ASK FATHER: Reception of Eucharist multiple times with same Mass formulary

From a reader…

QUAERITUR:

Would it be wrong to receive the Eucharist attending the Saturday Mass of Anticipation & Sunday Mass? [Both with the same Liturgy].

Since matters of reception of the Eucharist in Communion more than once in a short period keeps coming up, I discern that few priests are instructing their flocks about how to receive the Eucharist in Holy Communion.  This shouldn’t surprise us, since I suspect that some priests out there wouldn’t be able to tell you if you asked them to their faces.

Let’s review.  Repetita iuvat.

No, it is not wrong to receive on Saturday and again on Sunday, even if the Mass texts are the same.  You are receiving Communion on different days, Saturday and Sunday.  It makes no difference that the Mass formulary was the same.

That said… Catholics in the state of grace can receive twice in one day, on the same day.

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, not a Communion service] in which the person participates, with due regard for the prescription of can. 921 § 2.

That iterum does not mean “again and again”, but merely “again, one more time”.

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.

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, an officially proposed question.

So, say in the morning you attend a Novus Ordo Communion service wherein you receive Communion, or you went to a Mass in either Form. Later in the day you stumble into a church where Mass about to be celebrated and decided to stay for it. At that Mass you can 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). However, if you stayed for another Mass immediately following, you would be able to receive.

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, and you may not enter the Mass at some late point merely in order to receive.

Viaticum, which is Communion in the context of Last Rites for someone in danger of death, is a separate issue. Even if a person has received twice in a day, if the person is in danger of death, he can – of course – be given Viaticum.

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14 Responses to ASK FATHER: Reception of Eucharist multiple times with same Mass formulary

  1. Tom A. says:

    It seems the 1917 Code forbid this except for viaticum. Does anyone know why it was changed in 1983?

  2. Geoffrey says:

    “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).”

    Agreed. I think this rubric should be seen as referring to caregivers looking after the home-bound and perhaps unable to make it to Mass themselves, not every relative who happens to be in the patient’s hospital room at the time!

  3. Bthompson says:

    Tangential, but this article reminded me of a time back in my seminary days. A high-level staff member (I sometimes jokingly referred to her, admittedly uncharitably, as the “Pastrix”) at my work parish got on my case about why I wouldn’t receive Holy Communion at the 3rd Sunday Mass (same day, 4th in total, which took a toll on the priest) I served. She had *SUCH* concerns that my refraining from Communion was pastorally insensitive, a countersign to my vocation, and made the folks feel ostracized and subject to FEELINGS!!!! because I “arrogantly REFUSED” to “share Eucharist” with them (as you might imagine, the people neither noticed nor cared).
    I explained the matter, as well as the fact that my decision about my disposition to receive Holy Communion was none of her business; she was unconvinced. However, luckily, the real pastor didn’t care, so all was well.

    -Fr Thompson

    [Bad days… bad days, indeed. Many of us remember them with sadness and not a little anger. These Lubyanka tactics – which may be returning in seminaries – are the fruits of liberals and feminists.]

  4. I would be curious to know if the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts would be considered a Mass for that second time receiving communion in a day (for example, going to a Roman Mass in the morning and then going to a Byzantine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts in the evening), given that no consecration happens during it, but the Byzantine churches (and presumably the other eastern catholic churches as well) are forbidden from holding Divine Liturgy on weekdays during (great) lent.

  5. Fr. Kelly says:

    Tom A asked: It seems the 1917 Code forbid this except for viaticum. Does anyone know why it was changed in 1983?

    The 1983 code cleared up what had become a somewhat confusing pastoral situation arising from Saturday evening Masses in anticipation of Sunday.

    By the time the 1983 Code came out, it was permitted to receive Holy Communion a second time in the day if the Mass formulary at the second Mass was different from the first. Eg. If one went to the morning daily Mass and then later attended a wedding Mass or a funeral Mass or, on a Saturday, having gone to the Saturday Morning Mass one attended an Anticipated Sunday Mass, it was permissible to receive Holy Communion again.

    This created much confusion, since the faithful had no control over, or might not even know what Mass formulary was to be used at the evening Mass. Hence this simplification of the law. It was determined that if a member of the faithful were otherwise eligible to receive Holy Communion and was attending Mass, it was not desirable that his attendance at a previous Mass and reception of Holy Communion there should be an impediment to receiving Holy Communion at this Mass

    The change in the law eliminated the requirement for the difference in Mass formulary. Interestingly, the canon affecting anticipated Sunday Masses was changed at the same time. in the 1983 Code we find that any Mass celebrated after 4pm on a Saturday will fulfill the obligation to attend Mass that Sunday, regardless of the Mass formulary used.

    Hope this helps.

  6. jhayes says:

    To take this to the extreme, my understanding is that you could receive the Eucharist up to four times over the weekend – twice each on Saturday and Sunday, provided the second reception on each day was at a Mass at which you had been present at least from the beginning of the Offertory.

  7. Ellen says:

    This hasn’t ever happened to me. I do try and go to Saturday Mass where I receive Communion, but I also go to Mass on Saturday evening (mostly because the music is better) and I receive Communion then. Two Masses but different formularies.

  8. Tom A. says:

    Seems it was simpler to just say once a day. This notion that we have to receive everytime we go to Mass has destroyed the concept of the Mass.

  9. Fr. Kelly says:

    Catholic Tech Geek asks:
    I would be curious to know if the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts would be considered a Mass for that second time receiving communion in a day (for example, going to a Roman Mass in the morning and then going to a Byzantine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts in the evening), given that no consecration happens during it, but the Byzantine churches (and presumably the other eastern catholic churches as well) are forbidden from holding Divine Liturgy on weekdays during (great) lent.

    Good Friday is an exceptional case all around.

    There is no Mass offered anywhere on Good Friday, and if the Faithful are to receive Communion, it can only be either at the Solemn Afternoon Liturgy or as viaticum.

    It is only envisioned that the faithful would attend the Good Friday liturgy once, whether in the Roman form of the Solemn Afternoon Liturgy or the Byzantine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts or another equivalent.
    Since (in larger parishes) this liturgy can be repeated for serious pastoral reasons, it could happen that one finds himself at a second Good Friday liturgy. It is my understanding that he would not be free to approach Holy Communion at this second instance of the Good Friday Liturgy.

    The only way to legitimately receive Holy Communion twice on Good Friday would be if the second time were as Viaticum.

  10. Imrahil says:

    Rev’d dear Fr Kelly,

    on an aside, the law as far as I know does not say “4pm” but “eve”, and I do remember Dr Peters to interpret that, absent more specific regulations, this is to be interpreted the most lax way possible, i. e. “eve” means “afternoon” and “afternoon” means “past 12 o’clock”.

    (So far Dr Peters [though not litterally]. I might add my own interpretation as to what actually “12 o’clock” means: It is 12 o’clock of normal time or 1 o’clock of daylight saving time. Quaeritur of course still whether people can trust the time-zone they are living in, have to wait for the actual time the Sun is in midday position, or – for Western Spaniards and the like – have to wait for when at least the zonal 12 o’clock would be if time zones were actually distributed geographically. But outside the West of Spain and the like, 1 o’clock [2 o’clock DST] should suffice to speak of “afternoon” in any case.)

  11. jhayes says:

    in the 1983 Code we find that any Mass celebrated after 4pm on a Saturday will fulfill the obligation to attend Mass that Sunday, regardless of the Mass formulary used.

    Although 4 pm is usual in the USA, the Canon says “vespers of the preceding day” rather than a specific hour

    Can. 1248 — § 1. Praecepto de Missa participanda satisfacit qui Missae assistit ubicumque celebratur ritu catholico vel ipso die festo vel vespere diei praecedentis

    Dr. Peters has pointed out that canonists in other countries have taken positions on “vespere” extending as far back as Noon or 2 pm on Saturday.

    HERE

  12. Fr. Kelly says:

    Imrahil,
    I stand corrected with regard to the canon as written.
    The 4pm comes from an official response to a dubium as to the meaning of eve in that canon.

  13. Imrahil says:

    Rev’d dear Fr Kelly,

    thanks, I didn’t know there was a dubium with an answer. It is I that stand corrected; and also, may I say so, Dr Peters.

    (I hope the dubium means “4 o’clock of the established legal time”; if only because it would be something of a fuss to worry about an actual local time 4 o’clock and whether it’s daylight saving time or not.)

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