Communion Under One or Two Species: An Evaluation of Rome’s Inconsistencies Over the Centuries

It has been no long-held secret that the Latin tradition has overwhelmingly administered Communion under one kind or “species” to its laity. In fact, this practice has become so pervasive throughout the last several hundred years that even the Eastern Uniate Rites, or as a few like to call themselves, “Orthodox in communion with Rome,” have overwhelmingly implemented this tradition, in many cases without much influence aside from the Latinization of their unique traditions. Ironically, the most progressive Latins—those who practice the Novus Ordo by and large—are the only ones who are administering Communion under both kinds, and even within this movement, it is still not the majority practice, but a concrete minority. Now, with our current pandemical state of affairs, even fewer Latin parishes are finding the motivation to administer the Eucharist under both species—to prevent the spread, they say.

During the Mystical Supper, the Apostles are instructed by our Lord to “Take, eat; this is My Body…” and to “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My Blood of the new covenant…” (Matthew 26:26-28). Elsewhere, St. Paul exhorts the Church in Corinth, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.” (1 Corinthians 11:26). Perhaps even more boldly, in John 6:53, the Lord asserts, “…unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.”

There is no question here that the Orthodox and the Latins believe similarly in the real presence of the actual Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist, but where the argument begins to obscure is in the administration of the Eucharist, namely in the Latin tradition’s insistence on maintaining their medieval practice of administering Communion under one species, typically under the species of Bread.

While Rome has codified their explanations and decrees regarding this practice since the time of the Council of Constance, they have spoken so confusedly on the matter to the great destruction of their claims of historical continuity and consistency. At times, they have outright condemned any administration of Communion under both species or kinds, and at other times, they have allowed for it under a special dispensation. They have, at times, allowed clergy to partake under both kinds (which is a practice held to this very day), while disallowing the laity. And they have, at times, allowed the laity to partake under both kinds, so long as a special privilege is given by the sitting Bishop, who, in some cases, has to obtain prior approval from Rome. Their justification is simple: the whole Body and Blood of Christ are contained in both species or either/or kind. We will evaluate where much of the codification of this innovation begins.

In the 13th Session of the Council of Constance AD 1415, the text reads (my bold for emphasis):

In the name of the holy and undivided Trinity, Father and Son and holy Spirit, Amen. Certain people, in some parts of the world, have rashly dared to assert that the Christian people ought to receive the holy sacrament of the eucharist under the forms of both bread and wine. They communicate the laity everywhere not only under the form of bread but also under that of wine, and they stubbornly assert that they should communicate even after a meal, or else without the need of a fast, contrary to the church’s custom which has been laudably and sensibly approved, from the church’s head downwards, but which they damnably try to repudiate as sacrilegious. Therefore this present general council of Constance, legitimately assembled in the holy Spirit, wishing to provide for the safety of the faithful against this error, after long deliberation by many persons learned in divine and human law, declares, decrees and defines that, although Christ instituted this venerable sacrament after a meal and ministered it to his apostles under the forms of both bread and wine, nevertheless and notwithstanding this, the praiseworthy authority of the sacred canons and the approved custom of the church have and do retain that this sacrament ought not to be celebrated after a meal nor received by the faithful without fasting, except in cases of sickness or some other necessity as permitted by law or by the church. Moreover, just as this custom was sensibly introduced in order to avoid various dangers and scandals, so with similar or even greater reason was it possible to introduce and sensibly observe the custom that, although this sacrament was received by the faithful under both kinds in the early church, nevertheless later it was received under both kinds only by those confecting it, and by the laity only under the form of bread. For it should be very firmly believed, and in no way doubted, that the whole body and blood of Christ are truly contained under both the form of bread and the form of wine. Therefore, since this custom was introduced for good reasons by the church and holy fathers, and has been observed for a very long time, it should be held as a law which nobody may repudiate or alter at will without the church’s permission. To say that the observance of this custom or law is sacrilegious or illicit must be regarded as erroneous. Those who stubbornly assert the opposite of the aforesaid are to be confined as heretics and severely punished by the local bishops or their officials or the inquisitors of heresy in the kingdoms or provinces in which anything is attempted or presumed against this decree, according to the canonical and legitimate sanctions that have been wisely established in favour of the catholic faith against heretics and their supporters.

[That no priest, under pain of excommunication, may communicate the people under the forms of both bread and wine]

This holy synod also decrees and declares, regarding this matter, that instructions are to be sent to the most reverend fathers and lords in Christ, patriarchs, primates, archbishops, bishops, and their vicars in spirituals, wherever they may be, in which they are to be commissioned and ordered on the authority of this sacred council and under pain of excommunication, to punish effectively those who err against this decree. They may receive back into the church’s fold those who have gone astray by communicating the people under the forms of both bread and wine, and have taught this, provided they repent and after a salutary penance, in accordance with the measure of their fault, has been enjoined upon them. They are to repress as heretics, however, by means of the church’s censures and even if necessary by calling in the help of the secular arm, those of them whose hearts have become hardened and who are unwilling to return to penance.

Read very closely what the Synod of Constance is saying here. They’re asserting clearly that administration under both kinds was instituted by Christ Himself and practiced by the Fathers of the Church, yet through a special dispensation and power granted to Rome, they are now abrogating that long-held, God-ordained practice for an innovation in administering exclusively under one kind, under threat of excommunication—and if you read the last sentence closely—and secular punishment (sound eerily familiar?). This synod dares to assert that its very own flock will be excommunicated and condemned as heretics for simply teaching or believing that the administration of the Eucharist under both kinds is necessary. Not only that, they will also be disciplined by the secular authorities for such a view. Keep in mind that these decrees are not mere suggestions, as many Latin “apologists” would claim. This Synod, “legitimately assembled in the Holy Spirit,” “decreed, defined, and declared” these innovations.

Perhaps the Council of Constance was too aggressive with its declaration, though. This practice was re-visited during the Council of Trent.

In the 13th Session of the Council of Trent AD 1562, the text reads (my bold for emphasis):

On the excellency of the most holy Eucharist over the rest of the Sacraments.

The most holy Eucharist has indeed this in common with the rest of the sacraments, that it is a symbol of a sacred thing, and is a visible form of an invisible grace; but there is found in the Eucharist this excellent and peculiar thing, that the other sacraments have then first the power of sanctifying when one uses them, whereas in the Eucharist, before being used, there is the Author Himself of sanctity. For the apostles had not as yet received the Eucharist from the hand of the Lord, when nevertheless Himself affirmed with truth that to be His own body which He presented (to them). And this faith has ever been in the Church of God, that, immediately after the consecration, the veritable Body of our Lord, and His veritable Blood, together with His soul and divinity, are under the species of bread and wine; but the Body indeed under the species of bread, and the Blood under the species of wine, by the force of the words; but the body itself under the species of wine, and the blood under the species of bread, and the soul under both, by the force of that natural connexion and concomitancy whereby the parts of Christ our Lord, who hath now risen from the dead, to die no more, are united together; and the divinity, furthermore, on account of the admirable hypostatical union thereof with His body and soul. Wherefore it is most true, that as much is contained under either species as under both; for Christ whole and entire is under the species of bread, and under any part whatsoever of that species; likewise the whole (Christ) is under the species of wine, and under the parts thereof.

On Transubstantiation.

And because that Christ, our Redeemer, declared that which He offered under the species of bread to be truly His own body, therefore has it ever been a firm belief in the Church of God, and this holy Synod doth now declare it anew, that, by the consecration of the bread and of the wine, a conversion is made of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord, and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of His blood; which conversion is, by the holy Catholic Church, suitably and properly called Transubstantiation.

Again, we find another Latin Ecumenical Council declaring that the administration of the Eucharist under both kinds has always or “ever been” the practice of the Church. Confusedly, we read that the Body of Christ is under the species of bread, and that the Blood of Christ is under the species of wine, but “by force of words,” implying that the invocation of words is merely a symbolic invocation, while in practice, each species contains the fulness of both kinds. I included the chapter on Transubstantiation in this writing to simply demonstrate the utter confusion of this position, as we continue to read of the distinction in the elements prior to and after these Synodal decrees.

In the 21st Session of the Council of Trent AD 1562, the text reads (my bold for emphasis):

That laymen and clerics, when not sacrificing, are not bound, of divine right, to communion under both species.

Wherefore, this holy Synod,–instructed by the Holy Spirit, who is the spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the spirit of counsel and of godliness, and following the judgment and usage of the Church itself,–declares and teaches, that laymen, and clerics when not consecrating, are not obliged, by any divine precept, to receive the sacrament of the Eucharist under both species; and that neither can it by any means be doubted, without injury to faith, that communion under either species sufficient for them unto salvation. For, although Christ, the Lord, in the last supper, instituted and delivered to the apostles, this venerable sacrament in the species of bread and wine; not therefore do that institution and delivery tend thereunto, that all the faithful of Church be bound, by the institution of the Lord, to receive both species. But neither is it rightly gathered, from that discourse which is in the sixth of John,-however according to the various interpretations of holy Fathers and Doctors it be understood,–that the communion of both species was enjoined by the Lord: for He who said; Except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you (v. 54), also said; He that eateth this bread shall live forever (v. 59); and He who said, He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath everlasting life (v. 55), also said; The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world (v. 52); and, in fine,- He who said; He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, abideth in me and I in him (v. 57), said, nevertheless; He that eateth this bread shall live forever (v. 59.)

The power of the Church as regards the dispensation of the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

It furthermore declares, that this power has ever been in the Church, that, in the dispensation of the sacraments, their substance being untouched, it may ordain,–or change, what things soever it may judge most expedient, for the profit of those who receive, or for the veneration of the said sacraments, according to the difference of circumstances, times, and places. And this the Apostle seems not obscurely to have intimated, when he says; Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and the dispensers of the mysteries of God. And indeed it is sufficiently manifest that he himself exercised this power,- as in many other things, so in regard of this very sacrament; when, after having ordained certain things touching the use thereof, he says; The rest I will set in order when I come. Wherefore, holy Mother Church, knowing this her authority in the administration of the sacraments, although the use of both species has,–from the beginning of the Christian religion, not been infrequent, yet, in progress of time, that custom having been already very widely changed,–she, induced by weighty and just reasons,-has approved of this custom of communicating under one species, and decreed that it was to be held as a law; which it is not lawful to reprobate, or to change at pleasure, without the authority of the Church itself.


CANON I.–If any one saith, that, by the precept of God, or, by necessity of salvation, all and each of the faithful of Christ ought to receive both species of the most holy sacrament not consecrating; let him be anathema.

CANON II.–If any one saith, that the holy Catholic Church was not induced, by just causes and reasons, to communicate, under the species of bread only, laymen, and also clerics when not consecrating; let him be anathema.

CANON III.–If any one denieth, that Christ whole and entire-the fountain and author of all graces–is received under the one species of bread; because that-as some falsely assert–He is not received, according to the institution of Christ himself, under both species; let him be anathema.

CANON IV.–If any one saith, that the communion of the Eucharist is necessary for little children, before they have arrived at years of discretion; let him be anathema.

The Council of Trent demonstrates several things with regard to receiving Communion under both species. Firstly, we find, like in Constance, that the decrees are “instructed by the Holy Spirit,” and that the terminology of “decrees and teaches” exists within the codification, binding all Latin Christians. Further, also like Constance, there is a clear and explicit affirmation that the administration under both kinds was instituted by Christ Himself and practiced by the Holy Apostles and Fathers throughout the ages. Moreover, Trent decrees that any opinion opposed to the administration of the Eucharist under one kind is cause for “injury to the faith” and is anathema, as Trent also declares the communication under one species as “law.” One area of particle noteworthiness is Trent’s affirmation that the Magisterium may “ordain or change” whatever things it judges most expedient—a terrifying admission in light of many other areas of concern over the past millennium.

The Council of Trent ends this section of decretals with canonical anathemas towards those who believe both species ought to be administered for the fullness of the Sacrament. I bolded Canon IV to highlight a special noteworthiness. It is interesting to me—an Orthodox Christian who was formerly Eastern-Rite Catholic—that the continuous push towards an “age of reason” to receive the Eucharist can be propagated and anathematized canonically, just to be reversed at a later time in reception of Eastern Uniates, but we’ll save that conversation for another time. The Council of Trent, here, slightly lightens the tone from the Council of Constance, while maintaining anathemas towards those who would even suggest that the proper administration of the Eucharist would be in both kinds… but unlike Constance, at least it doesn’t threaten the secular force of law upon adherents of the orthodox eucharistic practice.

In 1963, Pope Paul VI issued Sacrosanctum Concilium during Vatican II, which reads (my bold for emphasis):

55. That more perfect form of participation in the Mass whereby the faithful, after the priest’s communion, receive the Lord’s body from the same sacrifice, is strongly commended.

The dogmatic principles which were laid down by the Council of Trent remaining intact, communion under both kinds may be granted when the bishops think fit, not only to clerics and religious, but also to the laity, in cases to be determined by the Apostolic See, as, for instance, to the newly ordained in the Mass of their sacred ordination, to the newly professed in the Mass of their religious profession, and to the newly baptized in the Mass which follows their baptism.

The tide is shifting. Pope Paul VI issues exceptions to the Council of Trent, allowing the administration of the Eucharist under both kinds while somehow keeping the decrees of the Council of Trent “intact.” This appears to be contradictory (refer to Trent’s language, which was an expounding on Constance).

Many years later, we arrive at additional instruction regarding the administration of Communion in Redemptionis Sacramentum 2004, which reads (my bold for emphasis):

4. Communion under Both Kinds

[100.] So that the fullness of the sign may be made more clearly evident to the faithful in the course of the Eucharistic banquet, lay members of Christ’s faithful, too, are admitted to Communion under both kinds, in the cases set forth in the liturgical books, preceded and continually accompanied by proper catechesis regarding the dogmatic principles on this matter laid down by the Ecumenical Council of Trent.

[101.] In order for Holy Communion under both kinds to be administered to the lay members of Christ’s faithful, due consideration should be given to the circumstances, as judged first of all by the diocesan Bishop. It is to be completely excluded where even a small danger exists of the sacred species being profaned. With a view to wider co-ordination, the Bishops’ Conferences should issue norms, once their decisions have received the recognition of the Apostolic See through the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, especially as regards “the manner of distributing Holy Communion to the faithful under both kinds, and the faculty for its extension”.

[102.] The chalice should not be ministered to lay members of Christ’s faithful where there is such a large number of communicants that it is difficult to gauge the amount of wine for the Eucharist and there is a danger that “more than a reasonable quantity of the Blood of Christ remain to be consumed at the end of the celebration”. The same is true wherever access to the chalice would be difficult to arrange, or where such a large amount of wine would be required that its certain provenance and quality could only be known with difficulty, or wherever there is not an adequate number of sacred ministers or extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion with proper formation, or where a notable part of the people continues to prefer not to approach the chalice for various reasons, so that the sign of unity would in some sense be negated.

This document expounds on the blessed Sacrament, and in doing so, reveals some newer, more “revised” information regarding the administration of the Eucharist under both kinds. Rome, here, now permits the administration of the Eucharist under both species in order to show the fullness of the Sacramental sign. There are some caveats, though. Firstly, it has to be approved by a Diocesan Bishop and even by Rome in many cases. Moreover, instruction must be provided beforehand on how to receive Communion under both species. Let’s stop here for a second. This is a startling admission. Aren’t Catholics taught and prepared to receive Holy Communion prior to their Confirmation? I was. Everyone I know was. So, why additional instruction and preparation? In addition, this article places so many potential restrictions on its administration that it becomes difficult to put into practice—everything from the science of gauging the right amount of wine, to how inconvenient it would be for the clergy to organize. As we progress down this timeline, it becomes painfully evident that the Christian practice of administration under both kinds was abrogated due to mere convenience. God forbid!

Following Redemptionis Sacramentum, the Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff released a communication titled “Doctrinal Formation and Communion Under Both Kinds” to further expound.

This document reads (my bold for emphasis):

In the ordinary form of the Mass, the distribution of Holy Communion under both kinds is an option whose usage has become a daily occurrence in many countries but, by no means everywhere, even in Europe.

The instruction “Redemptionis Sacramentum”, promulgated in 2004, explains the context of this practice: “So that the fullness of the sign may be made more clearly evident to the faithful in the course of the Eucharistic banquet, lay members of Christ’s faithful, too, are admitted to Communion under both kinds, in the cases set forth in the liturgical books, preceded and continually accompanied by proper catechesis regarding the dogmatic principles on this matter laid down by the Ecumenical Council of Trent” (100).

This laudable intention frequently meets the catechetical stumbling block mentioned. Undoubtedly, Holy Communion under both species illustrates Christ’s intention that we eat his Body and drink his Blood. However, that desire for Holy Communion in both kinds has not necessarily been accompanied by fidelity to the norms of liturgical books and supporting formation to protect against Eucharistic abuses and doctrinal misunderstandings.

The purpose, then, of receiving Holy Communion under both kinds, is not that the faithful receive more grace than when they receive it under one kind alone, but that the faithful are enabled to appreciate vividly the value of the sign. Sadly, this distinction has not always been made clear and some people, when not offered Holy Communion under both kinds, have expressed a sense of bewilderment, even thwarted entitlement, or a feeling that Holy Communion under one kind alone was, to some extent, deficient.

This short, but succinct section summarizes the main points. Firstly, administration under both species is merely a fulfilling of symbolism that is more vivid to the average Christian, and secondly, that those who believe the administration under one species is deficient in terms of the grace endowed upon the receiver are just flat-out wrong. Notice how the document omits that carrying such an opinion is anathema, but instead takes a much more toned down approach, seemingly chalking any opinion to mere error rather than blasphemy. This is a massive 180 from Constance and Trent. As a final observation, also notice once again the admission that “undoubtedly” the administration under both species demonstrates Christ’s intention for us.

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Article 1390), the text reads (my bold for emphasis):

Since Christ is sacramentally present under each of the species, communion under the species of bread alone makes it possible to receive all the fruit of Eucharistic grace. For pastoral reasons this manner of receiving communion has been legitimately established as the most common form in the Latin rite. But “the sign of communion is more complete when given under both kinds, since in that form the sign of the Eucharistic meal appears more clearly.”225 This is the usual form of receiving communion in the Eastern rites.

The tone has shifted extensively from Constance and Trent, and now appears to be not only completely permissible, but preferred to a large degree. The catechism also makes reference to the administration under both species being a usual practice for the Eastern Rite parishes (who are now beginning to largely adopt the practice of one kind, especially due to pandemic fears). In addition, the catechism admits that administration under both kinds is “more complete.”

In the Code of Canon Law (Book IV), we read (my bold for emphasis):

Can. 899 §1. The eucharistic celebration is the action of Christ himself and the Church. In it, Christ the Lord, through the ministry of the priest, offers himself, substantially present under the species of bread and wine, to God the Father and gives himself as spiritual food to the faithful united with his offering.

Can.  924 §1. The most holy eucharistic sacrifice must be offered with bread and with wine in which a little water must be mixed.

Can. 925 Holy communion is to be given under the form of bread alone, or under both species according to the norm of the liturgical laws, or even under the form of wine alone in a case of necessity.

Here, we find the Code of Canon Law once again admitting that “Christ is substantially present under the species of bread and wine” without distinction. Further, we find the formula of the sacrifice, offered with bread and wine. Then, confusedly, we also read that Communion can be administered under bread alone, under both species, or even under wine alone. While implied in previous decretals, this is the first time we see explicit mention of the efficacy of administering the species of wine alone.

At current, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have issued further elaboration and instruction on where Catholics stand on this practice today. In instructions titled, “Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion under Both Kinds in the Dioceses of the United States of America,” the text reads (my bold for emphasis):

Holy Communion Under Both Kinds

17. From the first days of the Church’s celebration of the Eucharist, Holy Communion consisted of the reception of both species in fulfillment of the Lord’s command to “take and eat . . . take and drink.” The distribution of Holy Communion to the faithful under both kinds was thus the norm for more than a millennium of Catholic liturgical practice.

18. The practice of Holy Communion under both kinds at Mass continued until the late eleventh century, when the custom of distributing the Eucharist to the faithful under the form of bread alone began to grow. By the twelfth century theologians such as Peter Cantor speak of Communion under one kind as a “custom” of the Church. This practice spread until the Council of Constance in 1415 decreed that Holy Communion under the form of bread alone would be distributed to the faithful.

21. The extension of the faculty for the distribution of Holy Communion under both kinds does not represent a change in the Church’s immemorial beliefs concerning the Holy Eucharist. Rather, today the Church finds it salutary to restore a practice, when appropriate, that for various reasons was not opportune when the Council of Trent was convened in 1545. But with the passing of time, and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the reform of the Second Vatican Council has resulted in the restoration of a practice by which the faithful are again able to experience “a fuller sign of the Eucharistic banquet.”

When Communion Under Both Kinds May Be Given

23. The revised Missale Romanum, third typical edition, significantly expands those opportunities when Holy Communion may be offered under both kinds. In addition to those instances specified by individual ritual books, the General Instruction states that Communion under both kinds may be permitted as follows:

-for Priests who are not able to celebrate or concelebrate

-for the Deacon and others who perform some duty at Mass

-members of communities at the Conventual Mass or the “community” Mass, along with seminarians, and all those engaged in a retreat or taking part in a spiritual or pastoral gathering

24. The General Instruction then indicates that the Diocesan Bishop may lay down norms for the distribution of Communion under both kinds for his own diocese, which must be observed…. The Diocesan Bishop also has the faculty to allow Communion under both kinds, whenever it seems appropriate to the Priest to whom charge of a given community has been entrusted as [its] own pastor, provided that the faithful have been well instructed and there is no danger of the profanation of the Sacrament or that the rite would be difficult to carry out on account of the number of participants or for some other reason.

This is an American Conference—sure, but it has representation from the Vatican. Again, there is an admission that the administration of the Eucharist under both species has always been the practice of the Church, and most certainly for the first 11 centuries, before the culmination of the Great Schism. This document also admits that Rome changed routes after the Schism, which shouldn’t be a shock to any Orthodox Christian. Further, this document explicitly attempts to explain a change without affirming that there has been a change in the mind of the Latin tradition, appealing to the “guidance of the Holy Spirit” in explaining why such a change was necessary. And like previous documents, this document ends with giving direction as to how to prepare laity and clergy for the reception of Communion under both kinds. I ask again, out of pure sincerity and curiosity, isn’t proper administration and reception of the Eucharist taught prior to Confirmation for every single Catholic? What, then, is the point of an “age of reason” for infants if further instruction must be given to even adults? Just a few thoughts to ponder.

While there are other documents that exist that continue to speak to this wild inconsistency lingering over Rome, these documents are sufficient in that many are codified as laws and decrees, binding on the conscience of each Catholic. Many errors have presented themselves in the life of any tradition—some more egregious than others—but the error of administering Communion under one kind for mere convenience is a travesty. Moreover, the wishy-washiness of Rome on this issue over the last several hundred years is plainly and painfully evident through the basic reading of these documents, as we can clearly see a complete 180 in their demeanor and application, akin to several other doctrines in which have been recently held. It was once anathematized to even have an opinion and spread that opinion of adhering to a two-kind Communion administration. Then, it became less of a capital crime. Eventually, it became acceptable. And now, it is approaching preference.

The Protestant Reformers got so much wrong, but on this issue, they were absolutely right. True—the administration of the Eucharist under one kind has been employed under rare and unique circumstances even to this day, but it has never been the model of the Church, nor has it ever become the normal day-to-day method of administration—it has always been the exception and never the rule. It has certainly never been a suggestion that to believe in the Christ-appointed model was subject to anathematization. The model was given to us clearly. The administration of the Holy Eucharist should be according to the prescribed method of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ, and of His Holy Apostles, and of their apostles—our Holy Fathers of the Church.

As St. Justin Martyr attests:

“We call this food Eucharist, and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true and who has been washed in the washing which is for the remission of sins and for regeneration [i.e., has received baptism] and is thereby living as Christ enjoined. For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nurtured, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus” (First Apology 66 [AD 151]).

And St. Irenaeus affirms:

“He has declared the cup, a part of creation, to be his own blood, from which he causes our blood to flow; and the bread, a part of creation, he has established as his own body, from which he gives increase unto our bodies. When, therefore, the mixed cup [wine and water] and the baked bread receives the Word of God and becomes the Eucharist, the body of Christ, and from these the substance of our flesh is increased and supported, how can they say that the flesh is not capable of receiving the gift of God, which is eternal life—flesh which is nourished by the body and blood of the Lord, and is in fact a member of him?” (Against Heresies 4 [AD 189]).

And as St. Cyril of Jerusalem asserts:

“The bread and the wine of the Eucharist before the holy invocation of the adorable Trinity were simple bread and wine, but the invocation having been made, the bread becomes the body of Christ and the wine the blood of Christ” (Catechetical Lectures 19:7 [AD 350]).

“Then after having partaken of the body of Christ, approach also to the cup of his blood: not stretching forth thine hands, but bending, and saying in the way of worship and reverence, Amen, hallow yourself by partaking also of the blood of Christ” (Catechetical Lectures 23:22 [AD 350]).

And finally, as St. Augustine boldly professes:

“I promised you [new Christians], who have now been baptized, a sermon in which I would explain the sacrament of the Lord’s Table… That bread which you see on the altar, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the body of Christ. That chalice, or rather, what is in that chalice, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the blood of Christ” (Sermon 227 [AD 411]).

“What you see is the bread and the chalice; that is what your own eyes report to you. But what your faith obliges you to accept is that the bread is the body of Christ and the chalice is the blood of Christ. This has been said very briefly, which may perhaps be sufficient for faith; yet faith does not desire instruction” (Sermon 227 [AD 411]).

May the Holy Spirit guide and preserve the Church unto ages of ages. Amen.

5 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Terrific resource. I don’t think I’ve seen anything like this compiled anywhere so your effort is appreciated. Certainly sheds a lot of light on the Catholic Church authority.

  2. Pete, good job compiling this information. Seriously impressive. I find myself bookmarking a lot of these for their usefulness. Keep it up! Where did the other articles go though? I remember a few others that I can’t find any longer.

  3. Administering the Eucharist to the faithful in both kinds has been the norm in the Catholic Church since the Second Vatican Council. In fact the vast majority of Catholics alive today will not even be aware that Communion under one kind was ever, or is, practised — the traditionalists who uphold it being only a tiny minority of the faithful.

    1. I agree to an extent; however, I think you underestimate how many within the Catholic Church have actually adopted the administration under one kind after the Latin tradition. For instance, the Chaldean Rite only administers under one kind, as does most of the Maronite Rite. Much of the ethnically Latin community also administers under one kind, which makes up the majority of the Latin Church. It is far more pervasive than a simple minority. Ironically though, the Novus Ordo churches typically administer under both kinds.

  4. Thank you for putting together these quotations using Catholic sources. I think it shows some clear inconsistencies and discontinuities in the Latin practice regarding Holy Communion.

    I, for one, do not understand the move to “bread only” communion. It simply doesn’t square with either Scripture or Tradition but relies solely on an appeal to the authority of the Church.

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