ASK FATHER: Communion twice in a day. But is Communion under both species already twice?

From a reader…


I have a question about the number of times Holy Communion May be received in a day. And I know the answer sort of.

The question is, if you may receive twice in the same day within the context of Holy Mass. and if you completely receive The body Blood Soul and divinity of Christ in either spiecies. Are you receiving twice if you receive under both species? If you were to go to Mass twice and receive under both species at both Masses would you be receiving 4 times?

First, let’s review.

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.

To your question about receiving under both kinds.  Is reception of Holy Communion under both kinds in two different steps, first as the Host and then, going to the chalice the Precious Blood, two separate acts of receiving Communion?  This wouldn’t be a question in the case of intinction, or how It is distributed in an Eastern Divine Liturgy, but it might be if the Hosts and the chalice are separated at any distance.

Yes, and no.

Clearly, it is physically two separate actions of reception.  Right?  First you receive here, then you go over there, etc.  That looks like two receptions.  Right?

However, morally it is one act of reception of Communion.  You are in the same Mass, during the same Communion rite, receiving the same Eucharistic Lord, both species consecrated at that Mass etc., even though you had to “go over there” to receiving the Precious Blood.

Or maybe you received the Precious Blood first and then went to where the Hosts were distributed? What difference does it make?

Look at it this way.  If you eat a steak by cutting it into small pieces, you are not eating dozens of tiny steaks, you are eating “a steak”.  If you eat a part of a steak and then put the rest in the fridge and eat the rest later you might be able to say that you had two steak meals not one, even though it started out as the one steak.  You get two meals in the day.  Analogies limp, but it is something like that.  And, for the obtuse out there, I am not reducing the Eucharist to a meal… even though, yes, it is also that.

So, reception under both kinds in one Mass is one reception of Communion.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. cwillia1 says:

    During the flu season, we in the Diocese of Venice (FL) are not offered the cup. Four extraordinaries have been eliminated along with an extensive cleanup process at the altar. In my half-hispanic parish only about one third of the people receive the consecrated wine. Personally, I find it distracting to receive our Lord in two stages, especially to be handed a cup by an extraordinary from which I must commune myself. Sometimes there is only a deacon and the priest to distribute the host and this too is a blessing. I wonder why the deacon cannot do intinction.

  2. Unwilling says:

    I infer that the first of the two receptions need not be during a Mass, but the second must.

  3. Sawyer says:

    What about situations that sometimes happen with regard to novus ordo Masses? Mass is not held in a church (on a retreat or in a gymnasium or at the beach, for example). Father consecrates many more hosts than there are communicants, but there is no tabernacle to reserve the Eucharist. Sometimes extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion are asked by Father after Mass to consume remaining consecrated hosts and wine, which occurs after they had already received Communion during Mass. Does such consuming of the remaining consecrated species constitute a second reception of Communion that day? Note, too, that if it counts as a second reception of Communion it occurs outside the context of Mass, which is prohibited.

    In one such experience at a Catholic school, a religion teacher quipped while we were consuming a VERY LARGE QUANTITY of leftover consecrated hosts and wine after an outdoors graduation Mass, “Not only is this the Blood of Christ, it’s also a very good chardonnay.” Grrr…. I felt uneasy about the whole thing, but there was no place to reserve the leftover consecrated species.

    [That is an extraordinary circumstance. The “what about” here results making the best of the unfortunate situation which shouldn’t have happened in the first place. The dopey should should have USED HIS BRAIN before consecrating so many Hosts. However, once accomplished, something has to be done. Hence, no way to conserve the Eucharist? You consume the Eucharist. And then you don’t go to Communion again that day. That part is simple.]

  4. TonyO says:

    It seems to me that in addition to what Father Z said, the very reasonfor receiving under both species (or, at least, one important reason) is to make manifest the integral wholeness of Jesus in receiving Him – all of him, not just a part. The host is the body of Jesus, but not merely the body and nothing else; and the chalice holds the blood of Jesus, but not merely the blood and nothing else: both the host and the chalice hold ALL of Jesus. Nevertheless, when He spoke the words at the Last Supper, He used the terms “body” and “blood” separately, so as to signify the change He was bringing about as under the separate species of the two, bread and wine. Eating the host and drinking the blood signify more visibly receiving the whole of Jesus, than receiving only one can signify, and this is the very reason it is employed in special situations, to so signify in a more complete way what takes place. Hence, I would suggest, receiving both at the same Mass cannot represent (in a moral sense) signify receiving Jesus twice, for that would defeat the very point of going out of the (usual) way to receive under both species.

    Another point: clearly what the priest does at Mass is to re-present what Jesus did. But Jesus only offered his Sacrifice to the Father once, consisting of all of Himself – once for all time. So when He said the words of institution, which the priest repeats at the consecration, while He spoke about the Sacrifice as under separate species, He did not thereby mean that there were two sacrifices taking place, they were two facets of the same Sacrifice. And so when the priest partakes of the host, and then drinks from the chalice, he partakes of the ONE sacrifice of Jesus. So the priest receiving under both species is a matter of completing the two facets to the ONE act of sacrifice of a single Mass: the Mass isn’t complete until he partakes of both species. But the priest doesn’t need to “receive Jesus twice” at one Mass for it to be a complete Mass. While his saying Mass a second time is a different moral act (though the same sacrifice), receiving under both species in one Mass is completing the SAME moral act of sacrifice, and therefore the same moral act of receiving Jesus.

  5. JabbaPapa says:

    However, morally it is one act of reception of Communion

    I’d say Sacramentally, myself.

    It is one Eucharistic Communion during one Holy Mass within one Congregation involving multiple Acts constituting the individual celebrations and worships and prayers and contritions and penances and love and Faith and Gloria Dei and the Congregational and Sacramental Unity in and by the Miracle of the Transubstantiation.

  6. rhhenry says:

    Our twelve year-old just asked this same question last week! Thank you to the questioner, and thank you, Fr. Z., for the reply. I had the right answer, but with an unsatisfactory reasoning. I’ll share this with our son!

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