ASK FATHER: Priest told us we can receive communion twice a day. Is he right?

From a reader…


I am really confused. Our parish priest told us that we can receive communion two times a day, however, I have been reading where two times a day is not always correct. Two times a day is for special circumstances, such as a wedding or a funeral and Mass. I also wonder about receiving communion at the vigil Mass on Saturday and then two more times on Sunday. Is that correct? I don’t think so. Do I understand correctly?

Catholics in the state of grace can receive twice in one 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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  1. Benedict Joseph says:

    On All Souls Day the three masses were offered one after another in the morning. We all received three times. Is this considered a serious transgression?

  2. John F. Kennedy says:

    I see people all of the time receive “Communion” twice at the SAME Mass. In fact they were instructed to do so. The EMHCs who distribute the Blood of Christ will have the Eucharist under both species, then, when they are finished distributing, will “take” Communion again by consuming the remaining Blood of Christ in the chalice (bottoms up!).
    I have tried to explain this problem as being no different than being first in the Communion (conga) line then getting back in the line at the end. If there is a difference, please explain why?co

  3. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    I feel sure I have read (though I can’t think of an example of where) that the common perception in the early Church was of one Mass on one altar in one place by each (con)celebrant and communicant in one day. If so, what is the history of the change (any recommended reading, especially online)?

  4. originalsolitude says:

    John F Kennedy, the second consumption by the EMHC is not the reception of communion, it’s part of ablutions. For example, in the 1485 roman pontifical, the rite of consecration of virgins provides that after the communion the consecrated virgins would drink from the chalice and that a cleric would present it to them: this was simply what is called ablutions, and not a true communion under both species. In the text, it was specified that the virgin would communicate only the body of Christ, while the bishop would communicate ‘the body and blood of Christ’ (Postquam Pontifex se de corpore et sanguine communicaverit, antequam digitos abluat, communicet omnes virgines consecratas coram se et altari genuflexas de corpore tantum). After communion the bishop took the ablutions and then the virgins did the same, that is to say, that they drank like the bishop from the chalice to ‘purify themselves’ (Deinde purificet se, postea illas).

  5. ChesterFrank says:

    slightly off topic but: I recently saw a priest in the Mideast giving communion by Intinction. The two interesting points were first his chalice/ciborium were designed specifically for this. The cup holding the precious blood was built into the center of the ciborium so the priest could easily distribute communion in this manner. Secondly, all recipients received on the tongue.

  6. jhayes says:

    John F. Kennedy, as provided in Redemptionis Sacramentum>/i> (RS) and the USCCB Norms for Communion Under Both Kinds, the EMHC’s are assisting in disposing of any of the Blood of Christ remaining after Communion has been distributed.

    RS 107 (cont.) … Furthermore all will remember that once the distribution of Holy Communion during the celebration of Mass has been completed, the prescriptions of the Roman Missal are to be observed, and in particular, whatever may remains of the Blood of Christ must be entirely and immediately consumed by the Priest or by another minister, according to the norms, while the consecrated hosts that are left are to be consumed by the Priest at the altar or carried to the place for the reservation of the Eucharist.

    US Norms for Two Kinds 52. When more of the Precious Blood remains than was necessary for Communion, and if not consumed by the bishop or priest celebrant, “the deacon immediately and reverently consumes at the altar all of the Blood of Christ which remains; he may be assisted, if needs dictate, by other deacons and priests.” When there are extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, they may consume what remains of the Precious Blood from their chalice of distribution with permission of the diocesan bishop.


  7. jhayes says:

    Chester Frank, where Communion is given by intinction, it is always on the tongue. Redemptionis sacramentum exludes giving it in the hand.

    [104.] The communicant must not be permitted to intinct the host himself in the chalice, nor to receive the intincted host in the hand. As for the host to be used for the intinction, it should be made of valid matter, also consecrated; it is altogether forbidden to use non-consecrated bread or other matter.

    At Masses in St. Peters that I have seen, Pope Francis gives Communion by intinction to the deacons. He holds the chalice in his left hand, picks up a host from a ciborium with his right hand, intincts it and places it on the tongue of the deacon.

  8. VeritasVereVincet says:

    I was always under the impression that the consumption of any remaining Precious Blood by the EMHC’s and/or the priest is because it cannot be reserved in the Tabernacle and must therefore be consumed.

  9. JabbaPapa says:

    iterum” doesn’t mean “again and again”, but then nor does it mean “a second time”.

    It just means “again”. Or, to be extra pedantic, “supplementally”. If “a second time” had been meant more specifically, the word “bis” (twice, a second time, again) might have been used.

    Of course, to take Communion more than once in the same day, except for good reasons, is generally discouraged, as is the sometimes exaggerated and ill-placed devotionalism that can motivate doing so. Better to be in contemplation of the Host in Montrance, and silent Prayer or Orison toward the Eucharistic Miracle and the Presence of the Lord, to seek a deeper experience of the Spiritual Communion with Christ and Church.

    John F. Kennedy :

    I see people all of the time receive “Communion” twice at the SAME Mass.

    erm, no, I don’t think what you describe counts as “twice” — any more than having two courses at lunch or taking two bites of a hamburger means you ate twice. :-) It’s still the same Eucharist.

    ChesterFrank :

    slightly off topic but: I recently saw a priest in the Mideast giving communion by Intinction.

    As does our PP. I wish this were more widespread.

  10. Alice says:

    This is a question all choir directors should be so prepared to answer that they can do so while playing a complicated Communion voluntary and turning a page. At least, I used to get it frequently enough. I figured I was done answering that question for a while when I took a job at a Lutheran congregation with only one service. Then one day I gave the pastor’s daughter a ride from the service I played for to the church where she was in Youth Group and she asked me what she should do at the next service. Oops, should have been more prepared.

  11. Imrahil says:

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

    That is kind of “obvious”, I should say and agree, but still where does it say exactly that in the law?

    And one thing that isn’t obvious at all, what if you actually intended to attend Mass, but due to circumstances, or understandable laxity (after all, if the first Communion of the day was at Mass also, you have been at one Mass already on this day), you do not make it on time?

    My personal practice (and this happens somewhat often to me) on this was to go on the safe side and Communicate merely spiritually. And being German, – that we’re always on time is a stereotype, but what is true is that we do not understand the concept of “relatively on time”. Hence, “I must have arrived at Church while the entrance has not started and the organ not begun to play”.

    Once or twice I convinced myself that if I was there (in the Novus Ordo) before the priest says “in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”, this would after all be somewhat the real beginning, and it is “within Mass” in a sense in any case… but with some nervous gut feeling all the same.

    So, would it be okay to Communicate if you were late (which, after all, isn’t a sin in the second Mass of the day), and if so, precisely how late? Is it the Offertory treshold we know from the “Sunday duty: mortal sin or not?” discussion?

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