From a readerette:
Is it a Mortal Sin to receive Holy Communion more than once a day. I would like to know this b/c I would love to receive communion twice in one day. And if we can not then why not if we go to another church to receive communion for the second time on the same day.
I have written about this topic many times here, but it bears repeating.
The quick answer is NO, it is NOT a “mortal sin” to receive Communion more than once in one day, provided you are in the state of grace and you do not receive more than twice (expect in danger of death).
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.
That said, I must repeat that we should be in the state of grace when we receive Communion at any time. You may receive more than once in a day, but you should not receive more than twice.
I normally attend the TLM. I normally receive the Eucharist, but sometimes I don’t, if, for instance, I haven’t fasted long enough for me (even if it’s within the one hour current requirement). You only have to receive the Eucharist once a year. It’s wonderfully beneficial if you can receive it every day. But those who, say, want to receive it more than twice a day I think are in need of a psychiatrist more than a confessor!
I have wondered about this in an entirely different context. The Extraordinary Form is available at 8 a.m. the first Saturday each month at a church 60 miles from here; I typically attend Mass at 6 p.m. on Saturday at a church 40 miles from here (which is the closest relatively solemn Mass available; Sunday is all drums and guitars and tambourines). Because the early Saturday Mass does not, I think, fulfill my Sunday obligation, [At 8 am Saturday morning? No! It obviously does not. One at 6pm Saturday would, however, in either Form, even if it was not with the Sunday texts.] I’m sometimes in the position of possibly having Mass twice the same day — unless by the evening it’s considered Sunday, which it is for some purposes. [For that, see my answer, above.]
At least now it’s not an issue and I do not have to endure the Sunday festivities.
What I have understood about receiving holy Communion twice in one day is that the Masses attended must not be the same Mass, i.e., the Epistle and Gospel and other readings are not of the same Mass. In this case, e.g., on a Saturday, one can receive holy Communion in the morning Mass and then attend Mass in the evening which would be the “anticipatory” Mass for Sunday. Is this not the case also? [No!]
I’ve seen a few folks (that I know of), who would “make the rounds” around certain parishes, and we in the deanery calculated that they would receive about 3-6 times a day. It was very difficult to get their attention or speak with them privately, since they would not “hit” the same churches every day, and let’s just say, did not stick around for announcements, coffee and donuts afterward.
It’s never occurred to me to try to receive a second time in one day (and I can’t even imagine after that…). But in the short time I have been reading this blog I have seen this come up with some frequency. I am still waiting for the quaeritur about receiving the sacrament of confession more than once in one day…(hey it could happen?). I have heard people say very often that in times of stress or difficulty that had it not been for Holy Communion one could not have been able to get through. So on some level I could see that people might go seeking out. Obviously it is pastorally often considered, not at all appropriate to encourage someone going through difficulty not of their own making or design to, on top of it all, head to confession. However I think that even if one in difficulty is sinning less habitually or differently than usual or even objectively much less even venially (as the technicality is subscribed to) that still the grace the sacrament provides is an aid and a help, perhaps in the least to avoid temptation to despair and discouragement as a result of things beyond one’s control. People seem to portray communion and confession as somehow diametrically opposed, that is the way I was sort of raised to see things, to seek the one and avoid the other, but really I don’t see it that way any longer and see them as an entirety and as going together. It is not that the one is all about being joyful and exuberant whereas the other is dire and hand wringing and unhealthy. They both lead to joy and both are necessary if we are honest with ourselves. Again it seems to me that our Orthodox brothers and sisters have a better sense of the joy that comes from what is called the Jesus prayer (“Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner”). Of course the Hail Mary refers to “us sinners”. And even in the celebration of what is described as a joyful meal in community, we start out with the Kyrie, essentially the Jesus prayer, and/or “I confess to Almighty God and to you my brothers and sisters…” The Mass is the Eucharistic celebration but it is not a denial of who we are and who God is. The fact that we do not deny makes it all the more joyful, human, and real not less so.
Let’s say that you receive Holy Communion under both kinds at a given Mass (either by intinction or from two different ministers). Canonically speaking, does that count as once or twice? Would receiving Holy Communion under both kinds prevent one from receiving Holy Communion in one or both kinds at another Mass that day?
I’m neither a canonist, nor a cleric, nor a lay theologian, but I doubt it. When we receive the Eucharist under the species of bread alone or under the species of wine alone, we receive all of Christ, body, blood, soul, and divinity, but we wouldn’t consider receiving the Eucharist under the species of bread alone as receiving “twice,” would we? Even though we’re receiving both his body and blood under the species of bread. By extension, it doesn’t stand to reason that receiving under both species would be “receiving the Eucharist twice,” as both go together in that particular act of receiving the Eucharist. It would be like saying that one would be “doubling the sacramental graces” by receiving under both species, and we know that’s not true.
OK, one can and may receive Holy Communion twice in one day without it being a “mortal sin.” That is, you may receive twice without the reception itself being a mortal sin.
But why would one want to receive more than once? Why does one believe that the one occasion of receive the Eucharist is not enough? Is it that one believes he might get “extra” graces by receiving more than once? Or that merely receiving once is somehow inadequate, somehow deficient? Or that he fears that he might have “lost” the graces he received in the interim between the first reception and the second?
The reason for wanting to receive more than once would seem to be an important consideration because, even though the actual reception itself might not be sinful, the thinking process behind wanting to receive more than once might indeed be morally questionable.
A related issue might be the person who wants to go to Confession more than once a day, either because he fears that he might have had some sinful thought in the five minutes between finishing his penance and walking to the car or because he does not believe that the forgiveness that he received is real or effective. Here again, we see essentially a denial of the power of grace, which, at its worst, can amount to that gravely sinful (and unforgiveable) “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.”
So, yes, one may receive the Eucharist more than once a day, but aside from one attending Mass more than once as a matter of happenstance, why would one feel the need to receive more than once?