QUAERITUR: Can I receive Communion at Midnight Mass and then again during the day?

This comes up every year:

If I go to Midnight Mass, and it really starts at Midnight, and I receive Holy Communion, and if I go to Mass again during Christmas Day, can I receive Communion again?


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”.

So, if you go to Midnight Mass and receive, and are in the choir at the principal Mass of the Christmas Day and want to receive again, go ahead.  But if you stay for a third Mass, nope.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Imrahil says:

    And if – as happens frequently – Midnight Mass begins prematurely at 2230 and ends at Midnight?

  2. Imrahil: “And if…?” … ?

  3. mpolo says:

    So lay people can’t receive Communion at all three Masses of Christmas, even though priests are given special faculties to celebrate all three on this one day [plus All Souls’, of course]? [No, laypeople cannot receive thrice on Christmas or All Souls, unless the third time is when you are in danger of dying… as explained, above.]

    I always thought the Midnight Mass was almost inviting everyone to come to the Missa in Aurora, since the Gospel is just cut off and then continued. [No.]

  4. Father Z, although the CIC does not provide more instruction in this matter, what about the restrictions (and specific allowances) made in Immensae Caritatis? Since the CIC does not define liturgical rites and “liturgical laws in force … retain their force” unless contrary to the CIC (cf. Can. 2), don’t the restrictions of Immensae Caritatis temper the permission given in Can. 919? [I refer you to the canon, above.]

  5. raitchi2 says:

    @mpolo: Priest when celebrating mass must receive communion or it is not a complete mass. Because of this necessity, celebrating priests get special privileges when it comes to communion. For example, in some rural areas where priests have to trinate (say a particular Sunday mass for three different groups), the priest, because he is the celebrant, will receive communion three times that day. Christmas (and All Souls day) are just extensions of the priest’s necessity to receive communion when celebrating (or concelebrating).

    TL;DR: priests can’t confect the Eucharist with out consuming it. They have to receive at every mass they celebrate; therefore, whenever there are multiple masses a priest can consume.

  6. jhayes says:

    mpolo, i took that to be Imrahil’s question:

    If the Midnight Mass is over before December 24 ends at Midnight (or if you received Communion at it before Midnight) can you then receive Communion at two more Masses on December 25? [Yes.]

    If the “day” in Canon 917 is a calendar day, sounds as if you could. If it is a canonical day, sounds as if you couldn’t

    Where’s a canonist when you need him.

  7. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Pater’s answer is, as usual, perfectly sound. AAS 76 (1984) 746-747. And, for the umpteenth time, it’s reception of Communion that is at issue, not attendance at Mass, or part of Mass, or type of Mass. And, what is this “canonical day” versus “calendar day” stuff about? That is not at issue here.

    Just read what Father wrote.

  8. Fr Sean Coyle says:

    The ‘Midnight Mass’ is now officially ‘At the Mass during the Night’, ‘Ad Missam in nocte’ in Missale Romanum 2002. Here in the Philippines the bishops decreed in the 1980s, as I recall, that it be celebrated earlier, for safety reasons. There are usually fireworks, etc, around midnight. I will be celebrating that Mass at 8:30 tonight.

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