Author Topic: Communion in Both Kinds  (Read 13842 times)

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Offline Aerlys

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Re: Communion in Both Kinds
« Reply #15 on: January 19, 2015, 04:01:47 pm »
This is an older thread, and one that I had missed until now. As is characteristic with KK’s fan base, Elkhound is intelligent and observant. The original intent of his thread was to point out inconsistencies among the books, which I would simply classify as an oversight, due to the amount of time between the writing of the Camber books and the CM trilogy.  For consistency, it certainly would have been better and less confusing had Holy Communion been limited to one form.

However, this thread also led to other questions regarding Communion. Perhaps in my humble way I can clarify some of them, as regards Roman Catholic teaching. I will preamble this with the disclaimer that I am not a theologian, but I am fairly well-educated, and do strive to continually study and deepen the understanding of my Faith.

That aside, Jesus says to consume his flesh AND drink his blood.  Since the mandate is to do both, why is only one part done?

It is important to remember that, to Roman Catholic (and Orthodox) teaching, the Eucharist is the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ, under the appearances of bread of wine.  Christ, being living and immortal now in heaven, is contained, whole and entire, under either the form of the bread or wine.  I refer to the following explanation from The Catechism of St. Pius X:

“Both in the host and in the chalice Jesus Christ is whole and entire, because He is living and immortal in the Eucharist as He is in heaven; hence where His Body is, there also are His Blood, His Soul, and His Divinity; and where His Blood is, there also are His Body, His Soul and His Divinity, all these being inseparable in Jesus Christ.”

So, to answer this question, by the reception of only one form, the communicant is still partaking of both the body and blood of Christ, and is not thereby deprived of any sacramental graces necessary for salvation.

I'm not sure when the RC tradition of the priest only taking the wine emerged, but I don't think it had anything to do with the plague as germ theory wasn't known (or even suspected) then.

The Church can change the disciplinary laws regarding the reception of Communion under either form, and has historically done so for reasons of practicality,such as not having enough consecrated wine available for all the laity, or in response to heresy. Generally, Communion under either one or both species was in practice up until around the 12th century, depending on such things as local custom or practicality.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, in the article, Communion Under Both Kinds, "...The Council of Lambeth (1281) directs that wine is to be received by the priest alone, and non-consecrated wine is to be received by the faithful (Mansi, XXIV, 405). It is impossible to say exactly when the new custom became universal or when, by the Church's approval, it acquired the force of law. But such was already the case long the outbreak of the Hussite disturbances*, as is clear from the decree of the Council of Constance**..."

The Council of Trent reiterated this decree in the 1500's. Exceptions to this had occasionally been granted. Currently, communion under both forms is again permitted following Vatican II. (The pros and cons of this are a whole other discussion.)

In the Camber and post-Camber books, only the clergy  normally took both the Bread and the Wine; the Michaeline custom of everyone taking both was remarked upon as being unusual, and shocking to the ex-priest Cinhil.

The Roman Liturgy was not codified until the publication of the Missal of the Council of Trent in 1570, and this was done in response to the Reformation. Prior to this, the Canon (the principal part of the Mass) was the same, but various prayers and rites were used in different places. Thus, in KK’s world, while many parts the liturgy do seem to follow that which was promulgated by the Council of Trent, she certainly has the historical wiggle room to show variations of this in her books. Since this is her universe, it doesn't have to follow our own history, anyway.

For anyone interested in obtaining more detailed information, The Catholic Encyclopedia is a great resource, and the 1917 edition can be viewed at I would also would refer to the articles by Michael Davies on the history of the Mass, found at

Someone had also posted something regarding Kelson's reception of Communion in Torenth. (I thought it was Alice.)  I composed this response on my computer so I could take my time (too many interruptions prevent me from typing anything coherent in one sitting). I didn't copy the exact quote while I was writing, and planned to insert it now. Unfortunately, that post was either completely removed, or I saw it in another thread, but cannot find it, so I apologize for the lack of a quote. In any case, commentary was made about whether Kelson would have been allowed to receive Communion in the Torenthi church. It was also stated that the real-world Roman Catholic Church allows communion to people of other faiths.

First, I would like to point out that, historically, the liturgies of East and West did develop differently, retaining the Canon, but were still considered part of the same Church. After the Great Eastern Schism, there were still Eastern Catholics who were not schismatic, as there are today, who still retained their own rites and patriarchates. To my mind, at least. the church in Torenth could be simply another rite within the same church. Besides, whether there was ever a pope or schism in KK’s world is undefined, and I am content just to let it ride. (This is fiction, after all.)

As regards the Roman Catholic Church allowing non-Catholics to receive Communion, and Roman Catholics to receive Communion from other churches, this is not strictly true. Canon Law has strict conditions regarding this, but unfortunately they are often overlooked or misunderstood. For further information, I refer to:
* circa 1408
** The Council of Constance was held from Nov. 5, 1414, to April 22, 1418

If anything I have written is found to be incorrect or imprecise, it is unintentional, and I concede to the teachings of the Holy Catholic Church.
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