Ask a Franciscan

Holy Communion without Confession

Distributing Holy Communion

I am a 79-year-old Catholic who doesn’t believe in the Sacrament of Penance. I notice that most people don’t go to Confession these days, and yet the great majority of Catholics receive holy Communion whenever they attend Mass. To me, that is a mortal sin. Why do they do that?

The Catholic Church teaches that a person conscious of having committed a mortal sin must confess it before he or she receives Holy Communion (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1457).

How can you be sure that most Catholics who receive Holy Communion regularly are guilty of mortal sins that they have not confessed? The Catechism also teaches: “Without being strictly necessary, confession of everyday faults (venial sins) is nevertheless strongly recommended by the Church. Indeed the regular confession of our venial sins helps us form our conscience, fight against evil tendencies, let ourselves be healed by Christ, and progress in the life of the Spirit” (1458).

According to Mark Twain, there is nothing quite so enjoyable as examining the consciences of other people. But there is also nothing more futile than that. Jesus’ command to recognize the beam in one’s own eye before worrying about the splinter in someone else’s is addressed to each of us (Mt 7:3).


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21 thoughts on “Holy Communion without Confession”

  1. It is true that the catechism says….
    But teaching is the responsibility of the priest to communicate the teaching of the church.
    I am sorry for myself because I would never receive without prior confession when I was hearing about sin by the pastor. Lately I receive without prior confession because the Eucharist is abused.
    Pray for me

  2. Perhaps unrelated, but how does the Protestant receive forgiveness and obtain sacramental right to receive communion?

    1. There is a similar sacrament in the Protestant church. It’s called Reconciliation… Ask your vicar. I am on a similar position as a Catholic. I have returned to the church after many years and have broken several of the Lord’s commandments. I’m Planning to go soon..but it’s not easy.

  3. I’m a Protestant and we believe we should confess our sins to God before communion. Most times I’ve taken it in church the pastor will reiterate this and give everyone a chance to pray silently and ask God to forgive us before partaking.

  4. just a christian girl

    We confess our sins to God and trust that He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins….

  5. A humble Catholic

    We are forgiven of venial sins three times during the mass: at the beginning of mass with the penitential rite which is a part of the introductory Rite of the Mass which happens before the Liturgy of the Word, also when we pray the second is the Our Father, in which we ask God to “forgive us our trespasses.” and the third is immediately before Communion when we pray: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof…”.

  6. If Catholics take communion and never go to Confession is that still ok and can we just go ounce or twice a year to Confession and still be allowed to receive Communion ?

    1. I mean the Catechism and or the Catholic Church teaches that we have to go to Confession at least once a year. But we can confess and repent our sins to the Holy Trinity and to each other.

      1. What your saying is confusing and scandalous sounding. You must confess all mortal sins to a priest before taking communion period. If you never commit a mortal sin you technically never have to confess yo a priest. The church demands that all Catholics taken communion at minimum once a year at Easter and thus Catholics must go to confession minimally once a year if they committed a mortal sin. If you commit a mortal sin you need to abstain from communion until you go to confession, period end of story.

  7. If I have admitted a mortal sin to several others do I still have to do so again before a priest in order to receive communion?

      1. This is why people have an issue with the Catholic Church. I am a catholic and I believe I can go STRAIGHT to Jesus Christ to forgive my sins.

        1. If you go STRAIGHT to Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; don’t go to the priest for the Eucharist for your own good wait for Jesus to give it to you.

  8. i think confession sometimes, not necessary before a priest, if there is none. if sinner confessed in public admitting he or she sinned to this fellow and then said later on that, he or she had forgiven already as the time passed by both sinner and the one who confessed, acknowledged each other that they are forgiving one another. i believe that is good confession, that can be accepted by God, as we know, when we were baptized, we were able to receive priesthood, is it not.

  9. When Jesus returned after death on the first day he appeared to the disciples (except Thomas) and breathed on them and said receive the Holy Spirit, if you forgive anyone their sins they are forgiven, if you do not they are not forgiven. Jesus gave them the authority to forgive sins and baptize. Mathew 28:18-20 also John 20: 19-31. Jesus told them to make disciples in all nations. Doesn’t this mean the preachers of the church are the only ones that can bring to God our sins so that God can forgive us?

  10. I hope I don’t come across sounding like a rebellious Catholic, but this is truly how I feel about going to confession. First off I believe with all my heart that the Catholic Church is truly the Church that Christ started. I also believe in all the Sacraments as well. There’s only one thing that I don’t feel right about and that is going to the confessional booth and confessing my sins to a Priest. Jesus Christ is my mediator to the Father Almighty regarding my sins. I will always have an issue to open myself up to a Human Being and confess my most intimate personal sins to someone who is just as much a sinner as I am. It isn’t going to happen! Venial or mortal, all my dirty sinful laundry goes to our Father Almighty, directly, through my personal Savior Jesus Christ, through my prayer of contrition, confessing and asking for forgiveness in his name. He’s my personal savior, not a Priest. He’s my mediator, not a Priest. He’s the one who carried all my transgressions to the cross and suffered for my salvation, not a Priest. I make sure that I am in the right frame of mind to receive the Eucharist. I pray before I receive it and afterwards as well. I do believe in the Mass, and all the Sacraments. And yes I do believe in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, just not in the ritual of confessing to a Priest in a booth! We all fall short of the Glory of God no matter what your title is. I pray that one day the Church can reform this act of confession. I know what scripture says; to confess to one another. I do understand that Jesus gave the Apostles the power of forgiving and retaining sins; I get that. But where in the Bible does it state that in order to be forgiven; I “have to” confess to a Priest?
    I just don’t think our Loving and Merciful God will damn me to hellfire for not going to the confessional booth! He’s got bigger fish to fry! He knows my heart…not a Priest. He knows what I’ve done and what I’m about to do! I’m not denouncing Priests by any means. I love all Priests and their duties within the mass. I believe in that 100%. I know I’m probably coming across as a rebellious Catholic regarding confession, but it’s just how I feel. BTW I’m not the only catholic who feels this way. The big issue — the heart of what some have called the “confession crisis” — is the evidence that a growing number of self-identified Catholics no longer believe that confession has anything to do with their life of faith and, to be specific, their ability to receive Holy Communion. I totally fall within this belief as well as many other catholics that I know. My God, the Father Almighty hears my prayers of contrition, and he hears me asking for forgiveness, through our Lord Jesus Christ! …HE KNOWS MY HEART, and how sorry I am for my sins. 1 Timothy 2:5 “There is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus.”
    This verse not only speaks to the reality of the Christian God, but also that Jesus Christ is the only way to be reconciled to God. No other being, spiritual or human, is needed as a go-between for us and God. The symbolism of the torn temple veil (Matthew 27:51) applies here: Jesus is the way we communicate with God, period. There is no additional step, and there is no other channel. And that’s good enough for me! I have absolute faith!

    1. You contradict yourself when you say you believe in the sacraments. St Paul clearly says God gave them the ministry of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19. They are the shepherds of the flock of Christ. When you have a wound you have to show it for it to be healed, that is what you do in confession. You show the wound, but not only that, you are unmasking the devil. Don’t be ashamed of your wounds because they where inflicted by the devil, so don’t be afraid to unmask the devil. Let yourself be reconciled with God through confession.

  11. Years ago, I go soured on the Catholic Church when I found out that they knew what some priests were doing to children and ignored the problem. They swept it under the rug for years! I was disgusted and felt betrayed by the church and hurt for the children who were violated. I thought, if priests on up were committing those type of sins and the church didn’t acknowledge it was happening, why should I believe in the teachings of the church. I went to mass infrequently from then on. Then when I did go, it had changed so much in regards to confessions. On holidays, you get in a line, walk up to where one of the priests were, while there were others close by doing the same thing. I guess I’d call it an open confession. It just didn’t feel like a true confession. Because of my sporadic attendance, I was nervous anyway. At that time, I decided, it’s just a ritual and decided, I’d go directly to Jesus Christ to forgive me of my sins. This past Easter, I went to mass and did take communion without going to confession. I now feel guilty about it. That’s another thing, I harbor guilt through what the church teaches. Times have changed, but the acceptance of certain sins haven’t changed in the church. So do I ask for forgiveness every time I commit the same sin over and over again when I know I’m not going to stop. I’d like to find a priest that I could talk to, but now that I’m in a small town, it’s difficult. The priest we have now, has only a few years under his belt and he is in his late 50’s or early 60’s. I don’t like saying this, but his masses are not inspirational and seems unable to connect with the parishioners. It’s difficult to even understand mass.

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