Communion under one Kind

From Cor ad Cor
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Is it possible to just receive Communion by receiving the Precious Blood without also receiving the Host?
"Communion under Both Kinds."
  • The priest alone is required to receive under both species in order to complete the Sacrifice of the Mass (Trent, 1545-1563 AD).
  • "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, c., iii)."
When did the Church decide to distribute Communion under just one species?
  • It was not a single decision made at just one point in time; it was a custom that emerged and acquired the force of Church law as a disciplinary matter.
  • "It may be stated as a general fact, that down to the twelfth century, in the West as well as in the East, public Communion in the churches was ordinarily administered and received under both kinds."
  • "But side by side with the regular liturgical usage of Communion sub utraque, there existed from the earlist times the custom of communicating in certain cases under one kind alone. This custom is exemplified (1) in the not infrequent practice of private domestic Communion, portion of the Eucharistic bread being brought by the faithful to their homes and there reserved for this purpose; (2) in the Communion of the sick, which was usually administered under the species of bread alone; (3) in the Communion of children which was usually given, even in the churches, under the species of wine alone, but sometimes under the species of bread alone; (4) in the Communion under the species of bread alone at the Mass of the Presanctified, and as an optional practice, in some churches on ordinary occasions."
  • Communion for the laity under just one kind had become an established custom before the Hussites objected to it in the 15th century. Protestants of the 16th century denied transsubstantiation but demanded Communion under both kinds because of John 6:54: "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day."
Was the change made because of health concerns?
  • No. There was little, if no understanding of germs in the Middle Ages.
  • The reasoning behind the change in discipline (not doctrine!) seem to have been:
- to avoid spilling the Precious Blood,
- to allow Communion to be distributed more swiftly,
- to avoid the problems of reserving and distributing the Precious Blood to the sick,
- to provide a more equitable distribution of Communion to all communicants (predicting the amount needed in advance is difficult--some drink more than others).
  • The command to "Take and drink of this, all of you" (Mt 26:27, Lk 22:17) was understood to be addressed to the disciples at the Last Supper, not to all communicants.
  • John 6:52 and 6:59 mention reception of the bread alone as sufficient to gain eternal life: "If anyone eat of this bread he shall live forever."
  • "In 1 Corinthians 11:28, to which Utraquists sometimes appeal, St. Paul is concerned with the preparation required for a worthy reception of the Eucharist. His mention of both species, "the bread and chalice", is merely incidental, and implies nothing more than the bare fact that Communion under both kinds was the prevailing usage in Apostolic times."