The worthy reception of Communion both indicates and makes real our communion with the Lord – sharing life with Christ. For this Communion to be a true sign – that is, a genuine expression of communion – we must be of one heart and mind with Jesus.
If we are in a state of serious sin, this communion is compromised. That is why the Church teaches that those who are conscious of grave (mortal) sin are not to approach the Eucharist without first having been reconciled with God and the Church through the Sacrament of Penance (also known as Reconciliation or confession).
In cases where it would be truly difficult to remain without the Eucharist before being able to approach Penance, the person is to make a sincere Act of Contrition with the intention of receiving the Sacrament of Penance as soon as possible. Those who have missed Mass on Sunday or a holy day of obligation, by their own free choice, whether once or often, are to be reconciled through Penance before returning to the reception of Communion. On the other hand, those who were unable to attend due to illness or truly unforeseen and insurmountable circumstances outside of their control are not guilty of sin and thus do not need to confess before approaching the Eucharist.
The Penitential Rite which is usually part of the Introductory Rites does not have the same sacramental effect as the Sacrament of Penance; it cannot substitute for confession in cases of serious sin. Sincere contrition (sorrow) for one’s venial or lesser sins, however, is one of the ways these less serious faults are forgiven (see General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 51). While it may be a bit awkward not to come to Communion when those around us do, it is important not to presume to judge those who choose to refrain from the Eucharist. Some years ago, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) wrote an essay in which he suggested that sometimes, the faithful may even wish to forego Communion on occasion to be in solidarity with those who cannot receive – for instance, those in mission lands where priests are scarce; or those imprisoned for the Faith; or those in invalid marriages. While Pope Pius X encouraged frequent reception of the Eucharist – and rightly so – we are only obliged to receive the Eucharist once a year, preferably during the Easter season. However, we are obliged to participate at Mass each Sunday and holy day of obligation, even if we do not receive the Eucharist.
We received word that the printing of the pictorial directory for the One in Christ ACC is underway, and we hope the books will be arriving soon. Thank you for your patience with this process, we know it has taken longer than we anticipated. We are especially grateful to the members of the parish staffs who have given so much time and energy to this painstaking work.
The goal of the directory is always to put names to faces, and now with our ACCs, to recognize the broader family of the Church in our neighboring communities. We hope you have lots of “oh, so they belong to that parish!” moments. You are always welcome to visit any one of our parishes for Masses, classes, and other events. It is a gift to get to know so many faithful disciples of the same Lord.
ACC Visit with Bishop Neary
Many of you know that Bishop Neary is planning to meet with representatives from all 29 of our Area Catholic Communities over the next eight months in groups of 3-4 ACCs. He wants to understand the good work being done by these collaborations and their vision for the future, as well as understand the joys and struggles of life in our ACCs. One in Christ ACC will be meeting with him and other diocesan leadership on December 20 (we’ll be an early Christmas gift!). Please pray for these gatherings as we learn more about one another and include this knowledge in the vision of a vibrant future for the Diocese of St. Cloud.