Theological Thursday: Receiving the Precious Blood


Reader Dolores contacted me with the following question:

“Is it a sin to NOT [emphasis mine] partake of drinking wine ( blood of Christ) when taking the sacraments?”

In short, the answer is no. Receiving the Precious Blood is optional and many churches do not offer communion under both species.

Longer Answer:

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishop’s directive, Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion under Both Kinds in the Dioceses of the United States of America, gives a brief history of why the custom of not partaking of the Precious Blood at Mass feel out of practice. It states,

“The practice of Holy Communion under both kinds at Mass continued until the late eleventh century, when the custom of distributing the Eucharist to the faithful under the form of bread alone began to grow. By the twelfth century theologians such as Peter Cantor speak of Communion under one kind as a “custom” of the Church.28 This practice spread until the Council of Constance in 1415 decreed that Holy Communion under the form of bread alone would be distributed to the faithful.”

After Vatican II, the practice of receiving communion under both species was restored. The Norms explains,

“Holy Communion has a fuller form as a sign when it takes place under both kinds. For in this form the sign of the Eucharistic banquet is more clearly evident and clearer expression is given to the divine will by which the new and eternal Covenant is ratified in the Blood of the Lord, as also the connection between the Eucharistic banquet and the eschatological banquet in the Kingdom of the Father.”

It is always wonderful to receive the Precious Blood but do keep something in mind: whether you receive communion under just one species (“just” the Body of Christ or “just” the Blood of Christ) you are receiving Jesus whole and entire, body, blood soul and divinity. A person isn’t “missing something” if he or she only receives the Eucharist or if he or she only receives the Precious Blood. 🙂

I encourage everyone to read Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion under Both Kinds in the Dioceses of the United States of America. It is a beautiful and easy-to-read document that gives a spiritual and practical summary of the mystery of the Eucharist.


Have a question about the Catholic faith? Are you curious about a particular Catholic practice, such as the rosary or other devotion? If so, I’d love to answer it a future Theological post. Send your questions to carol (at) simplecatholicliving (dot) com or fill out my contact form.

photo credit: Kotomicreations via photopin cc


  1. Good explanation; concise, not overly full of difficult theological terms and not demeaning to the questioner. Would that all online forums answered questions this way.
    RAnn…recently posted…The WinnerMy Profile


  1. […] my son Andrew’s upcoming First Holy Communion this Saturday and having talked last week about receiving the Precious Blood, I want to focus this week’s post on Jesus’ presence in the Holy […]

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