So you are probably here because you got drunk last time and wondering if you can still receive Communion or perhaps, you want to drink but are afraid to fall from sin, whatever your reason, in this blog post we will discuss drunkenness as a sin.
Let’s begin with what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say about drunkenness.
CCC 2290 The virtue of temperance disposes us to avoid every kind of excess: the abuse of food, alcohol, tobacco, or medicine. Those incur grave guilt who, by drunkenness or a love of speed, endanger their own and others’ safety on the road, at sea, or in the air.
The Catechism is clear that we Catholics should shun abuse of many things. One of these is alcohol. It does not explicitly forbid drinking alcohol but the abuse of it.
The Catholic Church does allow drinking alcohol as long as it is in moderation.
These are some of the bible verses that talk about drinking alcohol.
“Go, eat your bread with joy and drink your wine with a merry heart, because it is now that God favors your works.”
“Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told them, Fill the jars with water. So they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter. So they took it. And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it came from (although the servers who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him, Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.”
As indicated in the above passages, drinking is not in itself a sin, but drunkenness is as follows.
“let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in promiscuity and licentiousness, not in rivalry and jealousy.”
“Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Drunkenness as a Sin
Drinking alcoholic beverages is actually not the only thing the Church warns us of abuse. It could also be food in case of gluttony, medicines, and even activities such as playing video games, or sports. If overindulging in these things takes us away from performing our duties, then it could be sinful.
As mentioned, drinking alcohol is not evil. It is acceptable. However, it should not be abused to the point of drunkenness for it could cause other sins.
Drinking too much alcohol could lead to actions that lack poor judgment. When you get drunk, you become emotionally unstable which could resort to other sins such as lust, particularly fornication, adultery, having sexual thoughts; violence, and saying bad words.
Physically, drunkenness could also affect your health. Choosing to be intoxicated although you know the negative risk it could bring is also a sin. We should take care of our body for this is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and if we keep on drinking, we are damaging it.
As in the case of alcohol addiction, one must take the necessary steps to heal. This might be a difficult process but it is going to be worth it in various aspects of life, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Now that we know that drinking too much alcohol can be a sin, let’s proceed to tackle what category it would fall into.
Is drunkenness a mortal or venial sin?
Just a brief recap, the Catholic Church categorizes sin depending on its gravity.
It could be mortal or venial.
These are the conditions for a sin to be mortal.
- It must involve grave matter
- Committed with full knowledge
- Committed with deliberate consent
Let’s use drunkenness as an example.
If one had drunk excessively, aware that it would deprive the use of reason and that it is a sin but still committed it, then there is a mortal sin.
First, abusing intoxicating drinks is a grave matter if it deprives the use of one’s reason. Meaning the drinker loses consciousness in making a sound decision.
Next, that person committed it in full knowledge. Meaning there was an awareness that it is a sin.
Lastly, committed it with full consent. Despite the fact that there was a knowledge that it was sinful, it was still deliberately committed.
Note that all conditions must exist. If a sin lacks one of these conditions, it will then fall as venial.
Now that we already have an idea of drunkenness as a mortal sin, let’s discuss next bringing it to confession.
How to confess getting drunk?
To confess, you just have to tell the priest your sin. In this case, drunkenness. If it resulted in other sins such as violence or fornication, you also have to confess them.
You can also mention to him the times you fell for this specific sin.
The priest will then give you counsel, ask you for penance and finally absolve you.
If it is your first time in confession, you can check this Confession Guide.
As discussed, drinking alcohol can be addictive. Therefore, just like other addictions, it needs to be addressed properly.
That said if you have an addiction to alcohol or perhaps still recovering from it, here are some of the effective resources available you can consider.
- Hope in Christ
- Calix Society
- Catholic in Recovery
- The Opioid Epidemic: A Catholic Perspective
- We Thirst: Christian Reflections on Addiction
You can also check this workbook that helps with addiction recovery.
You might also find this Catholic Guide to Drinking helpful.
We, Catholics, have free will to decide for ourselves. We are allowed to do a lot of things but despite that we must always be mindful that everything has limits.
Drinking alcoholic beverages is not a sin. But, only to a point that we wouldn’t lose ourselves, doing things out of reason. As faithful, we are responsible to drink in moderation.
St. Matthias the Apostle, Patron Saint of Alcoholics, pray for us.