QUAERITUR: Confirmed, but in state of sin. Am I confirmed?

From a reader:

If a person is confirmed in Mortal Sin, does it ‘count’, or must he/she be conditionally re-confirmed.

What you are asking is “Was the sacrament validly conferred?” or “Is she confirmed?”

Yes.  The sacrament was validly confirmed and she is really confirmed.

But so long as she remains in the state of sin that sacrament is not effective in her life as she would otherwise want it to be.  After a good confession, the effects of that wonderful sacrament will be “activated” as it were.

There is a difference between the reality of the sacrament and the effects together with the reality of the sacrament.

A girl or woman in the state of mortal sin can be validly confirmed.  A woman without sanctifying grace can validly marry.  A man (never never ever a woman) who is lacking the state of grace can be validly ordained.  In these situations they do not benefit from the sacramental graces they could receive.  They need to make a good confession and amend their lives.

Everyone… prepare to receive sacraments through a good sacramental confession.  Reception of Communion is reception of THE Sacrament.




About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. St. Rafael says:

    It’s worth noting that if a Catholic knowingly receives a sacrament is the state of mortal sin, he commits the sin of sacrilege. It is a serious mortal sin against the first commandment. To be guilty of sacrilege, the Catholic must know he is in mortal sin, and that it is sinful to receive a sacrament in that state.

  2. Gratias says:

    I do not want to shock anyone here, but one good thing of Vatican II was the insistence on frequent communion. [Actually, it was Pius X who shifted the praxis of Communion.] In the praxis this meant that one could receive the host without previous confession. [Ehem… it is still necessary to receive Holy Communion in the state of grace.] Before V2 the priest only gave communion to those that had confessed that week, at least in my parish. This relaxed attitude has now been adopted in traditional EF masses too, everyone comes forward. [Even, I suspect, when they shouldn’t.] Frequent communion rapidly becomes addictive and so we are set on the good path. [Or the very bad path of sacrilegious Communions.]

  3. JuliaSaysPax says:

    This is a relief. I’d just started worrying about this one, because somehow I went several years of mortally sinning without confession, despite the fact that students at my Catholic school were brought to confess at least once during Lent each year. Somehow, I was also the only person at my confirmation preparation retreat to not go to confession. I guess I was just young and stupid and nervous to sit face to face with a priest who was close to the family and confess mortal sins.

    *sigh* my return to confession during my first year of college so drastically changed everything. Now I can see part of why.

  4. JordanH says:

    ” A man (never never ever a woman) who is lacking the state of grace can be validly ordained.”

    With women the situation is somewhat different. A woman can be ordained only when lacking a state of grace. Note the lack of the adjective before ordained in the last sentence.

  5. jhayes says:

    Pius X pointed out that he was restoring what had been decided by the Council of Trent:

    “The Holy Council of Trent, having in view the ineffable riches of grace which are offered to the faithful who receive the Most Holy Eucharist, makes the following declaration: “The Holy Council wishes indeed that at each Mass the faithful who are present should communicate, not only in spiritual desire, but sacramentally, by the actual reception of the Eucharist.” These words declare plainly enough the wish of the Church that all Christians should be daily nourished by this heavenly banquet and should derive therefrom more abundant fruit for their sanctification.”

    He explained that that had gone off course over the years:

    “Piety, however, grew cold, and especially afterward because of the widespread plague of Jansenism, disputes began to arise concerning the dispositions with which one ought to receive frequent and daily Communion; and writers vied with one another in demanding more and more stringent conditions as necessary to be fulfilled.”


  6. Supertradmum says:

    Thanks, and this clarification goes back to St. Thomas Aquinas, who refers to inactive graces. Sadly, if a person does not repent, those graces never come to the fore. And, of course, the CCC backs this up. 1310 To receive Confirmation one must be in a state of grace. One should receive the sacrament of Penance in order to be cleansed for the gift of the Holy Spirit. More intense prayer should prepare one to receive the strength and graces of the Holy Spirit with docility and readiness to act.

    Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders cannot be repeated, as these give an inedible mark. Sadly, so many RCIA programs are lax and people are receiving Confirmation without Confession first-and of course, contraception is the big elephant in the room.

  7. Mike says:

    How about: when a Catholic marries a non-baptized person, and that non-baptized person comes into the Church a year later (and is baptized, of course)–is the couple obligated to renew their vows in the presence of a priest for them to have a sacramental marriage? or is the marriage on its own, so to speak, elevated to a sacrament by virtue of both spouses now being baptized?

  8. Elizabeth D says:

    What about someone who is excommunicated, for instance latae sententiae?

  9. Elizabeth D: The same applies to those who are excommunicated. The sacrament is conferred validly but that person does not receive all the benefits of the sacrament. It is as if it were dead in them.

  10. Gregg the Obscure says:

    Thank you for this salutary gift of encouragement.

    Yesterday in a social setting I had the very discouraging experience of hearing a retired priest blather on all sorts of disinformation about this Sacrament – that it’s more “horizontal” rather than “vertical”, that it’s principally meant for offenses like murder and that it isn’t necessary for worthy reception of the Eucharist, even in the case of a completely unrepentant sinner. I tried to move the discussion, but was at a significant disadvantage as that fellow is not only ordained, but quite charming and glib and I was struggling mightily to avoid losing my temper. (Had I not been to confession on Friday, I might well have failed in controlling said temper.)

  11. VexillaRegis says:

    Mike: “or is the marriage on its own, so to speak, elevated to a sacrament by virtue of both spouses now being baptized?”

    Yes, it is, providing they were married in the CC (or in some other place, like a church of an other nomination, with a dispensation from the bishop).

  12. Supertradmum says:

    Mike, a marriage with a non-baptized person is called disparity of cult in canon law-and the rules for baptism, confirmation, and holy orders do not apply. In RCIA, for example, when the non-baptized person comes in with Catholic partner, person is privately baptized first, then couple is married in the Catholic Church; Can. 1086 §1 A marriage is invalid when one of the two persons was baptised in the catholic Church or received into it and has not by a formal act defected from it, and the other was not baptised.§2 This impediment is not to be dispensed unless the conditions mentioned in cann. 1125 and 1126 have been fulfilled.

    In my experience with working with priests in RCIA, the priest, if the couple is living together with children especially in that type of “marriage”, baptises said person and then gives the Nuptial Blessing privately with witnesses or small group. Then, person is confirmed in the Catholic Church with the RCIA group at Easter. Most priests will not marry a non-baptized person to a Catholic, although I do know of one case in England where this happened. Most parishes ask for baptismal certifications and Confirmation records before marriage.

  13. Supertradmum says:

    PS as noted above, a dispensation can be given only by the bishop and the Catholic has to ask for it; also, there is a list of things the non-baptised person must agree to, like having children, raising them Catholic, not impeding the usual worship of the Catholic partner and so on. The dispensation can be applied to through the priest who would marry you and it is written out, not merely verbal.

  14. Supertradmum says:

    Mike, sorry, interrupted-having the impediment removed, if no dispensation was given, that is, the baptism of the originally non-baptized person occurs, and the following nuptial blessing given is called convalidation in canon law, if you want to look it up. Radical sanation is another category. It would be good to talk to the Canon Lawyer in your dioceses about these things, or start with your PP.

  15. VexillaRegis says:

    Mike: STM has given a very thorough answer :-), but if they were married in a Catholic church (i e, the catholic had an episcopal dispensation to marry a non-baptized), the natural marriage is still valid, and even more: it’s sacramental after the baptism of the other spouse. No need for convalidation then.

    If they however were married outside of the Church, they will have to take the longer route, described by STM.

  16. jhayes says:

    Andrea Dilley changed churches:

    “When I came back to church after a faith crisis in my early 20s, the first one I attended regularly was a place called Praxis. It was the kind of church where the young, hip pastor hoisted an infant into his arms and said with sincerity, “Dude, I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”

    The entire service had an air of informality. We sat in folding chairs, sang rock-anthem praise and took clergy-free, buffet-style communion. Once a month, the pastor would point to a table at the back of the open-rafter sanctuary and invite us to “serve ourselves” if we felt so compelled….

    In 2007, when my husband and I moved from Arizona to Austin, Texas, and went in search of a church, we skipped the nondenominationals and went straight to the traditionals. We found an Anglican church where every Sunday morning we now watch clergy process up the aisle wearing white vestments and carrying a 6-foot cross.

    We take communion from an ordained priest who holds a chalice of blood-red wine and lays a hand of blessing on our children. We sing the Lord’s Prayer and recite from the Book of Common Prayer — in which not once in 1,001 pages does the word “dude” ever appear.

    In my 20s, liturgy seemed rote, but now in my 30s, it reminds me that I’m part of an institution much larger and older than myself. As the poet Czeslaw Milosz said, “The sacred exists and is stronger than all our rebellions.”


  17. Magpie says:

    JordanH, a woman can’t be ordained, whether she is in a state of grace or not.

  18. Susan the Short says:

    I entered the Church through the RCIA (the Rigmarole of Catholic Indifference and Apathy), and was nearly driven away by the incompetence and sanctimoniousness of the deacon who led the group.

    I received Confirmation from a priest who had to be coached through the sacrament by said deacon….”Now do this….Now do that.”

    The priest, after doing 2 other catechumens, came back to me because he had forgotten something. I am taking it on faith that it was a valid Sacrament.

    But I felt really cheated, as I did throughout the RCIA. I wanted to take a new name and to wear white for my First Holy Communion and Confirmation. The deacon neglected to teach us about taking saints’ names, and since none of us were afforded sponsors, (who might have enlightened us) I did not get to take a new name for the new life I was entering.

    As for wearing white, the deacon sneeringly told us, “Whatever you do, don’t wear white.”

    I have no idea why he said this. But I deferred to his office, and obeyed…………..sigh…….

  19. Mike says:

    Thanks all for your comments. The couple I am thinking of were married in the RCC, and I believe had proper dispensations. Thus when the non-baptized spouse was baptized, they had a sacramental marriage. The spouse I know is a really devout soul, so hurrah for all concerned.

  20. Imrahil says:

    Dear @St. Rafael,
    I believe sacrilege is, when not done with a still more vile intent (not that sacrilege would not be bad enough in itself), a sin “only” against the Second Commandment. Though a grievous one, which is the important thing here.

    Rev’d dear @Fr Z,
    I do not consider it a bad development even in the TLM communities that they approach for Communion. We might reasonably suppose that they assemble the kind of people who are duly informed of their duties including the one of remaining in the pews if necessary.

    I take the dear @gratias to refer to the “one Confession, one Communion” doctrine which never was in any way official, but nevertheless (as I get the impression) rather pushed through as if it had been.

    Pope St. Pius put an end to that, and I applaud him for it.

    On the question whether, abstractly put, there should be the allowance we have now, viz., that every Catholic who (scrupulosity set aside) has not sinned grievously, no matter when his last Confession was, can receive Communion, or whether it there should be some rules depending on Confession frequency (say, daily for monthly, or so), I have no opinion and leave it to the Church legislator, personally grateful for the liberality we have now.

    However, I do believe that the “one Confession, one Communion” is way too strict.

  21. Imrahil says:

    However, I do believe that the “one Confession, one Communion” ratio is way too strict.

  22. gracie says:


    “Before V2 the priest only gave communion to those who had confessed that week.”

    I’m going to have to respectfully disagree with you. I grew up in the pre-V2 Church (b. 1950) and can tell you that that just wasn’t so. In fact, how could it be? Back then Confessions were on Saturday afternoons for two hours with at least two priests saying confessions and with people lined up outside the confessionals for their turn. There also was Confession on Sundays during the first part of the Mass. No way would a priest know who had been or not been to confession (barring the occasional individual he might recognize). In large parishes (they were all large in those days) the priest wouldn’t even have known some of the people coming to Communion and others only by sight. There was no way he would know if 95% of the communicants had been to Confession that weekend (what if they had gone to the other priest or gone to Confession at another parish?) You think priests looked at the people going to Confession or asked them to give their names or sign in a book that they had gone? Didn’t happen.

  23. Gratias says:

    I did not want to shock anyone. This was in a far away land and a long time ago.

  24. KosmoKarlos says:

    Couldn’t help but notice…
    the bishop has his stole crossed.

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