I once made a promise to a friend that I wouldn't receive the Eucharist unless I was in a state of grace. This wasn't too far out of reach for me as I was still in high school, still living at home, and still surrounded by people who would answer "Absolutely!!" when I texted them to ask if they would go to Confession with me. However, college came around and while I went to Mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Notre Dame with my new friends on Sunday mornings, after a while the Sundays began being skipped and eventually they burned out.
When I came home for winter break, I went to midnight Mass on Christmas with my old friends from home. Though I had skipped Mass multiple times and hadn't been to confession in two months, I walked up and received the Eucharist just as everyone else. Something didn't feel right, but I shook the feeling and continued on with my second semester of college.
The next time I went to Mass was when I came home for the summer. I honestly didn't want to go, but I had a strong reputation in my youth group when I was in high school and I didn't want everyone knowing that I hadn't been to Mass all year. Everything felt strange - I felt like I wasn't worthy enough to be standing on holy ground. The place I used to call home made me feel like a foreigner. I quickly said hello to everyone, and then I sat in the back with a friend from high school. I remember how I tried my best to keep a low profile without giving off the sense that anything was abnormal about me sitting in a Church. The Liturgy of the Eucharist came, and I proceeded up the aisle. Maybe it was because I was thinking about how I didn't want to break a promise that I had made long ago, or maybe it was because I knew that I shouldn't have been in that line, but in those 30 seconds of walking from my seat up to Christ, I decided not to receive. I felt like everyone in the Church was watching me as I swallowed my pride, crossed my arms over my chest, and denied the Eucharist from a woman who used to minister Him to me. I looked over at a friend who was serving the Blood and I'll never forget the look of confusion she gave me. I simply received a blessing and sat back down.
For the next days, those 30 seconds was all I could think about. I walked into Church the following week 3 minutes before Mass began so that I could avoid conversations, and I had no luck because they were short one Eucharistic Minister and frantically looking for someone to fill the place. I was immediately asked to take the spot as soon as I walked in, as I had been a Eucharistic Minister for the past 3 years, but I shook my head and said, "I haven't been to Confession since October, I shouldn't be receiving, let alone delivering others the Eucharist." I remember someone saying, "But we need one more person!" and I walked past the sign-up sheet and once again found my place with my friend in one of the back aisles. I don't know how I could go from not caring what the state of my soul was in, to all of a sudden deeming myself unworthy of even attending Mass.
So as any other millennial, I searched Google as soon as I got home. Of course, I was flooded with information that reminded me why I had been feeling how I was. We as Catholics are called to receive only when we are in a complete state of grace. None of the "Oh, I went to confession last month!" or, "It's been a while, but I'm trying so that's all that counts." No more excuses.
The only time it's acceptable to accept the Eucharist is when you are under venial sin because there are actually multiple times throughout the Mass when the priest gives you an opportunity to be absolved of all venial sins. And for those of you who don't know, there are so many mortal sins.
Skipping Mass on Sunday for no good reason? Mortal.
Failing on your daily prayers? Mortal.
Did you use God's name in vain? Mortal.
Willingly or unwillingly wished evil upon someone? Mortal.
Assuming that you can receive because, "God will just forgive me for it next time I go to Confession," AKA presuming God's mercy? There are no levels of mortal sins, but if there were that'd be super mortal.
Under mortal sin, we are unclean. I've realized how offensive it is to God to house Him in a body that's not pure. That's literally staring God straight in the face and saying, "I know that I am unclean and I know that You deserve to be housed in the holiest of places, but I don't care because I don't want to be judged by others for not receiving You."
One Bible verse that struck me all throughout high school and still rings throughout my mind is from the Book of Revelation. Chapter 3:16 reads, "Since you are neither hot nor cold, but only lukewarm, I will spit you out of my mouth." Those of us who are only lukewarm in our faith - who practice it but don't keep Him at the center of our lives - will be rejected on our judgment day. In some versions of this quote, "spit" is replaced by the word "vomit." God will literally vomit away those of us who know Him yet aren't on fire for Him. He would rather welcome those who completely turn from Him before he welcomes those of us who don't practice what we preach. If He will vomit us from Himself, why on Earth would He want to be placed somewhere so undeserving?
I'm not writing this because I think I'm above others for choosing not to receive, but because I hope that others will read this and take it just as seriously as I have began to. My one wish is that with this new year coming, the Church decides to focus on the importance of a state of grace.