Saturday, August 26, 2006

Risky business

"What do you do if you know someone is commiting mortal sins and is still recieving the Eucharist? She will not go to confession." This was the question of an anonymous blogger last week who is obviously and rightly concerned about a loved one. Anon, thanks very much for your concern, and for bringing this question to our forum. Unfortunately, just about each one of us could ask the very question you have asked.

Please keep in mind tht we can judge actions, but we can't judge hearts. In other words, you can say that your friend is committing grave sins, but you can't say definitively that she has full knowledge and full consent. She might appear to know what she's doing and freely choosing it when she commits serious offenses against God, but onyl she and God know for sure. So, none of can say that "so-and-so" is in a mortal sin; we can only go by external behavior.

So, if you raise the issue about her receiving Holy Communion in her state, be prepared for her to ask you how you can judge her like that. The way that I do it is to say, "now, I'm not saying and I cannot say that you are in this state, but you know that if we are in a state of mortal sin, we have to go to Confession before receiving the Eucharist, right?" She might say, 'who are you to judge me?'

I would reply, " I'm not judging what's in your heart and mind. But, I have seen you (get drunk, take the Lord's name in vain, skip Mass on Sunday, or whatever)...and those are serious sins. No matter what your sins are, Christ will forgive them in Confession. Please do not risk receiving the Eucharist in a state of mortal sin. That act itself is mortal sin; it is serious and risky business!! Do you know what the Bible says about receiving the Body of Christ unworthily?

"Whoever eats the bread and drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord" (1 Cor 11:27) and that he/she "eats and drinks judgment on himself" (v.29). What that means is that your friend would share the responsibility for the death of Christ. As one commentator has explained it, the soul in mortal sin is like a “chamber of death”; if Christ enters this soul, he enters death. It is like bringing about his death."

I would be surprised if your friend persists in her attitude of receiving Jesus in the Eucharist even though she has committed grave sins, and maybe even mortal sins. It's entirely too risky! I hope that she has a change of heart. I encourage you to pray for her, and witness to her about the absolute treasure that the Eucharist is, and how we are to handle it with the greatest care. As I wrote in one of my early August posts, "one of the biggest things that each of us will be judged on is how we respected the Eucharist while here on Earth".

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