For 800 years, the faithful of Holy Church have received the Eucharist under the species of bread alone.
St. Paul, writing to the Corinthians, says: “Whosoever shall eat this bread, **or **drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body **and **of the blood of the Lord.”
Our Lord says: “I am the living bread which came down from Heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever” From this passage it is evident that whoever partakes of the form of bread partakes of the living flesh of Jesus Christ, which is inseparable from His blood, and which, being now in a glorious state, cannot be divided. To the Eucharistic bread, Christ ascribes all the efficacy which is attached to Communion under both kinds.
Catholic Encyclopedia points out a few important aspects:
(a)In reference to the Eucharist as a sacrifice, the communion, under both kinds, of the celebrating priest belongs at least to the integrity, and, according to some theologians, to the essence, of the sacrificial rite, and may not therefore be omitted.
(b) There is no Divine precept binding the laity or non-celebrating priests to receive the sacrament under both kinds (Trent, sess. XXI).
© By reason of the hypostatic union and of the indivisibility of His glorified humanity, Christ is really present and is received whole and entire, body and blood, soul and Divinity, under either species alone; nor, as regards the fruits of the sacrament, is the communicant under one kind deprived of any grace necessary for salvation (Trent, Sess. XXI)
(d) In reference to the sacraments generally, apart from what has been strictly determined by Divine institution or precept, the Church has authority to determine or modify the rites and usages employed in their administration
Public Communion was, indeed, usually administered in the first ages under both forms. The faithful, however, had the privilege of dispensing with the cup and of partaking only of the bread.
This until the time of Pope Gelasius, in the fifth century, when this general, but hitherto optional, practice of receiving under both kinds was enforced as a law for the following reason: the Manichean heretic sect abstained from the cup on the erroneous assumption that the use of wine was sinful. Pope Gelasius, in order to detect and condemn the error of those sectaries, left it no longer optional with the faithful to receive under one or both forms, but ordained that all should communicate under both kinds.
This law continued in force for several ages, but towards the thirteenth century, for various causes, among which is the heresy of the Calixtines, who taught that the consecrated wine was necessary for a valid communion, it grew into disuse and the Council of Constance (1414) established a law requiring the faithful to communicate under the form of bread only. This decree was renewed by the Council of Basel (1431-1449).
Furthermore, the Council of Trent was adamant:
If anyone says that the Holy Catholic Church has not been influenced by just cause and reasons to give Communion under the form of bread only to laymen and even to clerics when not consecrating, or that she has erred in this, let him be anathema. (Sessio XXI, Canon 2).
Now, in the Second Vatican Council, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium specified:
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, as, for instance, to the newly ordained in the Mass of their sacred ordination, to the newly professed in the Mass of their religious profession, and to the newly baptized in the Mass which follows their baptism.
This did not call for widespread reception of Holy Communion under both kinds. Quite the contrary, it was a very gradual and restricted allowance.
In 2011 the Diocese of Phoenix issued this interesting notice:
In the Roman Missal (1975), 14 instances were provided when the chalice could be offered to the laity,” the diocese noted. “From 1975 on, the United States, United Kingdom and Oceania were given experimental privileges for the distribution of Holy Communion under both kinds. These privileges expired in 2005 and were not renewed by the Holy See. The new norms issued in June 2011 are what guide the liturgical practice today and in the future.
These universal norms for the distribution of Holy Communion under both kinds greatly expanded those times when the chalice could be offered to the lay faithful for most of the Catholic world. In the Diocese of Phoenix, like other places where the practice of reception from the chalice became frequent or even commonplace, the new norms call for the practice of less frequent distribution of Holy Communion under both kinds than the faithful may have been accustomed.
The ritual books state that Holy Communion may be offered at the Chrism Mass and feast of Corpus Christi. Additionally, it may be offered to a Catholic couple at their wedding Mass, to first communicants and their family members, confirmation candidates and their sponsors, as well as deacons, non-concelebrating priests, servers and seminarians at any Mass, as well as community members at a conventual Mass or those on a retreat or at a spiritual gathering. In addition, a priest may select other important solemnities in which it may be offered, e.g., parish patronal feast days or the celebration of the dedication of the church building, provided the conditions are met.
In normal circumstances, only priests and deacons are to distribute Holy Communion,” the diocese added; “when both forms of Communion are used frequently, ‘extraordinary’ ministers of Holy Communion are disproportionately multiplied.