QUAERITUR: concelebrating priest not consuming Precious Blood

I had a note from a priest asking about concelebration.

First, I think concelebration should be safe, legal and rare.

That said,

I’m looking for a source for the instruction that the celebrant and concelebrants must consume both species which they have consecrated at that Mass in order to fulfill the requirements of actually celebrating the Mass.  

The question us priests in the house were grappling with yesterday over lunch was this:   Does a concelebrating priest have to consume the Precious Blood in order for the Mass to be vaild?    I said, it’s better to say, to complete the sacrifice of the Mass a priest has to consume both species.   This is true for both the main celebrant and all concelebrants.    My pastor said it doesn’t matter if the concelebrants receive hosts from the tabernacle because "it’s still Jesus!"   But it does matter, since they are not just required to consume the Blessed Sacrament, it has to be the species which they’ve offered and consecrated at that Mass. 

If you know of some instruction on this, please let me know.   It seems like one of those self-evident things!  

I don’t have time today to dig up the references, but hopefully some priest readers can chime in.


I dealt with a related question in Rome some years ago, when I was living in a residence where priests often concelebrated.  One of them would not receive the Precious Blood, even by intinction. 

I wrote to the CDW about this and received a letter back from the then under-secretary, the late Msgr. Mario Marini (who went on to the Pont. Comm. Ecclesia Dei before his untimely death).   The letter said that, yes, concelebrants must consume both species.  I also asked whether or not the priest had celebrated Mass and could keep a stipend if he didn’t receive both species.  That was less sure.

This raises questions about concelebration, doesn’t it?

Is it one Mass or as many as there are priests?  One stipend or more than one?

The upshot is that he ought to receive.

Also, I believe that legislation for concelebration indicates that each concelebrant is really supposed to have his own Host.  I may be wrong about that since I rarely concelebrate.

Anyway… some priest readers can probably help us out here.

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  1. at3p says:

    On the stipend question. Theologically speaking the stipend is an offering to the priest who says Mass, it is not a payment for the Mass (as Fr. Z., surely knows), which would be simony. Therefore the “number” of Masses said during concelebration is not relevant to the stipend question. All that matters is that each priest receiving a stipend say Mass and remember the donor. Since all concelebrants say Mass, that is what it means to “concelebrate,” each may take a stipend.

    I am surprised about that exchange Msgr. Marini about reception of both species in concelebration. A number of years ago when I was on the council of my religious order province there was a discussion of alcoholics in recovery and the sacramental wine. A document from Rome was passed around that said that recovering alcoholics could receive under the species of bread alone when concelebrating, and that there was no problem with them taking a stipend. I no longer have a reference to the date or protocol number. Now that was for the particular case of those in recovery, but if they were considered to have truly concelebrated Mass and could receive a stipend, I don’t see what would stand in the way of other priests doing so, albeit that the practice of taking only one species might be illicit.

  2. at3p says:

    Oh, I missed a part of the query. A priest who does not receive a host or precious blood consecrated at the Mass in which he concelebrates has NOT completed the sacrifice. Completion of the sacrifice requires not only consecration of the elements but communion from the same elements. Your pastor needs a course in sacramental theology. One who merely receives the reserved sacrament cannot take a stipend. This is a grave abuse, that destroys the unity of the sacrificial act.

    Completion of the sacrifice requires only reception of one of the species, since what is required is the reception of that which has been consecrated at the Mass, not the species in themselves. See my comment above on concelebrants.

  3. Kurt Barragan says:

    A few references:

    “The Communion of Priest concelebrants should proceed according to the norms prescribed in the liturgical books, always using hosts consecrated at the same Mass and always with Communion under both kinds being received by all of the concelebrants.” (Redemptionis Sacramentum, 98)

    “It is most desirable that the faithful, just as the priest himself is bound to do, receive the Lord’s Body from hosts consecrated at the same Mass…” (General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 85)

    “When the prayer is concluded, the priest genuflects, takes the host consecrated in the same Mass, and, holding it slightly raised above the paten or above the chalice…” (General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 157)

    I won’t reproduce the rubrics governing the communion of concelebrants in GIRM 237-249 as the first quotation above summarises them succinctly.

  4. Father S. says:

    (I was typing this while Kurt posted his comment, so mine covers some of the same information.)

    I am no expert in this, but seeing as how we are snowed in here today, I thought I might do some looking.

    The GIRM says the following: (It is a bit lengthy.)

    245. 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.

    246. If Communion is received by drinking directly from the chalice, one or other of two procedures may be followed:

    1. The principal celebrant, standing at the middle of the altar, takes the chalice and says quietly, Sanguis Christi custodiat me in vitam aeternam (May the Blood of Christ bring me to everlasting life). He consumes a little of the Blood of Christ and hands the chalice to the deacon or a concelebrant. He then distributes Communion to the faithful (cf. above, nos. 160-162).
    The concelebrants approach the altar one after another or, if two chalices are used, two by two. They genuflect, partake of the Blood of Christ, wipe the rim of the chalice, and return to their seats.
    2. The principal celebrant normally consumes the Blood of the Lord standing at the middle of the altar.
    The concelebrants may, however, partake of the Blood of the Lord while remaining in their places and drinking from the chalice presented to them by the deacon or by one of the concelebrants, or else passed from one to the other. The chalice is always wiped either by the one who drinks from it or by the one who presents it. After communicating, each returns to his seat.

    247. The deacon reverently drinks at the altar all of the Blood of Christ that remains, assisted, if necessary, by some of the concelebrants. He then carries the chalice over to the credence table and there he or a duly instituted acolyte purifies, wipes, and arranges it in the usual way (cf. above, no. 183).

    248. The Communion of the concelebrants may also be arranged so that each concelebrant communicates the Body of the Lord at the altar and, immediately afterwards, the Blood of the Lord.

    In this case the principal celebrant receives Communion under both kinds in the usual way (cf. above, no. 158), observing, however, the rite chosen in each particular instance for Communion from the chalice; and the other concelebrants should follow suit.

    After the principal celebrant’s Communion, the chalice is placed on another corporal at the side of the altar. The concelebrants approach the middle of the altar one after another, genuflect, and receive the Body of the Lord; then they go to the side of the altar and consume the Blood of the Lord, following the rite chosen for Communion from the chalice, as has just been said.

    The Communion of the deacon and the purification of the chalice take place as already described.

    249. If the concelebrants’ Communion is by intinction, the principal celebrant receives the Body and Blood of the Lord in the usual way, but making sure that enough of the precious Blood remains in the chalice for the Communion of the concelebrants. Then the deacon, or one of the concelebrants, arranges the chalice as appropriate in the center of the altar or at the side on another corporal together with the paten containing particles of the host.

    The concelebrants approach the altar one after another, genuflect, and take a particle, dip it partly into the chalice, and, holding a purificator under their chin, consume the intincted particle. They then return to their places as at the beginning of Mass.

    The deacon also receives Communion by intinction and to the concelebrant’s words Corpus et Sanguis Christi (The Body and Blood of Christ) makes the response Amen. The deacon, however, consumes at the altar all that remains of the Precious Blood, assisted, if necessary, by some of the concelebrants. He carries the chalice to the credence table and there he or a duly instituted acolyte purifies, wipes and arranges it in the usual way. (End quote)

    While the GIRM does not explicitly forbid a concelebrating priest from only receiving one of the Sacred Species, it seems that the GIRM anticipates that concelebrating priest would receive both.

    That being said, the Catholic Encyclopedia Online (1917) explains, in its article on Concelebration, the practice before the Second Vatican Ecumencial Council. Note the second to last sentence:

    In the Latin Church the rite survives only at the ordination of priests and bishops. [Note: Concelebration was fully restored to the Latin Church after the Second Vatican Council.] The newly-ordained priests say the Offertory prayers and the whole Canon, including the words of consecration, aloud with the bishop, kneeling around him. The words of consecration especially must be said “slowly and rather loud” and “at the same moment with the pontiff” (Pont. Rom., do Ord. Presb., rubric). They must say the words significative, that is with the intention of consecrating (Benedict XIV, de SS. Missæ Sacr., III, xvi, 6), and must be careful not to say them before, but exactly with, the bishop (op. cit., loc. cit., 7). They receive Holy Communion under one kind. The same rite is used at a bishop’s consecration, except that in this case the new bishop communicates with the consecrator under both kinds (Pont. Rom., de Cons. Electi in Episc., rubric in the text).

    For the validity of the concelebration, it seems hard to countenance that before the council, a priest could receive under one species validly and now not. [good point] It may be illicit, and even seriously so, but it does not seem that it would be invalid.

    A similar question came up recently between a priest friend and me, namely, whether or not at the same Holy Mass we could each consecrate only one of the sacred hosts and not the other. If you read more of the article from the Catholic Encyclopedia, it seems that this was a custom historically.

  5. Kurt Barragan says:

    I think the document that at3p refers to is the letter from Cardinal Ratzinger dated 24 July 2003 (Prot. 89/78-174 98). The letter states that “A priest unable to ingest even a minimal amount of wine, who finds himself in a situation where it is difficult to obtain or store mustum, when taking part in a concelebration, may with the permission of the Ordinary receive Communion under the species of bread only.”

    As these conditions make clear, the idea of a priest not receiving under both kinds is absolutely exceptional. The principal celebrant must always receive under both kinds. Concelebrants must also receive under both kinds unless all of the conditions listed above are met.

  6. JohnMa says:

    From the same document that Kurt quotes above “When the principal celebrant at a concelebration has permission to use mustum, a chalice of normal wine is to be prepared for the concelebrants.”

  7. Oneros says:

    Catholic Encyclopedia says:

    “Concelebration is the rite by which several priests say Mass together, all consecrating the SAME bread and wine. It was once common in both East and West. As late as the ninth century priests stood around their bishop and “consented to his sacrifice” (Corp. Jur. Can., Decr. Grat., Pars III, dist. I, cap. 59). The rite of Concelebration was modified at Rome (perhaps in the time of Pope Zephyrinus, 202-218) so that each priest should consecrate a separate host (the deacons holding these in patens or corporals); but they all consecrated the SAME chalice (“Ordo Rom. I”, 48; see also Dechusne, “Liber Pont.”, I, 139 and 246).”

    There is only ONE Mass going on at a concelebration. That the priests hold separate hosts is in some ways irrelevant. They all collectively consecrate everything. That’s the point. Otherwise, they would be required to say a whole Mass, not just “piggy-back” on someone else’s like that.

    The Summa Theologica says in the question, “Whether several priests can consecrate one and the same host?” that, “when a priest is ordained he is placed on a level with those who received consecrating power from our Lord at the Supper. And therefore, according to the custom of some Churches, as the apostles supped when Christ supped, so the newly ordained co-celebrate with the ordaining bishop. Nor is the consecration, on that account, repeated over the same host, because as Innocent III says (De Sacr. Alt. Myst. iv), the intention of all should be directed to the same instant of the consecration.”

    It is ONE Mass, concelebrated. Not several Masses simultaneously celebrated. They tried that in the 60’s, parallel celebration of Mass, but that’s a different beast entirely.

    I’m all for concelebration…within certain limits. For example, I believe that it should only be allowed when a direct Superior is the primary celebrant. Several priests of equal rank or disparate jurisdiction getting together and celebrating in a “horizontal” egalitarian fashion is not the point. The point of concelebration traditionally (ie, in the first millenium) was to show “vertically” the unity of a presbyteral body with its Head.

    So I think that concelebration should occur only with the “Lowest Common Superior” as the primary celebrant. So, monks with their abbot, priests with their Ordinary, bishops with the Metropolitan, Cardinals with the Pope, etc. And a moral totality of the local College in question should be present (ie, if it’s done, it should be mostly ALL of the diocesan priests with the Ordinary, not just a handful). It’s to show the unity of a local college of clerics under it’s Head.

    Much more troubling to me is the fact that priests are allowed to count concelebration for a stipend, and that it counts towards the question of bination, etc.

    Catholic Encyclopedia also says:
    “But in as much as the Church has spoken of strict justice (justitia commutativa), the overwhelming majority of theologians incline even theoretically to the conviction that the satisfactory — and, according to many, also the propitiatory and impetratory — value of a Mass for which a stipend has been taken, is so strictly circumscribed and limited from the outset, that it accrues pro rata (according to the greater or less number of the living or the dead for whom the Mass is offered) to each of the individuals. Only on such a hypothesis is the custom prevailing among the faithful of having several Masses celebrated for the deceased or for their intentions intelligible. Only on such a hypothesis can one explain the widely established “Mass Association”, a pious union whose members voluntarily bind themselves to read or get read at least one Mass annually for the poor souls in purgatory.”

    It is therefore unconscionable to me that priests are allowed to count a separate stipend for a Mass at which they merely concelebrate. The fruits of one Mass are divided pro rata according to the greater or lesser number of people for whom the Mass is offered…and the people paying these stipends expected to have a WHOLE Mass dedicated to their intention. At a Mass concelebrated by a hundred of priests, the fruit is divided by 100 for all the intentions. That priests are allowed to keep a stipend for just sitting there in a stole and then holding their hand out at the appointed time…is another form of absolutely filthy and offensive clerical corruption in the Church today that no one talks about.

    Only the Celebrant should be able to count it for an intention, and all the concelebrants should still be allowed/encouraged to celebrate their own Private Mass that day.

  8. Father S. says:


    Given that the Church permits the reception of stipends by concelebrants, it seems that you are missing a variable in equation of Holy Mass. For what you say to be true, there would be no value to an increase in the number of priests. There would be no distinction at all between one priest offering Holy Mass or one thousand concelebrating. While there are not parallel Masses, there are multiple priests, each of whom participates in the sacrifice that is being offered. As such, each of them has a particular intention. They are not simply altar furniture. As such, it is reasonable that if they have not already received a stipend that day, they may bring their own intention to the Holy Sacrifice.

  9. Mattiesettlement says:

    Fr. Hunwicke has written on this subject, especially last year. He makes the point that the Church has said that each concelebrant can accept a stipend for his act of concelebration. This means that the Church regards the concelebrating action of each priest as if it werre a separate Mass.

    Seems pretty clear to me. Roma Locuta Est, Causa Finita Est! lol

  10. Oneros says:

    “This means that the Church regards the concelebrating action of each priest as if it were a separate Mass.”

    It doesnt meant that at all, necessarily. The Church could just be allowing it in canon law, period, without worrying about the fact that it causes the fruits of the Mass to be “diluted” for each intention.

    “For what you say to be true, there would be no value to an increase in the number of priests. There would be no distinction at all between one priest offering Holy Mass or one thousand concelebrating.”

    I don’t think there is, metaphysically. It’s One Mass, of infinite objective value but finite subjective value divided pro rata by number of intentions.

    The presence of additional priests is to show forth the unity of a presbyteral body [with its head, ideally]. There is no particular increase in the fruits to there being more Acolytes present either, or to celebrating a Solemn Mass instead of a Low Mass. Yet would you deny there was a greater “value” to a Solemn Mass…even though the fruit as regards the intention is of the same magnitude?? I dont think so.

  11. ssoldie says:

    All my Mass reguest’s go to the T.L.M. priest, no problem there.

  12. Tina in Ashburn says:

    If one priest finishes saying the words of consecration first, what purpose are the words of the fellow concelebrators if there is only one Host and one Chalice? The species would already be consecrated.

    I sure would like concelebration explained, I have never understood it. Thus the concept makes me uncomfortable.

    Interpretations are varied, huh.

  13. DKR says:

    “All my Mass reguest’s go to the T.L.M. priest, no problem there.”

    T.L.M. priest, is that different than a Catholic priest?

  14. Father S. says:

    “I don’t think there is, metaphysically. It’s One Mass, of infinite objective value but finite subjective value divided pro rata by number of intentions.

    The presence of additional priests is to show forth the unity of a presbyteral body [with its head, ideally]. There is no particular increase in the fruits to there being more Acolytes present either, or to celebrating a Solemn Mass instead of a Low Mass. Yet would you deny there was a greater “value” to a Solemn Mass…even though the fruit as regards the intention is of the same magnitude?? I dont think so.”

    There is an objective difference between a priest and an acolyte or any other person who is not a celebrant or concelebrant. This is why a priest can offer Holy Mass alone at an altar with no other person (outside of Heaven) present. Each concelebrating priest participates in the sacrifice that is offered in a way radically different from anyone else. Insofar as he is offering the sacrifice, he may offer that sacrifice for a particular intention. In this way, one effect (i.e., consecration) is accomplished by a plurality of causes. Yet it is the same agent (i.e., Jesus Christ) in whose person the priest acts, who accomplishes the consecration. Whether there is one celebrant or five concelebrants, the effect and the agent are always the same. In that case, the fruit must be tied to the cause, namely, the priest. It seems that this is supported by St. Thomas. (ST, III, 79:7) He says, “But to others who do not receive [Most Holy Communion], it is beneficial by way of sacrifice, inasmuch as it is offered for their salvation.” It at least seems reasonable to assert, then, that insofar as multiple priests are offering up the sacrifice, they do so with multiple intentions. The intention is attached to the offering.

  15. kenoshacath says:

    There are none of these concerns at the Traditional Latin Mass. Everything is just soooo right!

    Deo Gratias!

  16. Sixupman says:

    I abhor the redundancy of ‘side altars’ – is not, except in specific circumstances, a form of laziness on the part of clergy? I have witnessed two or three priests Celebrating Mass at different altars in one church.

  17. Oneros says:

    The Catholic Encyclopedia on the Sacrifice of the Mass indicates that there are several different “fruits” of the Mass, and the one that accrues to the Priest himself (which I suppose would indeed multiply based on the number of priests)…is different than the fruit accruing to the intention for which the Mass is offered. I see no indication that the division “pro rata” of that “special fruit” is balanced or canceled out simply by the presence of multiple priests any more than the general fruit, which is clearly not multiplied.

  18. robtbrown says:

    Murky theological waters surround the question of concelebration. Before considering the theology, here are two relevant paragraphs from the CIC that illustrate the situation.

    Can. 945 ß1 In accordance with the approved custom of the Church, any priest who celebrates or concelebrates a Mass may accept an offering to apply the Mass for a specific intention.

    Can. 948 Separate Masses must be applied for the intentions of those for whom an individual offering, even if small, has been made and accepted.

    Can 945 allows for multiple intentions at a concelebrated mass. (It is mutually agreed that a concelebrated mass is one mass, not many.)

    Although c. 948 is intended to prevent a priest from offering one mass for the intentions of various people (grouping intentions together to increase the stipend), nevertheless, it contains a principle that would seem to contradict what is set down in c. 945: 948 says that separate masses must be offered for separate intentions. In concelebration, however, it is one mass offered for several intentions.

    I’ll try to deal with the theology later.

  19. robtbrown says:

    I abhor the redundancy of ‘side altars’ – is not, except in specific circumstances, a form of laziness on the part of clergy?

    Actually, you have it backwards. Laziness is more associated with concelebration.

    I have witnessed two or three priests Celebrating Mass at different altars in one church.
    Comment by Sixupman

    I have seen at least 12 low masses celebrated (whispered) at once in the Abbey Church at Fontgombault. It is most impressive. As a matter of fact, when Cardinal Ratzinger was leaving after the 2001 liturgy conference, he went into the Church and knelt on the floor as all those low masses were being said. As he arose to leave, he told the Abbot, “Now THAT’s the Catholic Church.”

  20. Subdeacon Joseph says:

    I have a question. Do Subdeacons (I’m Orthodox) serving at a TLM receive communion under both kinds?

  21. robtbrown says:

    Apologies for the late comments.

    1. According to St Thomas the celebrant must partake both of the Body and Blood of the Eucharist (III,82,4): Et ideo necesse est quod sacerdos . . . sumat hoc sacramentum integre. Such an opinion makes sense because there is no sacrifice without the double consecration. Unfortunately, this does not jibe with AT3P’s opinion above that a celebrant only must receive one of the species not both.

    2. As I said above, concelebration is a murkey theological issue. And nothing is solved by the stipend solution. Although AT3P is quite right that a stipend is not a payment for a mass, but an offering to the priest for his intention while celebrating, I think it was at one time implicit that it was one intention for one mass–not many intentions for one mass.

    3. I don’t really think that referencing the stipend is a very good way to approach the theological problem of concelebration. The stipend is, as AT3P quite rightly says, necessarily considered relevant to the subject. On the other hand, a subjective consideration of the benefits of the Eucharist sheds little light on the question of concelebration.

    There are objective benefits to Mass, because of Christ’s presence and because of the Sacrifice, just as there were being in Christ’s presence when He was on earth and being present at His Passion and Death. Whatever the multiple priestly intentions at concelebration, there is still only one mass. And so I would not dare say that 9 priests concelebrating is of the same merit as a novena of masses.

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