Communion under both species in the 1300s?

I was wondering if receiving Communion under both species was the norm in the 1300s. Reason being I was reading the 15 prayers of st Bridget and saw in prayer #8 : “…grant me the grace to receive worthily Thy Precious Body AND Blood during my life and at the hour of my death…” these prayers are from the 1300s. Please enlighten me :slight_smile:

I presume that these prayers would express the idea of “concomitance”–that the Body and Blood are both found under either species.

Lay communion in both kinds was, by that point, pretty much confined to “heretical” movements like the Lollards and the Hussites, I think.

Edwin

We receive BOTH the Body and Blood whether we receive only the consecrated bread, or the consecrated wine, or both.

The resurrected Jesus cannot be divided. We cannot receive “half” of Jesus, or an “incomplete” Jesus (or a “more complete” Jesus).

St. Bridget’s prayer is completely reasonable regardless of whether the Chalice was actually offered in the 1300’s.

There was in times past a heresy going on around in Europe that stated that in order to receive the “whole” Jesus one must partake of both species.
The so called Hussites claimed this and the Council of Costance (1415) condemned this position and reiterated what the Church had done by Tradition since the earliest times.

Both the Councils of Costance and Trent reiterated that we DO receive the whole Jesus, body, blood, soul and divinity either in the bread OR the wine and that for the laity it is NOT required they partake from both. Not so the celebrating priest whom has to do exactly what Jesus commanded at the last supper.

Hope this helps you.

Dr. Mark Wedig OP, a highly credentialed professor, has an excellent article on this topic titled “Reception of the Eucharist Under Two Species”.

*By the thirteenth century, the Church in the West had forsaken Communion in the form of wine for all except the presiding priest. The Church of the high Middle Ages had developed complete amnesia concerning the chalice. The practice of giving Communion in the form of bread alone, known as Communion sub una, had become the common practice. To drink from the chalice was abandoned altogether as normative practice of the laity. Moreover, by the fourteenth century, Christians who returned to the ancient practice of receiving Communion under both kinds were condemned and considered heretics or schismatics. Complete ecclesial prohibition of the chalice to the laity resulted in the Council of Constance in 1415, which asserted that Communion in the form of bread alone was the law of the Church.

pastoralliturgy.org/resources/0705ReceptionEucharistTwoSpecies.php.*

The article is worth reading.

-Tim-

I’m actually writing an article on Hus, and he for sure did not believe this. He was accused of believing a lot of things that he said he didn’t believe, and his trial was somewhat of a hatchet job, it would appear. His followers certainly came to insist on utraquism, but whether they actually denied concomitance or just practically demanded both kinds I’m not sure.

The more I read about Hus, the more suspicious I get of the standard narratives about him.

Edwin

Let us know what you learn in your research for the article

Didn’t Christ Jesus our Lord tell us both to “eat” and to “drink”?

The Chalice was offered (and received) prior to the 1300’s. Perhaps someone could explain when and why it ceased to be offered (in the West. Eastern christians continue to receive both as they have always done)

Well, SUPPOSE some heretics went around saying that you didn’t receive Communion UNLESS you received under BOTH Kinds. SUPPOSE the Church wanted to suppress this heresy, and imposed a RULE (not a doctrine) that the Faithful could receive only the consecrated bread (OR the consecrated wine) at Mass. And SUPPOSE that the Church kept this rule intact for several centuries, until this heresy died out.

I’m not saying this was the case, but I will give you the actual details if you can explain to me why you think it matters when or why this RULE was put into place. Your explanation must include your reason for thinking that a person who receives ONLY the consecrated bread, or ONLY the consecrated wine, does not actually receive BOTH the Body and Blood (because, if that’s not the case, then you have little basis to claim that it matters, or to care what happened in the 1300’s).

Timothy H, thank you for the link to the article. There was just one brief mention that for a period of time pre-Lateran IV (1215), people didn’t receive the Eucharist at all. I recall reading once that people could go their entire lifetime without receiving either bread nor wine. Lateran IV had to come out and insist that the faithful were to receive at least once a year, on Easter. That was quite a new mandate.

pastoralliturgy.org/resources/0705ReceptionEucharistTwoSpecies.php

Dr. Wedig seemed quite approachable when I emailed him to thank him for the article. I wonder if he could suggest a book or other source.

-Tim-

I would say that Church went too far. It is also inconsistent since the priests do receive under both species, and from what I understand they are not permitted to do otherwise.

I’m not saying this was the case, but I will give you the actual details if you can explain to me why you think it matters when or why this RULE was put into place. Your explanation must include your reason for thinking that a person who receives ONLY the consecrated bread, or ONLY the consecrated wine, does not actually receive BOTH the Body and Blood (because, if that’s not the case, then you have little basis to claim that it matters, or to care what happened in the 1300’s).

Obedience to Christ’s words. “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you”

Doesn’t paint a very good picture, does it?

Why? Maybe the practice persisted beyond its demonstrated need, but if it makes no difference, then no damage was done.

If you accept the doctrine of concomitance then you think it would be ALWAYS OK administer Eucharist under one Kind. If you reject that doctrine, you would think it is NEVER OK to administer Eucharist under one Kind.

There is no Catholic justification for thinking it’s OK only when it is somehow deemed necessary. It is either OK (in which case it is always OK), or not OK (in which case it is never OK).

Reception under both Kinds might be PREFERRED. We have no argument there.

It is also inconsistent since the priests do receive under both species, and from what I understand they are not permitted to do otherwise.

The Mass is actually invalidated if a priest (the celebrant) does not receive under both kinds. A priest attending a Mass with the congregation receives in the same manner as the rest of the congregation.

Obedience to Christ’s words. “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you”

The doctrine of concomitance says that receiving one is the same as receiving both (and, thus, is obedient to Christ’s words). So I ask you again: do you accept or reject the doctrine of concomitance? Or, do you believe that you can receive “half of Jesus?”

Nonsense. You are assuming that validity is the only thing that matters.

This impoverished, small-minded, legalistic way of looking at the sacraments has been the curse of Western Catholicism ever since–well, at least ever since the absurd practice of communion in one kind developed.

The sacraments are not just “acts that meet some minimal requirement for getting some precisely calibrated spiritual benefit into people.” They are richly symbolic acts that, when practiced in their fullness, engage the whole person.

To be clear: I am not saying that they are “only symbols,” whatever that might mean. I am not denying any Catholic doctrine about the sacraments. I am simply saying that the sacraments have their proper, full form which most richly engages the body, mind, and imagination, and this should be the form used unless there is an extremely good reason not to. The same is true about baptism by immersion. Both non-immersion forms of baptism and communion in one kind are only justifiable in extreme circumstances.

The argument that the practice was justified by the presence of a heresy makes no sense. First of all, I know of no evidence that there was such a heresy in the 13th century. The Catholic Encyclopedia, under “Utraquism,” says that the Nestorians taught this heresy. I don’t know if that’s a fair description or not, but even if so, communion in both kinds remained the norm long after the Nestorian controversy.

Utraquism, in the doctrinal, heretical sense, was an overreaction to the distortion of sacramental practice in the late Middle Ages (as was Hus’ ecclesiology, the one place that I can see where Hus himself was genuinely unorthodox). It is really twisting things around to justify truncated sacramental practice as a refutation of a heresy that only arose because of the practice.

Edwin

I don’t think there was ever a time when no one was receiving, but I wouldn’t be surprised that some never received after confirmation.

I understand that in the Eastern Churches that has sometimes been the case. I read once that in Ethiopia it’s the norm today–that laypeople do not receive communion as adults, because they believe themselves to be in a state of sin.

Edwin

I think we can agree that validity is the only thing that matters to, umm, validity. Other aspects might enrich our understanding of a Sacrament, but none of that matters if the Sacrament is not even valid.

The sacraments are not just “acts that meet some minimal requirement for getting some precisely calibrated spiritual benefit into people.” They are richly symbolic acts that, when practiced in their fullness, engage the whole person.

Then the matter of Baptism ought to be milk, and not water. After all, we are fed by our mother’s milk. Human milk is the most perfect food for humans. From a purely symbolic point of view, baptism in human milk would be FAR superior to baptism in water (which imparts no nutrition whatsoever).

When you think about Baptism from a biological standpoint, it is rather silly. Water imparts or sustains life? That’s absurd.

Do the Orthodox Baptize in milk? ***No? *** I didn’t think so.

The argument that the practice was justified by the presence of a heresy makes no sense.

But it doesn’t matter. If one accepts the doctrine of concomitance , the Church is perfectly free to offer communion under one Kind exclusively, for all time. The Church does not need to “justify” this practice. The Church could continue this practice today, and forever, for no reason whatsoever. The Church chose to implement this practice in the 1300’s, which She was perfectly free to do, and chose to reverse this practice in the 1900’s, which She was perfectly free to do.

I ask you AGAIN: do you accept or deny the doctrine of concomitance? Do you believe that we can receive “half of Jesus?”

Edwin, I am going to find some citations for you. They are looming in my brain, but I cannot place them. Perhaps one of Carolyn Walker Bynum’s works? Wonderful Blood is probably where she writes about this. Also there must be some citation in Companion to the Eucharist in the Middle Ages. I might have picked up various bits and pieces in Fred Paxton’s work Christianizing Death, which I know better than Carolyn’s various tomes.

The point I remember is that from say the 10th to 12th centuries, the laity were fearful of the Eucharist and tended toward adoration and the visual more than actually receiving. There was also the fear of being tainted by either the communicant’s immorality or the just as likely, the priest’s state of sin. That was a concern for a good century or two. Many people left (or tried leaving) receiving the Eucharist until the moment of death, much like earlier Christians postponed Baptism. Don’t underestimate the power/magic of the Eucharist until the very end.

But the Lateran Council did make a point of requiring all people to receive at least once a year. So it got people back into the rhythm of yearly consuming.

Sure. But the question is: why do you assume from the start that this is all about validity?

Other aspects might enrich our understanding of a Sacrament, but none of that matters if the Sacrament is not even valid.

Right. But validity is a given. We aren’t debating validity. If I were arguing that Anglican communion in both kinds is superior to those Catholic Eucharists where communion is given in one kind, and that this trumps the question of validity, then you would be making a relevant point. Since I’m not arguing anything of the sort, you aren’t making a relevant point.

You claimed that it simply doesn’t matter whether you use one or both kinds as long as it doesn’t affect validity.

Then the matter of Baptism ought to be milk, and not water. After all, we are fed by our mother’s milk. Human milk is the most perfect food for humans. From a purely symbolic point of view, baptism in human milk would be FAR superior to baptism in water (which imparts no nutrition whatsoever).

Straw man again. One can come up with all kinds of arguments for all kinds of possible sacramental signs. We both agree that we have to work with the sacramental signs handed down in the Tradition.

My argument is that the sacramental signs have a minimum requirement for validity, but that the other elements well attested in the Tradition are still valuable and should not be dispensed with unless there is extremely good reason.

You have explicitly stated the opposite–that no such emergency situation is necessary. That is what we are arguing about here.

As a matter of fact, there’s evidence that some in the early Church did give milk or cheese to the newly baptized precisely because of the nutritional symbolism. And I would love to see that practice revived. But it’s hardly of the same universality as communion as both kinds, and of course it isn’t attested in the paradigmatic Eucharist, namely the one celebrated by Christ himself.

But it doesn’t matter. If one accepts the doctrine of concomitance , the Church is perfectly free to offer communion under one Kind exclusively, for all time.

The Church may do so without ceasing to be the Church and without ceasing to offer valid sacraments.

But it was an extremely bad idea, and it’s not surprising that it gave rise to heretical overreactions.

The Church does not need to “justify” this practice.

Yes. A departure from the full, normative form of the sacrament needs to be justified.

It would be like celebrating the Eucharist using only the Words of Institution and omitting the rest of the Liturgy because it’s not necessary for validity.

I ask you AGAIN: do you accept or deny the doctrine of concomitance?

Of course I do. That’s a red herring.

Now if you agree that validity is not the only thing that matters, why are you harping on this?

Edwin

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