Receiving Communion at the Vigil and Sunday Masses

Dear Catholic Exchange,

Our Pastor says that to receive Communion at the Saturday evening Vigil Mass and then at a next day Sunday Mass is not permitted since the readings are the same and this would be the same as receiving Communion twice in 'one day' which he feels is not ordinarily permitted. CCC 1388 does not make this distinction. Nor do I find this distinction in any of various answers on the Internet to this question.

Can you give a definitive answer?

J O Williams


Dear Mr. Williams,

Peace in Christ!

There is no explicit provision or prohibition for receiving at the Vigil Mass and then at the Sunday Mass. There are likely multiple opinions on whether one should, but here are two points I think should be considered.

During the two decades from Vatican II there was a broadening of the particular circumstances in which a person could receive Communion twice in one day. Then, the 1983 Code of Canon Law, without a list of particular circumstances, simply provided that the reception of the Eucharist is permitted a second time in one day as long as the person receives the second time during the celebration of the Mass (except in danger of death; cf. canon 917). It is clear that Communion twice in one day was not ordinarily permitted, but now a person can receive twice in one day.

The ideal is that a person celebrates the Mass of Sunday on Sunday. However, the Church established the Vigil Mass for Sunday, by way of concession, "to enable the Christians of today to celebrate more easily the day of the resurrection of the Lord" (Eucharisticum Mysterium, no. 28). It appears that a person who participates in the Sunday celebration normally does not attend the vigil as well.

From these two considerations one might conclude that a person can receive Communion at the Saturday evening Vigil Mass and then at Sunday Mass the next day. At the same time, a person might question consult with a spiritual director as to whether this should be a regular practice.

United in the Faith,

Eric Stoutz
Director of Catholic Responses
Catholics United for the Faith
827 North Fourth Street
Steubenville, OH 43952
800-MY-FAITH (800-693-2484)

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