Can a menstruating woman accept communion?

Hi All, can a menstruating woman accept communion? I’ve been told that they are not supposed to until they are ‘clean’ again. Is this true?


That is not true. The “purification rituals” of Ancient Israel are not a part of the cultic worship of the Church, who is the New Israel.

Not that I’ve heard of. I know in some religions that there are restrictions placed on a menstruating woman, like in Judaism and Islam as well as Native American customs.

in Christ


A woman’s menstruation is a private matter. It’s not considered unclean in the Catholic Church

Precisely…Jewish purity laws do not apply to Catholic women. Purity from mortal sin is more important that a perceived bodily “purity.”

Of course!
This is simply a function of a woman’s body, not the same as breathing, digessting, elimination, etc., but still a normal function not a voluntary action, therefore it cannot be considered “unclean” in Christian/Catholic terms.

You should have the ill-informed simpleton who told you that to read Acts of the Apostles. I don’t think Jewish purity laws have been an issue to Catholics since the mid to late 30s…

The AD 30s!!! :smiley:

It would appear certain Orthodox Churches do restrict Communion when a woman is menstruating: “According to the Canons, though a woman is not in any manner more sinful in her cycle than a man is in the case of involuntary bodily emissions, she, like the man, must avoid Holy Communion at this time. These bodily functions are not sins, but they represent and emphasize the consequences of our fallen states.” (source)

That’s an interesting page. It elaborates on the part about men, suggesting

abstinence by men polluted by nocturnal emissions

I realize this is slightly off-topic, but does anyone know how long this abstinence is for?

Yes, Russian Orthodox church restricts Communion, and sometimes, women are told not to touch the Bible, not to kiss icons or relics, and even stand in the church closer to the exit. Different priests tell differently, but Communion was always forbidden.

It was a great source of pain for me during my Orthodox life. One day it caused me to cry during a hour or more, when I deeply wanted to receive Communion in one holy day, and noticed these damned drops of blood! It ruined me… I was feeling like I’m unhappiest person in the world! Another day, I suffered not being able to kiss the relic of my favoritest saint. You may only imagine that unhappy little orthodox girl I was.

It’s a bit strange though, I got this teaching imprinted in my mind so firmly, so now being catholic, I anyway abstain from Communion during “critical days” 8)

Currently, no.

In the earlier times in the Church, there was a consensus that it was better to refrain from Communion when “nocturnal pollution” (for men) or menstruation (for women) occurred. See for exmaple, Aquinas’ treatment on the matter in the Summa. In fact, right uptil the 1950’s there was a passage in the altar missal (Missale Roamnum) for priests advising them on this matter, which ran (my translation)

If a nocturnal pollution preceded, which was caused from a preceding thought, which be a mortal sin, or happens due to excessive drink, he is to abstain from Communion and celebration, unless his Confessor deems otherwise. If there is doubt, and in the preceding there was mortal sin, it is advised to abstain, outside, however, cases of necessity.

But if he is certain, there was not in that thought mortal sin, or there was no thought, but it happened from a natural cause or from a diabolic illusion, he can communicate and celebrate, unless from that commotion of the body perturbation of the mind happens, so that it seems good to abstain.

But as such in the West, especially after the Middle Ages, this view and discipline decreased and largely died out.

An interesting thing in this regard, is the answer attributed o Pope St. Gregory when asked by St. Augustine:

  1. …whether it is lawful for her[a woman] to come into the church when she has her courses? Or to receive the holy sacrament of communion?

Yet the woman, nevertheless, must not be forbidden to come into the church whilst she has her monthly courses; because the superfluity of nature cannot be imputed to her as a crime; and it is not just that she should be refused admittance into the church, for that which she suffers against her will.

For we know, that the woman who had the issue of blood, humbly approaching behind our Lord’s back, touched the hem of his garment, and her distemper immediately departed from her. If, therefore, she that had an issue of blood might commendably touch the garment of our Lord, why may not she, who has the monthly courses, lawfully enter into the church of God?

But you may say, Her distemper compelled her, whereas these we speak of are bound by custom. Consider, then, most dear brother, that all we suffer in this mortal flesh, through the infirmity of our nature, is ordained by the just judgment of God after the fall; for to hunger, to thirst, to be hot, to be cold, to be weary, is from the infirmity of our nature; and what else is it to seek food against hunger, drink against thirst, air against heat, clothes against cold, rest against weariness, than to procure a remedy against distempers?

Thus to a woman her monthly courses are a distemper. If, therefore, it was a commendable boldness in her, who in her disease touched our Lord’s garment, why may not that which is allowed to one infirm person, be granted to all women are distempered?

She must not, therefore, be forbidden to receive the mystery of the holy communion during those days. But if any one out of profound respect does not presume to do it, she is to be commended; yet if she receives it, she is not to be judged.

For it is the part of noble minds in some manner to acknowledge their faults, even where there is no offence; because very often that is done without a fault, which, nevertheless, proceeded from a fault.

Therefore, when we are hungry, it is no crime to eat; yet our being hungry proceeds from the sin of the first man. The monthly courses are no crime in women; because they naturally happen; however, because our nature itself is so depraved, that it appears to be so without the concurrence of the will, the fault proceeds from sin, and thereby human nature may herself know what she is become by judgment.

And let man, who wilfully committed the offence, bear the guilt of that offence. And, therefore, let women consider with themselves, and if they do not presume, during their monthly courses, to approach the sacrament of the body and blood of our Lord, they are to be commended for their praiseworthy consideration; but when they are carried away with love of the same mystery to receive it out of the usual custom of religious life, they are not to be restrained, as we said before.

For as in the Old Testament the outward works are observed, so in the New Testament, that which is outwardly done, is not so diligently regarded as that which is inwardly thought, in order to punish it by a discerning judgment. For whereas the Law forbids the eating of many things as unclean, yet our Lord says in the Gospel, “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.” And presently after He added, expounding the same, “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts.” Where it is sufficiently shown, that that is declared by Almighty God to be polluted in fact, which proceeds from the root of a polluted thought. Whence also Paul the Apostle says, “Unto the pure all things are pure, but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure.” And presently after, declaring the cause of that defilement, he adds, “For even their mind and conscience is defiled.” If, therefore, meat is not unclean to him who has a clean mind, why shall that which a clean woman suffers according to nature, be imputed to her as uncleanness?

I find this interesting, the idea that menstruation is a consequence of our fallen state. Is it a belief among the Orthodox that Eve was created without the physiological capability of menstruating? That it only came about after the fall?

I have never heard of this idea in any Catholic teaching. I’ve always had the idea that the only consequence of the fall for Eve (other than the general consequences which afflict all mankind) was pain in childbirth. I’ve always assumed Eve would have the same natural functions before the fall, except, perhaps, for some nasty cramps:p

I somehow had the idea (can’t remember where from now) that these protein-containing discharges are considered polluting because they harbor bacteria when they rot, and therefore the temple floors had to be kept free of them. The floor had to be clean. I know dead animal matter such as menstrual fluid gives off some pheromones that can slightly inhibit plant and yeast growth, thereby spoiling wine for instance. It might represent the Fall because it’s dead. :shrug: But that’s all just symbolic and part of the ancient Jewish purity law. We’re free from that now.

I’m simply speculating here…

Perhaps there is a belief that Eve, in her pre-fallen state, held such mastery over her body (as did Adam) that there would be no ovulation without fertilization. That is, there would be no “periods”, no evacuations of menstrual blood with the unfertilized egg, seen as a failure to produce life. This idea comes to me only because of a blog post I did in November concerning the often-quoted Isaiah verse “all our justices as the rag of a menstruous woman” (Isaiah 64:6, Douay-Rheims). Most modern translations use the phrase “polluted rag” or “filthy garment”, but the Douay-Rheims (following the Latin) most accurately translates the Hebrew (and subsequent Greek). A reader of my blog provided her take: “it signals a failure to conceive, a missed opportunity to create, a missed blessing almost certainly.”

Again, mere speculation!

Really odd. When I have my period, I tend to think of it this way: I have to shed blood in order to give physical life to another human being. Jesus shed his blood in order to give everlasting life to all of us. I don’t find anything demeaning about it at all–in fact when you look at it from that perspective, it can bring you closer to Jesus. And if you look at it that way, it is a grace women can receive.

I believe that Jesus wants to unite Himself to us in Holy Communion… we shouldn’t not receive the Eucharist for a reason like this…it’s not a sin, after all.

Even if it’s a result of the fall, so is mortality, yet we still come to church though we are mortal :wink: and sickness is related to the fall…yet the sick are still allowed the Eucharist… same with suffering… so why not this

I’m glad the Church doesn’t forbid menstruating women to receive Communion

It’s a bit strange though, I got this teaching imprinted in my mind so firmly, so now being catholic, I anyway abstain from Communion during “critical days” 8)

I hope you don’t continue this practice! Nothing could make Jesus sadder than for you to stay away from Him. Why should you stay away? Do you still have fear of creating sacrilege? Your bodily state can never create sacrilege. Sacrilege can only be willed. It is not God that wants you to stay away from the alter out of fear – only the enemy can do that. In fact, the more we feel unworthy of the Sacrament, the more we should receive it, so we may become more worthy, become more like Christ. It is not necessary to be spotless when we come to God. He is the One who makes us spotless.
The only reason at all to not receive is if you are in a state of mortal sin, in which case you should go to Confession as soon as possible so you can please your Lord to come to Him with haste. He longs for us. Would you deny Him the joy and consolation of your receiving Him? Do not. Jesus burns to have us receive. Shall we act as if we are wiser than He? “No Jesus, you don’t understand. I know better.”
If this message seems strong, believe that it is. I could not exhort you enough to receive at all times of the month, as often as you can in the state of grace (without mortal sin). You cannot please God more than by trusting in His love and mercy for you. Menstrual bleeding should surely not allow you to doubt His desire for you.

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