EWTN Catholic Q&A
Holy Communion
Question from Karl Torjussen on 07-01-2004:

Why is it that during Communion in the Catholic Church the congregation only receives the bread and not the wine? The bible states that Jesus said, "Take and eat and do this in rememberance of me" And He said, "Take and drink and do this in remembrance of me" I am just curious as to why both the bread and wine is served in all other Christian Churches but not in the Roman Catholic Church. I would most appreciate your answer. Sincerely, and with deep respect,

Karl Torjussen

Answer by Fr. John Trigilio on 07-10-2004:

Karl, once the words of Consecration have been spoken by the priest ('this is My Body' and 'this is My Blood') Catholics believe that the bread and wine are really, truly and substantially changed into the Body, Blood, Soul & Divinity of Christ. Therefore, after the Consecration, it may LOOK, TASTE, SMELL, and FEEL like bread and wine but it IS no longer bread and it IS no longer wine. The congregation never receives bread and never receives wine. They are given and they receive the REAL Body and Blood of Christ.

Secondly, when you separate body from blood, you have death. People die when their blood is removed from their body; we call it bleeding to death. There is a SEPARATE consecration of the bread and a separate consecration of the wine to sacramentally re-enact the separation of Jesus' Body and Blood the day He died on the Cross on Calvary on Good Friday. Yet, He rose from the dead on Easter Sunday. He did not stay dead. His body and blood were REUNITED, otherwise, He would still be dead.

Hence, at Communion, we receive the RISEN Christ which means in EITHER the Consecrated Host OR in the chalice of Consecrated wine you have BOTH the Precious Body and Blood. They cannot be separated. In ONE HOST is the WHOLE Christ, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. Martin Luther and the other Protestant Reformers insisted that the congregation must receive BOTH the Host and the Cup. Catholicism (via the Council of Trent) said in either sacred species are BOTH the Body and the Blood of Christ since HE IS RISEN. He is not still dead (separation of body and blood) but He is ALIVE (union of body and blood). So, when ONE HOST is placed in the Monstrance on the Altar for Benediction OR when the communicant is only given a consecrated Host and not give a chalice of consecrated wine, they are NOT getting HALF of Communion. One Host is not 50% of Jesus and neither is the chalice of Precious Blood 50%. Both are 100% of Christ. Only the Priest MUST consume both by canon law and theological doctrine since He offered the sacrifice, he must complete the immolation. Roman Catholic churches SOMETIMES offer both (the Byzantine Catholics and Eastern Orthodox always combine both but do so by INTINCTION where the consecrated Bread is dipped into the consecrated Wine) but often they give only ONE. Yet in ONE is BOTH. We receive the Body and Blood of the risen, alive Christ, NOT the flesh and blood of a dead Christ. To emphasize this teaching, the church purposely does not ALWAYS give both lest someone think they MUST.