Monday, September 03, 2007

Canon 916

Can. 916 Anyone who is conscious of grave sin may not celebrate Mass or receive the Body of the Lord without previously having been to sacramental confession, unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess; in this case the person is to remember the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition, which includes the resolve to go to confession as soon as possible.


This appears in the front cover of the OCP hymnal "Breaking Bread" (which I had my first introduction to last week on vacation). It is a Canon I am familiar with, and one that I have seen people misinterpret to mean they can receive Communion in a state of (grave/mortal) sin as long as they go to confession right after Mass. I know people in my own church who follow this practice of receiving Communion and going to confession right after Mass, using this Canon as their rationale for doing so.

An act of perfect contrition (which is required in this case) is being sorry for offending God with your sins because you love Him above all things, and an act of imperfect contrition (which isn't enough in this case) is being sorry for your sins because you dread the pains of hell.

Canon 916 requires a grave reason to exist for the application of receiving Communion without confession. What I see people using as grave reason are 1) not having confession scheduled prior to Mass, and 2) arriving at Mass too late to ask the priest hear your confession. My gut feeling on this is that neither of these qualify as grave reasons to receive Holy Communion as outlined by Canon 916 if you are conscious of mortal sin.

It takes a certain degree of humility to stay in your seat and abstain from Communion when everyone else is receiving Communion. Maybe I'm being scrupulous here, but neither of the two situations I outlined above seem to be qualify as grave matter. What would you do?


4 comments:

Divine Mercy said...

mortal sin is a very serious. no one should go to holy communion with the stain of mortal sin on their soul. father mentioned one time during frank's catechism lesson that it is sacriligous to go to receive holy communion with the stain of mortal sin on your soul. one must go to confession and confess the mortal sin/s on their soul, only then after receiving absolution can one receive holy communion. a partial confession does not relieve the stain of mortal sin. only a good confession does, and that is a complete confession with absolute sincerity for having grieved our Lord and offending Him.

Therese said...

We go to confession before Mass. I would never receive communion if I was aware of grave sin on my soul even if I could attend confession straight after Mass.

Karin said...

I make it a point to get to confession before Mass. If I miss confession an know I am in mortal sin I do not recieve.

I have no problem with sitting in my seat while others go to recieve...no one is paying attention to me anyway, all eyes and thoughts are elsewhere, as they should be!

Shirley said...

I don't receive Communion even if my sins were not mortal. I don't worry about what other people think, just that my sins have offended God. So I sit miserably in my seat while others file happily up to receive our precious Lord.(sigh.) This happened to me last Sunday, so I am going to confession ASAP!