Communion Under Both Species

Offering Communion Under Both Species has never been required, only for the priest. As far as I know, offering the chalice was never standard until the last few decades. What gets me is that in that time we’ve also seen a sharp decrease in the number of priests. With offering both species, that means more Eucharistic Ministers are needed, and since they are not available, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion are used. But since EMHC’s are only to be used in extreme circumstances that would unduly prolong the Mass, wouldn’t it make sense to quit offering the chalice. Not only would it mean less EMHC’s and make things quicker, I also think it would clear up some confusion about the Eucharist since some people seem to think that they are being deprived if they do not consume the Precious Blood (not realizing that the full grace is imparted in either species).

So if the Church has declared that EMHC’s are only to be used in rare circumstances and in general to be discouraged, why have we seen little action about Communion Under Both Species which would probably cut their number by half?

Depends on the parish and diocese. My parish never offers communion under both species for exactly the reasons you state. It would take too many EMHCs, communion would be more difficult (because of the church layout we’d have traffic jams), and the risk of spilling the consecrated wine would be too great.

Also our bishop does not encourage it, for those reasons also.

In other parishes, it may be easier to do and so the pastor (and possibly bishop) encourage it because of the sign value. Hard to say.

If your parish offers both regularly, why don’t you ask your pastor why and charitably present some of your concerns. I have a feeling that a concern about the safety of the consecrated wine, or even the time for commuion, would go over better than a discussion about how many EMHCs are being used.

Because some people might have celiacs, we need like 10 cups of the precious blood for the laity. :rolleyes:

This is what I was told when I asked.

There are lots of reasons, including that people are stuck in their ways, people like seeing EMs, some major financial supporters are often EMs, it helps in a parish where there is only one priest… list goes on.

Also I think a major problem is that the doctrine of concomitance is just not taught anymore. The textbooks like to leave out big words and concepts that it feels are too complicated for kids but I feel it is making kids dumber and ignorant of their faith. When teach about transubstantiation, the word is not mentioned and the textbooks do not even mention the concept of concomitance.

Not. The people that I know who are celiacs are very catious about consuming from a common cup because of cross-contamination. In my parish the few celiacs (perhaps 5 people total out of a parish of 5000 families.) receive from a small individual cup. The parish has worked out a simple, unobtrusive system to get them communion safely. I just do not understand why it has to be such a huge production in some parishes.

With you on the :rolleyes:.

Celiac disease is where they need the gluten free hosts, correct? Why not just use that?

From what I’ve seen, having extra chalices also leaves the problem of a lot of extra purification and risk of over-consecration such that someone will have a lot to consume.

I know in my diocese (and the neighbouring one where our choir sings), communion under both species, while it occurs, is very rare and will usually be limited to certain special occasions such as the evening Mass on Holy Thursday.

But I’ve been to other dioceses where it was more common.

At the Benedictine abbey where I usually attend Sunday Mass, it’s extremely rare and I’ve only seen it on Holy Thursday, and it hasn’t happened even then in the last couple of years. The irony is that at the abbey, since there’s usually a dozen or so priests concelebrating Mass, there’s no need for EMHCs. Still, it’s a very rare occurrence and I haven’t seen it in quite a few years; I’m guessing because the community is aging.

This is not correct. From the USCCB’s document, we are reminded that it was the practice for over 14 centuries.

  1. From the first days of the Church’s celebration of the Eucharist, Holy Communion consisted of the reception of both species in fulfillment of the Lord’s command to “take and eat . . . take and drink.” The distribution of Holy Communion to the faithful under both kinds was thus the norm for more than a millennium of Catholic liturgical practice.

  2. The practice of Holy Communion under both kinds at Mass continued until the late eleventh century, when the custom of distributing the Eucharist to the faithful under the form of bread alone began to grow. By the twelfth century theologians such as Peter Cantor speak of Communion under one kind as a “custom” of the Church. This practice spread until the Council of Constance in 1415 decreed that Holy Communion under the form of bread alone would be distributed to the faithful.

  3. In 1963, the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council authorized the extension of the faculty for Holy Communion under both kinds in Sacrosanctum Concilium:
    The dogmatic principles which were laid down by the Council of Trent remaining intact, Communion under both kinds may be granted when the bishops think fit, not only to clerics and religious, but also to the laity, in cases to be determined by the Apostolic See. . . .

But since EMHC’s are only to be used in extreme circumstances that would unduly prolong the Mass, wouldn’t it make sense to quit offering the chalice.
So if the Church has declared that EMHC’s are only to be used in rare circumstances and in general to be discouraged, why have we seen little action about Communion Under Both Species which would probably cut their number by half?

I don’t know where your idea originated about the “rare circumstances” so I offer you the correct teaching of the Bishops from the same document, which received a recognito from the CDWDS and is official, therefore:

  1. When Holy Communion is to be distributed under both species, careful planning should be undertaken so that:
    *]a suitable number of ministers of Holy Communion are provided at each Mass. For Communion from the chalice, it is desirable that there be generally two ministers of the Precious Blood for each minister of the Body of Christ, lest the liturgical celebration be unduly prolonged.

Gluten-free hosts are not valid matter for consecration. There is an order of sisters in Missouri that makes very low gluten hosts that have been declared valid matter for consecration, and these do not cause antibody reactions in celiacs who consume them. But their use requires contacting the priest and working out a way to receive safely. Usually the person places a pyx with the host in it, in the area where the paten/chalices are kept, and the closed pyx is consecrated along with the regular hosts. Then one of the ministers takes the pyx and when the celiac comes to them for communion, hands them the closed pyx. The celiac person opens the pyx, takes out the host, and consumes it.

An alternative is for the person with celiac disease to go straight to the cup minister and receive the Precious Blood. Of course they have to avoid the priest’s cup since it contains a portion of the regular host. And sometimes the EMs will give them odd looks if they notice the skipping of the Host. :shrug:

For a child, the parent can be designated the special EM for the child but this is up to the pastor/priest.

No, the discipline of withholding the Cup only came in the Second Millennium. So it wasn’t “never been required”. Both have been offered for most of the Church life and continues to do so with all the other Rites except the Latin one.

It has been standard for over a millennium.

There are intinction sets that priests can use so you don’t really need EMHCs to minister the Cup.

We don’t have EMHCs in our Diocese - we have Acolytes who help with Communion - I like it this way. I believe more Diocese’ and parishes should do this.

I’ve heard that my Priest used to use an intinction set. I may have to ask him why he stopped.

I did not realize that receiving from the chalice was common for so long. Thank you all for pointing that out.

However, and I think this point still stands, that given the shortage of Eucharistic Ministers, perhaps the chalice should be withheld at most times since distributing it will necessarily mean the usage of more EMHC’s. It just seemed strange that now that we have fewer priests it was decided that Communion Under Both Species was necessary.

This and the removal of altar rails; it’s almost as if people are looking for any means at all to keep EMHC’s “in business”.

In the Eastern Churches where there is no concept of EMHCs, we do not have a problem ministering the Cup. Maybe it is this concept of “the Mass must be done in 1 hour or less” that needs to be addressed. Eastern Liturgies go for 1.5-2 hours, sometimes more. And communion takes a long time depending on the congregation size.

2 priests or a priest and a deacon can easily minister to a big crowd if people are not rushing to get out of church by the 60th minute.

Even at the EF Masses I have attended Communion took at most 15 minutes, and that was with only 1 priest. Usually another comes by to help. The Masses take an hour and a half, but these High Masses with everything sung, with all the incense, with everything, and that is where the time goes. I see no reason why it can’t be done faster in most parishes and with less EMHC’s.

But alas, people see it as a way to encourage participation so that the people get to play priest. I don’t understand it.

Sorry to say, you are not the bishop, and your opinion is simply “your opinion.” Do you usually disagree with them and look for better solutions when something is unacceptable to you?

Your bold comment is really deplorable. :frowning:

Excellent question. It’s a strange topic, though. I guess for big communities it diminishes the amount of hosts to be consecrated? Since (the times I’ve seen this) the people would not receive both, that is, there were separate lines.

Agreed, particularly on this part.

Per the OP’s statement, I have concerns also about the numbers of EMHC being used. The very word “extraordinary” as used in the Church implies that it is not the normative state of things. Since EMHC are almost always used, this would not seem to be in line with Church teaching on the subject.

To me, and this is only my opinion, this could easily be taken care of by the reinstatement of altar rails and by local bishops giving deacons faculties to distribute holy communion via intinction. The other option would again to have altar rails but to have the priest and deacon distribute the body and properly trained acolytes following behind distributing the blood. I would be fine with either option, but given my preference, would choose the first.

@Sirach2 What is truly deplorable is the state of the Holy Mass in many places, not the opinion of someone who may feel rightly hurt by what he has witnessed. I myself have learned to just keep the sorrow inside.

I do not own that the mass is deplorable, but that the OP judged the motives of those who undertake this ministry as “wanting to play priest.” It is not a “rightful hurt” IMO.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit