Q. If one takes part twice or even thrice in the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass on the same day, can he receive Holy Communion at every Holy Mass?
A. This is an excellent question since receiving our Lord in the most Blessed Sacrament is the greatest act any human being can do either on Earth or in Heaven. St. Augustine states, “Live in such a manner as to be able to receive [the Blessed Sacrament] every day. We must remember that Our Lord in the Eucharist is our daily bread, as stated in the Our Father. The Church strongly recommends that the faithful receive the Blessed Sacrament daily, ideally during Mass. Since reception is the greatest act, some might logically conclude that one should receive as many times as possible during the day. However, this view does not take into account the grace, that is gift, of the Sacrament.
In order to better understand the gift we receive in the Blessed Sacrament we must remember that only those in communion with the Church and who have reached the age of reason, usually age seven, may come forward for reception. In order to be in communion with the Church one must not be aware of any mortal sins on their soul. The Church also requires that the faithful prepare their souls and bodies for reception. We prepare our souls first,by recognizing and reflecting that the difference between the Heavenly Bread of the Sacrament and the food we eat for our daily sustenance. A difference between the Sacred and the profane. In a food center society, like the Untied States of America, this is vital. In societies where food is abundant we can easily make food an idol, leading to a dependence on always trying to satisfy one’s appetite. Second, we must ask ourselves are we sincerely at peace and love our neighbor? Third, as already stated, we must examine our conscience and if need be make a good and complete confession of our sins in the Sacrament of Penance. Fourth, we must reflect silently in our own hearts our unworthiness. We must take the word’s of centurion, the words we right before Communion as our own, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my should shall be healed.” Finally, we must be able to say with St. Peter, “Lord, you know that I love thee.”
Our bodies too must be prepared,this is done by abstaining from food and drink, except water and medicine, for at least one hour before reception of the Host. It is commendable to follow the ancient practice of abstaining from food and drink from midnight until reception of The Host. Let Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament truly be your breakfast. We should also prepare our bodies by washing our bodies and dressing properly for the Holy Sacrifice, this includes daily Mass. Remember the parable of he who sat down at the King’s banquet without a wedding garment and was cast out.
Looking at how we must prepare both our soul and body to receive the greatest of all gifts one might think that we need to receive this gift several times a day. The Church, in Her wisdom,restricts reception to only twice a day for two reasons. First, to avoid making the Sacrament in to some sort of superstition and second, remind the faithful of the importance of the words Ite, Missa Est. These are words the priest says at the end of Mass, in fact we get the word “Mass” from it. It is hard to translate into English but a literal translation would be “Go,she is sent.” Meaning that the congregation,i.e. the faithful, must go out and share the grace one receives at Mass. We receive our Lord and we must share our Lord. Our goal in evangelizing is bring people to Lord’s banquet.
Even in allowing reception to twice a day it is only in cases where one might go to daily Mass in the morning than a funeral or wedding later in the day or Saturday morning Mass and then Saturday evening Mass, the latter fulfilling the obligation for Sunday. Most importantly Communion may be received a second time in one day if it is viaticum, which is when someone receives Communion for what might be the last time before death.
Let us remember that in receiving our daily bread we participate in that Heavenly banquet. we should be focused not in how many times a day we receive but rather focused on the gift that we receive and preparing our souls and bodies so that we may go out and lead others to Christ.
Written by Fr. JPL
1. The Roman Catechism: The Catechism of the Council of Trent (Rockford, Tan Books and Publishers,1982) 249.