Why are we allowed to take communion under only one species?

I am an RCIA teacher, and one of my candidates asked me why in the gospel of John 6 Jesus repeatedly mentions that we should eat His flesh AND drink His blood. Yet at communion, we are able to receive either one or the other. An explanation that the magisterium approved reception under only one species did not suffice. Please help me to answer him.

When we receive the host, it is 100% the body & blood of Jesus. Likewise with the wine. So only one is necessary.


Each species is the full and complete Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. We recieve ALL His grace by receiving only one species.

It’s quite true that you only have to receive one. That’s the clear teaching of the Church. However, in most western locales, the practice of the laity receiving from the Chalice has been restored. Does your priest or bishop not allow this (It’s certainly within his right)?

For a Catholic who understands that the Church has the ability to administer the Sacraments, the Church authority is sufficient. For someone new to the Catholic faith they also need to read St. Paul where he says unworthy reception of either sins against both.

Thank you. This was also explained and he is able to believe this, but doesn’t understand the insistance of Jesus that we both eat of His body and drink of His blood. The magisterium’s authority aside, he is looking for a more academic and theological response. Any help is appreciated.

Because Jesus is not rendered asunder, His blood separated from His body. He is risen, whole, complete.

Perhaps discussing John 6:51, with Jesus saying: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

Perhaps highlight that adults do normally receive Communion under both kinds at their first communion:
“243. It is most desirable that the neophytes, together with their godparents, parents, spouses, and catechists, receive communion under both kinds.”
(Rite of Christian Initation of Adults (USA), n. 243 from The Rites Volume One, Liturgical Press, 1990, ISBN: 0-8146-6015-0, page 167).

Catechism of the Catholic Church n. 1390 may be helpful.

From the 2002 General Introduction to the Roman Missal (GIRM) which can be accessed from romanrite.com/girm.html :
"Communion under Both Kinds
281. Holy Communion has a fuller form as a sign when it is distributed under both kinds. For in this form the sign of the eucharistic banquet is more clearly evident and clear expression is given to the divine will by which the new and eternal Covenant is ratified in the Blood of the Lord, as also the relationship between the Eucharistic banquet and the eschatological banquet in the Father’s Kingdom. 105
282. Sacred pastors should take care to ensure that the faithful who participate in the rite or are present at it are as fully aware as possible of the Catholic teaching on the form of Holy Communion as set forth by the Ecumenical Council of Trent. Above all, they should instruct the Christian faithful that the Catholic faith teaches that Christ, whole and entire, and the true Sacrament, is received even under only one species, and consequently that as far as the effects are concerned, those who receive under only one species are not deprived of any of the grace that is necessary for salvation. 106 They are to teach, furthermore, that the Church, in her stewardship of the Sacraments, has the power to set forth or alter whatever provisions, apart from the substance of the Sacraments, that she judges to be most conducive to the veneration of the Sacraments and the well-being of the recipients, in view of changing conditions, times, and places. 107 At the same time, the faithful should be encouraged to seek to participate more eagerly in this sacred rite, by which the sign of the Eucharistic banquet is made more fully evident."
Footnotes:
105. Cf. Sacred Congregation of Rites, Instruction Eucharisticum mysterium, On the worship of the Eucharist, 25 May 1967, no. 32: AAS 59 (1967), p. 558.
106. Cf. Council of Trent, session 21, Doctrina de communione sub utraque specie et parvulorum, 16 July 1562, chapters 1-3: Denz-Schön, 1725-1729.
107. Cf. Council of Trent, session 21, Doctrina de communione sub utraque specie et parvulorum, chapter 2: Denz-Schön, 1728.

Actually Kirk the practice is not as prevalent as it had been for a while, although still popular in some places. . My home parish had played around with it for a short while but so few people partook that they stopped offering it towards the end of this summer. On my recent trip back home I attended mass at several different Churches in several different states and the Chalice wasn’t offered at any of them.

I really think that the practice will eventually be pretty much abandoned, particularly once people realize that they receive the full benefits from either species. Not a few people are under the mistaken impression that you must receive both.

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