EWTN Catholic Q&A
Communion at every Mass
Question from Lois on 10-07-2012:

I am a new Catholic. I was wondering if it is a mortal sin or an offense to God to go to Mass and NOT get up to receive Communion. The reason being knowing that I needed to make a good confession, which I missed the day before due to a wedding. I went home feeling horrible, but if a person is struggling with new religious fears and questions maybe he should sit out and observe. What is right?

Answer by Catholic Answers on 10-08-2012:


A Catholic is not required to receive Communion at every Mass he attends. A Catholic must receive Communion at least once during the Easter season, but is otherwise free to decide when to receive Communion. It is also important for a Catholic to go to confession first if he knows that he has committed a mortal sin.

That said, "struggling with new religious fears and questions" sounds to me like it could be scrupulosity. It is not uncommon for new Catholics to worry about the status of a sin or to think they have committed a mortal sin when they have not. If instead of knowing you need to go to confession you merely "fear" you might need to go or "question" something you've done, then it may be better to receive Communion and then go to confession at the next reasonable opportunity. Mortal sin requires full knowledge and deliberate consent. If those factors are not present, then there is no mortal sin and no need to refrain from receiving the Eucharist.

Michelle Arnold
Catholic Answers