QUAERITUR: Must I receive Communion under both kinds when offered?

From a reader:

“You have written on reception of Communion under both kinds before, I have a question about this. In my diocese Holy Communion is under both kinds. As a lay person is it acceptable to receive under both kinds or should I refrain from receiving both?”

In this regard you are free to do as you please.

If Communion is offered under both kinds, or species, you may partake of the one, the other, or both as you think it best. You are not compelled to received under both kinds by the mere fact that both kinds are offered.

Neither are you compelled to receive Communion at all during Mass!  I think that many less-than-well-catechized people today think that going to Communion is obligatory.

If you choose not to receive, you are free not to receive, as it is best for you.  This is the case if, for example, you are conscious of un-confessed and un-absolved mortal sins and you know you shouldn’t receive.

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27 Responses to QUAERITUR: Must I receive Communion under both kinds when offered?

  1. Papabile says:

    Honest question here. My understanding was that you were to either receive the Host alone, or the Host and the Chalice, but not just the Chalice (unless you had a celiac problem – or some other related issue)?

  2. Legisperitus says:

    I wish more people would make a practice of not always receiving Communion, so those who are impeded by sin wouldn’t feel so self-conscious about remaining in the pew and thus not absent themselves from Mass altogether. Besides, a good spiritual Communion can be more fruitful than a careless reception of the Sacrament.

  3. Bea says:

    “If you choose not to receive, you are free not to receive, as it is best for you. This is the case if, for example, you are conscious of un-confessed and un-absolved mortal sins and you know you shouldn’t receive.”

    May I add ?

    “and if you have eaten anything (except medicine and/or water) within the last hour.”

  4. tzard says:

    There was a time I was distracted about receiving from the Chalice or not. Whether it was best or not kept coming up in my mind at Mass after Mass. So, as an act of faith and personal devotion, I decided to receive the host alone. At the same time remembering it’s entirely the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord. After a long time of doing this (personally, nobody else knew) – it helped put my mind straight. I now sometimes receive from the chalice, but the matter doesn’t distract me anymore.

    As for the practice of “everyone” going to communion – the right solution is to increase the knowledge of one’s sinfulness (and develop humility), and simultaneously increase availability of confession times by pestering Father (before mass please?). It seems to me that simply not receiving because others are choosing badly (apparently, because you really don’t know) is the wrong approach. If you’re properly disposed, you should go if you can. If you aren’t or don’t know, then refrain.

  5. St. Rafael says:

    Most Catholics are so uncatechized, that most of them would be under the false impression I had as an adolescent, that you had to receive the chalice because the Sacred Host was the body of Christ, and that the chalice contained the blood of Christ. It wasn’t until I reverted as an adult and learned basic Catholic doctrine that either species was the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ. Five years of Catholic education were of no help whatsoever as these things were never taught.

    I believe that the Church needs to move and restore Communion under one species for a variety of reasons, such as tradition, doctrine, and hygiene. Communion under both species should be reserved for only certain feast days like Corpus Christi and weddings.

    Bishops and pastors have the power to ban Communion under both species and they should use that power. Communion under both kinds is not mandated by the GIRM, but is only given as an option and permitted in the GIRM. Bishops and priests should restore Communion under one species to combat the mistake of offering both kinds that came about because of the errors of Protestantism and antiquarianism. The laity were not ready and are still not ready for it.

  6. Dismas says:

    For a few reasons I prefer not to receive Holy Communion under both species when offered. First, the Body and Blood are already present under both species, they cannot be separate. Second, for many reasons, it makes me very uncomfortable and distracted when multiple EMHC’s are handling multiple Chalices, in many parishes, at the time of Communion. Third, right or wrong, I personally think that Communion under both species may or should be a special grace reserved for our ministerial priests:

    O Jesus, Eternal Priest; keep all Your priests within the shelter of Your Sacred Heart, where none may harm them. Keep unstained their anointed hands which daily touch Your Sacred Body.

    Keep unsullied their lips purpled with Your Precious Blood. Keep pure and unearthly their hearts sealed with the sublime marks of Your glorious priesthood. Let Your holy love surround them and shield them from the world’s contagion.

    Bless their labors with abundant fruit, and may the souls to whom they have ministered to be their joy and consolation and in Heaven their beautiful and everlasting crown.

    O Mary, Queen of the clergy, pray for us; obtain for us many holy priests. Amen.

  7. Certainly one can receive under one kind. I think we should adopt the Maronite practice of intinction. There would be no need to ban Communion in the hand, and the EMHC’s would be booted out of the sanctuary, it’s a win win :).

  8. St. Rafael says:

    Intinction is not a tradition in the Latin rite. You can’t just copy practices from other rites or traditions. That is not how liturgy works. Liturgy grows organically over the centuries. The organic development in the Latin rite is Communion under one species. I believe that the Latin rite has reached its climax and fulfilment in regards to organic development in the TLM and Communion under one species.

    I take it as a given that the current practice of Communion under both kinds represents an aberration in history, a break in tradition, and a rupture in the organic development and understanding of liturgy.

    There isn’t much that can be further developed in regards to the reception of Communion. Except for some exceptions, there isn’t a time where Communion under both kinds will be needed or ever be normative again. It wasn’t needed after Trent, it wasn’t needed after Vatican II, and I don’t envision a scenario where it will be needed in the next 100 years, if ever.

  9. carl b says:

    “You are not compelled to received under both kinds by the mere fact that both kinds are offered.” … unless you’re in seminary. [Yes, indeed. That is a different sort of "compulsion", isn't it.]

  10. With all due respect to all who are of the opinion that in the name of tradition communicating under one species is ought to be restored as the universal norm, I disagree. In my opinion, it was a wholesome discipline that was instituted for valid reasons and perpetuated for just reasons, but I do think it was simply a discipline. I rather communicating under both species because 1) it is in Catholic unity with our other Catholic brethren of differing rites who nearly universally communicate under both species, 2) it was the practice of the Church for about half of it’s existence and was only changed over time for situationally-relevant reasons.

    I plan on communicating under both species as often as possible when I enter the Church through Baptism, not because I don’t believe or hold the Catholic dogma that Christ is fully present under each of the two species, but rather, to be in visible unity with the Byzantine and Anglican Use Catholics, and to prolong my intimate encounter with Our Lord Jesus Christ, our Divine Spouse.

  11. Imrahil says:

    I thought we were not allowed to receive under the species of Wine alone (save of course those with gluten allergy and similiar issues). [That's a reason.]

  12. MargaretC says:

    While I understand that communion under both species is licit, I only receive one for practical reasons. The hosts used in my parish are very substantial and can’t be swallowed quickly without chewing. I refuse to chew the host — I just don’t like the idea of Our Lord being stuck in my teeth. (Yes, I know there are varying opinions about the propriety of chewing — I just don’t like to do it.)

    So I receive the host — on the tongue — bow respectfully as I pass the EMHC with the chalice, return to my pew, and pray.

    By the way, I think I read somewhere that Therese de Lisieux spoke highly of spiritual communion and recommended it as very useful. We need to recover this practice.

  13. Supertradmum says:

    I always pass up the Chalice, but I am personally boycotting EMHCs. I kneel on the floor and take Communion on the tongue from the priest, and skip the Chalice, which is usually held at another place, to the side.

  14. Sword40 says:

    If I’m not in a state of grace, I do not recieve communion and I don’t feel embarassed about kneeling in the pew while others go forward. Guess I don’t really care what others think of me.
    Also, when I do find myself at an OF Mass, which is getting more rarer every month, I recieve only on the tongue AND kneeling.

  15. Tina in Ashburn says:

    I don’t like to take the Chalice – its just too risky to spill or drip. If I am receiving Communion, I receive the Host and reverently pass by the holder of the Chalice. I might need to wait before entering the pew to allow those that I passed by to enter the pew first.

    Many years ago, a friend of mine used to be an EMHC. After Communion, there was a lot of Chalices left with the Sacred Blood, so the priest told the EMHCs to finish drinking the Chalices after Mass and he left. They became tipsy from so much. My friend has never taken the Chalice since, as at the bottom of one of the Chalices she finished was a big wad of sputum.

  16. Ambrose Jnr says:

    Fr Z – Just a precision…is it correct to say that we, the faithful, are not allowed under canon law to dip ourselves the Holy Host in the chalice which the EMHC holds? This is a very common practice in East Asia, but I was told by a canon lawyer it is an abuse, so I receive under one kind, hoping that in the future East Asian catholic priests will dip the Holy Host for us in the chalice if we wish to receive under both kinds?

  17. Granny says:

    CHEWING the host!!! In 2nd grade Sister made it perfectly clear that if you chew the Host, the heavens will open and a blast of lightening will roast you on the spot!
    In my old church I saw people come back chewing, kids holding the Host like a cracker and biting bits off while crumbs fell down their fronts, adults and children alike wiping their mouths with their hands…. like they just had a fair to middling snack!! Yes I was looking around… no way you could quietly pray while the music is thumping, and people are talking and glad handing on their way up to communion.
    The Mass was constantly called supper, dinner, meal…. never a sacrafice.. No I don’t recieve under both species, and don’t take communion from anyone other than the priest.
    I don’t believe anyone other than the priest should give Communion and Communion should be recieved on your KNEES, on the Tongue, and at the communion rail, with a patten under your chin just in case! This is the body and blood of CHRIST…. not oreo’s. All respect should be paid in every way and all means taken to protect the Host.
    I’m so blessed to have found a parish that even during the NO, communion is at the rail, on your knees, with the patten. If there is a crowd, Fr. has another priest come in… no lay persons!

  18. oldcanon2257 says:

    @Ambrose Jnr

    Perhaps you could quote Redemptionis Sacramentum (# 103, 104) which says:

    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccdds/documents/rc_con_ccdds_doc_20040423_redemptionis-sacramentum_en.html#Chapter%20IV

    [103.] The norms of the Roman Missal admit the principle that in cases where Communion is administered under both kinds, “the Blood of the Lord may be received either by drinking from the chalice directly, or by intinction, or by means of a tube or a spoon”. As regards the administering of Communion to lay members of Christ’s faithful, the Bishops may exclude Communion with the tube or the spoon where this is not the local custom, though the option of administering Communion by intinction always remains. If this modality is employed, however, hosts should be used which are neither too thin nor too small, and the communicant should receive the Sacrament from the Priest only on the tongue.

    [104.] The communicant must not be permitted to intinct the host himself in the chalice, nor to receive the intincted host in the hand. As for the host to be used for the intinction, it should be made of valid matter, also consecrated; it is altogether forbidden to use non-consecrated bread or other matter.

    Also see GIRM # 287:

    http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/roman-missal/general-instruction-of-the-roman-missal/girm-chapter-4.cfm

  19. Reginald Pole says:

    From the Instruction approved by Pope Paul VI on 26 June, 1970: …. “the preference should be for the rite of communion under both kinds by intinction: it is more likely to obviate the practical difficulties and to ensure the reverence due the sacrament more effectively. Intinction makes access to communion under both kinds easier and safer for the faithful of all ages and conditions; at the same time it preserves the truth present in the more complete sign.” It’s a shame this Instruction was largely ignored by those who feared that intinction would render communion in the hand pointless.

  20. Ambrose Jnr says:

    @oldcanon2257: Thank you loads. You keep on providing advice that is most pertinent. I’ll make use of this reference to Redemptionis Sacramentum.

  21. Panterina says:

    About chewing the host: I personally don’t like to do it, but the discussion reminded me of the words used by Jesus in John chapter 6: Doesn’t the Greek verb mean something like “gnawing”? Mind you, I don’t take this as a mandate to chew the host, I’m just curious. As for receiving under both species, I wouldn’t mind at all a return to the norm of receiving the host only.

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  23. Suburbanbanshee says:

    It’s John’s Gospel that insists on “gnaw” (trogo), but it’s all in the “He who will not eat my body will not have eternal life” section. Repeated uses. The Vulgate translates it with the verb “manducare”, which also means “chew”. The other Gospels used more normal words for eat, in reference to the Last Supper and hence Communion.

  24. jmvbxx says:

    I have a question. Here in Colombia I occassionally see the priest dip the host into the wine, held by an EMHC. Is this licit?

  25. jacobi says:

    Fr.,

    You rightly point out that it is not obligatory to receive Communuion at Mass. With so many Catholics nowadays, the reception of Communion, and being seen to receive, has become more important than Mass itself.

    We are required to attend Mass on Sundays and Holydays of Obligation, that is 55-56 times per year give or take, but as far as I know, we are still required to receive Holy Communion only once a year and that at Easter or thereabouts.

    St Pius X called for more frequent reception of Communion, but he must now be turning in his grave at the sight of near 100% attendance at Communion, including occasional Mass attenders, remarried divorcees, those who use contraception, as well as some non-Catholics who no one wants to be left out, all filing past the now rarely used confessionals.

    This near obsession with always receiving Holy Communion, regardless, has now become a major abuse.

  26. Tina in Ashburn says:

    In reference to chewing the Host, really the biggest reason NOT to chew the Host is that more particles may cling to the teeth and areas inside the mouth. The more cleanly one swallows the Host the better, as that reduces risk of profanation in case you sneeze, cough, have to talk, or even eat.

    The concept of ‘not hurting Jesus’ or being disrespectful by chewing is just old confusion.

  27. John Nolan says:

    I rarely receive in both kinds, and at a certain midlands cathedral this means running the gauntlet of two female EMs proffering the Chalice. Since you are carrying the host (albeit in the mouth) there should be no need to reverence the Precious Blood in passing, and there is always the possibility that the poor dears might think you were bowing or genuflecting to them.

    “Accipite et manducate” literally means “take and chew”. “Eat” is “edite”.