Q. If I am not sure whether or not I have committed a mortal sin, can I receive the Eucharist?
A. A person who is conscious of having committed a grave, or mortal, sin should not ordinarily receive the Eucharist without first confessing their sin in the sacrament of penance.
There are some exceptional cases in which confession is impossible, and, in those cases, a person should make an act of perfect contrition and resolve to confess the sin as soon as possible; however, those cases are unusual, especially in places where confession is offered regularly.
Committing a mortal sin entails committing a sin of grave matter, with the deliberate intention to commit the sin, and knowledge of its immorality.
Some people suffer from scrupulosity—a temptation from Satan to exaggerate sinful habits, and to stop trusting in the forgiveness of God. A scrupulous person might worry he has committed a mortal sin even when he hasn’t. On the other hand are people with lax consciences, who too easily make excuses for themselves or their sinfulness, and presume upon the mercy of God.
When a person with a well-formed conscience commits a mortal sin, he is usually aware of it, and likely desires to confess immediately. In the Diocese of Lincoln, we are graced with regular access to the sacrament of penance. Those who think they may suffer from scrupulosity, or who think they may be too lax, should discuss the problem with a confessor or spiritual director.
Write to Ask the Register using our online form, or write to 3700 Sheridan Blvd, Lincoln NE 68506-6100. All questions are subject to editing. Editors decide which questions to publish. Personal questions cannot be answered. People with such questions are urged to take them to their nearest Catholic priest.