The Eucharist is the greatest of the seven sacraments. It’s the only sacrament that includes Jesus’ real physical presence, and receiving it frequently and devoutly is the best way to grow in holiness.
Receiving the Eucharist while you’re in a state of mortal sin has the opposite effect — you further injure your already seriously wounded soul.
Sadly, many people go up to Communion without considering their spiritual state. But is that really a big deal?
It is and here are the reasons why.
1. You commit a sacrilege
You are guilty of sacrilege when you deal unworthily with holy things. Given that the Eucharist is the most sacred thing on earth, it is a serious offense to profane it.
Holy things are meant to be set apart and treated with reverence. Unfortunately, we live in a culture where anything goes, and seemingly nothing is sacred. But God, who is literally present under the species of bread and wine, deserves our reverence.
Mortal sin kills charity, which is God’s life within us. Think about it. We expel this life in us through mortal sin, and then we presume to receive Christ’s sacred Body and Blood?
2. You dull your mind and heart
When you receive Our Lord unworthily, you become accustomed to treating sacred things disrespectfully. In other words, it becomes a habit. You lose your entire sense of the sacred and contribute to a culture of sacrilege.
You also close yourself off to those vivifying graces that inspire you to virtue. The result is growing complacency and spiritual laziness, which become more difficult to escape the longer you’re in them.
3. You put more importance on exterior conformity than internal reality
It’s embarrassing to remain in your pew while everyone else goes up to Communion. So humiliating, in fact, that you may decide to go up anyway to save face.
Yet, which is more important? Not offending God or feeling embarrassed? Following God always comes first. We know from Scripture that this sometimes means enduring humiliation.
Plus, most people at your average parish are probably not going to notice if you remain behind.
4. You lose sight of the sacrificial dimension of worship
Recently, there has been a lot of emphasis on the Mass as a community meal. Too much, in fact. While there is a meal aspect of the Mass, emphasizing this fact to the exclusion of the Mass as a sacrifice can lead to certain attitudes. One of these attitudes is that receiving the Eucharist in the state of mortal sin “is not that bad. This is a communal meal. Join us!”
The Mass is above all a sacrifice. And Jesus Himself becomes physically present. That’s what matters most. We need to see receiving communion as partaking in this sacrifice.
While these reasons should keep you from receiving the Eucharist unworthily, they should not prevent you from attending Mass. You are only bound to receive Communion once a year, but you still need to attend Mass each Sunday.
Of course, you want to receive the Body and Blood of Christ as often as you can. No matter how serious your sins are, there’s an easy way to get your soul cleaned and ready to meet Christ at the altar.
That way is, of course, Confession. If it has been a while since you’ve confessed, well, what are you waiting for?
Jesus is ready to welcome you back with open arms.