ASK FATHER: “If I go to Saturday night mass and receive Communion, and then go also to Sunday mass, may I receive Communion again?”

From a reader…


Hello if I go to Saturday night anticipation mass and receive Holy Communion, and then go the following morning to Sunday mass, may I receive Holy Communion again? I have been told you cannot because it’s the “same Mass” and you can’t receive twice at the same Mass. Does anything change if one is Novus and one is Vetus? Thank you.

Yes.  You may receive Saturday evening and Sunday morning.

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”.

Note also, it says “on the same day”.  So, you scenario of different Masses on different days, a Saturday and a Sunday” doesn’t apply.

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.

That’s back when the Holy See answered dubia that weren’t crafted in house and then published as if they had been received from elsewhere.

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.   This applies to Novus Ordo and Vetus Ordo, too.  It is indifferent.

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 at the hospital chapel 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.


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.

If a person is dying, even if he has been to two Masses and received twice on the same day, he can receive Viaticum.

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  1. Boniface says:

    Thank you for such a clear and thorough explanation, Fr. Z. While I was already aware of this information, not long ago I heard someone on a Catholic radio station (who is otherwise solid, orthodox, and a very “good egg” type of person) discuss this subject in error, so it seems well-timed.

    Though it’s none of my business as a humble lay person to have an opinion about it, I think that canon law is very wise in this respect. It covers someone say, who might be a nurse or physician required to work a 24-hour shift from late Saturday evening through late Sunday evening, who might attend a wedding mass Saturday morning, but then need to fulfill their Sunday mass obligation before work at a Saturday evening anticipated mass and want to receive at both masses. Of course, I know it doesn’t matter what the circumstances are as to why someone would attend two masses in a day – what’s allowed is allowed – but this law serves to obviate any scruples for people in many different legitimate situations.

  2. Theophilus says:

    I don’t know if the dubia covers this but does Canon 917 prevent someone from receiving a second time at a Byzantine Presanctified Liturgy if they received at a Mass earlier that day?

  3. anthtan says:

    I know this query has come up again and again. Thank you Fr. Z for the patient, clear, detailed and repeated explanation. I’m sure there are those out there reading for the first time who are helped by this.

  4. APX says:

    If Mass starts on one day and goes past midnight, does one go by the day Mass started, or the day that communion was received at that Mass? Ie: Easter vigil starts 11:00 pm on Saturday, but communion isn’t received until 1:30-2:30 am on Sunday.

  5. robtbrown says:

    An interesting question and response. If I might make a few comments:

    With the priest shortage it often is difficult to find a church that has a Sat morning mass. Those who want to attend daily mass often have only the Saturday 4:00 option.

    The anticipatory mass is just that: A mass that can fulfill the Sunday obligation but nevertheless is on Saturday.

    Just looking around, it doesn’t seem that too frequent Communion–or Confession–is a serious problem in the Church.

  6. TonyO says:

    APX, I am stymied in coming up with a plausible normal scenario where a mass starts on one “day” of the week and winds up with Communion on another “day” of the week, other than a “vigil” or “midnight” mass situation for Christmas or for a Sunday. In that context, whether the mass is a vigil mass in the evening, or the “midnight mass” of Christmas, it is understood to be a Mass of that next day: it is a mass celebrating the feast of that following festal day. The common Saturday vigil mass has the readings of Sunday, and it is a mass for the observance of Sunday, (which is why it satisfies the Sunday obligation). Given that, I would offer that you would be never in the wrong to assume that if Mass started at 11:00pm Saturday, and you received Communion at 12:30am Sunday, that your Communion counts as a Sunday reception, and not as a Saturday reception. (In any event, you are never obliged to receive Communion at Mass, so all the more you are never obliged to receive Communion at a second Mass on the same day.)

  7. ex seaxe says:

    There is an explicit rubric for the NO Easter Vigil –
    Anyone who participates in the Mass of the night may receive Communion again at Mass during the day.

  8. Pingback: MONDAY EDITION – Big Pulpit

  9. Thank you for the clarification Father, I’ve wondered this question as well, but assumed that after midnight, another day starts liturgically.

    Note that receiving Communion under both species is counted as TWO separate Communions, since we receive God wholly in the Host and the Blood, either one.

    One can be led to believe that a communicant receives “more Jesus” when receiving both species, but in fact, the communicant is receiving twice.

    Wasn’t the widespread practice of parishes offering Communion under two species the reason that this new ruling came out?

  10. Imrahil says:

    Dear Tina in Ashburn Whoville,

    interesting question, and yes, it is a question. I had been fairly certain that Communion under two species within the same Mass, is obviously one Communion. Also, coming to think of it, that the priest consuming the “leftover” Precious Blood, or in Masses not in front of a tabernacle, Host, doesn’t count as a separate Communion.

    Not really adding anything to what has been said, but boils down two a few very easy principles.
    1. The canonical day always begins at midnight.
    2. The liturgical day differs and may begin at First Vespers, or where First Vespers would be.
    3. The “at most two Communions, and the second only within Mass” holds for the canonical day, and the canonical day only.
    4. The Sunday obligation holds for the canonical day and for the canonical day only; and of course the afternoon and evening of the preceding canonical day, but preceding canonical day. (Of course the fact that the liturgical day begins with First Vespers is the justification for this Mass being “able” to “count for Sunday”; but it stops there: a Wedding Mass, First Saturday Marian Mass, Rorate Mass, Palm Saturday Mass, feast of an Apostle Mass – to list some examples where it would make sense to actually use this possibility – do count for Sunday when in the evening.)

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