Question on Communion Under Both Species (2)

Question

Good evening Fr,
I read the explanation you gave in response to the question of why Catholic faithfuls don’t always receive the Eucharist under both species. It was a very insightful and informative one; thanks very much.

However, I have the following as follow up questions:

Has our Lord and Master Jesus Christ himself not realised, or thought of it that, His body and blood exists in either the bread or wine alone?

Why is the Holy Mass not celebrated by the use of either the bread or wine alone as the Eucharist

Why won’t the Priests also take the Eucharist in only the Bread and Wine?

Francis Kudor,
Holy Cross Parish,
Sogakope.

Answer

Thanks for always reading. This is quite a lengthy and complex question but I will not be tempted to write a long thesis.

The issue about the Holy Eucharist is not simply about human logic, but goes far beyond and above that. Always remember that we are using inadequate human language to explain theological and mystical truths. We celebrate this Sacrament as a community of faith with belief in the words of Jesus himself who said, “This is my body,….This is my blood…”

Jesus used both bread and wine to institute this Sacrament and it is unchangeable, in faithfulness to what he himself commanded – bread and wine in their right prescriptions must be used, and *the celebrating priest must of necessity partake of both.* (This is taught implicitly by the Council of Trent(Sess. XXI, c. i; XXII, c. i). (b) *There is no Divine precept binding the laity or non-celebrating priests to receive the sacrament under both kinds* (Trent, sess. XXI, c. i.); being the mediator and on behalf of the people. In fact, there are many other things that the priest does on behalf of the people without their knowledge even. An example is the praying of the divine office. Indeed, any time the priest celebrates, even when alone, he does so for and on behalf of the people.

On a lighter note, don’t forget that these were priests he was addressing, that is the 12 apostles, and not all the crowds who used to follow him. He ordained them by virtue of giving them the power to do this in memory of him (Luke 22:19). Technically, what this means is that, even a priest who is neither celebrating nor concelebrating (i.e. he is just among the congregation and not playing any active role as a priest in that mass) is not obliged to take under both species. He receives only the species of bread like any other faithful, unless the whole congregation is partaking in both species.

However, we must look beyond bread and wine after consecration. We must know what becomes of these species. They do not merely become the body and blood of Jesus but they become Jesus in his entirety – body, blood, soul and divinity. So when we receive the Eucharist in whatever form, it is Jesus we have received, not merely his body or blood, even though bread and wine are required for the celebration.

Therefore, the fact that Jesus used both bread and wine does not in anyway diminish his full presence in either the species of bread or wine. If it were the case, then, some people would be denied ” the full Christ”. Then the communion we take on Good Friday or what (the communion) the sick receive outside mass will not be the complete Christ, maybe half Christ? Impossible! Sometimes, we overstress the blood under the species of wine, forgetting that some people can only partake in the wine and not the bread for various reasons including health. Will it mean that they have been denied the body or have received only half Christ? Never!

This is not to say that communion cannot or should not be given to the faithful under both species of bread and wine if the pastoral situation or conditions permit it. In fact, in many places especially in the United States and elsewhere, it is common practice that the faithful receive communion under both species. Even in Ghana, we do that on various occasions and some parishes do that more frequently.

It is only when one sees it as a deprivation of the blood, or the body as the case may be, that there is a problem, which might mean that we are shifting attention from the *essence* to mere visible signs. That is why care should be taken not to mishandle any of the Eucharistic  species, not even the tiniest particle or drop since either contains the *FULL* Christ!

Indeed, withholding the cup from the faithful began when people saw the species of bread and wine to be complementary, which was to say, one without the other is not complete Christ. The name of this erroneous thinking or heresy is “ultraquist”. So the practice ¬†of withholding the cup was also to get this heretical idea out of people’s heads. This reason, together with the danger of spillage and desecration are quite noteworthy in this whole discussion.

Presently, however, where it is practical and convenient, both species are given with the correct understanding of not being complementary! We cannot fully exhaust these questions in one write up because they are so broad and full of cultural and historical perspectives but the foundation of our faith remains strong and solid!

God bless!

Padre Antonio
(WhatsApp number: +233 541 859198)

(You may whatsapp your questions and contributions for further clarifications)

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