What does Canon Law say?

Hello! I have a question about Canon Law, and not having a copy here with me I do not know where else to look.

Okay, so…I was always taught that one could not recieve the Eucharist twice in one day. More recently I was told that one could recieve twice in one day (but no more) if one of the Masses was “special” (wedding, baptism, funeral, or special occassion Mass) and then again at a daily Mass. Tonight, one of my fellow Catechist said that he had a priest look it up and that Canon Law says we can recieve twice as long as second time was at Mass (and not a communion service or Eucharist brought to the sick). So, I’d like to know for sure what the Church teaches, and if it does state that in Canon Law, can someone tell me where to find it? Thanks!

You may receive communion twice in any given day, but the second time must be within the context of a Mass. The first time could also be in a Mass, but may also be in a communion service or other proper venue.


Actually, it’s not in Canon Law, but the GIRM.


Thanks John… meant to mention that.

Canon Law

Can. 917 A person who has already received the Most Holy Eucharist can receive it a second time on the same day only within the eucharistic celebration in which the person participates, without prejudice to the prescript of can. 921, §2. . . .
Can. 921 §1. The Christian faithful who are in danger of death from any cause are to be nourished by holy communion in the form of Viaticum.
§2. Even if they have been nourished by holy communion on the same day, however, those in danger of death are strongly urged to receive communion again.

You have your reference now.

But you were not wrong about what the rules WERE. It is a somewhat recent (remember that “recent” can mean fifty years or less in Church time) change that allows us to receive communion twice in one day (the second time at Mass.)

The GIRM probably states that this is allowed, but the GIRM follows Canon Law. The link to the Code of Canon Law can be found at the Vatican’s web site.

Well, you have the correct answer thanks to Joe Kelly. It’s in the code and that’s pretty straightforward. It’s not just “probably” in the GIRM. Actually it is very decidedly is in the GIRM. Number 95 quotes canon 917 in part and applies it to members of the lay faithful. If you read the footnote, you’ll also see reference to that canon.

But you’ll also see something else in the footnote: “Pontifical Commission for the Authentic Interpretation of the Code of Canon Law, Response to Dubium, 11 July 1984: AAS 76 (1984) p. 746.” Here’s how that got in there.

After the 1983 code was issued, a question about the meaning of the Latin word “iterum” in canon 917 arose. The code is in Latin, of course. Most of us will know it through English translations. They render “iterum” as “a second time on the same day” or “once again on the same day” or something similar. There is a reason for those kinds of translation, and here it is.

The problem was that this Latin word “iterum” could mean again whenever attending Mass. When you picked up a copy of the code, when it was fresh off the printers, there was an objective doubt about the law. Could a person receive again and again without limit just as long as he or she participated at Mass?

The power to resolve doubts of law is held by the Pontifical Commission for the Authentic Interpretation of the Canons of the Code of Canon Law (see canon 16 §§1-2 and Pastor bonus, n. 154). This body is authorized to make authentic interpretations of the canons (no surprise given its title) that have the force of law. Today this body is known as the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts. Its authentic interpretations and several of its declarations and explanations can be read at the Vatican website.

In 1984, it interpreted the term “iterum” to mean a “second time” only, and. Pope John Paul II gave approval for that interpretation to be published.

Now the former code (1917) prohibited any second reception of communion in canons 857-858 unless there was danger of death or the Blessed Sacrament had to be consumed to avoid some impending irreverence to the sacrament. After Vatican II and before the code though, this rule was loosened somewhat to allow second reception in certain situations.

Today, a third reception is permitted only to priests with the faculty to trinate (the authorization to celebrate three masses on the same day) and to those receiving Viaticum even though they had already received communion twice on the same day. The principle of permitting consumption in the face of irreverence would also apply in light of canonical tradition.

Indeed, through the following documents:[LIST]]Inter oecumenici, n. 60: “The faithful who receive communion at the Mass of the Easter Vigil or the Midnight Mass of Christmas may receive again at the second Mass of Easter and at one of the Day Masses of Christmas.”]Tres abhinc annos, n. 14: “The faithful receiving communion at the chrism Mass on Holy Thursday may receive again at the evening Mass on the same day.”*]Eucharisticum Mysterium, n. 28: “The faithful who begin to celebrate the Sunday or holyday of obligation on the evening of the preceding day may go to holy communion even if they have already done so that morning.”
*]Immensae Caritatis, section 2[/LIST]
These four were in between 1964 and 1973.

Here’s what Immensae Caritatis, section 2 says; the “listed” situations are those I excerpted above:
Over and above those listed, there are other situations of the same type that favor a second communion. The reasons for granting a new faculty therefore must here be set out in detail.

Like a provident mother, the Church has established from centuries-old practice and has received into its canon law a norm according to which it is lawful for the faithful to receive communion only once a day. That norm remains unchanged and is not to be disregarded simply for reasons of devotion. Any ill-advised desire to repeat communion must be countered by the truth that the more devoutly a person approaches the holy table the greater the power of that sacrament which feeds, strengthens, and expresses faith, charity, and the rest of the virtues. {Cf. Summa Theologica 3a, 79.7 ad3; 8 ad 1} For the faithful are to go forth from the liturgical celebration to do works of charity, religion, and the apostolate “so that what they have received by faith and sacrament in the celebration of the Eucharist they will hold to by the way they live.” {Eucharisticum Mysterium, n. 13}

There may however be special circumstances in which the faithful who have already received communion on the same day or in which priests who have celebrated Mass attend some community’s celebration. It will be lawful for these faithful and these priests to receive communion a second time in the following situations:
*]at ritual Masses in which the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, anointing of the sick, orders, and marriage are administered, as well as at Masses in which there is a first communion;
*]at Masses for the consecration of a church or an altar, for a religious profession, for the conferral of a “canonical mission”;
*]at the Masses for the dead on the occasion of the funeral, news of the death, the final burial, or the first anniversary;
*]at the principal Mass celebrated in a cathedral or parish church on the solemnity of Corpus Christi and on the day of a pastoral visitation; at a Mass celebrated on the occasion of a major religious superior’s canonical visitation to a particular religious house or chapter;
*]at the principal Mass at a Eucharistic or Marian congress, whether international or national, regional or diocesan;
*]at the principal Mass of any kind of meeting, pilgrimage, or people’s mission;
*]at the administration of viaticum, when communion may be given to the members of the household and the friends of the sick person who are present.
*]Over and above the cases already mentioned, the local Ordinary is allowed to grant for a single occasion the faculty to receive communion twice on the same day whenever, because of truly special circumstances. a second reception is warranted on the basis of this Instruction.

OK, I don’t understand how the reform of the Cannon Law changes the Immensae Caritatis, section 2 stipulations.

Also, I checked out section 95 of the GIRM and it doesn’t quote 917 of the canon nor does it reference "“Pontifical Commission for the Authentic Interpretation of the Code of Canon Law, Response to Dubium, 11 July 1984: AAS 76 (1984) p. 746.”

As you will see below the quote of #95 from the GIRM, it refers to documents all pre Immensae Caritatis which was 1973

I’m confused, people … help me out.

95 reads "

II. The Functions of the People of God

  1. In the celebration of Mass the faithful form a holy people, a people of God’s own possession and a royal Priesthood, so that they may give thanks to God and offer the unblemished sacrificial Victim not only by means of the hands of the Priest but also together with him and so that they may learn to offer their very selves.[82] They should, moreover, take care to show this by their deep religious sense and their charity toward brothers and sisters who participate with them in the same celebration.

They are consequently to avoid any appearance of singularity or division, keeping in mind that they have only one Father in heaven and that hence are all brothers or sisters one to the other.

and references the following : Cf. Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, no. 48; Sacred Congregation of Rites, Instruction, Eucharisticum mysterium, May 25, 1967, no. 12: Acta Apostolicae Sedis 59 (1967), pp. 548-549.

Now if only we could all agree on what a “day” is - :popcorn:


I found the above PDF of Redemptionis Sacramentum … see page 25 …article 95 …

CIC Can. 202
§1. In law, a day is understood as a period consisting of 24 continuous hours and begins at midnight unless other provision is expressly made; a week is a period of 7 days; a month is a period of 30 days, and a year is a period of 365 days unless a month and a year are said to be taken as they are in the calendar.
§2. If time is continuous, a month and a year must always be taken as they are in the calendar.

This thread is nearly five years old…

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