Communion under both kinds

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Man of Sorrows from Prague, c. 1470. Jesus Christ is taking out a host from his wound while his blood is flowing down into a chalice. The depiction of Christ, symbolically offering his body and blood, clearly demonstrates the practice of receiving the Communion under both kinds, which was crucial for the Bohemian Reformation of the 15th century. Man of Sorrows from Prague c1470.jpg
Man of Sorrows from Prague, c. 1470. Jesus Christ is taking out a host from his wound while his blood is flowing down into a chalice. The depiction of Christ, symbolically offering his body and blood, clearly demonstrates the practice of receiving the Communion under both kinds, which was crucial for the Bohemian Reformation of the 15th century.

Communion under both kinds in Christianity is the reception under both "species" (i.e., both the consecrated bread and wine) of the Eucharist. Denominations of Christianity that hold to a doctrine of Communion under both kinds may believe that a Eucharist which does not include both bread and wine as elements of the religious ceremony is not valid, while others may consider the presence of both bread and wine as preferable, but not necessary, for the ceremony. In some traditions, grape juice may take the place of wine with alcohol content as the second element.


Roman Catholicism


In reference to the Eucharist as a sacrifice, Communion under both kinds belongs at least to the integrity and essence, of the rite, and may not be omitted without violating the precept of Christ: "Do this in remembrance of me" (Luke 22:19). This is mentioned implicitly by the Council of Trent (Sess. XXI, c. i; XXII, c. i), [1] and the General Instruction of the Roman Missal states that the people "...should share the cup when it is permitted. Then, Communion is a clearer sign of sharing in the sacrifice that is actually being celebrated." [2]


A sailor receives Communion from a Catholic chaplain aboard a US Navy ship. US Navy 091010-N-6567V-051 Chief Machinist Mate Nicomedes Sonico receives communion from Father Jose Pimentel during a Roman Catholic Mass.jpg
A sailor receives Communion from a Catholic chaplain aboard a US Navy ship.

In modern Catholic practice in Europe and much of the English-speaking world, Ireland excluded, Communion is offered under both kinds when receiving at Mass.[ citation needed ] However, Catholicism teaches that Christ is sacramentally (and equally) present under each species, and therefore if a person receives only one species, Christ is fully present and nothing is lacking. [3]

In the Early Church, Communion was ordinarily administered and received under both kinds. That such was the practice mentioned by Paul in I Corinthians 11:28. [1] But side by side in the Early Church there existed the custom of communicating in certain cases under one kind alone e.g. when people took home some of the Eucharist after Sunday worship and communicated during the week and also when the Eucharist was brought to the sick. [1]

By the Middle Ages, the Church had become, like most of European society, increasingly hierarchical. There was much stress on being holy when receiving Communion, and a greatly heightened appreciation of the sufferings of Christ. This meant that all who approached the altar were to be as pure as possible, and inevitably led to the exclusion of the laity from administering the Eucharist, reserving the practice to the clergy. It is difficult to say when the practice of offering the chalice to the people stopped, but it may be presumed that this was part of the way in which Church authorities sought to prevent anything disrespectful happening to the Eucharist; it was also, by this time, that Communion was given only on the tongue.

This practice was challenged by the Bohemian reformer, Jacob of Mies, who in 1414 began to offer Communion under both kinds to his congregation. The matter was reviewed by the 13th Session of the Council of Constance, in 1415; the council rejected the grounds for offering the chalice to lay people and banned the practice. [4] This became the most emblematic issue of the Hussite Wars, which resulted in the permission of the communion under both kinds for Utraquists in Bohemia in 1433 (it would be banned again in 1627 and allowed again by the Patent of Toleration in 1781). In the following century, this was challenged again by the Protestant Reformers, including Martin Luther, John Calvin and Huldrych Zwingli. [4] The Council of Trent referred to the pope the question whether the petition of the Holy Roman Emperor to have the use of the chalice allowed in his dominions be granted; in 1564 Pius IV did grant this permission to some German bishops, provided certain conditions were fulfilled. However, his concession was withdrawn in the following year. [1]

In the 20th century, Catholic liturgical reformers began to press for a return to Communion under both kinds, citing the practice of the church before the thirteenth century. There were spirited debates over the issue at the Second Vatican Council, resulting in a compromise. The following text was finally issued by the bishops; "...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". [5] Regular use of Communion under both kinds requires the permission of the bishop, but bishops in many countries have given blanket authorisation to administer Holy Communion in this way. In the United States, the Notre Dame Study of Catholic Parish Life showed that by 1989, slightly less than half of the parishes in its survey offered the chalice to their congregations. [5]

Eastern Orthodoxy

(Also applicable to the appropriate Eastern Catholic Churches.)

The Eastern Orthodox Church has consistently practised communion under both kinds. Both the clergy and the people normally receive in both kinds.


Communion of only the Eucharistic Bread is seen as imperfect by the Orthodox churches, who do not normally follow this practice, even in extremis . [6]


During the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, when it comes time for Holy Communion, the Lamb (a leavened Host) is first broken into four pieces: one portion is placed whole into the chalice; from one portion the clergy receive communion; and from the remaining two portions, the laity are Communed. The clergy will each receive first the Body of Christ, taking it in their hands, and then sip from the chalice. After the communion of the clergy, the portions of the consecrated Lamb for the faithful (i.e., the congregation) are cut into tiny portions and placed in the chalice. When the faithful come forward to receive Communion, they cross their hands over their chest, and the priest gives them both the Body and Blood of Christ from the chalice, using a spoon. In this manner, everyone receives in both kinds, but no one takes either the consecrated Bread or the Chalice in their hands, thus reducing the possibility of crumbs accidentally being dropped or any of the Blood of Christ being spilt on the floor.

When the priest takes Holy Communion to the sick, he transfers a portion to a vessel which is worn around the neck. Inside the vessel are compartments for a gilded box to contain the Mysteries, a tiny chalice, a bottle for wine, a small gilded spoon and often a gilded set of tweezers. Once at the sick person's bedside he uses the tweezers to take a particle of the Mysteries from the box and place it in the chalice. He then pours a small amount of unconsecrated red wine into the chalice which softens the dried particle as he hears the sick person's confession. Then, after saying the Prayers before Communion, he administers Holy Communion in both kinds to the sick person using the spoon, exactly as is done during the Divine Liturgy.


A Lutheran priest administers the Eucharistic elements to the faithful during the celebration of the Holy Mass. Communion3.jpg
A Lutheran priest administers the Eucharistic elements to the faithful during the celebration of the Holy Mass.


The Lutheran Churches teach: [7]

In our churches, communion is administered to the laity in both kinds, because this is a manifest command and precept of Christ. Matt. 26:27. 'Drink ye all of it.' In this passage Christ teaches, in the plainest terms, that they should all drink out of the cup. And in order that no one may be able to cavil at these words, and explain them as referring to the clergy alone, Paul informs us that the entire church at Corinth received the sacrament in both kinds. (1 Cor. 11:26.) And this custom was retained in the church for a long time, as can be proved by history, and the writings of the Fathers. Cyprian frequently mentions the fact that in his day the cup was given to the laity. St. Jerome also says, the priests, who administer the sacrament, dispense the blood of Christ to the people. And pope Gelasius himself commanded that the sacrament should not be divided (distinct. 2, de consecat. cap. comperimus). There is no canon extant, which commands that one kind alone should be received. Nor can it be ascertained when, or by whom, the cusom of receiving bread alone was introduced, although cardinal Cusanus mentions the time when it was approved. Now it is evidence that such a custom, introduced contrary to the divine command, ad also in opposition to the ancient canons, is wrong. It was therefore improper to coerce and oppress the conscience of those who wished to receive the sacrament agreeably to the appointment of Christ, and compel them to violate the institution of our Lord. And inasmuch by Christ, the custom of carrying about the host in the procession is omitted amongst us. [7]


The Eucharist is administered by a Lutheran priest under both kinds, often at the chancel rails or in a communion line, after hosts and a common chalice are consecrated.

Anglicanism and Methodism


The 30th article of the 39 articles of the Church of England, as well as Article XIX of the Methodist Articles of Religion states: "The Cup of the Lord is not to be denied to the lay-people: for both the parts of the Lord's Sacrament, by Christ's ordinance and commandment, ought to be ministered to all Christian men alike." [8] [9]


In Anglican and Methodist liturgy, the bread (typically in wafer form) is administered by licensed clergy into the cupped hands of the communicant, usually kneeling at the altar rail. The chalice may be administered by the clergy or, in certain dioceses, by licensed laypersons. The bread may be consumed before drinking the wine from the chalice or may be dipped into the wine prior to consuming (intinction). [10]


Elisabeth of Brandenburg secretly takes communion in both kinds. Elisabeth von Brandenburg secretly takes the Holy Supper in both kinds.jpg
Elisabeth of Brandenburg secretly takes communion in both kinds.


Communion under both kinds for the whole congregation was a central issue for the Protestant reformers, since they believed that it had been specifically commanded by Jesus at the Last Supper. [5] John Calvin in his seminal 1536 work, Institutes of the Christian Religion , wrote; 'For Christ not only gave the cup, but appointed that the apostles should do so in future. For his words contain the command, "Drink ye all of it." And Paul relates, that it was so done, and recommends it as a fixed institution (First Epistle to the Corinthians 1Corinthians 11:25)'. [11]


Almost all Reformed churches practice communion under both kinds. One marked distinction in many Reformed churches is not using a chalice for the wine, but rather individual communion cups. In some churches wine is not used, but rather grape juice (see Alcohol in Christianity).

Latter Day Saints

In the Latter Day Saint movement the sacrament of the Lord's Supper is taken under both kinds, similar to Protestant usage. As originally practiced by the Latter Day Saint movement founder Joseph Smith and other early Latter Day Saints, the sacrament included the use of fermented wine.

Based on a document that Latter Day Saints believed was a revelation to Joseph Smith, however, it has been acceptable for Latter Day Saints to use other substances in the sacrament. As stated in the document: "It mattereth not what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink when ye partake of the sacrament, if it so be that ye do it with an eye single to my glory—remembering unto the Father my body which was laid down for you, and my blood which was shed for the remission of your sins." [12] As a result of this revelation and anti-alcohol sentiment, the common practice of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since the early 20th century has been to use bread and water and not to involve wine or grape juice. [13] [14] The second largest church to emerge from the early Latter Day Saint movement, the Community of Christ (formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints), generally uses unfermented grape juice and whole wheat bread.

See also

Related Research Articles

Eucharist Christian rite

The Eucharist is a Christian rite that is considered a sacrament in most churches, and as an ordinance in others. According to the New Testament, the rite was instituted by Jesus Christ during the Last Supper; giving his disciples bread and wine during a Passover meal, Jesus commanded his disciples to "do this in memory of me" while referring to the bread as "my body" and the cup of wine as "the new covenant in my blood". Through the eucharistic celebration Christians remember both Christ's sacrifice of himself on the cross and his commission of the apostles at the Last Supper.

Mass (liturgy) type of worship service within many Christian denomination

Mass is the main eucharistic liturgical service in many forms of Western Christianity. The term Mass is commonly used in the Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church, as well as in Anglican, Methodist, Western Rite Orthodox, and Old Catholic churches.

Closed communion

Closed communion is the practice of restricting the serving of the elements of Holy Communion to those who are members in good standing of a particular church, denomination, sect, or congregation. Though the meaning of the term varies slightly in different Christian theological traditions, it generally means that a church or denomination limits participation either to members of their own church, members of their own denomination, or members of some specific class. See also intercommunion.

Sign of the cross ritual blessing

The sign of the cross, or blessing oneself or crossing oneself, is a ritual blessing made by members of some branches of Christianity. This blessing is made by the tracing of an upright cross or + across the body with the right hand, often accompanied by spoken or mental recitation of the trinitarian formula: "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen."

Words of Institution

The Words of Institution are words echoing those of Jesus himself at his Last Supper that, when consecrating bread and wine, Christian Eucharistic liturgies include in a narrative of that event. Eucharistic scholars sometimes refer to them simply as the verba.

Church tabernacle A locked box in which, in some Christian churches, the Eucharist is stored.

A tabernacle is a fixed, locked box in which, in some Christian churches, the Eucharist is "reserved" (stored). A less obvious container for the same purpose, set into a wall, is called an aumbry.

Infant communion

Infant communion, also known as paedocommunion, refers to the practice of giving the Eucharist, often in the form of consecrated wine, to young children. This practice is standard in the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Eastern Catholic Churches; here, communion is given at the Divine Liturgy to all baptized and chrismated church members regardless of age. Infant communion is less common in most other Christian denominations, including the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church.


Intinction is the Eucharistic practice of partly dipping the consecrated bread, or host, into the consecrated wine before consumption by the communicant.

Eucharistic discipline

Eucharistic discipline is the term applied to the regulations and practices associated with an individual preparing for the reception of the Eucharist. Different Christian traditions require varying degrees of preparation, which may include a period of fasting, prayer, repentance, and confession.

Eucharistic theology branch of Christian theology

Eucharistic theology is a branch of Christian theology which treats doctrines concerning the Holy Eucharist, also commonly known as the Lord's Supper. It exists exclusively in Christianity and related religions, as others generally do not contain a Eucharistic ceremony.

Reserved sacrament

During the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the second part of the Mass, the elements of bread and wine are considered to have been changed into the veritable Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. The manner in which this occurs is referred to by the term transubstantiation, a theory of St. Thomas Aquinas, in the Roman Catholic Church. Members of the Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran communions also believe that Jesus Christ is really and truly present in the bread and wine, but they believe that the way in which this occurs must forever remain a sacred mystery. In many Christian churches some portion of the consecrated elements is set aside and reserved after the reception of Communion and referred to as the reserved sacrament. The reserved sacrament is usually stored in a tabernacle, a locked cabinet made of precious materials and usually located on, above, or near the high altar. In Western Christianity usually only the Host, from Latin: hostia, meaning "victim", is reserved, except where wine might be kept for the sick who cannot consume a host.

Anglican eucharistic theology

Anglican eucharistic theology is diverse in practice, reflecting the comprehensiveness of Anglicanism. Its sources include prayer book rubrics, writings on sacramental theology by Anglican divines, and the regulations and orientations of ecclesiastical provinces. The principal source material is the Book of Common Prayer, specifically its eucharistic prayers and Article XXVIII of the Thirty-Nine Articles. Article XXVIII comprises the foundational Anglican doctrinal statement about the Eucharist, although its interpretation varies among churches of the Anglican Communion and in different traditions of churchmanship such as Anglo-Catholicism and Evangelical Anglicanism.

Blood of Christ concepts in Christianity

Blood of Christ in Christian theology may refer to (a) the physical blood actually shed by Jesus Christ primarily on the Cross, and the salvation which Christianity teaches was accomplished thereby; or (b) the sacramental blood present in the Eucharist or Lord's Supper, which some Christian denominations consider not to be the same blood of Christ shed on the Cross.

Eucharist in the Catholic Church

Eucharist here refers to Holy Communion or the Body and Blood of Christ, which is consumed during the Catholic Mass or Eucharistic Celebration. "At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood, ... a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet 'in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.'" As such, Eucharist is "an action of thanksgiving to God" derived from "the Jewish blessings that proclaim – especially during a meal – God's works: creation, redemption, and sanctification."

Holy orders in the Catholic Church Sacrament in the Roman Catholic Church

The sacrament of holy orders in the Catholic Church includes three orders: bishop, priest, and deacon. In the phrase "holy orders", the word "holy" simply means "set apart for some purpose." The word "order" designates an established civil body or corporation with a hierarchy, and ordination means legal incorporation into an order. In context, therefore, a group with a hierarchical structure that is set apart for ministry in the Church.

Sacramental wine

Sacramental wine, Communion wine, or altar wine is wine obtained from grapes and intended for use in celebration of the Eucharist. It is usually consumed after sacramental bread.

The Spoon in Eastern Christianity is a liturgical implement used to distribute Holy Communion to the laity during the Divine Liturgy of the Eastern Orthodox Church and those Eastern Catholic Churches which follow the Byzantine Rite.

Eucharist in Lutheranism

The Eucharist in the Lutheran Church refers to the liturgical commemoration of the Last Supper. Lutherans believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, affirming the doctrine of sacramental union, "in which the body and blood of Christ are truly and substantially present, offered, and received with the bread and wine."

Sacrament sacred rite recognized as of particular importance and significance

A sacrament is a Christian rite recognized as of particular importance and significance. There are various views on the existence and meaning of such rites. Many Christians consider the sacraments to be a visible symbol of the reality of God, as well as a channel for God's grace. Many denominations, including the Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, and Reformed, hold to the definition of sacrament formulated by Augustine of Hippo: an outward sign of an inward grace, that has been instituted by Jesus Christ. Sacraments signify God's grace in a way that is outwardly observable to the participant.

The 1549 edition of the Book of Common Prayer is the original version of the Book of Common Prayer (BCP), variations of which are still in use as the official liturgical book of the Church of England and other Anglican churches. Written during the English Reformation, the prayer book was largely the work of Thomas Cranmer, who borrowed from a large number of other sources. Evidence of Cranmer's Protestant theology can be seen throughout the book; however, the services maintain the traditional forms and sacramental language inherited from medieval Catholic liturgies. Criticised by Protestants for being too traditional, it was replaced by a new and significantly revised edition in 1552.


  1. 1 2 3 4 PD-icon.svg  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Toner, P. (1913). "Communion under Both Kinds". In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia . New York: Robert Appleton.
  2. "General Instruction Chapter II paragraph 56h" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-08-05.
  3. "Catholic Catechism paragraph 1390". Retrieved 2013-08-05.
  4. 1 2 Pastor, Manuel Ureña (28 September 2005). "Eucharistic Theology in the Reformation and the Council of Trent". Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  5. 1 2 3 Wedig, Mark E. "Reception of the Eucharist Under Two Species". Liturgy Training Publications. Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  6. See: Todoran I. and Zăgrean I., Teologia dogmatică (Bucharest, 1991).
  7. 1 2 Schmucker, Samuel Simon (1855). The Lutheran manual on scriptural principles: or, the Augsburg confession illustrated and sustained chiefly by scripture proofs and extracts from standard Lutheran theologians of Europe and America; together with the formula of government and discipline, adopted by the General synod of the Evangelical Lutheran church in the United States. Lindsay & Blakiston. p. 284.
  8. "The Thirty Nine Articles". Anglicans Online. 2007-04-15. Archived from the original on 2007-06-25. Retrieved 2013-08-05.
  9. "The Articles of Religion of the Methodist Church". The United Methodist Church . Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  10. Yrigoyen, Jr., Charles; Warrick, Susan E. (2013). Historical Dictionary of Methodism. Scarecrow Press. p. 137. ISBN   978-0-8108-7894-5.
  11. "Institutes of the Christian Religion, a New Translation, by Henry Beveridge, Esq, Book IV (Chapter 17, Section 48)". The Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics (CRTA). Retrieved 21 February 2015.
  12. "Doctrine and Covenants 27:2". Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 2013. Retrieved 2019-01-22.
  13. "Communion". 2012-02-21. Retrieved 2013-08-05.
  14. "Do Mormon Partake of the Communion?". LDS Church. 2008-03-19. Retrieved 2013-08-05.