an Act of Contrition, right away.

Act of Contrition

O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee.

I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of Heaven, and the pains of Hell; but most of all because I have offened Thee, my God, Who are all good and deserving of all my love.

I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life.

Amen.

While you are waiting for an opportunity for Confession, at Communion cross your arms in front of yourself (like a mummy, an X on your chest) and get a blessing rather than receiving — you don’t have to explain anything to your grandma (only if asked) other than you will receive after Confession, because that is the right thing to do. What you confess is your and God's business — not hers.

This is a dilemma everyone faces at one point or another. The fact that you are conscious of the issue, makes you already a step beyond many others, so cut yourself a little slack. God loves you and isn't trying to catch you breaking the rules, but at the same time He is asking you to be a bit more grown up about things and take real responsibility for your sins. Being good requires effort and tough choices, but mostly it relies on God's strength from having a close relationship with Him. When you feel guilty, the natural reaction is to try and pull away but you need to do the exact opposite.

If you learn anything from this, learn to stay close to Him.

Hell is real and lots of people go there but you need not fear that, when you learn to love God more than things of this world.

  • Is that far fetched? <No.>

All of us are made for love, and only you can love God in a way that no one else can. I can't love Him like you can, He made you special, with a one of a kind heart. Just imagine two lovers who meet and fall deeply in love — each one would attest to how that other person completes them in some way, as no one else can. Well, in some strange way, each of us provides something singularly unique to God, a very personal thing that no one else can. He is looking for that connection with you, in your soul, so just try to let Him in there. Your life will change and your ability to stay out of serious sin will get much easier, and then all these difficulties with family and communion will be a faint memory.

Peace,

Bob Kirby

Eric replied:

Hi, Carol —

Our apologies that we didn't get an answer to you sooner.

While I can't take the place of the judgment of a priest, I suspect that you are a bit scrupulous, meaning that you see a lot of sin where there is really little, to no, sin. If this is true, the advice of the Church is to assume that a given sin is not mortal unless you are sure that it is (normally the Church's advice is if you suspect a sin is mortal, treat it as such).

  • What are the requirements for a mortal sin?
  1. It must be grave matter
  2. you must know it is grave matter
  3. it must be committed with deliberate and complete consent. You must basically say to yourself, I know this is gravely wrong, but by golly, I am going to do it anyway, I don't care.

You have to be free from coercion and you have to do it in a premeditated fashion. Things such as habits, passions (even involuntary sexual passions), duress, and so forth can break one of those conditions and make a sin less than mortal.

The very fact that you said I think I committed a mortal sin inclines me to think, based on your earlier questions, that you were good to receive Communion.

If you are sure you've committed a mortal sin, my recommendation is you either:

  • schedule an appointment with a priest for Confession by calling the parish and tell your parents or grandmother that you need to speak privately with a priest and leave it at that, or
  • if you go to Catholic school, see if you can get some time with a priest at school.

Ask him at the end of your Confession whether he thinks you might be scrupulous (which, by the way, is not a sin at all).

Above all, relax — the Lord loves you more than you can imagine. He is not waiting for us to slip up so He can gleefully punish us.

He wants what's best for us.

Eric

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