Q. I remember when Catholics wouldn’t go to Communion on Sunday without going to confession on Saturday. Now, when I go to confession, I see a line of maybe 5 to 10 people, but on Sunday, everybody is going to Communion. What changed?
A. Here’s a reply from Father Reginald Martin:
The Catechism of the Catholic Church is very clear when it teaches:, “Anyone who desires to receive Christ in Eucharistic communion must be in the state of grace. Anyone aware of having sinned mortally must not receive communion without having received absolution in the sacrament of penance” (No. 1415). Catholics of a certain age may have noticed shorter lines at confessionals these days, but no fewer number of those approaching Communion at Sunday Mass. Does this mean we have become a holier people than we were three or four decades ago?
Let us pray this is the case! However, a likelier answer is probably a greater realization that the Eucharist has the power to forgive venial sin. The Catechism devotes considerable attention to this matter (see Nos. 1391-1398). In addition to forgiving past sin, the Eucharist strengthens us against future sin, helping us to direct our lives toward Jesus, who offered himself for our salvation.
The forgiveness of mortal sin, which separates us from Christ and from complete union with the members of his Body, the Church, is the ministry of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The Eucharist, the Catechism teaches, offers reconciliation to “those who are in full communion with the Church” (No. 1395).