Recently Patrick Madrid returned from his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and he spent an episode of The Patrick Madrid Show catching up on emails and questions from his listeners. One particular email from an anonymous sender caught his eye that asked a question about receiving the body and blood of Jesus during communion, and when to refrain from receiving at all.
“I can’t fight the feeling that I should be receiving communion both by eating the body and drinking the blood as Jesus commanded. Since the Church teaches this is a heresy, should I refrain from receiving communion at all? Thank you.”
The heresy to which this listener is referring is the heresy of Utraquism. Utraquists believed that to fully receive Jesus, members of the laity had to consume both the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ at communion. Otherwise, recipients were only receiving half, or an incomplete version, of Our Lord. These ideas stemmed from a literal translation of the following quote from John’s Gospel:
“Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.” (John 6:53)
However, this teaching is definitively false. Official Church dogma teaches that the resurrected body of Our Lord Jesus Christ is indivisible. By receiving the Eucharist, we receive His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, and vice versa. The Council of Trent in the 16th century put this matter to rest officially when they confirmed that no member of the laity is required to receive Our Lord under both species and that either species is sufficient.
However, this feeling from the listener doesn’t constitute a belief in this heresy.
“Don’t refrain from receiving communion unless you’re in the state of serious sin. I can’t think of any other reason why you would want to refrain from receiving communion. It’s the Bread of Life obviously, and Jesus says that if you eat His flesh and drink His blood, you will live forever.”
Patrick attempted to put this listener at ease by returning to that feeling that this listener had, the urge to receive both species of communion, and letting them know that this feeling isn’t at all necessary. During the consecration, when the transubstantiation takes place, that bread and that wine with a drop of water cease to be what they appear to be. While they maintain the accidents of bread and wine, their substance has changed. They have assumed the real presence of Christ.
“This is the key part right here: He is completely present under both species,” said Patrick. “If you receive a small particle of the host – it doesn’t matter how much of the host, how big it is or how small it is – you are receiving all of Jesus; Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. The entirety of Jesus Christ is contained sacramentally, substantially, really, and truly present in this host.”
In this same way, if a priest were to run out of hosts at Mass and you were to then receive a sip of the Precious Blood, it would be the same as if you had received the Precious Body. You can receive Jesus under both species if you choose to do so and the church you are attending permits it, but it is not necessary, and one shouldn’t feel guilty or incomplete for receiving only one.
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