QUAERITUR: Communion on Saturday evening, then twice on Sunday?

From a reader:

I am a Seminarian who is in a parish which has a “Vigil Mass of Sunday” on Saturday evenings. I have read your posts regarding receiving communion twice in one day, and I know the “Vigil” Mass legally fulfills ones obligation. My question is; does this mean I can’t receive communion on Saturday night and the two Sunday Masses (I sometimes have to serve all three)? Would it be a mortal sin?

No, all things being equal it is not a mortal sin.  Yes, the law permits that you receive Holy Communion on Saturday evening and then twice on Sunday.

Reception of Communion and fulfilling your Sunday obligation are different issues.  You fulfill your obligation by participating, attending Holy Mass.  You are not obliged to receive Communion at every Mass.  As a matter of fact, if you know you are not in the state of grace, you should not receive Communion.

Back to the issue of the number of times you may receive in a 24 hour period.

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.

Remember: 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.

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.

Saturday ends at midnight.  At midnight Sunday begins.  You can receive even twice on Saturday and then twice on Sunday.

Work out with your spiritual director whether or not you want to receive three times in such a short time span.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    In regards to the Vigil Mass of Saturday, can the TLM be said on a Saturday evening or do the rules established in 1962 allow it to be said only on Sundays as it relates to our weekly obligation?

  2. Pete says:

    Doesn’t each day begin at Vespers, liturgically?

  3. JabbaPapa says:

    Doesn’t each day begin at Vespers, liturgically?


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

    In context, “iterum” here actually means something like “anew” — but I’m just quibbling, the answers given are unchanged by variant translation. (oh, and “salvo praescripto” = “except as prescribed (in)”)

  4. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    “Doesn’t each day begin at Vespers, liturgically?”

    Sure. In some contexts. But so what? The law on reception of Communion is canonical, as Fr. Z observed, not liturgical. It’s canonical days that count, not liturgical.

  5. acardnal says:

    The Canonical day beginning/ending at midnight is also applicable, I believe, to the rules on fast and abstinence.

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  7. Victor says:

    I am singing in a choir; sometimes when we sing during Communion there is no time left to receive ourselves. In the past, after mass had ended I asked the priest to give Holy Communion to me from the tabernacle. Did I do wrong?

  8. Stephen Matthew says:

    That is a tricky situation for a seminarian. I know of a seminarian assigned to a parish for Christmas who was instructed by the pastor to receive at all 6 masses for the Nativity because otherwise it could confuse or scandalize the people. He was not well versed in the canons, but had the idea that it wasn’t quite the right decision, but followed the instructions of the pastor out of obedience. Seminarians may be able to convince a priest of the right thing, or may be able to work through channels to get a problem fixed, but generally seminarians obey in all matters unless it violates Church teaching on faith or morals (which is to say that sometimes liturgical rubrics, canon law, etc. must be given a lower priority than keeping the peace).

    Some priests have no idea what to do with seminarians in their parish, and some diocese offer very little guidance to either the pastors or seminarians in these matters. Given that seminarians often do not yet have formal education in law or liturgy, and that pastors have at times forgotten much they were once taught, it usually turns into an exercise in making it up as they go based on personal preference and pastoral prudence. (More than a few priests having, as an example, the mistaken notion that since the celebrant must receive at every mass, then also those who assist him in some capacity may do so also.)

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