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Anonymous Ann wrote:

Hi, guys —

Let me give you some background on myself. I am a 37-year-old woman who went to Catholic school for 12 years; I am married but have no children. I was raised Catholic but haven't been practicing in years.

I was told that the rule about being in God's grace to receive Communion doesn't exist anymore. In other words, previously, if you had any mortal sins (such as missing Mass) you couldn't receive Holy Communion until you had been to Confession. I was told this rule no longer exists.

  • Is this true?
  • And, if so, what happened to all the people who went to Hell for this reason?
    • Do they get out or,
    • Do they realize they were mistaken and therefore never went to Hell in the first place?

Thanks!

Ann

  { Do you still have to be in a state of grace to receive Communion and how is this marriage invalid? }

Mike replied:

Dear Ann,

You said:
I was told that the rule about being in God's grace to receive Communion doesn't exist anymore. In other words, previously, if you had any mortal sins (such as missing Mass) you couldn't receive Holy Communion until you had been to Confession. I was told this rule no longer exists.

  • Is this true?

What! Who ever told you, you don't have to be in a state of grace to receive Holy Communion, is nuts!

If you missed Mass, without a good reason, or if you miss Mass with the willful intent of no going to Mass, it is a mortal sin and must be confessed. If you can't get to Confession before Mass time, just refrain from receiving the Eucharist and say a Spiritual Communion in the pew.

Spiritual Communion

O Lord Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar.
I love you [above all things]|[with all my mind and my heart] and I long for thee in my soul.
Since I cannot receive You now sacramentally, at least come spiritually into my heart.
I embrace myself entirely to You and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.

Come Lord Jesus [optional add-on:] and glorify yourself through my weak body.

Amen.

You said:

  • And, if so, what happened to all the people who went to Hell for this reason?
    • Do they get out

The Church has never declared, nor will ever declare, whether someone has gone to Hell.

At our particular judgment, when we die, our eternity is fixed in either:

  • eternal life, or
  • eternal death.

Also remember, for sin to be mortal it has to meet three criteria:

  1. it must be grave matter
  2. there must be sufficient knowledge, and
  3. it must be done with full consent of the will.

If one of those criteria is missing, a mortal sin has not been committed.

Here are some related postings:

Hope this helps,

Mike

Ann replied:

Thanks Mike —

The person who told me this said,

"No, that was under Vatican II. Things have changed!"

  • Is there a way to get into God's grace again without going to Confession?

Also, while I have your attention, another question that has always puzzled me has to do with an acquaintance of mine.

She got an annulment after 20 years of marriage and raising three children. They got the annulment years after a divorce in order to get re-married. My questions are:

  • How can a marriage not have existed if the couple were together 20 years and brought up three children to adulthood together?
  • What about the children?
  • If the marriage was invalid or didn't exist, were they born out of wedlock?

Thanks again for your time,

Anonymous

Mike replied:

Hi, Anonymous —

Your friend said:
No, that was under Vatican II. Things have changed!

Not that much : )

You said:

  • Is there a way to get into God's grace again without going to Confession?

For a Catholic, all known mortal sins have to be confessed in Confession, but it's no big thing.

Personally, I love this sacrament because, God himself, strengthens my soul so I can beat the Hell out of satan better.

  • Is there any reason you don't want to go?

Most, if not all, parishes have Confessions every Saturday afternoon. For fathers and/or mothers reading this post, make it a family affair!

Re: Your acquaintance's annulment situation.

I've heard of situations like this and each case will vary from case to case with various nuances.
What it comes down to is trusting the Church to discern a valid marriage from one that never existed.

Here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

III. Matrimonial Consent

1625 The parties to a marriage covenant are a baptized man and woman, free to contract marriage, who freely express their consent; to be free means:

  • not being under constraint;
  • not impeded by any natural or ecclesiastical law.

1626 The Church holds the exchange of consent between the spouses to be the indispensable element that makes the marriage.(Code of Canon Law, canon 1057 § 1.) If consent is lacking there is no marriage.

1627 The consent consists in a human act by which the partners mutually give themselves to each other: I take you to be my wife - I take you to be my husband. (Vatican II, Gaudium et spes 48 § 1; Ordo celebrandi Matrimonium 45; cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 1057 § 2.) This consent that binds the spouses to each other finds its fulfillment in the two becoming one flesh. (Genesis 2:24; cf. Matthew 10:8; Ephesians 5:31)

1628 The consent must be an act of the will of each of the contracting parties, free of coercion or grave external fear. (cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 1103.) No human power can substitute for this consent. (cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 1057 § 1.) If this freedom is lacking the marriage is invalid.

1629 For this reason (or for other reasons that render the marriage null and void) the Church, after an examination of the situation by the competent ecclesiastical tribunal, can declare the nullity of a marriage, i.e., that the marriage never existed. (cf. Code of Canon Law, canons 1095-1107.) In this case the contracting parties are free to marry, provided the natural obligations of a previous union are discharged. (cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 1071.)

1630 The priest (or deacon) who assists at the celebration of a marriage receives the consent of the spouses in the name of the Church and gives the blessing of the Church. The presence of the Church's minister (and also of the witnesses) visibly expresses the fact that marriage is an ecclesial reality.

1631 This is the reason why the Church normally requires that the faithful contract marriage according to the ecclesiastical form. Several reasons converge to explain this requirement: (cf. Council of Trent: DS 1813-1816; Code of Canon Law, canon 1108.)

  • Sacramental marriage is a liturgical act. It is therefore appropriate that it should be celebrated in the public liturgy of the Church;
  • Marriage introduces one into an ecclesial order, and creates rights and duties in the Church between the spouses and towards their children;
  • Since marriage is a state of life in the Church, certainty about it is necessary (hence the obligation to have witnesses);
  • The public character of the consent protects the I do once given and helps the spouses remain faithful to it.

1632 So that the I do of the spouses may be a free and responsible act and so that the marriage covenant may have solid and lasting human and Christian foundations, preparation for marriage is of prime importance.

The example and teaching given by parents and families remain the special form of this preparation.

The role of pastors and of the Christian community as the family of God is indispensable for the transmission of the human and Christian values of marriage and family, (cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 1063.) and much more so in our era when many young people experience broken homes which no longer sufficiently assure this initiation:

It is imperative to give suitable and timely instruction to young people, above all in the heart of their own families, about the dignity of married love, its role and its exercise, so that, having learned the value of chastity, they will be able at a suitable age to engage in honorable courtship and enter upon a marriage of their own. (Vatican II, Gaudium et spes 49 § 3.)

You said:

  • What about the children?
  • If the marriage was invalid or didn't exist, were they born out of wedlock?

My colleague Eric, addressed your question on the children in this posting:

Hope this helps,

Mike

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