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Communion Twice in one day
Question from Kathryn on 11/16/2008:

I have heard from trusted priests and also read from Rev. Gantley that a person may receive commumion twice in one day if the second time is in a full mass. However, now I read in Immensae Caritatis that it can not be for devotional purposes only for certain circumstances (see below). What is the current correct teaching? If I have been receiving twice for devotional reasons or not those listed is it sinful (grave or venial) and something that should be confessed?

Inter oecumenici, n. 60: "The faithful who receive communion at the Mass of the Easter Vigil or the Midnight Mass of Christmas may receive again at the second Mass of Easter and at one of the Day Masses of Christmas." Tres abhinc annos, n. 14: "The faithful receiving communion at the chrism Mass on Holy Thursday may receive again at the evening Mass on the same day." Eucharisticum Mysterium, n. 28: "The faithful who begin to celebrate the Sunday or holyday of obligation on the evening of the preceding day may go to holy communion even if they have already done so that morning." Immensae Caritatis, section 2 These four were in between 1964 and 1973.

Here's what Immensae Caritatis, section 2 says; the "listed" situations are those I excerpted above: Over and above those listed, there are other situations of the same type that favor a second communion. The reasons for granting a new faculty therefore must here be set out in detail.

Like a provident mother, the Church has established from centuries-old practice and has received into its canon law a norm according to which it is lawful for the faithful to receive communion only once a day. That norm remains unchanged and is not to be disregarded simply for reasons of devotion. Any ill-advised desire to repeat communion must be countered by the truth that the more devoutly a person approaches the holy table the greater the power of that sacrament which feeds, strengthens, and expresses faith, charity, and the rest of the virtues. {Cf. Summa Theologica 3a, 79.7 ad3; 8 ad 1} For the faithful are to go forth from the liturgical celebration to do works of charity, religion, and the apostolate "so that what they have received by faith and sacrament in the celebration of the Eucharist they will hold to by the way they live." {Eucharisticum Mysterium, n. 13

Answer by Rev. Mark J. Gantley, JCL on 11/20/2008:

The documents that you cite I believe are all from before the promulgation of the new Code of Canon Law in 1983. These documents represent a shift in thinking from the old law envisioning a maximum of one reception of Holy Communion per day to two under the current code.

However, it does reflect the thinking of the Church that a virtuous person might strive for daily reception of Holy Communion, but that striving for twice daily reception goes beyond balanced virtue. It might be more suitable for a person to do works of charity, penance, pray the rosary, etc.

The law was meant to encompass all those circumstances where a person might end up having an opportunity for a second Communion at Mass in the same day. For example, a person who attends 7:00 a.m. daily Mass every day also attends a funeral, a wedding, another special Mass, etc. The law is written to make this possible without needing to focus on the gravity of the reason for a second reception of Communion.

I don't think that the law is written to encourage twice daily Communion.

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