“Communion under both kinds is…encouraged and is expected to be the norm”

“Communion under both kinds is…encouraged and is expected to be the norm” November 9, 2011

That’s the sentiment of Bishop Patrick McGrath of the Diocese of San Jose  who, breaking with recent trends in other parts of the country, has issued a statement for his own diocese:

In light of recent statements by the bishops of the Dioceses of Phoenix and Madison regarding the limited use of Holy Communion under both kinds, I would like to take this opportunity to clarify our normative practice in our own local Church.

In the Diocese of San Jose, Communion under both kinds is permitted whenever it may seem appropriate to the Priest to whom a community has been entrusted, provided that the conditions set in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 283, have been satisfied, namely:

  1. The faithful have been well instructed;
  2. There is no danger of profanation of the Sacrament; and
  3. There is no danger of the rite becoming difficult because of the large number of participants or some other reason.

Because I firmly believe that all of our parishes and worshipping communities have met the above conditions, I want to reiterate that in the Diocese of San Jose, Communion under both kinds is not only permitted but also encouraged and is expected to be the norm at every Sunday and feast day Mass.

As I said in my June, 2003, letter establishing this as a norm for our diocese, I echo the Church’s encouragement of the laity’s sharing in the Precious Blood at Mass:

“Since, however, by reason of the sign value, sharing in both eucharistic species reflects more fully the sacred realities that the Liturgy signifies, the Church in her wisdom has made provisions in recent years so that more frequent eucharistic participation from both the sacred host and the chalice of salvation might be made possible for the laity in the Latin Church” (Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion Under Both Kinds in the Dioceses of the United States, 11).

Furthermore, I firmly believe the Church’s teaching that:

“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” (GIRM, 281).

Meantime, the USCCB has reiterated that the new norms for the Mass do not discourage communion under both kinds.

Details, from EWTN:

New guidelines for Mass celebration do not discourage lay persons’ reception of Holy Communion under the forms of both bread and wine, contrary to early reports about a change in practice.

“In recent weeks, there have been questions regarding current liturgical law for the United States in offering Holy Communion under both kinds to the faithful during Mass,” wrote Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for Divine Worship, in an Oct. 26 letter to the country’s Catholic hierarchy.

“In light of these questions,” he stated, “it is hoped that the following clarifications will prove helpful.”

The letter goes on to explain that the 2011 General Instruction of the Roman Missal does not restrict the circumstances under which the lay faithful may receive communion under both kinds. In fact, the new norms encourage the practice, while giving local bishops freedom to expand or restrict it.

“Each diocesan bishop may establish norms for Holy Communion under both kinds within his diocese,” Archbishop Aymond stated, explaining provision 283 of the Mass guidelines released in June 2011.

That provision states that “the diocesan bishop is also given the faculty to permit communion under both kinds whenever it may seem appropriate to the priest to whom a community has been entrusted as its own shepherd.”

Numerous news articles incorrectly reported that the Third Edition of the Roman Missal had “reduced the number of times—14 down to 3—when the chalice could be offered during Mass within the U.S. Church.”

That reports claimed that the new Mass instructions would “allow the chalice to be offered during Mass in only three instances or at the discretion of a parish priest.”

In fact, the new edition of the Missal does encourage bishops and their priests to offer the chalice under three particular circumstances. However, its new norms do not “reduce” or restrict the circumstances under which the faithful may potentially receive communion under both kinds.

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70 responses to ““Communion under both kinds is…encouraged and is expected to be the norm””

  1. Unless San Jose has priests and deacons in uncommon abundance, this norm will lead to the proliferation of EXTRAORDINARY ministers of Holy Communion on an ORDINARY basis. To be clear, the term EXTRAORDINARY does not merely mean “outside of Holy Orders,” but also conveys the clear expectation that their use be the exception rather than the rule. This is an unfortunate ruling.

  2. “Communion under both kinds is not only permitted but also encouraged and is expected to be the norm at every Sunday and feast day Mass.”

    Good news. My church brought back receiving both forms at some Masses a few years ago. Now the “Blood of Christ” is offered at almost every Mass. I love it and I especially love when a child that has recently received Holy Communion for the first time approaches the chalice and says yes to receiving the “Blood of Christ”. They are saying YES!

  3. Bravo ,Bravo and Bravo Your Excellency. When Christ istitue the Eucharist, He did it with Brad and Wine!!! Not a round and pale thin waffer.

  4. Stephen will take another long look at Extraodinary ministers when he is laid up at home or in a “home’ .. If the ‘international ‘priests have not the local knowledge or interest to bring him the Eucharist.

  5. Honestly? This announcement makes me feel like never receiving under both forms ever again. “The norm” makes it sound like the ushers are going to give you a hard time and a lifted eyebrow unless you receive under both forms.

    To the tune of the Haas song:

    You will drink the cup
    Or we’ll bust you up
    You’ll be first against the Wal’ on ‘Purgis Night.
    You’ll accept the grace
    Or bust yo’ face
    Against the fullness of sign.

    1. You will sip and not grow weary,
    Be still, and know EMHC.

    2. You can’t run where we can’t follow,
    Unless you prove AA or flu.

  6. Cathi D, why do you put “Blood of Christ” in quotations, as if it were not exactly that? It is His real blood. I doubt that the children you reference have any real understanding of this yet.

  7. So it is the “norm” out there. We go from one extreme to the other. No wonder Catholics are confused. Have both species for special occasions and weekday masses but don’t make it the norm for every Sunday Mass.

  8. Bishop McGrath is a wise man who is doing a beautiful job exercising his office of Bishop. Relying on Church teaching and reflecting the incredible love and generosity of our Lord, Bishop McGrath is setting a wonderful tone within the Diocese of San Jose. He also shows he trusts his parishes to receive the Eucharist with the reverence it deserves. Such trust from a Bishop towards his flock is quite refreshing!!

    The fact that the Conference of Bishops also felt it necessary to address this issue and reiterate the Church’s teachings in this case demonstrates quite clearly that the Bishops of Madison and Phoenix were acting unilaterally, based on their own (in my opinion, mistaken) views concerning Church, Communion under both species and the ability of people to receive it properly. As Bishops, that is their right…however, they tried to justify their actions by referring to and “blaming” the GIRM. Hopefully, they’ll now be quite clear in their instruction and their reasons for limiting reception.

  9. Suburbanbanshee–Sorry you have to make light of this situation by turning it into some banal song, especially the reference to Walpurgis Night, which, in Germany, is the night witches celebrate the arrival of spring. Yikes!

    The Eucharist IS the Body and Blood of Christ, true God and true man, sacred and wonderful whatever way we receive him. We are blessed to receive Jesus’ gift of his Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Let us always give him the respect that reflects that fact.

  10. Bishop Mc Grath’s diocese is Silicon Valley so he is obliged to make wise decisions .. his laity demands well thought out decisions.

  11. I second Kevin’s comment below–why do you put quotations marks around the Blood of Christ, as if it were not exactly that?

    I encourage you to take the quotation marks away from the words Blood of Christ in your comments. We are not pretending. It’s not make believe. It’s not symbolic. It is truly the Blood of Christ…and we should always treat Jesus with the respect owed him, even in our written words, even on the internet and on blogs. The anonymity that such affords does not give license to relax our vigilance on sacred matters. Rather, it is even more imperative that we be firm and stand up for our faith at every turn, in season and out of season. It is yet another way we preach the gospel by our actions.

  12. I thought it was unfortunate that Bishop McGrath highlighted the fact that he was taking an approach that differed from that of the bishops of Phoenix and Madison (both of whom, btw, are known to be extremely good bishops). He could have said what the norm continues to be in his diocese without the public disagreement.

    It’s his call and God bless him. He’s the bishop and to be followed by the faithful in Silicon Valley. Still, his call for the virtual institutionalization of what must be very large numbers of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion is a controversial approach. And I do wonder about how well formed the people truly are in San Jose. He says it’s universally the case in all his parishes, but that rings hollow to me, given my own limited experience there . . .

  13. Stephen,

    From what Church document do you get the sense that the use of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion are to be the clear EXCEPTION.

    “GRIM 162. The priest may be assisted in the distribution of Communion by other priests who happen to be present. If such priests are not present and there is a very large number of communicants, the priest may call upon extraordinary ministers to assist him, e.g., duly instituted acolytes or even other faithful who have been deputed for this purpose. In case of necessity, the priest may depute suitable faithful for this single occasion.”

    It seems from the GRIM that they are indeed “extraordinary” because they are not in holy orders.

  14. Both species — a wonderful spiritual option for the people in San Jose. Peace of mind available for all.

    “Do you know the way to San Jose? I’m going back to find some peace of mind in San Jose.”
    With credits to composer Burt Bacharach, lyricist Hal David, and singer Dionne Warwick.

    I include the composer and singer because I bet anybody who knows the song was singing it in their head.

  15. Deacon Dave:

    Redemptionis Sacramentum 151. Only out of true necessity is there to be recourse to the assistance of extraordinary ministers in the celebration of the Liturgy. Such recourse is not intended for the sake of a fuller participation of the laity but rather, by its very nature, is supplementary and provisional.
    158. Indeed, the extraordinary minister of Holy Communion may administer Communion only when the Priest and Deacon are lacking, when the Priest is prevented by weakness or advanced age or some other genuine reason, or when the number of faithful coming to Communion is so great that the very celebration of Mass would be unduly prolonged. This, however, is to be understood in such a way that a brief prolongation, considering the circumstances and culture of the place, is not at all a sufficient reason.

    Ecclesiae de mysterio, Practical Provisions, Article 8.2: Extraordinary ministers may distribute Holy Communion …may also exercise this function at eucharistic celebrations where there are particularly large numbers of the faithful and which would be excessively prolonged because of an insufficient number of ordained ministers to distribute Holy Communion.

    This function is supplementary and extraordinary (101) and must be exercised in accordance with the norm of law.

    To avoid creating confusion, certain practices are to be avoided and eliminated where such have emerged in particular Churches: …the habitual use of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion at Mass thus arbitrarily extending the concept of “a great number of the faithful”.

  16. Romulus…

    Based on the excerpt you quoted, it doesn’t seem to me that anything they’re doing in San Jose is inappropriate. If it is the pastoral practice in the diocese to distribute the Precious Blood at most masses, and there are several hundred people in attendance and only one (or maybe two) priests, it is only logical that EMHCs would be utilized out of “true necessity” to assist with offering the chalice (and possibly the Body of Christ) to the faithful. However, if the priest elected to “sit out” the communion distribution, and let EMHCs do it…or if there were more EMHCs than communicants…well, then, that might be considered an abuse and plainly wrong.

    Dcn. G.

  17. Why does this really matter? Do people think they are getting “more” Christ when they take both forms? I don’t get it at all, unless there is some agenda to act as if the Mass is primarily a communal meal, rather than a re-presentation in a non-bloody manner of Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary. It shouldn’t generate this much contention.

  18. Kevin the mass is both a communal meal and the bloodless sacrifice of Christ at Calvary. It is not about receiving more Jesus, but receiving under both species more fully conforms to the institution of the Eucharist at the last supper. Jesus presented both the body and blood to his disciples at the last supper. Why should we do less at the mass? We recieve Jesus fully under either species, but the sign of reception is more fully met when we receive under both species.

  19. kevin —
    Let me put it this way. Jesus chose to create Communion under both species and to issue the command to bless, break, take, and eat his body (as he spoke of the form of bread) and to bless, take, and drink his blood (as he spoke of the form of wine) as the manner of remembering him by re-presenting his sacrificial death. It’s not that the Mass is primarily a communal meal, but that the Lord has given us something which has the form of a communal meal as the way to re-present the sacrifice of Calvary.

    I agree that there shouldn’t be any contention. Both species are what the Lord instituted and commanded. There is no need for people to try to invent pretexts for limiting the faithful to just one of them when the Lord gave both.

  20. Kevin,

    Don’t forget the other agenda, to create as much “need” (quotes on purpose) as possible for e veritable army of “extraordinary” ministers of holy communion who descend upon the sanctuary during a typical mass in St. Anywhere Parish, USA. Now half the army can stand awkwardly off to the side, holding a chalice, or more likely some glass or clay cup, watching three quarters of the people shuffle on by. Whatever. This forty year fad too shall pass.

    I never recieve communion in the form of wine—it’s unnecessary and frankly a little unsanitary. I’m confident in having received the full body, blood, sol and divinity of Christ when I receive in th from of bread directly from the priest or deacon.

  21. Kevin you say “I don’t get it at all,’ then don’t partake of the cup..and unless you can detail a REAL objection ….it’s end of story.

  22. Leon…
    In my experiences in the Churches of San Jose and Silicon Valley, the people have received the Sacrament with reverence and focus. The people there, as in most places, are a good and holy people on a journey to Our Lord, doing their best to be the people God created them to be. Do people at times come up short, both in their personal lives and in their reception of the Eucharist? Probably…however, the Eucharist is not a reward for being good or pushing the right buttons…it is, as St. John Chrysotom said, “Medicine for the journey.”

    Vox Borealis:
    I find your comments unfortunate. They are cynical and dreary in tone and attribute motives that cannot be supported. They denigrate some outstanding and dedicated people who are giving of their time and talent to serve God and His Church.

    I’m not sure why people seem so concerned about Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist. In most parts of the US, there are not nearly enough Ordinary Ministers to adequately meet the needs of the number of practicing Catholics. It’s a fact, not a “created need”. Extraordinary Ministers are a blessing to our Church, and, if properly trained, do a wonderful job serving an important and vital role.

  23. Many Catholics do not receive under both species because they are not desirous of sipping from a cup 20 other people have already put their mouth to.
    What I can’t understand is why –although the sacramentary says it is allowable–so many Latin dioceses, including my own, ban communion under both species by way of intinction. I frequently attend various Eastern Catholic churches in our area (particularly a Maronite monastery) and their method is always by intinction. (I am not referring to giving the host to a communicant after which they dip the host in a chalice holding Christ’s blood and then consume it. The proper way is for the priest or deacon to dip a host in the consecrated wine and then place it on the communicant’s tongue.)(If there aren’t many communicants the deacon holds the chalice while the priest administers communion. Why the determination to NOT learn from the East what can work well??? And encourages more people to receive communion under both species.

  24. Deacon Mike,

    i disagree with your assertion that EMHC are needed in most cases. Why? Because communion would take an extra ten minutes and some we would all have to sit and possible reflect a little longer after receiving?

    What is my concern with EMHC? I believe strongly that they undermine the laitites understanding of the role of the Catholic priest. This was not an intended consequence i am sure, but I am convinced of he outcome nonetheless. Moreover, I think they send the wrong message that to serve God we need to create a host of so-called ministries so as to cram as many lay people in the sanctuary as possible. Why do we need lectors (more properly lay readers) at basically every Sunday mass ithe country? Sure, they are allowed, but so what? an’t the priest or deacon do the readings? Why do we need another lay person to make announcements or read he petitions, etc? And from my discussions with MANY good, practicing Cathlics, this does have an impact on their understanding of the mass and he priesthood: “well if Jim or Sally can read the readngs and hand out communionwhy can’t he or she preach? Etc”

    Now, you can disagree with my position, but I do not think that it is so absurd as to be dismissed out of hand. I mean come on, in the forty plus years since things like EMHC have been introduced, Catholic practice has basically collapsed. Is here a one to one correlation? Of course not. But it is not unreasonable to begin to ask if maybe some of these extraordinary ministries that have become all too ordinary should be revisited.

    Earlier it was asked why we would not follow the example Christ instituted at the Last Supper…well, liturgical praxis does change and develop. It is both timeless and responsive to the times. When regulations were loosened and EMHC were allowed, the Church, at least in North America, was still enjoying the tail end of a very fruitful period of vocations, and the permanent deacons had just been reinstituted. This was also the context for reimagining communion under both kinds, which necessarily created a bigger demand for manpower. I am sure it was envisioned that all those priests and deacons would hand out communion nder both kinds, with very occasionally a lay person stepping. Heck, when I was a kid in the 1970s EMHC were rare ndeed, usually restricted to a cople of ladies holding a cup of consecrated wine while most everyone ignored them.

    Well then vocations collapsed and now there are far fewer priests. My solution would be to ease the manpower burden by limiting communion nder both kinds. My response is not to further encourage it,, necessitating evern more EMHC. Moreover, in my experience, despite crowds at mass far smaller than I was a kid, there are three times as many EMHC. huh? I have a hard time seeing this as anything other than a misunderstanding of what EMHCs are or, worse, a conscious effort to blur the lines between lay and ordained.

    So, to summarize briefly: I do not belive that EMHC are needed even with the shortage or priests. I do not think that it is necessary to give out communion under both species. It may be better, but in he current context it is not practical. Lastly, the interwoven phenomena of comuniounder both kinds and wide use of “E”MHC have undermined many Cathics’ understanding of the Eucharist and the priesthood.

    That’s why I care.

  25. Deacon G, do bear in mind that the GIRM 281 observation that Holy Communion “has a fuller form as a sign when it is distributed under both kinds” is qualified by RS 154, which goes on to say that the sign value of the Sacrament is made complete when distributed by an ordained minister. The ontological character of the ordained minister is significant and valuable in this context; it’s not a mere incidental.

    Finally, both RS 102 and GIRM 283 specifically address the question of large numbers of communicants as circumstances that render distribution of the Sacrament in both kinds questionable and possibly imprudent.

  26. Deacon John,
    Regarding intinction: i don’t think that it is a matter of intinction being banned in numerous Latin dioceses. Rather, I believe the practice is disallowed throughout the entire Latin church. Now, why this is the case and should the practice be adopted in the Latin church are two legitimate questions.

  27. Deacon John,
    I stand corrected. I re-read your post and double-checked the GIRM. Yep, intinction allowed. You learn something new…

  28. Quotation marks can indicate a lot of things; I don’t get from the context of Cathi’s comment that she is in any way indicating unbelief. One thing that quotation marks do is to indicate a quote; as in “The Blood of Christ” which the priest, deacon, or EMHC says to the communicant as he or she offers the chalice.
    The children are as likely to understand that phrase as they are “The Body of Christ” when presented with the Host. They have enough understanding to have made their first Communion; their understanding is a work in progress, as it is for all of us.

  29. “Peace of mind available for all.”

    What exactly does that mean?
    When you receive only the Body of Christ under the species of bread you have no peace of mind?

  30. With the exception of Friscoeddie, interesting comments.

    That this is a source of contention is a red flag for me. We have bishops in the United States at odds over this, and some at odds with the stated preference of the pope regarding communion in the hand. Is the pope’s preference for communion under one species and in the hand for the laity reveal a lack of understanding of what the Mass is? He was, after all, at Vatican II. I think not.

    I think Vox makes some good observations especially that if the message is that we only really “participate” in the Mass by distributing communion or taking part in some other “ministry”, then something is wrong.

  31. I believe you’re right about what the children believe.

    Yes, quotation marks can indicate a lot of things. In this case, however, Cathi was not quoting the priest, deacon or EMHC. She was stating something matter-of-factly. That is why kevin questioned it.

  32. “I’m not sure why people seem so concerned about Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist.”

    First, they are properly called Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.
    Second, many of them act as though they were Ordinary ministers and that they have a right to be there. Some dress like slobs and others are so poorly prepared for what they are doing that it is absurd.I know of course in your diocese things are perfect so this would never be the case.In some parishes they are used so the priests can stay in the rectory and read the paper. I have seen it.
    Third, whenever I have seen both species available far more people walk by the cup than partake of it. They understand what they have received already is more important than the “sign”.To think otherwise is heresy.
    Fourth, I agree with Deacon John. I would never put my lips on a cup after 20 people had done so before me.
    Fifth, the last time I saw the purificator after hordes had received from the cup I wanted to gag.

  33. Hmm…for the celiacs among us (those that cannot tolerate gluten), they can quietly move to receive only the Blood of Christ without having to request a special low-gluten host be consecrated for them. This is especially important when a celiac is traveling and it is inopportune to call the pastor in advance to request a low-gluten host, something the parish may not even regularly stock.

  34. Kevin,

    Thanks for the kind words. I typed the longer comments on the ol’ iPad touchscreen keyboard, hence the embarrassing sequence of typos. I’m surprised you could make out any observations from what I wrote, given all the spelling errors!

  35. Thank you for educating folks on what intinction really is. Many think it means dunking the Host in the Precious Blood.

    Hmm…you have a good point about intinction. I supposed it has to do with tradition in the West…also, it may also have to do with the practicalities associated with this–extra manpower, longer communion lines, etc. But, it is interesting. Perhaps some day we will see this.

  36. Romulus’ logic is unshinkable here.

    Meanwhile, I would like the bishop to be very specific on what he means by the people being instructed. Reasserting generic norms that state the obvious is useless and, in fact, unpastoral since the chief pastor of the diocese is to make norms concrete. Generic calls for instruction plays into the hands of subjectivist pastors of parishes who (at least in my parish) never preach on the doctrine of the Eucharist. And I can’t tell you how sick I am of hearing Catholics who receive the Precious Blood refer to it as “the wine.”

    And as to sign value, I doubt this value. In any case, why just with Communion. How about the sign value of public penance or baptisms in the nude? In fact, if the latter were done we’d require deaconnesses to perform their main function of being present at the baptisms of women.

  37. Communion under both species. Hmm. Sounds like job security for lay deacons.

    [Ken…there is no such thing as a “lay deacon,” just as there is no such thing as a “lay priest” or “lay bishop.” Dcn. G.]

  38. No offense, but stick to natural law and don’t try to venture into theology. Catholics believe that the risen Christ is present Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity under each species. Thus, one who receives under one species both eats and drinks. Christ said eat His Body and drink His blood. This is fulfilled by receiving Christ fully under one species, unless you want to revive the heresy of Jan Hus et al.
    Also, the practice of both East and West, to avoid profanation through spillage, has discouraged drinking. Thus, the East allows the has emphasized the doctrine by united the reception of both species at one moment on the spoon. The West, because unleavened rather than bread is used for consecration, reserves the chalice to the celebrant.
    When our Lord established the sacrament, He spoke directly to the Apostles, and through the Apostles to the laity. Thus, He left it to the Apostles and their successors united to Peter’s successor to determine how this sacrament should be distributed.

  39. Amen deacon! You are a true ecumenicist!
    But, I fear that original disobedience of receiving Communion in the hand which was later ratified as an indult and now taught as the norm in many parish religious education programs would make this solution distasteful to many who will be “deprived” of receiving the Host in their hands. They will also argue that they are not really drinking, thus, implying a disdain for the Eastern Tradition.

  40. An interesting point about vocations.
    Since Communion under one form does not deprive anyone of Christ, perhaps it could also serve as a sign to pray for more vocations to the priesthood.

  41. “Catholics believe that the risen Christ is present Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity under each species. Thus, one who receives under one species both eats and drinks. Christ said eat His Body and drink His blood. This is fulfilled by receiving Christ fully under one species ….”

    Yes, but the same goes for the Last Supper. Jesus could have taken the bread, blessed it, broken it, and given it to the apostles saying, “Take this and eat and drink it all of you. This is my Body and Blood.” But he didn’t.

    I wasn’t disputing theology. I was discussing praxis. Clearly, the successors of the Apostles have the responsibility for regulating the manner in which the sacrament is distributed. But I presume none of us are bishops, and yet here we are discussing the matter. So we are offering our opinions why we think the bishops would be wise to go in one direction or another. I think that the movement in the direction of offering both species is a good one, and I think the reasons which have been given officially when permission for both species has been broadened are sound ones.

    A word on danger of profanation: at the Last Supper, do you suppose that after giving the Apostles his Body and Blood, Jesus carefully gathered every crumb which had fallen on the corporal and put them into the chalice, which he then purified with water and dried with a purificator? Did he rinse the linens in the sacrarium? Slow motion videos show tiny particles of the large host flying all over the place when the priest breaks it. Don’t misunderstand. I believe that all vessels should be purified after Communion, and recognizable fragments of hosts should be consumed. But God knew that despite our best efforts, occasionally a flake or crumb would fall unseen and that a drop would be inadvertently spilled, just as he knew that even before the Passion, the Body of Jesus would be subject to accidental injury. And, as I’ve said elsewhere, I’ve seen a lot more dropping of Hosts than I have spillage of the Precious Blood. Real profanation, IMO, occurs when someone deliberately abuses the sacred species, not when there is an accident. I would no more use the occasional spilling of a bit of the Precious Blood as an excuse to withhold the cup from the laity, than I would use the dropping of Hosts to withhold the plate. As for intinction, I think the reason many bishops disapprove of it is that it is the method which is most prone to losing droplets on the Precious Blood as the Host is conveyed from chalice to mouth.

  42. Vox….
    Thank you for your reasoned response. I don’t necessarily agree with your conclusions, but I appreciate the time and thought you put into it.

  43. You know, we tried the experiment before of restricting access to the Eucharist because of a hysterical fear of profanation. And the result was catastrophe. A thousand years ago, Catholics became more and more in awe of the Eucharist. Receiving from the cup disappeared. The innovation of communion on the tongue was introduced. Within two centuries, ordinary Catholics basically stopped receiving communion. Then within a few more centuries, came the reformation — and when religious and political leaders “informed” their subjects that communion is just an empty symbol, tens of millions of people who up to this point had appeared to be faithful Catholics merely shrugged and said, “yeah, sure, whatever.” Was it their fault that they didn’t know any better?

    We only started to recover from this disaster in the nineteenth century, when a series of sainted popes labored long and hard to get ordinary Catholics to return to regular reception of communion. The practice that they restored was, naturally, what was most recently practiced — nearly a millennium before. In fact, though, if you count things up over the entire 2000 years of the Church, the practice of the majority of ordinary Catholics at a typical mass lining up and receiving communion under one species, on the tongue, was common in only two small slivers of Church history.

  44. Intinction is very common in places like Mexico, where communion under both species is not the norm. At certain times of the year, Easter and Corpus Christi, for example, an acolyte holds the paten or ciborium while the priest has the chalice and distributes communion by intinction. There is no question of communion in the hand, and even people (rare though they are) who frequently receive in the hand accept that they can’t do it. I think that it would be possible here as well.

  45. Thanks for the historical perspective, Cathyf. Some people would have us believe that liturgical practice has been frozen in amber ever since Christ ascended to heaven (if it was we’d be having Mass in Aramaic reclined at table.)
    We’re not a fossilized Church, though we certainly are a polarized one.
    Throw some Jansenism into the post-Council of Trent mix, and you did have people basically afraid to go to Communion ( before anyone jumps on that, yes, we should be in the state of grace.) Jesus came to heal sinners, the well have no need of a physician.
    My grandmother was born in 1897, she spoke of how it was when she was a child. She didn’t make her 1st Communion until age 14, and said that 2 or 3 times a year was the norm. She was grateful to Pope Pius X for encouraging frequent Communion, and lowering the age so that children could receive. She lived to see Communion under both kinds restored and was grateful for that also.

  46. “A word on danger of profanation: at the Last Supper, do you suppose that after giving the Apostles his Body and Blood, Jesus carefully gathered every crumb which had fallen on the corporal and put them into the chalice, which he then purified with water and dried with a purificator?”

    Suppositions don’t suffice for norms. I can equally suppose that the Incarnate Word placed His Body into their mouths as was the Eastern custom and was careful enough to not allow fragments to fall. In any case, yours is a red herring and a symptom of archaicism. The Mass is not meant to imitate the Lord’s Supper in its details except that at it Jesus prescribed the form and matter of the sacrament of the Eucharist. He did not prescribe all the ceremonies then at that time.
    He did give the Apostles and through their successors, Holy Mother Church the authority to determine the ceremonies in keeping with reverence.
    Both East and West have been careful that the Blessed Sacrament be treated with such reverence and respect. Thus, both developed traditions which sought to ensure that particles would not be dispersed and spillage would not occur. The West by withholding the Chalice, the East by intinction.

    As to intinction, the East has found a way to do it, and the West can learn from them. The West can also restore the Communion paten held by the server under the chin of a communicant kneeling at the altar rail which in the past caught particles and now can catch any drips of the Precious Blood. No need to reinvent the wheel when tradition had something already in place.

    So many longstanding reverent and practical customs were abandoned (like the replacement of the reverent kneeling at the altar rail with the awkward assembly line for Holy Commuion – nowehere commanded by the Council!) in the 60’s in the name of progress and “recovery.” Perhaps more prudent clergy will seek to recover those rudely abandoned ecumencial customs for the future.

  47. Dear Dcn. Greg,

    I am happy to read your blogs and all the good information and discussion it contains. Just wanted to alert you to an update from Bishop Olmsted regarding this issue. He just sent a letter to his priests saying that in essence, nothing will change and Communion will still be given under both species. As I get the hardcopy, I’d be happy to send that to you.

  48. A couple of weeks ago I was at a mass celebrated by Daniel Cardinal DiNardo in Houston in which the Eucharist was distributed using intinction. It was a large crowd. My belief is that we will see this more often.

  49. The Diocese of San Jose has lots of problems, and the bishop is the primary cause. This is the same bishop who winked his approval of Sr. Elizabeth Johnson’s theology at last summer’s meeting of the Catholic Theological Society of America, when Johnson’s book had been devastatingly criticized by the USCCB doctrinal committee. Bishop McGrath is clueless and aloof in things that pertain to authentic doctrine and worship. I have had first-hand experience of how diocesan institutions in San Jose willfully disregard Catholic faith, law and practice, and I have experienced the bishop’s indifference. The new auxiliary bishop for San Jose, however, is a holy and courageous and knowledgeable man. Would that Bishop McGrath could be replaced by him.

  50. The issue is not CUBK, but the unnecessary and inordinate use of EMHC that results from an artificial increase in demand for their services at Holy Mass, that naturally flow from offering Our Lord under both species. The presence of EMHC should be, by definition, reserved for extraordiary circumstances, and in most instances, this is proably not the case. Indeed, the potenital for this artificial demand is addressed in Article 8 of the 1997 Vatican document linked below, which specifically cautions AGAINST the “habitual use of EMHC at Mass”.


  51. Is this the same Bishop McGrath that calls for his flock to stand from the end of the Sanctus and throughout the Eucharistic Prayer and Consecration, when GIRM 43 calls for the faithful to kneel?

  52. When Redemptionis Sacramentum states that certain practices are to be avoided or elminated such as, “…the habitual use of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion at Mass thus arbitrarily extending the concept of “a great number of the faithful” I believe it is directed at the practice of making sure that EMHC are always used. For example, when I serve at daily Mass we do not use any EMHC because there is no need do to the number of people in attendance. I serve the cup as an ordinary minister. We would be in violation of Redemptionis Sacramentum if we deliberately served two cups just to make sure that we used a EMHC.

  53. Deacon Dave, if what you say is true about concerning RS vis a vis creating a false need for EMHC during weekday Mass, then why does that same logic not apply during Sunday Mass in regards to CUBK? There is no need to offer the Precious Blood at every Sunday Mass, week after week, since it is in fact already received when we receive the consecrated Host.

  54. Absolutely correct, ChronicSinner,
    This is merely an attempt to ram lay participation down the people’s throat. I remember when Pope Benedict XVI came to Yankee Stadium in 2008. I forget how many bishops, how many thousands of priests and deacons were in attendance, but it was decided that EMHC were not needed for that reason. But of course, there was wailing and gnashing of teeth at the the thought that the laity was being shut out by the clergy.
    To liberals, signs are more important than the realies they signify. So it doesn’t matter to these people if we receive Jesus–body, blood, soul and divinity in the Eucharist. Nope. What matters is the “sign,” and “participation.”

  55. ChronicSinner —
    The two situations are different. In Deacon Dave’s situation CUBK can be handled without any EMHC, so it would be wrong to pretend that they had “a great number of the faithful” just so they could use an extraordinary minister. In your situation, you seem to be saying that with CUBK there is a sufficiently great number that EMHC are necessary. And that is exactly the sort of situation in which EMHC are supposed to be used.

    IMO it would be wrong to deny CUBK just because it requires EMHC when you would have it if you had sufficient ordinary ministers.

  56. I think you are confusing purpose and effect. The purpose is to allow the faithful to receive from the cup. This is legitimate. The effect is often to require the use of extraordinary ministers. In that case the use of extraordinary ministers becomes legitimate.

    A need for extraordinary ministers cannot be used as a pretext for stopping a legitimate manner of administering Holy Communion.

  57. Perhaps you are right. Naturgesetz.
    However, I would add that should a bishop decide that it should not be the norm to give out the Blood of Christ, he should not be demonized for it. This is why the GIRM leaves this decision to the discretion of the bishop. A bishop who decides it should be the norm is not necessarily doing the “right” thing. Some people prefer it, some don’t I the diocese where I live, the bishop leaves it up to the pastor.

  58. Please do not confuse Roman Catholic Dogma with liturgical practice. They are not the same. The issues identified as dogma are eternal; issues identified as liturgical are temporary, local and very diverse.

    –Most European churches do not have kneelers — or anything like that. Standing is the norm during the Consecration.

    –Even when they do have kneelers, folks there do not kneel as long as Americans do. They do not start at the Sanctus but at the Epiclesis and do not end at the Great Amen but after the priest genuflects after the consecration of the Sacred Blood. BTW: The American Bishops had to request — and received — an exception to the international GIRM on this very issue.

    –I have been to a fair number of “field masses” where the congregation was made up of military folks or emergency services folks “out in the boondocks.” Everyone stands all the time during these masses.

    –Several of my priest friends have served in various mission stations in the third world. The Congregations do not kneel there either.

  59. Catechism of the Catholic Church
    1390 Since Christ is sacramentally present under each of the species, communion under the species of bread alone makes it possible to receive all the fruit of Eucharistic grace. For pastoral reasons this manner of receiving communion has been legitimately established as the most common form in the Latin rite. But “the sign of communion is more complete when given under both kinds, since in that form the sign of the Eucharistic meal appears more clearly.”225 This is the usual form of receiving communion in the Eastern rites.

    More complete when given under both kinds.

    Enough said.

  60. Ken you are right they should not be deomized for it, but they also shouldn’t issue a statement that thier decision is based on a false situation. The reason given in part was that the indult allowing it frequently was expiring. There was no such indult in the first place. The indult was one that allowed EMHC or other laity to clean teh sacred vessels after communion instead of requiring the priest or deacon to do so. They are well within thier rights as the Ordinary of their local church that was entrusted to their care. They should behonest about the reasons for the change and inform the people of those reasons however.

  61. “The issues identified as dogma are eternal; issues identified as liturgical are temporary, local and very diverse.”

    Thus spake Fiergenholt. Thus speaks the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, n. 2:

    “For it is the liturgy through which, especially in the divine Sacrifice of the Eucharist, ‘the work of our redemption is accomplished.'” I never thought of our redemption as “temporary, local, and very diverse.

    There are plenty of other quotes from Sacrosanctum Concilium that similarly condemn Fiergenholt’s bizarre take on the importance of liturgical issues. Here is one apropos of his assertion that liturgical issues are essentially “local.”

    n. 22 (1) “Regulation of the sacred liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church, that is, on the Apostolic See, and, as laws may determine, on the bishop.”

  62. It is interesting that more priests do not practice intinction! It is the norm at the Maronite Rite. My family occasionally attend the local Maronite parish in Phoenix, AZ and there is only one priest and one deacon distributing the Holy Sacrament. They get through a whole parish in a matter of minutes (if that would be ones intent)… much faster than at the Novus Ordo in the Roman Church. It satisfies all these lame arguments of “fuller expression of the nature of the Eucharist.” Everyone is getting both species, but can only be administered by ordained clergy. You win on so many sides with this! No lay folks claiming rites to distributing Holy Communion, no false spiritualities or “ministries” of EMs, clergy retain their proper dignity in administering Holy Communion, and less vessels to purify after Mass. Why more priests don’t do it this way boggles my mind!

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