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Rob Johnson wrote:

Hi, guys —

I was baptized, received my First Holy Communion, was confirmed, and attended four years of Catholic grammar school followed by four years of Catholic High School.

I consider myself a good Catholic and have followed the essential Church teachings. I admit that
I may not follow all Church teachings to the letter e.g. I do not attend Mass every week and we did practice birth control. That said:

  1. Can I receive Holy Communion?
  2. Can I continue to attend Mass in good conscience?



  { Can I attend Mass and receive Communion if I am not always faithful to Church teachings? }

John replied:

Hi Rob,

Thanks for your question.

When it comes to faith and morals, being Catholic is a binary proposition; one either is or isn't. You can't be 99% Catholic or 72% Catholic in these areas. It's like being pregnant. You either are pregnant or your not pregnant. You can't be 83.4% pregnant.

Catholicism is not like a cafeteria or a buffet. When you dissent from a Church Teaching, you are protesting. Hence, you've become a Protestant by definition; even if you have not formally joined a Protestant congregation.

You say you practice and hold to essential Church Teaching. I have to ask:

  • According to whose standard?

It sounds like your own, but it doesn't work that way. It's the Teaching authority of Church, meaning the Bishops in union with Pope who discern what essentials of the faith are binding on the faithful. (Matthew 16:13-19; Matthew 18:15-18)

This doesn't mean you have to understand every detail of every point of doctrine nor does it mean you won't struggle to understand and submit to each and every doctrine.

It does mean you have to accept the authority of the Church to teach Infallibly in matters of faith and morals.


Mike replied:

Hi, Rob —

In addition to my colleague's fine comment, I wanted to directly answer your question.

  • You cannot receive Holy Communion, until you are striving to believe and practice what the Church believes and practices. When Catholics, as a parish community of faith, receive the Eucharist, we are expressing to:

    • the Church
    • the parish community, and
    • to those possibly visiting

      our (Common Union)— Communion in Jesus and the one Church He founded on St. Peter.

You would also have to go to the Sacrament of Confession first, and remember, the priest can't give you absolution, unless you have a firm purpose of amendment to stop the sins you are committing.

If you are having a hard time with a certain sin, tell the Confessor that you are having a hard time making a firm purpose of amendment in certain areas and would like the grace to be able to make one. Go with his counsel.

  • You can and should attend Mass without going to Communion. Just say a Spiritual Communion (below) and pray privately or with your family.
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, with all my heart, and with all my soul).

I love you because you are infinitely good and worthy of all my love.

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 and glorify Yourself through my weak, broken body.


If someone asks you why you didn't receive Communion, just tell them you were not properly disposed. The rest is none of their business.

Hope this helps,


Please report any and all typos or grammatical errors.
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