All of us are extremely happy and grateful for our Lord’s standing invitation: “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.” (John 6:53)
And we go weekly if not daily to receive him. But the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) reminds us that “To respond to this invitation we must prepare ourselves for so great and so holy a sacrament.” (1385)
“We” includes the priest and all those “liturgical ministers” at the celebration of the Mass.
But do we? This is the first question.
As part of this preparation the CCC suggests that we should “examine our conscience” using the following strong warning of St. Paul: “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profanating the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.” (1 Cor 11:27-29)
But do we examine ourselves? This is the second question.
Now from this serious statement of St. Paul the CCC makes the strong advice: “Anyone conscious of a grave sin must receive the sacrament of Reconciliation (confession) before coming to communion”. (1385)
Can we say that all those thousands receiving holy communion on Sunday are consciously without grave sin and therefore don’t need to go to confession first? This is the third question.
In no. 1456, CCC clarifies this point further using conciliar and canonical references: “Anyone who is aware of having committed a mortal sin must not receive Holy Communion, even if he experiences deep contrition, without having first received sacramental absolution, unless he has a grave reason for receiving Communion and there is no possibility of going to confession.”