Sunday, 14 October 2018

Riches and Sadness, 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Mk 10:17-30
Today in the Gospel we heard of a man who had no name. At least, no name that history records. Why not? Why do the Gospel writers not know who he is? Presumably, because he went away and never came back. A tragedy.
If we think about why he left, as we heard, he left “sad”.
If we think about why he was sad, it was because the Lord Jesus said he had to choose between his riches, and, following the Lord. And to not follow Jesus leaves the soul sad –this is point that Pope Francis makes repeatedly to us.
He was a “rich young man”, he had his whole life ahead of him. And that life, it seems, was a life of sadness because he chose riches over the Lord.

Let me remind of you of another rich man in the Gospels: Levi.
The Gospels record that he was sitting at his office, and the Lord passed, said, “follow me”(Lk 5:27), and Levi “left everything, and rose and followed him”(Lk 5:28).
This immediacy surely implies a joy and eagerness.
He had riches. The Lord called him. And he eagerly left them in order to follow.

Let me give a third and final example of a rich man called by the Lord: Zacchaeus (Lk 19:1-8).
Zacchaeus, if you remember, was the short tax collector who climbed a tree to get a look at the Lord Jesus as He passed by. The Lord called him, Zacchaeus welcomed the Lord into his home, and declared he would give half of his goods to the poor and restore fourfold from all those he had defrauded (Lk 19:8).
All this he did “joyfully”(Lk 19:5), not like the young man who went away “sad”.
And, let us note, he was one of those who weren’t called to give up all their money, but rather, to have money but in a NEW spirit.

Back to the rich young man. He was rich, but he as sad. Which is notable, because we all think that riches will make us happy.
I saw a 55” TV this week. I want it. There is a voice inside me telling me that my lack of a 55” TV is what is holding me back from happiness. And yet, human experience, and the example of the rich young man, shows us that money doesn't give you happiness.
Real joy comes from love, it is a fruit of love. But love of the right thing: of people, of God, not of money, and of people for THEIR sake, not in a possessive clinging-ness.
Joyful people are noteworthy for their freedom, their LIGHTNESS. This is the very opposite of being held down by possessions.
What is needed is spirit of DETACHMENT from the riches of this world. An inward detachment that means I am free to let them go, and free to have them, but I am not held down by them.

And the rich young man, What was his problem? His lack of detachment.
He is not presented to us as selfish, or as uncaring, or neglecting the poor (as some figures condemned in the Gospels are, e.g. Lk 16:19-31).
Rather, the problem is that he is more ATTACHED to his possessions than to his willingness to follow where the Lord called him. And this leaves him sad, sad without the Lord, sad without love.

What of us?
If we are attached like the rich young man, then we will feel sad when we are prompted to anything that disrupts our attachments.
If we are de-tached like Levi, we will be prompt and eager to leave what must be left to follow.
If we are detached like Zacchaeus, then even though we possess things, we will only hold them lightly, because our joy in the Lord, in finding more joy in possessing Him than we do in possessing things, will leave us free to give, free to love, and free to give in a way that causes us to have joy, not sadness, in our heart

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Alone in the Garden, 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Yr B

Gen 2:18-24; Mk 10:2-16
Today I’d like us to consider the symbolism of Adam, alone and lonely, in the Garden of Eden.
This image is one of the most profound in the Scriptures, and, as many of you will be aware, it was the starting point for Pope St John Paul II’s famous Theology of the Body catechesis.

Before saying anything else, less the modern skeptical mind get distracted, let me note that we don’t need to take everything in the Genesis account as science.
I am a scientist. I believe in evolution. I could add that the Big Bang theory was invented by a Catholic priest, Father George LemaƮtre.
Evolution can trace the mechanism of how God made us, not in seven 24-hour days, but nonetheless in the progression of stages.
Genesis similarly describes a progression: the heavens, the earth, the waters, the plants, the animals.
At the end of this progression, and on this science CONFIRMS what Genesis teaches, man emerges, and emerges DIFFERENT from the rest of creation. Science cannot explain the MIND, because there is something in the mind that is beyond science. The Bible DOES explain it: the spiritual soul, symbolically directly “breathed” into man by God (Gen 2:7), making man different from the rest of creation:
Only we have a spiritual soul; only we are made in the image and likeness of God.

And so Adam was alone in the Garden.
Gloriously in the image and likeness of God, but alone, and lonely.

This image is hugely important in our modern content, because in our modern world the INDIVIDUAL reigns supreme. Me. I. “I’ve got to look after number One”.
But our modern world has formed a culture of isolated, privatised, LONELY people.

Adam, was alone in the Garden, but he wasn’t meant to be alone.
We are made for community.
We only find completion in another, as Adam found it in Eve, and Eve found it in Adam.

A hugely important part of this is the truth about our bodies, as male and female.
Contrary to the currently fashionable viewpoint, we do not CHOOSE our gender, rather, it is a gift given to us at our conception -male or female.
Even for those who are sadly born with imperfect organs, their gender is not a matter of choice, rather, its a matter of biology. Our gender and our sexuality are received, not chosen (see here and here).
We, similarly, if we are to follow God’s plan, not our own, our bodies are designed to find union in another in a very specific manner. Everything to do with sex is part of God’s plan.
Man only finds bodily completion in a woman, and a woman only finds bodily completion in a man.
And that completion is so significant, that, as we heard the Lord Jesus teach, that it involves a lifelong commitment, and thus He forbids remarriage after divorce.

But even outside of marriage, this image of Adam alone in the Garden is vital:
We are made for community. We are not made for loneliness.
Thus communities like the parish community are so important, with our parish supper tonight, our SVP events for the elderly, our Christmas Fayre, and so forth.
Community is often hard work, as the family is often hard work, but it’s what we are made for.

A final aspect to this, concerning celibacy.
The celibate, as Pope St John Paul II noted, stands as a very different image of Adam in the Garden.
The celibate is a sign that our DEEPEST yearning for union can only be satisfied in GOD.
The celibate is a sign, as the Lord Jesus teaches elsewhere (Mt 22:30), that we will not be married in heaven. The celibate, on earth, is a sign of what we will all be like in heaven.

Or, to think of that differently:
The loneliness of the priest is sign of the loneliness within all of of us.
You can be lonely in a happy marriage.
You can be lonely in an unhappy marriage.
When I was a seminarian I was afraid I'd be lonely as a priest, but I've not found it so. Somehow the time I've been freed to have with the Lord has given me more.
The loneliness within us is a sign of our yearning for God.
Adam was yearning, at his deepest level, for God.

To sum up:
The image of Adam alone in the garden is powerfully symbolic:
We are different from the rest of creation;
We are made for community;
We find our fullest unity in God Himself.

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Moral Theology Lectures to Ordinariate 2019

Below are links for text and audio of my Moral Theology lecture series for the Ordinariate clergy.
The text links below are for the 2019 lecture series, at Allen hall in London.
The audio below is a mix from the 2014-15 and 2016-17 lecture series (based on the same text).
The same lectures were previously given to the Buckfast gatherings of the Ordinariate clergy and the 2014-15 and 2016-17 London Ordinariate clergy.

A googledrive folder of the files for the 2019 year is available here

Lecture 1: Introduction to Moral Theology
8th January 2019 morning, text available here

Lecture 2: What is Virtue?
18th January 2019 afternoon, text available here

Lecture 3: Mortal Sin
5th Feb 2019 morning, text available here

Lecture 4: The End and the Means
5th Feb 2019 afternoon, text available here

Lecture 5: Natural Law
12th March 2019 morning, text available here

Audio from 2015 is:

Lecture 6: Contraception and the Natural Law
12th March 2019 afternoon, text available here

Audio from 2015 is:

Lecture 7: Various Specific Issues
2nd or 9th April 2019, text available
Divorce and Remarriage & Holy Communion
Abortion (not in verbal lecture)
Sex Change and Transgender articles (not in verbal lecture)

Audio from 2015 is:

Lecture 8: Hearing Confessions
currently unscheduled for 2019, text available here

Audio from 2015 is:

Bibliography, text available here

Monday, 1 October 2018

Former Anglican Clergy Lecture Notes

9th Jan 2018
1) Introduction: What is ‘Moral Theology’? & The Place of Scripture, Tradition, Magisterium, and Reason in Moral Theology
click here

2nd May 2018
2) The History of Moral Theology
click here
Possible additional reading: Servais Pinckaers, OP, Morality: The Catholic View, trans Michael Sherwin, OP (South Bend, Indiana: St Augustine’s Press, 2001), pp.25-41 and p.44, excerpts

13th May
3) Lecture: Emotivism, G.E. Moore, and Logical Positivism
Lecture: Aristotelian ‘Good’ vs. Emotivism et al
click here and here

22nd May, 4pm
4) Lecture: Happiness and the Good, Sin and freedom
click here
Possible additional reading:
section "h" of Mark Lowery, "Choosing Evil “Under the Aspect of the Good” , in Handout Notes for Moral Theology, Christian Marriage, and Catholic Social Thought (2007) click here
“Freedom and Happiness” in Servais Pinckaers, OP, Morality: The Catholic View, trans Michael Sherwin, OP (South Bend, Indiana: St Augustine’s Press, 2001), pp.65-81 (not online)

3rd June, 6pm
5) Lecture: What is Virtue?
click here
Possible additional reading: John Hardon SJ, The Meaning of Virtue in St Thomas Aquinas click here

19th June, 11.30am
6) Lecture: Natural Law I: Basic Principles (Ordinariate course notes)
click here
Possible additional reading: Michael Schutzer-Weissmann, Natural Law (and the Laws of Nature), Catholic Medical Quarterly vol 63(2) (May 2013) click here

27th June, 10.30am
7) Contraception and Natural Law (Ordinariate course notes)
click here
Possible additional reading (omit section on Edward Holloway): Dylan James “The Perverted Faculty Argument” click here

4th July 10.30am
8) Lecture: The Just War
click here
Possible additional reading: Paul J. Griffiths and George Weigel, “Just War: An Exchange”, First Things 122 (April 2002) click here

10th July, 11am
9) Lecture: Natural Law III: The Relationship between Civil Law and Morality
click here
Possible additional Reading: Kathy Schiffer, “Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas” (7 Feb 2014) click here

20th Sept, 10.30am
10) Lecture: Mortal Sin (Ordinariate Course notes)
click here
Possible additional Reading: Jimmy Akin, "Assessing Mortal Sin" click here

25th Sept, 2pm
11) Lecture: The Moral Evaluation of Acts: The End and the Means (c.f. Ordinariate course notes) see here (ignore pages 6 onwards (on cooperation in evil))
Possible additional reading: John Harris, “The Survival Lottery”, in Bioethics, Oxford Readings in Philosophy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), pp.300-303; Robert Spaemann, “Even the best of intentions does not justify the use of evil means”, Reflections on the Encyclical Letter ‘Veritatis Splendor’-7, L’Osservatore Romano (English) 50 (15 December 1993), p.11; Germain Grisez, “Revelation versus dissent”, Veritatis Splendor in focus: 1, The Tablet (16 October 1993), pp.1329-31.

12) Lecture: Cooperation in Evil
see here
Possible additional reading: Germain Grisez, Difficult Moral Questions, The Way of the Lord Jesus, Vol. 3 (Quincy, Illinois: Franciscan Press, 1997), pp.365-380, excerpts.

2nd and 18th October
13) Hearing Confessions: Moral Theology and the Sacrament of Penance
see here (Ordinariate notes)

14) Divorce and Remarriage (Ordinariate course notes)
see here

15) Homosexuality, Sex Change, and Transgenderism (Ordinariate course notes, 2 different files)
here and here
an optional list of further resources here

16) Infertility, IVF, Human Cloning, and Stem Cell Research (Ordinariate course notes, and pages below)
on IVF and Infertility see here
on Human Cloning here and here and here and on the point that a human clone would have a soul see here
brief articles on Embryonic Stem Cell Research here and here and here
and possible book reading here:
“Technological Reproduction of Human Life”, and “Stem Cell Research”, in Handbook of Critical Life Issues, by Leies et al, 3rd edition (Boston: National Catholic Bioethics Center, 2004), pp.97-111; 113-118.

17) ‘Adoption’ of Frozen Embryos? (an issue debated among orthodox Catholics)
“Vatican Rules Out Adoption of Frozen Embryos - at Least for Now” (LIFESITENEWS.COM, 12 Dec 2008) see here
“Top Catholic ethicists duel over frozen embryo adoption” (LIFESITENEWS.COM, 2 Aug 2011) see here
Helen Watt, “A Brief Defense of Frozen Embryo Adoption. A Moral Analysis”, see here
“What Should We Do with the Frozen Embryos?”by TADEUSZ PACHOLCZYK see here

18) Abortion (Ordinariate Course notes):
on Abortion see here
and possible written texts:
“A. Abortion, Abortacients and Partial-Birth Abortion”, in Catholic Health Care Ethics. A Manual for Ethics Committees, ed. Peter Cataldo et al (Boston: National Catholic Bioethics Center, 2001), 7A/1-5
“Suicide, Assisted Suicide, and Euthanasia”, in Handbook of Critical Life Issues, by Leies et al, 3rd edition (Boston: National Catholic Bioethcis Center, 2004), pp.135-150

18) Double Effect and Abortion
see a general analysis here
and on ectopic pregnancies here and here
and possible written texts:
“D. The Double Effect”, in Catholic Health Care Ethics. A Manual for Ethics Committees, ed. Peter Cataldo et al (Boston: National Catholic Bioethics Center, 2001), 3D/1-3
“B. The Ethics of Treating Ectopic Pregnancy”, in Catholic Health Care Ethics. A Manual for Ethics Committees, ed. Peter Cataldo et al (Boston: National Catholic Bioethics Center, 2001), 10B/1-5

19) Rape Protocols
See the second part of the article here
and also here
and possible written texts:
“Rape and the Peoria Protocol”, Ethics and Medics 22.9 (Sept 1997), pp.1-2
“Rape and Emergency Contraception”, Ethics and Medics 28.6 (June 2003), pp.1-2
“Why Fear Ovulation Testing?”, Ethics and Medics 28.6 (June 2003), pp.3-4

20) Euthanasia
for an overview on euthanasia see here
for commentary on ordinary/extraordinary, also called proportionate/disproportionate care,
see here
a comprehensive summary here
terms are defined here with a very long article here
on the need to continue nutrition and hydration as basic care see here
even for someone in Persistent Vegetative State, see here
for 'A Catholic Guide to End-of-Life Decisions' see here
and on Assisted Suicide proposals in the UK see here
and possible written texts:
“Decisions of Prolonging Life”, in Handbook of Critical Life Issues, by Leies et al, 3rd edition (Boston: National Catholic Bioethcis Center, 2004), pp. 153-162 –p.159 of this article could be read so as to imply that it seems to ignore the authoritative status JPII’s statement on food & water being ordinary care.
“Ethically Ordinary and Extraordinary Means”, in Catholic Health Care Ethics. A Manual for Ethics Committees, ed. Peter Cataldo et al (Boston: National Catholic Bioethics Center, 2001), 3B/1-3
“The Ventilator as Excessive Burden”, Ethics and Medics 36.9 (Sept 2011), pp.1-2

21) Advance Directives:
see here and here
on 'Do Not Resuscitate (DNR)' orders see here and here

22) Lecture: Environmental Ethics
see Wonersh lecture notes here
Possible additional reading: Acton Institute, Environmental Stewardship in the Judeo-Christian Tradition (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Acton Institute, 2007), pp.33-65, excerpts.

23) Lecture: Wealth and Catholic Social Doctrine
see Wonersh lecture notes here
Possible additional: George Weigel, “The Virtues of Freedom. Centesimus Annus (1991)”, in Building the Free Society. Democracy, Capitalism, and Catholic Social Teaching, ed. George Weigel and Robert Royal (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans Pub, 1993), pp. 207-23 excerpts.

25) A Contrast: Catholic and Protestant Approaches to Ethics
Reading: James M. Gustafson, Protestant and Roman Catholic Ethics (Chicago: SCM press, 1978), pp.1-29, excerpts

26) Lecture: Conscience
see Wonersh lecture notes here
Possible additional: “Conscience and Christian Tradition” in The Pinckaers Reader, pp.321-41, excerpts.

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Childlike, 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Mk 9:30-37
Today I’d like us to reflect on what it is that the Lord Jesus meant by placing children before us as role models.
There are, in fact, multiple occasions when the Lord placed children before us:
The Lord “blessed” the little children that came to Him (Mk 10:16);
He said we must “change” and become like little children (Mt 18:3) saying we must “humble [ourselves] like little children”(ibid);
But it is probably here in this passage that the REASON to be like a child is clearest:
the question of greatness.

Greatness came a question in the Gospel text because the 12 apostles were arguing about which of them was the greatest.
Was it John -the Beloved, or Andrew -who brought the loaves and fishes to Jesus, or Philip who was trusted to calculate that it would take 100 denarii to feed the 5000, or James -who was related to Jesus, or Judas -who was in charge of the money?
We can imagine how the conversation might have gone.

It seems to me that there are two ways that we can think of ourselves as great, and children show us the opposite in each case.

The first is we can think of ourselves as great in terms of telling other people what to do.
Children, though they might frequently complain about it, children are used to being told what to do:
tidy your room, do your homework, eat your greens.
This, the Lord is saying, is an attitude WE need to have:
we need to expect others to tell us what to do, we need to be OK with being, as He put it, “last of all and SERVANT of all”(Mk 9:35)
-the servant is one who is told what to do.
In contrast, the “great’ man thinks he can tell everyone else what to do.

A second way we can think of ourselves as great:
having everything I need,
being self-sufficient and strong,
not needing anyone’s help.
Children, in contrast, know they are in need:
I want ice cream, I want that toy car, and want to be taken to the beach
-children know they are in need,
and they look to adults to fulfil their needs.
We, the Lord, the Lord is saying, we need something of this same attitude:
We need the humility to place ourselves before God and call on His help.

I need the Lord:
I need His strength, because often my weakness becomes apparent to me.
I need His guidance, because often my ignorance and stupidity are brutally put before me.
I need His forgiveness, for my sins, my many sins.

A child knows that he is in need;
A child knows he’s not in charge;
A child knows he is little.
We need to know the same.

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Ephphatha, 23rd Sun Ord Time, Yr B

Mk 7:31-37; Isa 35:1-7
Today I want to explain why the passage we just heard “sums up Christ’s entire mission”, as Pope Benedict put in a 2012 Angelus address.

We just heard an obscure Aramaic word, “ephphatha” (Mk 7:34). Earlier this year you might recall I spoke about how there are less than a handful of words in the Gospels that the Early Church considered so precious that it kept not a Greek translation of the Lord’s words, but the actual words used by the Lord Jesus, in the original language He spoke in, namely, Aramaic
The Early Church treasured and kept this word, “ephphatha”, because she sensed that this word, “be opened”(Mk 7:34), applied not just to this individual deaf and dumb man, but actually applies to all of us.
In fact, we can see it as summing up the whole of Christ’s mission on earth.

One of the most basic human experiences concerns the difficulty of relating to God.
We all have an inner desire for something more, something transcendent and beyond, a desire for God -this desire gets smothered in many people, but it remains our most basic human experience:
We were created for God, and we yearn for Him.
The problem, however, is this:
We also experience the difficulty in communicating with Him.
Sometimes I feel unable to come to Him. Maybe I feel unworthy, or too feeble -something seems wrong at my end.
Sometimes, however, it can seem that something is CLOSED at God’s end. Scripturally, this is described in the book of Genesis in the account of the Fall: the Original Sin has left humanity sinful, stained, and shut out from heaven.
I am closed to God; and He is closed to me.
YET I need Him, and I yearn for Him.

But who can open earth to heaven and heaven to earth?
Only one who is both of heaven and of earth.
Only Jesus Christ who is both God and man.
Only the One of whom they said, as we heard at the end of that text, “He has done ALL things well”
Have YOU ever met someone who “did ALL things well”?

Thus the mission of Jesus Christ.
The Lord came among us to open us to God; and to open God to us.
My sins mean that the gates of heaven have been closed to me.
And so Jesus comes and dies for my sins, dies for me.
The symbolism in this regard concerns how, before healing the deaf and blind man, the Lord Jesus “looked up to heaven”(Mk 7: 34).
He looked up to heaven and said, “be opened”.
But, even though His death has satisfied justice,
even though the gates of heaven are opened to me,
even so, there is something IN ME that still closes me from God.
My laziness won’t look to Him,
My selfishness won’t give myself to Him,
My sensual desires close me on myself and my pleasures.
What I NEED is someone BEYOND me to OPEN me.

And the Lord Jesus said to the man who was deaf to hearing Him and blind to seeing Him,
“ ‘ephphatha’, that is, ‘be opened”.
And He says the same to you and to me.
Let us each, today, ask ourselves what is closing us to God.
Let us each, today, recognise that this can only be opened by a power, by someONE beyond me,
Let us each, today, bring that to the Lord, and hear Him say, “ ‘ephphatha’, ‘be opened”.

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Confession before Holy Communion, 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Jn 6:51-58; Prov 9:1-6
Today I want to make an important point about why receiving Holy Communion so often fails to change us, and I want to start by making an analogy:
If you want to be fit, it’s not enough to go to the gym, there are two things you need to do as well:
(1) You need to EXERCISE while you’re at the gym (not just walk through the door!), and,
(2) BEFORE being at the gym, and after leaving, you need to EAT a healthy diet.

In fact, exercise on a full bloated stomach will just make you sick;
And similarly, exercise on a weak unfed body will weaken you further.
The point is this: to benefit from the gym, you need to not merely attend the gym, but prepare yourself with your general lifestyle.
It’s the same with Holy Communion:
it’s not enough to just attend Mass, we need to come properly prepared.
Otherwise, we spiritually damage ourselves. As St Paul warns us in the Bible, when we receive Holy Communion unworthily we eat and drink condemnation upon ourselves, and, he teaches, we damage ourselves.

What is available in Holy Communion? Everything. It is God Himself we are receiving.
We can be utterly transformed. But, it’s not automatic -we need to be prepared.

I want to also note an important point: being prepared isn’t a simple on/off switch. There are DEGREES of being prepared, and thus the more we are prepared the more we are going to benefit.
Most pivotally, we need to be going to regular confession.
Most basically, we need to go to confession before receiving Holy Communion if we have committed any mortal sins.  Pope Francis said recently, “We know that one who has committed a serious sin should not approach Holy Communion without having first obtained absolution in the sacrament of Reconciliation.”(14th March 2018). See also, "A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to receive the body of the Lord without previous sacramental confession" (CIC 916).
(See quotations below, taken from our newsletter.)

What are mortal sins? 3 examples.
(a) If we’ve missed Sunday Mass, then we’ve failed in our grave duty to worship the Lord on the Lord’s Day;
(b) If we’ve viewed pornography, and/or, committed related solitary sins;
(c) If our state of life is not in keeping with the Gospel, living with someone we’re not married to, or with someone we’re not free to be married to;
-In any of these or other grave sins, we need to (i) repent, (ii) resolve to change, and (iii) purify our souls by confession.
Then, at the most basic level, we can go to Holy Communion.

But, beyond the bare minimum, if we are to BENEFIT from what is on offer in Holy Communion we need to be regularly purifying ourselves from VENIAL sins, not just mortal ones.
I’ve sometimes been asked, “How often do I HAVE to go to confession?”
But I would reply that a better question is, “How often it is GOOD for you to get to confession?” -and the answer is very often:
The more often, and more deeply, you are purifying your soul, the better able you will be to benefit from Holy Communion.

For 4 weeks now our Scripture readings have been focusing us on Holy Communion.
Those reading have repeatedly challenged us, as we heard in our second reading, to “be very careful about the sort of lives you lead”(Eph 5:15), to “leave your folly”(Prov 9:6) as our first reading put it, because if our lives aren’t suitable for Holy Communion then we won’t be ready for the graces on offer.

To return to my opening analogy:
There is no point going to a gym unless your diet and lifestyle are prepared in the build up to the gym,
and there is no point going to Holy Communion unless we regularly get ourselves to confession.


From this Sunday's newsletter:

Confession before Holy Communion
Pope Francis said recently, 
“We know that one who has committed a serious sin should not approach Holy Communion without having first obtained absolution in the sacrament of Reconciliation.” (14th March 2018).  
"A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to receive the body of the Lord without previous sacramental confession" (CIC 916).
And Scripturally, 
“Whoever eats the Bread or drinks the Cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.  Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the Bread and drink from the Cup.”(1 Cor 11:27-28)

3 Examples of sins preventing Holy Communion
What would be examples of mortal sins referred to in the above paragraph?  In each of the following examples we commit a sin serious enough that we need to repent, resolve not to commit the sin again, and be forgiven in the sacrament of confession -only then have we rendered our soul ready again to receive the Lord in Holy Communion.  Far from being something that would fill us with hesitation or awkwardness, we should rejoice that the Lord has given us such a clear way to come back to Him.

(1) Missing Sunday Mass
"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) or dispensed by their own pastor (Canon Law 1245).  Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin."(CCC 2181)
"Pastors should remind the faithful that when they are away from home on Sundays they are to take care to attend Mass wherever they may be." (Pope St John Paul II, Dies Domini, 49)

(2) Pornography and Masturbation
“Pornography consists in removing sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties. It offends against chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other. It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others. It immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world. It is a grave offense.”(CCC 2354)
“Among the sins gravely contrary to chastity are masturbation, fornication, pornography.” (CCC 2396)

(3) Living in a state of life contrary to the Gospel
Sometimes we are living in an on-going situation, what is called a ‘state of life’, that contradicts what Christ asks of us.  
e.g. Living as husband and wife with someone we are not married to, or living with a same-sex partner, or marrying after divorce (Mk 10:11) 
-in each of these and similar cases we need to resolve to amend our state of life and then go to confession.