From a reader, a question that pops up every once in a while. Adhering to the adage repetita iuvant, here is the question and response:
It used to be the rule that you could could go to Communion only once a day, a rule that is in itself sensible.
But I heard that this is now permitted for a sufficient reason.
I sing in the schola for the Ordinary Form at 7:00 am.
But then twice a month we have the Extraordinary Form at 10:30 am, which I like to attend in addition with my family.
Can I go to Communion at both?
The quick answer is YES, you may receive Holy Communion at both those Masses.
The 1983 Code of Canon Law says:
Can. 917 – Qui sanctissimam Eucharistiam iam recepit, potest eam iterum eadem die suscipere solummodo intra eucharisticam celebrationem cui participat, salvo praescripto Can. 921, § 2. … Someone who has already received the Most Holy Eucharist can receive it again (iterum) on the same day only within the Eucharistic celebration [i.e. Mass] in which the person participates, with due regard for the prescription of can. 921 § 2.
Can. 921 § 2 says that if a person is in danger of death, he may receive Communion even it is not in the context of Mass. That is Viaticum.
That iterum does not mean "again and again", but merely "again one more time".
Also, that "Eucharistic celebration" in the canon does not mean just any service involving Communion. It means Mass. That was cleared up by the Holy See in an official response to a dubium.
So, say in the morning you were at a Novus Ordo Communion service wherein you received Communion, or a Mass in either Form. Later in the day you stumble into a church where Mass was about to be celebrated and decided to stay for it. At that Mass you could receive Communion again (iterum). This would be even if you were, say, visiting a Maronite Catholic Church, or a Ukrainian Catholic Church and their Divine Liturgy was about to get under way.
However, if you were at Holy Mass in the morning and then stumbled into a Communion service at a priest-less parish in the afternoon, you could NOT receive again because a Communion Service isn’t Mass. If you were at Mass in the morning and then in the afternoon when you were visiting your auntie in the hospital when the chaplain came, you could not receive even if the priest invited you to do so (which in my opinion he should not).
Canon 917 tries to walk the line between promoting frequent reception of the Eucharist and a superstitious or excessive frequency, which I can assure you some people fall into.
The key here is that the second time must be during a Mass, unless it is as Viaticum and you may not enter the Mass at some late point merely in order to receive.