Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas and your 2024 is off to a good start. I’m grateful to all the ministers, staff members, and all those involved who helped to make the holidays and Masses go so smoothly this year. Given the way things fell, what with the Sunday into Monday for Christmas, it did bring up some interesting questions from some parishioners. There’s one in particular that I’d like to discuss and clarify in this week’s letter.
As you may recall, we had both the 4th Sunday of Advent and Christmas Eve on the same day. The expectation was that people would attend Mass for both Sunday and Christmas, although there were a variety of ways that could be accomplished from Saturday evening through Monday morning. What was somewhat surprising to me and something unconsidered was that several parishioners who went to Mass on Sunday morning asked if they could receive the Eucharist again on Sunday night. The answer to such questions is yes.
Any Catholic who is free to receive the Eucharist (free from grave sin or other restrictions) can receive the Eucharist twice in a day, provided the second instance is at Mass (Canon 917). Generally, there’s a reason for being at a second Mass, such as a separate celebration like a wedding and a weekend Mass or a Sunday Mass and a holyday. But even barring that, technically anyone can receive the Eucharist a second time. But why twice? Why any limit whatsoever?
Well on the one hand, the Church recognizes the importance of the Eucharist in our lives and sees the reception of it being not only worthwhile but necessary. The Church even stipulates that all Catholics should receive the Eucharist at least once a year during Lent or Easter with the Easter Duty. It is the Bread of Life. It is spiritual nourishment. It provides deep and abiding grace in our lives.
Therefore, we should have access to it quite frequently. On the other hand, there is a principle that once someone consumes the Eucharist, they’ve gotten their “daily bread.” There isn’t necessarily more grace obtained the second or third or fortieth time a person receives the Eucharist in a day. Once is enough. Though there are days when separate celebrations occur on the same day and participating in a Mass may happen more than once. And receiving the Eucharist for a second time is both good and reasonable.
And so, just to recap. Any Catholic can receive the Eucharist up to twice in a day, given that the second time is at Mass. But there’s no need to go Mass hopping, attending multiple Masses in a day simply with the hope of gaining more grace. Receiving the gift of the Eucharist just once in a day is already full of grace.
Peace and Goodness,