Sunday, June 28, 2015


One of the biggest flaws with the overemphasis of the Mass being a meal is that it reduces the Mass to the moment of the actual reception of Holy Communion. I have had many Catholics tell me that if they couldn't receive Holy Communion, they would see no point in coming to Mass. Mind you, this implies that they believe in transubstantiation and that Holy Communion is the Body and Blood of Christ. They believe this and thus feel that missing receiving Holy Communion makes the Mass pointless for them!

To take it a step further, I've been in dialogue with a parishioner who will depart my parish if this parishioner can't have access to the common chalice, to receive the Precious Blood. This person does not feel that receiving only the Host fulfills what Jesus said to the Apostles at the Last Supper.

I am not denying the fact that the Mass is both Sacrifice and Sacrificial Banquet (meal). The EF tended to emphasize Sacrifice and de-emphasize Sacrificial Banquet.  The reasons were many for this not the least being the fast from food and water from midnight as well as a very keen sense (for some quite scrupulous) of mortal sin and almost every sin being mortal. One would not dare receive Holy Communion in a perceived state of mortal sin or having broken the strenuous fast. (There was no sin in breaking the fast; the sin was receiving Holy Communion when one had broken the fast.)

As a child from my First Holy Communion in 1961 till about 1971 or so, I infrequently received Holy Communion although I went to Mass each and every Sunday. I did not feel worthy to do so for a number of reasons only known to me and my anonymous confessor.

I knew, though, simply being at Mass was efficacious for my salvation and I could also pray for the dead and help those in Purgatory. I knew there were graces simply being at Mass, adoring the Host from afar at the elevation and giving thanks to God for the Sacrifice of His only begotten Son.

So, what graces do those Catholics who are in mortal sin, either sexual (to include fornication, adultery, masturbation and regardless with which gender) or otherwise, receive when they attend Mass but forgo receiving Holy Communion because they are not in  a state of grace due their mortal sin(s)?


Anonymous said...

1) The Church has taught for centuries that the Body AND Blood of Christ are BOTH present in the Host, hence the practice of Communion under both species is not necessary. I suspect the introduction of Communion in the hand has not helped your parishioner's mindset either.

2) At Mass we are at the re-presentation of Christ's eternal sacrifice and, even without receiving Communion, the most profound of our sacraments, we still receive immense graces. If a Catholic attends Mass in a state of mortal sin, it might well be that their attendance helps motivate them to go to Confession.

I once heard a priest say that sometimes God might allow an obstinate sinner in a state of mortal sin to die before committing worse sins and making their eternity in Hell even worse. That's a terrible thing to think about, but only God knows what a person is going to do, and He is all Mercy. If someone is so obstinate that they will not submit to God's mercy in Confession, it makes sense that a loving God would permit them to die before they make their eternal punishment worse. I have great respect for people who question the state of their soul who refrain from receiving Communion. At the very least, they love God enough not to offend him by committing sacrilege.

As a priest, you have surely had the experience in one of your parishes of knowing people were in a state of mortal sin, yet they presented themselves for Communion. Surely it must have upset you to give them Communion, knowing that you were assisting them in their sacrilege. I've known of priests who let their parishes because the habitual reception by certain unrepentant people was more than they could bear.

Angry Augustinian said...

Is it worth it? It isn't optional.

George said...

Yes, Mass is worth it for the reasons Anonymous gives, and as A A reminds us, it is an obligation under penalty of Mortal sin, unless there is an allowable impediment which prevents or excuses us from attending, such as illness.

rcg said...

Yes! What if you had a meal before Mass? Make your spiritual Communion.

John Nolan said...

Frequent Communion is a twentieth century phenomenon and even Pius X would not have countenanced the casual reception which pertains today. Apart from anything else, he did not relax the fast which was 'nil by mouth' since midnight. Pius XII saw fit to do this and within little more than a decade it was effectively abolished.

'Is Mass worth it?' Theoretically yes, but the average parish Mass is so dire that it's hardly worth getting out of bed for. Obligation works both ways, and no-one in his right mind believes that one is condemned to hell for avoiding Father O'Bubblegum's chummy, informal 'liturgy'. The music alone would have me grinding my teeth in anger, which is a sin the occasion of which must be avoided.

In fact, the greater love one has for the Mass, the less one is able to endure most modern performances of it. I have loved the Mass since I was first exposed to it before even I started school; I served it at the age of eight in 1959; I now take no small amount of time to practise and sing the chant which accompanies it.

I don't spend hours on my knees praying the rosary; popular devotions (including the Divine Mercy cult) have little attraction for me; it is the Mass that matters, along with the Office which together make up the Catholic liturgy. I can tolerate the vernacular but derive no benefit therefrom; if people need it, good luck to them, but I am a Latin-rite Catholic and expect the liturgy to be in the Latin language.

Mass is not something to be endured as a mortification of the flesh, and to attend simply out of obligation strikes me as being arid if not perverse.

Anonymous said...

When I am in mortal sin and haven't had a chance to go to Confession, I will simply sit in the pew. And sometimes I don't receive just because I am feeling too grumpy!

Lefebvrian said...

John Nolan, I have a liturgical question unrelated to this discussion. Where I went to High Mass today, Sunday, the Mass offered was that of Sts. Peter and Paul (with red vestments). It also seemed that the Last Gospel was not that of St. John (I am assuming since there was no genuflection). The V Sunday after the Octave of Pentecost was commemorated at the Collect and Post-Communion. Maybe the last Gospel was the Gospel of the Sunday, but I couldn't hear it.

Given the change in the Last Gospel, I assumed this might have been a Mass according to the pre-1962 rubrics. Still, I am confused about the Feast being celebrated on the Sunday the day before the actual feast. And, perhaps even more complicated, according to the parish's bulletin, they will have the same feast celebrated tomorrow.

Any thoughts on what's going on here? I'm not judging the parish by any means -- I'm sure they know what's correct -- I would just like to understand what was going on! Thank you for any insight you might have.

(This was an oratory of the Institute of Christ the King, if that matters.)

John Nolan said...


It would have been the external solemnity of SS Peter and Paul. One Sunday Mass may be celebrated as such; other Masses have to be that of the Sunday (5th a.P.)

According to the post-1960 rubrics the last gospel (if not omitted) is always the St John prologue, but some older customs are creeping back. One giveaway would be that the subdeacon transfers the missal to the gospel side.

Anonymous said...

The Mass is the supreme act of reparation to God for the sins of mankind, and this occurs regardless of whether we can can receive communion at that Mass or not. We will certainly receive the graces that we ask for and the grace to overcome our sins and to be repentent. We can also offer the Mass for others - even those we do not know.

The Mass is all-powerful and that is why the modern idea of priests concelebrating Mass is not a good idea because where two or three priests may concelebrate together there is only one Mass offered where there would have been two or three Masses if each priest had offered his own Mass and therefore the world is missing out on all the grace that flows from each Mass. And there is no necessity for there to be a congregation present. The same power pertains at each and every Mass and is just as pleasing to God.


Lefebvrian said...

Thank you, John. That is very helpful. The Missal was indeed transferred back to the Gospel side for the Last Gospel.

As I understand it, through further research, the Institute of Christ the King may have special permission to use some of the pre-1962 rubrics. I'm curious now to go to Holy Week at an Institute oratory to see what happens.