A member of my Australian home group told us that he attended a Catholic mass many years ago. He was shocked when the priest consumed the bread and wine, but didn’t give any bread and wine to the congregation during mass. Would this have been a special event that my friend wasn’t aware of and was never explained to him?

  • Welcome to C.SE. Good first question. I made a slight edit to make it clear that you meant a Catholic mass. Commented May 26 at 23:14

1 Answer 1


What is the reason for the priest taking the Eucharist without distributing it to the people at mass?

Many, many years ago, when the Mass of Pope Pius V was in use, it was not unknown that a priest would distribute communion outside of mass, either before mass or after mass. More often than not, this would be after mass.

It is not until recently that the Catholic Church has encouraged frequent Communion.

Frequent Communion is the Roman Catholic practice of receiving the Eucharist frequently, as opposed to the usual medieval practice of receiving it once or a few times a year, by going to mass on Sundays.

Although it is argued that in the early church the norm was communion of all Christians present at Mass, before the Twentieth Century communion among the Catholic laity tended to be quite infrequent, sometimes only once a year. This was partly informed by the Jansenist fear that frequent communion would erode the faith.

In the early Twentieth Century this began to change. Pope Leo XIII in his encyclical Mirae caritatis in 1902 argued for frequent communion as a source of renewal of faith with his successor Pius X arguing in his motu proprio Sacra Tridentina that the laity should receive communion as frequently as possible. In his encyclical Quam singulari Pius also relaxed restrictions on reception of Communion for the sick and children. - Frequent Communion

This change was gradually made over many years.

If an individual in question arrived after communion was administered before mass, then he would have thought it had not been offered to the people!

I have seen this in the New Rite due to COVID-19!

  • While this is historically correct, the question is about a recent occurrence presumably.
    – eques
    Commented May 27 at 2:05
  • @eques The OP did say that this happened many years ago!!!
    – Ken Graham
    Commented May 27 at 2:51
  • Ken, How does this answer the question? The question is about the laity not being offered the bread and wine. Commented May 27 at 6:05
  • @AndrewShanks If the individual in question arrived after communion was administered before mass, then he would have thought it had not been offered to the people!
    – Ken Graham
    Commented May 27 at 10:33
  • 2
    @Lesley Yes - it is currently common and also was in the middle ages for the laity to receive one kind - though in the later part of the 20th century distribution of both kinds happened in many parishes with the permission of the bishop (who often gave blanket permission). Covid-19 discouraged sharing the chalice, and in many places this has led to a return to the previous tradition, while others continued using one kind for the laity.
    – Henry
    Commented May 27 at 13:53

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