Just the Facts: Receiving Communion Under both Species

Did You Know?  The Privilege, Not the Right, to
Receive Under Both Species Expired in 2005


Father Z writes:  “As I understand it, the 1975 edition of the Missale Romanum gave 14 instances when Communion could be distributed under both kinds.  Since 1975 in some regions – including the USA – experimental privileges, not rights, were granted for the distribution of Holy Communion under both kinds. These privileges, not rights, expired in 2005.  These privileges, not rights, were not renewed by the Holy See.  Therefore the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) for the 3rd edition of the Missale Roman and the 2011 Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion Under Both Kinds for the Dioceses of the United States of America are now to be applied.  However, diocesan bishops can to a certain extent lawfully establish other instances, such as important local feasts, etc., for Communion under both kinds.  This is what Bp. Olmsted intends to do.  He will implement the Church’s law.

.  .  .

The conditions for Communion under both kinds were matters for a test period.  Communion under both kinds is now assumed, by some, to be an absolute right all of the time.  On the other hand, conditions for the use of the Extraordinary Form are not matters of experimentation or a test period.  The provisions of Summorum Pontificum, clarified in Universae Ecclesiae, are not temporary trial runs.  They are actual laws for the whole Latin Church.  Stable groups have the right to make a request and pastors have an obligation personally to respond positively or to find another way to see to their needs.”


This comes from the Phoenix Diocese.  Bishop Olmsted has issued a press release and “FAQ.

Why is this news now? Has something recently changed?

Yes, something has changed: there have been some new changes in the “GIRM” (General Instruction on the Roman Missal), which is the “how to” book for the Mass.

Why is Holy Communion under both forms only permitted at certain times and under certain conditions?

One of the Church’s basic duties is to establish norms or guidelines for her liturgical practice. With respect to Communion under the form of wine for the faithful, she limits the practice for a number of reasons:

  1. To protect the Sacred Species from profanation (careless treatment, spillage, swilling, etc.);
  2. The practice is not in any way necessary for salvation — it is a fuller sign of Holy Communion, but not a fuller reality of Christ Himself than what is received under the form of bread alone;
  3. The practice is used to emphasize special feast days and other special moments in the lives of the faithful;
  4. The unity of the practice throughout the world is an act of solidarity in the universal Church — rich and poor countries alike; and
  5. In normal circumstances, only priests and deacons are to distribute Holy Communion; when both forms of Communion are used frequently, “extraordinary” ministers of Holy Communion are disproportionately multiplied.


Bishop Morlino Takes the Strongest Stance. 

Bishop Morlino is instructing his priest to re-catechized the faithful.

Please help your people to know and understand the beautiful gift we have in the Eucharist, to know our obligations of preparing for reception of the Sacrament, both in terms of our preparation through the Sacrament of Confession, our observance of the pre-communion fast, our attending to our attire as best we can, and the like.

Please help them to know of Christ’s presence, fully and entirely in the Sacred Host. Our people know well, the aspect of the Mass which is the Sacred banquet, but help them to know the Eucharist at the Memorial of Christ’s loving Sacrifice for them. Help them to understand your role in laying down your own life as the minister of Christ’s Body and Blood, present in the Host.

Here is the official press release.

Here are some of his concerns.

“In practice, the 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 ministers might in some circumstances constitute a reason either for limiting the distribution of Holy Communion under both species…(Norms, 24)”

“The Diocesan Bishop is also given the faculty to permit Communion under both kinds whenever it may seem appropriate to the Priest to whom a community has been entrusted as its own shepherd, provided that the faithful have been well instructed and that there is no danger of profanation of the Sacrament or of the rite’s becoming difficult because of the large number of participants or for some other cause (Roman Missal, 283).”

However, I have been told of, and have personally experienced, the reality that the provision both that the faithful be well instructed and that there be no danger of profanation of the Sacrament, is not being met.


  • The official press release from the Diocese of Phoenix.  Here
  • Questions and Answers: Norms for Reception of Holy Communion Under Both FormsDiocese of Phoenix
  • Father Z’s commentary herehere and here (I like this one the best)

So what are your thoughts?  Do you agree with the bishops?  Did this surprise you? Neither comments below. Thank you!

P.S. – Would you do Courageous Priest a favor and share this info with your friends on Facebook, Twitter or Email right now? We truly appreciate it. Or leave a comment, we would love to hear what you think.

10 comments to Just the Facts: Receiving Communion Under both Species

  • Beryl

    I am a special minister of communion under both species. I am an elderly woman, and have been doing this since its introduction (for many years). Those around me who are ministers have the greatest respect in the presence and in handeling our blessed Lord and that is how it should be of course – but, may I remind you, no matter who distributes the sacred body it does not diminish the sacredness of the body of Christ. I have on many occasions received communion from a alcoholic priest who literally was unstable because of alcohol and the smell was most unpleasant. Then, being worried that the host would be in some way ‘contaminated’, I confronted a priest about it, he assured me that any consecrated host I would received would not be less than the body of Christ in any way shape or form. This does not excuse the ‘sin’ attached to the person who would be the bearer of such an abominable act – I should think! I consider being a Special Minister of communion a privilege and a grace.

  • Albert e. Samrook jr.

    the parish i go to provides both body & blood of are LORD. one time while receiving JESUS just a drop of blood filled my mouth with what felt like cup of wine “BLOOD.” it was truly moving! may GOD bless bishop Olmsted & all priest’s my parish is ST.Joe’s next door is yale & a mason hall a typical crazy college town. we pray every 2nd. sat. at ST.MARY,S to end abortion & are looking 4 more help!!

  • frhugh

    What would really be a great help (at least to me!) is (1) to see the actual text of the original indult that expired in 2005 and (2) to know whether such explicit indults were granted to the Church in both England and Australia. In both these countries the use of extraordinary ministers has become, in fact, quite ordinary. Indeed, so much so that the merest threat to take this privilege away from many of them would be meet a furious reaction (as no doubt the two American bishops are discovering): for these people, I suspect, the privilege has become for them a right. Another example of give them an inch, they’ll take a mile? Kudos to those bishops not afraid to BE bishops.


  • Sandra

    I agree with Bishop Olmsted and Bishop Morlino, and I hope and pray that more bishops will follow their lead. What I have observed for many years is the abuse of the privilege of being an “extraordinary minister” of Holy Communion–in my diocese they are used ordinarily. At the daily Mass I attend there will ordinarily be one priest and 3 “extraordinary” ministers of Holy Communion. The ordained deacon who is an ordinary minister of the Eucharist, and should distribute Holy Communion, chooses instead to appoint 3 lay people to minister Holy Communion to the rest of the 30-40 faithful present. I have spoken to the deacon and the pastor about this practice to no avail. The deacon says he gets tired of distributing and wants a break from his duties. The pastor doesn’t want to make an issue of it because he’s afraid the deacon will quit coming to daily Mass. The lay people, God bless them, are just trying to be helpful and most of them have no idea of what Church documents say.

    In one instance in another parish, there was a shortage of lay ministers at a Sunday Mass. A deacon and a lay woman went forward to offer their services. Since only one was needed, the priest correctly assigned the deacon– that is until the lay woman got upset over his choice and the deacon gave way to her displeasure.

    Another time I attended a 25th anniversary of priesthood Mass. Ten lay people distributed Holy Communion while the many attending priests did not distribute–a clear violation of how it should be.

    At a funeral Mass three lay women distributed Holy Communion while two concelebrating priest and a deacon waited in the sanctuary–another violation.

    The disproportionate number of lay ministers of the Eucharist when their service is not needed has led to many of them considering it their right and not a privilege to be exercised under extraordinary conditions. People should not be upset if what is meant to be an extraordinary privilege–and not a right–truly becomes extraordinary. We receive the whole Christ in the Host or the Precious Blood, so if the Precious Blood is not offered at Mass we still have received Jesus entirely.

    The Bishops are within their rights to limit the offering of the Precious Blood. God bless them for following what they believe is the right course of action.

  • Tom T

    John Quinn,
    John please do not be disturbed by all this. We are not going back, we are going where we should never have left. I want to offer you this from the Diocese of Phoenix which is Catholic teaching on the matter.

    The idea here is to reduce the number of “extraordinary” ministers which were only meant to be used in extreme cases in the first place. Now from the teaching.
    Recieving under both forms is a, fuller sign of Holy Communion, but not a fuller reality of Christ Himself. When He is recieved under the form of bread alone……..
    After the priest`s prayer of consecration at Mass there is neither bread nor wine on the alter, only their appearances: for Christ is now present.
    Christ entrustd to His Church the one mystery of the Eucharist under two forms: the appearance of bread and of wine. He also gave the Church the freedom and authority to determine how the Church administers the two forms as she judges expediant to the faithful (cf. Council if Trent, session XXI, parag. 1-2). The reason that the Church is not bound to offer both forms to the faithful is essentially her Eucharistic faith: namely, whenever someone recieves Holy Communion under the form of bread or under the form of wine, he or she recieves Christ whole and entire. There is one Jesus Christ- and He is recieved really, truly, and substantially under either of the “disguises” of the form of bread or wine. Christ blood must be recieved if He is to be recieved “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 seperated. 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 recieves Jesus Himself-body, blood, soul and divinity:under the form of wine, a communicant recieves Jesus Himself –body, blood, soul and divinity. The priest will say “Body of Christ or “Blood of Christ,” but these expressions do not exhaust the reality of what and who is recieved. The identical though invisible reality (Christ Himself) is recieved under both forms, though the visible forms each provide key symbols of the reality.

    The Church is not eliminating the distribution altogether, the Church is making the practice universal as it is around the world as the Church is a Universal Church. They have reduced the number of times that both forms are offered in order to celebrate more fully special Feasts and special days that another sacrament is being administered
    ie; a marriage. I hope this helps. Pax.

  • terrig

    I saw an interview with Cardinal Francis Arinze on EWTN. He was pretty harsh with extraordinary ministers. He more or less said that if extraordinary ministers wanted to do everything the priest does, then they should study to become priests (except for the women). My problem is with the female extraordinary ministers that do not dress appropriately. Because of a particular young female extraordinary minister at my parish, I sit in the part of the church where the Deacon or priest distributes communion. I am not receiving Holy Communion from seductively dressed women. Our parish only has 2 or 3 extraoridinary ministers at Sunday Mass not a whole herd like I’ve seen at other parishes. On weekdays, we only have one. In another parish, I onced attended daily Mass with about 20 people in attendance. They had 2 ext.ministers. I couldn’t believe the priest allowed that – like he couldn’t handle 20 people. I think they serve a purpose in helping the priest and deacons distribute Holy Communion in the community to the sick but they shouldn’t have so many at Sunday Mass or any at daily Mass if the attendance is low like it usually is in most parishes. Just my opinion.

  • from e-mail subscribers

    I understand what you say….as much as I luv this honor I would also luv to see more vocations where lay people as myself can once more reman in the pews….I also know what you mean about the precious blood some people just do not realize some are very ho hum about receiving the host and the blood or both….

    Frank F



    Now if the church would do the right thing and do away with extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion.They take away the sense of mystique and reverence with their presence on the altar.Many times i see them go into the tabernacle as if they’re getting a beer out of the fridge.I believe only a priest should be the one to enter the tabernacle and to handle the prescious Body and Blood of our Lord with their consecrated hands.This should be the next push in the church.Perhaps it will bring back the holiness that is lacking and make people more aware of what and who they are recieving.Enough with worrying about offending people…we should be more worried about offending God.I thank God for our holy priests who serve faithfully and obediantly and do not worry about being popular.I pray for our priests who have fallen or weakened.

    As a faithfull and faithfilled Catholic for my entire life, (74 yrs.) I am greatly distressed by the thought that the Church is taking this awesome gift from the people. Does it not say in Scripture “unless you eat my body and drink my blood, you shall not have life within you.” and other scriptures say similar things. Changing the words of the Liturgy is one thing, even when vocabulary is used that I have never encountered in my entire life, changing the music backwards to Gregorian chant is so disheartening, no joy, just a dirge. How many 15, 25, 30 year olds will be joining in this singing??? Our parish is one where the people participate fully in responses and singing now—-. We the faithful have just spent 10 years trying to overcome the abuse situation. Having our pastor removed in a moments notice was such a shock! But we stayed with the Church thru this terrible time. But now the church is turning everything we love backwards. I am greatly distressed as is my whole family. Do not do this to us.

    Perhaps the liturgists would spend their time better going to Haiti or other 3rd world place and live among the poor and try to better the daily lives of our Catholics there. Maybe they would
    spend their time on earth better, following Matt; 25:40.

  • Tom T

    Since we are discussing all the facts here. Let us include some pertinant facts from a Newsletter dated Oct. 2006 (Vol. XLII)from the USCCB Committee on the Liturgy wherein it was stated that on Oct. 13 2006 Bishop William Skylstad, President of the USCCB, informed all Bishop members of the conference that he had recieved a response to his request for an extension of an indult permitting extraordinbary ministers of Holy Communion to assist with the purification of sacred vessels at Mass.

    In a recent letter to the conference President, Cardinal Francis Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (Prot.no.468/05/1) reported that he brought the matter to the attention of our Holy Father on June 9, 2006 and recieved a response in the negative. In his letter to all Bishop members of the USCCB, Bishop Skylstad noted that “as a result, it will be necessary to inform all pastors that extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion may no longer assist with the purification of sacred vessels at Mass.”

    In public comments on the decision of the Holy Father, Bishop Donald Trautman, Chairman of the Committee on the Liturgy of the USCCB, recalled the conciliar mandate for more frequent reception of Holy Communion under both kinds as a fuller sign of the Eucharistic Banquet. While urging the Holy Father`s decision to be followed, he expressed hope that each diocesan bishop will continue to make full use of the authority granted him by the Missale Romanum, editio typical tertia, to foster the distribution of Holy Communion under both kinds.

    Finally he concludes with instructions to each pastor to train properly, extraordinary ministers in theology spirituality and liturgical practice in their roles as extraordinary ministers. Seems to me, you could almost equate all this to liberal state judges who legislate Federal law from the bench regardless of what the constitution states. Just my view. Keep in mind now, all this took place a mere five years ago and it is still common practice in my parish to daily distribution of Holy Communion under both forms as it is in other parishs that I know of. Pax.

  • Jan England

    Dear Friends in Christ,

    Our Eastern Orthodox Christian brothers and sisters have always received the Most Blessed Sacrament under both kinds. In our Holy Scripture, Jesus commands us to eat the bread which is His body and drink His blood from the cup: Matthew 26:26-29, RSV:

    “Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is my body. “And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I shall not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

    If proper catechesis is lacking regarding the understanding and/or reception and/or administration of the Precious Blood, then wouldn’t the best answer by far be to give proper catechesis so that the Catholic lay faithful can fulfill Christ’s command?

    The biggest danger by far in our reception of the Holy Eucharist at Mass comes not from the lay faithful being able to partake of the Precious Blood of Our Lord, but in the practice of receiving the Holy Eucharist on the hand. I have on numerous occasions heard of the sacred host being profaned (well known instances of Jesus being auctioned off on e-bay)or being stolen and utilized by our enemies in a blasphemous way. I have also myself found sacred hosts several times in the pews of churches. These kinds of things would not be happening near as much if the Blessed Sacrament was received on our tongues, which, by the way, is the normal way of receiving for most places in the world, except the U.S.

    Sincerely in Christ,

    Jan E.

  • Bill

    In the case of Phoenix, this move is perceived by many Catholics as a power play by the Bishop and nothing more. The comments on Diocese’s own web site were opposed to this move by a substantial margin. Hopefully, many Catholics will respond to this move by closing their checkbooks and give money to things like food banks or Catholic Charities run by the Church.

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