There is only one Eucharist, one Body, one Lord, one faith, one Baptism. The Jesus whom we receive in Communion is the same Jesus Who gave Himself to the disciples at the Last Supper, Who gave Himself to the Father on the Cross, and Who has continued to give Himself, whole and entire, to every member of His Body at every time and in every place where the Church celebrates the Eucharist. All who are in Communion with Him are in communion with each other.
The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
We are incorporated by the Eucharist into Jesus' death on the Cross.
Hoc est enim corpus meum.
- corpus, corporis: corpse, corpulent, corporation.
The members of His Body inherit everything that He has done and is doing for us.
When we become incorporated into Jesus, we become part of His whole history.
Communion in the Hand
- St. Cyril of Jerusalem in the fourth century offered a beautiful and powerful catechesis on the mode of
receiving communion in the hand that is still applicable today: "When you approach, do not go stretching out your open hands or having your fingers spread out, but make the left hand into a throne for the right which shall receive the King, and then cup your open hand and the Body of Christ, reciting the 'Amen.' Then sanctify with all care your eyes by touching the Sacred Body, and receive it. But be careful that no particles fall, for what you lose would be to you as if you had lost some of your members. Tell me, if anybody had given you gold dust, would you not hold fast to it with all care, and watch lest some of it fall and be lost to you? Must you not then be even more careful with that which is more precious than gold and diamonds, so that no particles are lost?"
Receiving Communion under Both Kinds
- Excerpts from Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix statement: "Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion Under Both Kinds":
- 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.
- Though these norms are for the universal Church, latitude is given to the local bishop to apply them for his particular diocese. In the Diocese of Phoenix, the norms provide for the distribution of Holy Communion under both kinds for special feast days and other important occasions (e.g, the Chrism Mass, Holy Thursday, the Feast of Corpus Christi, retreats, spiritual gatherings, weddings, and more).
- The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches in paragraph 1390, “Since Christ is sacramentally present under each of the species, communion under the species of bread alone makes it possible to receive all the fruit of the Eucharistic grace.”
- Christ’s blood must be received if He is to be received “whole and entire.” He is risen from the dead, and we know that His body, blood, and human soul are all united in harmony with His divinity, even if we don’t know exactly how this works. His body and blood cannot be separated. Jesus is not re-crucified at a Catholic Mass; His body and blood are not ripped apart once again. The key point is this: under the form of bread, a communicant receives Jesus Himself — body, blood, soul, and divinity; under the form of wine, a communicant receives Jesus Himself — body, blood, soul, and divinity. The priest will say “Body of Christ” or “Blood of Christ” when he distributes Holy Communion, but these expressions do not exhaust the reality of what and Who is received. The identical though invisible reality (Christ Himself) is received under both forms, though the visible forms each provide key symbols of the reality.
- As highlighted in the GIRM, the practical need to avoid obscuring the role of the priest and the deacon as the ordinary ministers of Holy Communion by an excessive use of extraordinary (or lay) ministers might in some circumstances constitute a reason for limiting the distribution of Holy Communion under both species. This is explained in the GIRM, paragraph 24.
- We have had special permission to experiment with Holy Communion under both forms for 25 years. The practice of both forms became very common in certain parts of this country, including parishes in Arizona. However, the vast majority of the parishes throughout the world have not had Communion under both forms. From the broadest, most inclusive perspective, the new norms are a great expansion of the practice. But it is true, from the more narrow perspective of a very small segment of the Catholic population, the norms could seem like a restriction. You can see, then, how the new norms will promote unity of practice around the world, even as it challenges almost every parish in the world to update its normal liturgical life. The norms invite us as U.S. Catholics to a more global and inclusive perspective, especially with those poor countries which cannot afford large amounts of wine for frequent usage.
- "Phoenix Diocese's limit on wine a major change in Mass."
- "Catholic bishop to limit Eucharist to under one kind."
- Update 2011-11-15: "A Problem of Interpretation?" It seems as though the Bishop is not going to restrict Communion under both kinds as much as originally envisaged.
- "Phoenix Bishop Reverses Ruling on Wine for Communion."
Dom Gregory Dix
- From The Shape of the Liturgy.
- Was ever another command so obeyed? For century after century, spreading slowly to every continent and country and among every race on earth, this action has been done, in every conceivable human circumstance, for every conceivable human need from infancy and before it to extreme old age and after it, from the pinnacle of earthly greatness to the refuge of fugitives in the caves and dens of the earth. Men have found no better thing than this to do for kings at their crowning and for criminals going to the scaffold; for armies in triumph or for a bride and bridegroom in a little country church; for the proclamation of a dogma or for a good crop of wheat; for the wisdom of the Parliament of a mighty nation or for a sick old woman afraid to die; for a schoolboy sitting an examination or for Columbus setting out to discover America; for the famine of whole provinces or for the soul of a dead lover; in thankfulness because my father did not die of pneumonia; for a village headman much tempted to return to fetich because the yams had failed; because the Turk was at the gates of Vienna; for the repentance of Margaret; for the settlement of a strike; for a son for a barren woman; for Captain so-and-so wounded and prisoner of war; while the lions roared in the nearby amphitheater; on the beach at Dunkirk; while the hiss of scythes in the thick June grass came faintly through the windows of the church; tremulously, by an old monk on the fiftieth anniversary of his vows; furtively, by an exiled bishop who had hewn timber all day in a prison camp near Murmansk; gorgeously, for the canonization of S. Joan of Arc—one could fill many pages with the reasons why men have done this, and not tell a hundredth part of them. And best of all, week by week and month by month, on a hundred thousand successive Sundays, faithfully, unfailingly, across all the parishes of Christendom, the pastors have done this just to make the plebs sancta Dei—the holy common people of God.