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Should my daughter receive holy Communion?

Q: My daughter went away to college last year and now chooses not to attend Mass — although there is a Catholic parish just a couple of miles from her school. When she comes home (every few months), she attends church with me.


Should I tell her not to receive Communion — since she has not been to confession and has been consciously neglecting her Sunday obligation? I want to encourage her to stay with the church, so I am not sure how to proceed. (Richmond)


A: Your question, as I view it, is more one of strategy than of theology — and reasonable minds could well differ as to how to respond. Everyone's goal, of course, is the same: to get your daughter back to regular practice of the sacraments.


The teaching of the church is clear; the Catechism of the Catholic Church says this: "The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason, the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants). ... Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin" (No. 2181).


Gravity of matter, though, is just one of three necessary conditions for a mortal sin — the others being complete consent of the will and full knowledge of the sinful character of the act or omission. In that light, I would not be certain that your daughter has been committing mortal sin because I don't presume to know the state of her mind (how fully she recognizes her duty to be at Sunday Mass.)


So I don't think that I would tell her directly that she can't receive Communion. I would, though, find a way — in a low-key manner that is not confrontational — to explain to her from time to time what the sacraments mean in your own life and to suggest that she might find a similar benefit in her own.


Questions may be sent to Fr. Kenneth Doyle at askfatherdoyle@gmail.com and 30 Columbia Circle Dr., Albany, N.Y. 12203.


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019