Bread and wine

I’m an Anglican whose puzzled by an aspect of Catholic practice during the Mass.
Given the emphasis on the work of grace that comes to us in the Bread and Wine, why do some churches only offer the Bread, with the Priest drinking the wine?

I sometimes receive the wine only myself, but I prefer both for the reverence. Just in case you did not know, Christ is truly present in both forms in a valid Mass and since Christ cannot be divided, each form is fully Christ. Because of this, there is no objective need for non-celebrants to receive both (we all celebrate but only the priest can be a celebrant). I think the practice comes down to a practical matter. Receiving both is more common in parishes that can handle it such as smaller parishes or parishes with many priests and deacons.

Sorry to come back on this…
But did Jesus not say that unless we drink…and …eat; not drink or eat…?
As you can see, I fail to understand the logic of taking just one or the other.

Regarding the faithful receiving both the Sacred Host and the Precious Blood, the Catechism says that “the sign of communion is more complete when given under both kinds, since in that form the sign of the Eucharistic meal appears more clearly”. Sometimes however it is not practical to offer both to the faithful. As StillWondering said, we receive Christ entirely - Body, Blood, Soul, Divinity - whether we receive the Sacred Host alone, from the Chalice alone, or both, as the Body of Christ cannot be divided.

The Catechism of the Council of Trent said the following:

Christ Whole And Entire Present In Every Part Of Each Species
Nor should it be forgotten that Christ, whole and entire, is contained not only under either species, but also in each particle of either species. Each, says St. Augustine, receives Christ the Lord, and He is entire in each portion. He is not diminished by being given to many, but gives Himself whole and entire to each.

This is also an obvious inference from the narrative of the Evangelists. It is not to be supposed that our Lord consecrated the bread used at the Last Supper in separate parts, applying the form particularly to each, but that all the bread then used for the sacred mysteries was consecrated at the same time and with the same form, and in a quantity sufficient for all the Apostles. That the consecration of the chalice was performed in this manner, isclear from these words of the Saviour: Take and divide it among you.

What has hitherto been said is intended to enable pastors to show that the true body and blood of Christ are contained in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

The same Catechism outlined some reasons why the faithful should not receive from the Chalice. The first reason was the risk of spilling the Precious Blood, especially if there is a large gathering of people - if it were merely wine that we were consuming, we would not be overly worried about spilling it, but as Catholics we believe that the Chalice really contains the Precious Blood of Our Lord.

This was another reason:

…a most important reason was the necessity of opposing the heresy of those who denied that Christ, whole and entire, is contained under either species, and asserted that the body is contained under the species of bread without the blood, and the blood under the species of wine without the body. In order, therefore, to place more clearly before the eyes of all the truth of the Catholic faith, Communion under one kind, that is, under the species of bread, was most wisely introduced.

  • I think there is evidence of this today where Communion is offered under both species, where people simply don’t realise that the Church has always taught that Christ is present entire in the Sacred Host or the Precious Blood.

There is also the issue of deciding how much wine should be consecrated. There are cathedrals where there could be five or six chalices of wine consecrated at a single Mass on a Sunday. The problem is that if, for some reason, there are fewer people than usual, or that more people than usual decide to receive the Host alone, there could be a huge amount of the Precious Blood left over. It cannot be stored as the consecrated Hosts can - the accidents of wine still remain, so it could spoil very quickly - so the Precious Blood must be consumed.

Remember, it is not bread and wine, but the living body, blood, soul and divinity of Out Lord Jesus Christ.

This is very difficult for me to really get to grips with, but thank you all.

IT is the priest who is offering the Sacrifice of the Mass. We are uniting ourselves to his offering of Christ’s sacrifice. It is only he who is required to receive under both forms.

I think your comments point to the source of your confusion. The Blessed Sacrament is not “Bread and Wine.” Each species contains the full Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ.

I think when you look at it in those terms it makes more sense when we can received either the consecrated hosts or (in specific cases) just the Precious Blood or often communion via both species.

Further in years past, people tended to reject the truth that each species contains the full Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. To combat this problem communion was often limited to one species.

Thanks so much for all this but may I go back to what Jesus said? “Unless you eat… AND drink…” I wonder why he made that distinction if it didn’t mean anything. He didn’t say “eat OR drink”. He distinguished between his body and his blood, the shed blood and the broken body, each having their own significance for every believer.
The ritual gets all so complicated when you believe in the real Presence.

But if you believe that the Priest is the one who eats and drinks then the rest of the argument is rather futile, is it not? It takes us right back to the OT sacrificial system.

I can almost understand why the Salvation Army doesn’t have this Sacrament at all!! Such are the arguments!

But I’m grateful anyway for your help.

In the Holy Mass the bread is consecrated separately from the wine - after all, Jesus did not say “this is My Body and My Blood”, but first over the bread “This is My Body”, and then over the wine “This is the cup of My Blood”. The Blood is separate from the Body as it was at the Crucifixion. However, before the Agnus Dei the priest breaks a piece of the Sacred Host and puts it into the Precious Blood “to signify the unity of the Body and Blood of the Lord in the work of salvation, namely, of the living and glorious Body of Jesus Christ” (GIRM 83). Because of this mingling of the Body and Blood of Christ, we receive Christ entirely under either form, as others have explained. So we do believe that we consume the Precious Blood (as well as His Body, Soul and Divinity) when we consume the Sacred Host alone.

I know you are confused by the use of the command to “drink”. Say, for example, that the Sacred Host is dipped (intincted) into the Precious Blood, you would consume the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ, but you could hardly be said to have drank His Blood. At least, you would not have drank the Precious Blood in the sense of taking the Chalice or as you would drink a glass of water, but you know you have consumed the Precious Blood nonetheless. Now, if one chooses to receive the Sacred Host alone, they are also receiving the Precious Blood as much as anyone who receives from the Chalice, though their earthly senses are deceived. Even if we receive Holy Communion under both kinds we rely on faith to make up for what is lacking in the senses (as St Thomas Aquinas said in that lovely hymn, Tantum Ergo Sacramentum).

The Catholic Church’s position on the Eucharist has always been the same - you can see this if you look at the writings of the Early Church Fathers. The many Protestant denominations which have sprung up since the “Reformation” have vastly different views on the Eucharist which are so often vastly different from the consistent teaching of the Catholic Church. Unfortunately, no matter how sincerely they hold their beliefs in the Eucharist, they cannot all be right. Also, most non-Catholic denominations couldn’t have the sacrament as Christ wished because they do not have validly ordained priests. Then again, the Eucharist has always been a source of division to some extent - look at the promise of the Eucharist in John 6: the only reference in Scripture to some of Christ’s followers leaving Him for doctrinal reasons & also the moment that Judas fell away. I suppose we must ask ourselves just how much do we want to follow Christ, despite the divisions that doing so might cause.


I think this is a misunderstanding. The Precious Blood is present with the Sacred Body at the moment the Sacred Body becomes present – in fact, the whole Christ is present as soon as the Sacred Body becomes present. The later mingling doesn’t accomplish the unity in reality, but signals it.

In other words, the mingling isn’t the reason we receive the whole Christ entirely under each species.

But, I may have misunderstood your post. Accept my apology if I missed something!


Bless you all -so even Catholics disagree about what really takes place!! I agree about the problem of ‘dipping’ the wafer; it’s never so satisfying, if that’s the right word for something so spiritual. There’s so much in the Catholic faith that appeals to me but the minutiae of detail you describe - also reflected in High Anglicanism - is quite worrying. Can this really be what Jesus intended?



Hi Reginaldo,

I think it might be important to distinguish the kinds of disagreement that can take place. There are some things about the Eucharist that are held definitively, and taught by the Church as such, and no Catholic can legitimately disagree with them. They might misunderstand them, or refuse to accept them, but they can’t legitimately disagree because it isn’t an open question.

Other things about the Eucharist are commonly held and taught, and consistent with the mind of the Church, and so disagreeing would be possible but not something done lightly.

Other things about the Eucharist are still being discovered and speculated upon, and Catholics sometimes disagree with one another on precise points or terms of expression.

And some things are entirely open and Catholics freely disagree as to the best or most beneficial expression.

Can you give an example of the detail that you mean?


Sorry VC - I went off on a tangent & I am happy to be set straight on the matter; I was talking (or should have been talking) about the significance of offering the bread and wine separately, and, as per the part of the GIRM that I quoted, the mingling signals the unity of the Body and Blood of Christ. Anyway, I succeeded in confusing myself…so thanks for clarifying! I think the Catechism of the Council of Trent explains the matter clearly:

Christ Whole And Entire Present Under Each Species

Hence it also follows that Christ is so contained, whole and entire, under either species, that, as under the species of bread are contained not only the body, but also the blood and Christ entire; so in like manner, under the species of wine are truly contained not only the blood, but also the body and Christ entire.

But although these are matters on which the faithful cannot entertain a doubt, it was nevertheless wisely ordained that two distinct consecrations should take place. First, because they represent in a more lively manner the Passion of our Lord, in which His blood was separated from His body; and hence in the form of consecration we commemorate the shedding of His blood. Secondly, since the Sacrament is to be used by us as the food and nourishment of our souls, it was most appropriate that it should be instituted as food and drink, two things which obviously constitute the complete sustenance of the (human) body.

Of course the present Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms the same thing:

1377 The Eucharistic presence of Christ begins at the moment of the consecration and endures as long as the Eucharistic species subsist. Christ is present whole and entire in each of the species and whole and entire in each of their parts, in such a way that the breaking of the bread does not divide Christ.

Welcome to the club. :smiley:

[quote="NPC]the mingling signals the unity of the Body and Blood of Christ.

Yes, that is a good way of saying it. It’s not uncommon to find someone thinking that this is where the Body and Blood are actually reunited, but that is a misunderstanding. . . since after the Resurrection, the Body and Blood are never actually separated.

Again, welcome to my club. I do that to myself all the time. :o


That is why we have an authority, the Magisterium, that cannot err in matters of faith and morals. Then we do not have to be anxious about the details.

I believe when I receive the Eucharist, even only under the consecrated Bread, that I am receiving the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. His Blood was separated from His Body at the Crucifixion, but it is not separated in the Eucharist. If we were receiving just His Body when we receive the consecrated Bread, then we would be receiving a dead Christ. We receive the Risen Christ.

God gave us inquisitive minds, so naturally some are going to strive for a precise understanding of what happens when during the Mass. But you do not have to be a master of minutiae to benefit from God’s grace imparted during the Mass, any more than you need to be a biochemist to benefit from medicine when you are sick.

There is a great book out now that explains very nicely and yet simply the receiving of Communion. It is called: “7 Secrets of the Eucharist” written by Vinny Flynn.

Others have pointed out that Our Lord’s Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity are fully present in either species. Why? Because He is alive. A living person’s body, blood and soul are always united. Separate them out, and the person dies. So we are eating His Body *and *drinking His Blood, even if we only receive the Host.

Of course, the Eucharist is a mystery, so it’s not surprising that it is hard to understand. In fact, our tiny brains will never completely wrap themselves around the Eucharist. But one of the really nice things about the Sacraments is that they do not require us to understand them in order to produce their beneficial effects.

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