How Many Times a Day Can I Receive Communion?

(CNS file photo)
(CNS file photo)

Question: How many times a day is it permissible for a lay person to receive communion? I know canon law states “Can. 917 One who has received the blessed Eucharist may receive it again on the same day only within a Eucharistic celebration in which that person participates, without prejudice to the provision of can. 921 §2.” But I don’t know what it means to “participate in a Eucharistic celebration.” For example, if I attend daily Mass on Saturday morning and receive communion again at the Vigil Mass on Saturday evening. If I receive communion at the Saturday evening Mass am I permitted to receive it again on Sunday morning? Am I permitted to receive it on all three occasions?

Technically speaking one can receive communion twice per day, but as with most things … it depends on certain circumstances.

Mass and communion should never be separated. In other words, one shouldn’t just pop in at Mass in order to receive communion, even if you’ve been to Mass once already. That can be compared to a compulsion or addiction where one needs to get a “Jesus fix.” Clearly, that is not the point of communion.

You can indeed receive communion if you firstly attend two full Masses on the same day. It’s rare to attend two Masses on the same day, but I can think of a few instances where this would apply.

  • You attend a Mass but then are a lector or a Eucharistic Minister at another. A colleague of mine attends a Mass to be more fully engaged and at another Mass she “works,” for lack of a better term, doing religious education for children or some other ministry. She is free to receive twice in those instances provided she attends the entire Mass in both instances.
  • You go to Mass and a wedding or a funeral that are Eucharistic celebrations.
  • You have attended Mass and need to receive the Anointing of the Sick because you are in danger of death.
  • You attend a regular daily Holy Mass (on Saturday morning for instance) and a Vigil Holy Mass on the same day.

One can attend Mass in the morning and then again in the late evening and not fulfill a liturgical ministry role and still receive communion if she/he so chooses. There is no prohibition in Canon Law against it.