Who can receive Communion?

By Paul Dion, STL

Who Can Receive Communion? These are the words of Jesus as presented to us by St. John the Evangelist.

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food, and my blood is real drink. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever" (John 6:53–58).

Because of this teaching about the Eucharist, we know that receiving this Sacrament is very important to our lives as Catholics.

The burning questions is: What are the pre-requisites for receiving the eucharist for the first time? What are the requisites for receiving the eucharist every time after that?

Click here to view the answer to this Burning Question


  1. Anonymous8:50 AM

    I am individual who at times masturbate, but otherwise lead a full Christian life. Where would that put me? Do I have to confess weekly, even though I will do it again? I am a man in his forties and the masturbation is just a pressure release, its not I have to do it or I will die situation. Please advise.

  2. I never had the pleasure of memorizing the Baltimore Catechism, or the displeasure of being slapped or whacked with rulers by nuns... But I would say the requirement for receiving the Eucharist is:

    1. A knowledge of what he/she is receiving, that it is truly the Body and Blood of Our Lord

    2. One is in a state of Sanctifying grace (all conscious mortal sins have been confessed prior in sacramental confession) or one is in a state of perfect contrition (with the intent of seeking immediate sacramental confession after).

    3. One has observed the laws of the Eucharistic fast

    If this sounds rigorous, I think St. Paul is a bit more "rigorous"

    1Co 11:26-30 DRB For as often as you shall eat this bread and drink the chalice, you shall shew the death of the Lord, until he come. (27) Therefore, whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. (28) But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread and drink of the chalice. (29) For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord. (30) Therefore are there many infirm and weak among you: and many sleep.


  3. OK, fancy pants, how old does the aspiring communicant have to be before receiving communion for the first time? Does the aspiring first communicant have to receive the sacrament of reconciliation before receiving communion for the first time?

  4. How old? It used to be 12 I believe, before Pope St. Pius X. An interesting story. He was 11 and he believed he was ready to receive. He asked his pastor; refused. He barged in on the bishop eating with priests; the bishop said, when you become pope you can change the rule, because I cannot. When he became Pope Pius X, that's one of the first things he did, lowered the age to 8 or the "age of reason"...

    Does he have to go through sacrament of reconciliation first?
    Trick question. It is not abolutely necessary in the universal Church. It is true for Latin Rite Catholics, that they must go to confession first. But Eastern Catholic infants are Baptized, receive Holy Communion and are Confirmed in one ceremony.

  5. Dear readers:
    Trick question? Actually,I do not pose trick questions, only those that will give an opportunity to catechize and evangelize the readers.
    I the interest of full disclosure, Laurence and I know one another personally and we do get along nicely.
    By the way, his comment about Pius X and the follow-on about the requirement for reconciliation before 1st communion are both correct.

  6. no matter what sin it is, if it is a mortal sin, and masturbation is a mortal sin, it must be confessed before receiving Holy Communion. But, one of the requirements of reconciliation is the intent to not sin again... That doesnt mean we will never fall, it simply means we do not presume the mercy of God before we sin.

    God Bless,

  7. Anonymous:
    Your question about masturbation is an important one because it is one that is rather wide-spread.
    There are two things in this habit that are fundamentally against developing a solid relationship with God. The first is that it is a self-centering habit.
    The emotional force behind the sexual drive is not first and foremost to be directed to the personal satisfaction of the individual. It is to be directed to the completion of an act within the sacrament of matrimony that involves two people with the possibility of bringing a third one into being. Masturbation goes against this essential order of the human sex drive. It is a selfish act that has the individual doing the act as its direct and only beneficiary. The danger of this act is that it can easily become a habit with the power of an addiction. This is therefore a mismanagement of the resources of the human body. It can therefore be said that the act itself is not only one against the 6th commandment (impurity) but also one against the 5th commandment (misuse of the human body).

    This act is also a waste of a precious resource, living sperm cells. it is the abuse of a potential life-giving source. We recall the command of God to Adam that humans have dominion over God's creation. In other words, God trusts us to manage His creation carefully. Wasting any of His gifts is not morally correct.

    Confession is given to us not only to repair faults committed but also to remedy the actions and impulses that caused the fault in the first place. Confession (reconciliation) is therefore a two way street. To take full advantage of the bi-directional traffic on this street, we sinners must therefore place ourselves in the hands of a regular confessor. We must have the courage to let God's advocate for us get to know us. We can then work together at rectifying not only the acts themselves but their causes as well. So we know that we are going to do it again. We perhaps even know why. In your case, it is a stress reliever. In your case too, you say that if you have to, you can leave it aside since you state that it is not a matter of life and death. It is therefore something that can be corrected by eliminating it from your life. But, and this must also be true, perhaps not by yourself alone because of the depth of the habit that drives the behavior. So you need a regular confessor, and a plan.

    Lets look at your reasons for wanting to get rid of this habit. You brought the question up in relationship to receiving Communion. That is good, but I dare say, it is not enough. I can dare say that because Communion is the High Noon of our relationship with God, not the sunset. Communion is the celebration of all that we are in relationship to God. Communion is the celebration that Jesus' victory over sin is alive and well in us. In every phase of us. So the act of masturbation is only one weakness. Perhaps the largest one, but perhaps not. What is driving this act is perhaps worse than the act itself. That is why a regular confessor is essential to overcoming a habit so powerful as regular masturbation. It is also why regular Communion is so important. Keeping your eye on the Communion will help you to take your eye off other things. To do that, you need help from the confessor who is the representative of Jesus here on earth.

    A final comment. To come back to the statement that "Communion is not enough." Communion must be completed by the recognition that it is the Eucharistic Banquet, the Holy Mass in which Communion takes place that is essential to our well being. It is the Sacred Sacrifice of Jesus to His Father for our Salvation that takes place on the altar of the Holy Mass that can pull us up from the practices that pull us away from Him. If you want to live a fuller life, participate in the Holy Mass every day. If you want to reduce your stress, walk the three miles to the church and back to your home. Impossible you say? Maybe so. But one thing is for sure, even if you have to drive to church because of your work schedule, the Holy Mass is your (and our)Salvation. It's there for us every single day and we don't take advantage of it. Communion is there for us every single day and we don't take advantage of it. The lessons of God's Word in the Sacred Scriptures are there for us every single day and we don't take advantage of them.

    Our response has been a long one. It could have been shorter perhaps, but in this case we opted for length over brevity. The bottom line is this:
    Don't focus on getting rid of a bad habit. Replace it by a couple of Holy ones.

    Paul Dion, STL
    Theology Editor

  8. I loved your last response on masturabation, Paul... A+... If you don't mind, I would like to post your words on my blog... And maybe, as the swing of justice swings this way, i will subject it to my own editorial policy... ;-)


  9. Anonymous4:20 PM

    I was bought up a good Catholic. I got married at 18yrs old and we got married at a court house. I am Catholic my husband is Greek Orthodontic he will not change is religion. I receive Communion every week and I know the church law says I cannot. But my feeling is that this is a man law not God's law and I sure that God would not say that I am committing a sin for receiving him. But the old Catholic ways are still in the back of my head that I am doing wrong. What do you thing

  10. Paul Dion, STL, PW Theology Editor12:56 PM

    Good Question. You make the response to this question difficult because you don't say how long you have been married, if you have children, if you are raising your children either as Catholics or as Greek Orthodox, if your husband is a good, church-going Greek Orthodox, if you were under great pressure to marry this man and a few other key questions that could be put to you. is going to respond to you carefully because your situation is your personal matter and our answer must talk to our entire readership.

    First off, Church Law says that you should not receive communion because according to Catholic Church law your marriage in the court house is not a true, valid marriage. Your husband's church also does not consider your marriage as a valid sacrament. Because you did not follow the law of the Church, which comes to us from the Gospel and has lasted for many centuries, you took away from yourselves the right to participate in the taking of the Eucharist in Communion.

    It is not exactly correct to think that marriage for Catholics and Greek Orthodox faithful is a man made law. It is a law that humans have learned to appreciate through the teachings of God though the Sacred Scripture. Therefore, the law comes from God and is expressed in human terms in the Church. That is the correct way to consider the Sacred Mystery of Holy Matrimony.

    That having been said, we turn to your conscience. You express it by saying that you are "sure that God would not say that I am committing a sin for receiving him." That is your expression of your personal way of relating to God. It must be said that for Catholics and for Greek Orthodox, God's will and the Will of the Church are joined. The Church is the Bride of Christ, so the Church and Christ are of one mind when it comes to the Sacraments. Since you are in a marriage that is invalid in the eyes of the Church, it is to be presumed that in the eyes of God your marriage is indeed invalid. Because you are separating the Will of the Church (man made law) from the Will of God, that is why receiving Communion is not for you.

    Finally, it must be said that you and your husband are not in an "impossible situation." Both, Catholics and Greek Orthodox form Churches that are founded by Jesus Christ Himself. For that very reason, you and your husband must go to consult with a person with a deep understanding of the two churches about your situation. You will find that it will be quite painless for your marriage to be validated. Neither one of you would have to change religion and it is even quite possible that both a Catholic priest and a Greek Orthodox priest would be present to bless the marriage. Then, going to receive Communion would be a true act of virtue, both for you and for your husband.

  11. Anonymous9:21 PM

    Greek Orthodox are Catholics and in communion with Rome, although not in the Latin Rite. You have not married outside your religion, only in a different rite. The impediment would be which church to administer a wedding ceremony.

  12. Dear Anonymous:
    Please allow to state without any hesitation that Greek Orthodox are not Catholics. Greek Orthodox are not in communion with Rome. The Greek Orthodox are not simply a different rite. The Greek Orthodox and the Catholic Church have deep differences between them, organizational, doctrinal and dogmatic. The Greek Orthodox and the Catholic Church separated and went their separate ways in 1054 AD. This took place in Constantinople, at the Basilica of Santa Sofia.
    That does not mean that Greek Orthodox and Catholics do not get along. We do. Carefully.
    The Greek Orthodox form a Church Community that was founded by Jesus Christ Himself. The Greek Orthodox have seven sacraments; the same seven as Catholics.
    Nevertheless, Greek Orthodox are not Catholics. Finally, Greek Orthodox are not Protestants either.

    To put a fine point on this we say that you and others are no doubt aware that is a Greek Church that is in communion with Rome and is a different rite. It is called the Greek Catholic Church. This church community is not Greek Orthodox. It is Greek Catholic. It is confusing, that is true beyond any shadow of a doubt.

    If your comment is related to the response that appears just above your comment, we suggest that you read it carefully. It will give you a good explanation of the relationship between the two Communities.