More about Communion under both species

More about Communion under both species

There’s a lot of interesting discussion in the thread below on receiving Communion under both species and the potential for germs being passed around. Someone asked whether you would want to go to a wine-tasting and drink from the same glass being passed around by a hundred people. Well, what if it was a cheese-tasting party too and the host was walking around popping pieces of Camembert into some mouths and using the same fingers to put it in other’s hands?

The fact is it’s a bit silly to compare receiving the Eucharist with going to a party. But it’s also an issue of what you’re comfortable with. If we had all grown up receiving under both species as a matter of course, we wouldn’t think twice about it. I’m sure that for adult converts it’s a bit strange at first to go through the Communion line and have a man place something on your tongue.

And if it’s germs you’re worried about, then imagine how many germs are passed to the priest’s hands by the open mouths receiving the Eucharist or the germ-laden hands he touches as he places the Eucharist in them. I bet our grandparents and great-grandparents would laugh at us for our squeamishness. We live in a pasteurized, homogenized, anti-bacterial, squeaky-clean world, and so any hint of germs drives us crazy. If only most people could see a restaurant kitchen or the backroom of a supermarket or even the slaughterhouses where your nice sanitized meat comes from. Or for you vegetarians, the manure-filled fields your veggies are grown in.

As for those who think we should only receive under the species of bread, Jesus says in the Eucharistic prayer, “take this all of you and drink from it.” Not just some, but all. It is all the Eucharist, so why the special attitude toward the Precious Blood? What makes reception of the Precious Blood different from reception of the Sacred Body?

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
37 comments
  • Look at what the Council of Trent says,  “If anyone says that the holy Catholic Church was not moved by just causes and reasons that laymen and clerics when not consecrating should communicate under the form of bread only, or has erred in this, let him be anathema.”  (s. 21 Can. 2)

    According to the Code of Canon Law, “Holy Communion is to be given under the form of bread and wine or under both kinds in accord with the norm of the liturgical laws or even under the form of wine, alone in case of necessity” (Canon 925). The Second Vatican Council has encouraged the reception of Holy Communion under both forms. Yet since the Vatican Council, there have been various qualifications which limit the administration of the Eucharist under the form of both bread and wine. The reason for this restriction is the liability to abuse of the Blessed Sacrament where the whole congregation, at every Mass, would receive from the chalice. Not the least of these abuses is consecration of such an abundance of wine that a large quantity of the Precious Blood is left over after Mass. Sacrilegious disposition of the consecrated chalice is not uncommon in some places. As a result, the normal procedure is to restrict the reception of communion under both species only to special occasions, such as weddings or certain solemn feasts. Moreover, the priests may administer Holy Communion by intinction. Here they dip the consecrated Host into the chalice and say to the communicant, “The Body and Blood of Christ.” (Rev. John Hardon)

    It is one thing to state the doctrine on the Eucharist clearly, but it is another thing to get all the people in the Church to understand the doctrine correctly. This was always one of the main advantages of prohibiting, or restricting to special circumstances or occasions, the general distribution of Communion under both species. By not allowing this as a universal practice, the Church made clear by its actions what not everyone might easily understand in words: that the full sacrament was contained in the reception of Jesus under one species alone.

    When reception of Communion under both species is widely introduced, a certain amount of confusion among the faithful is likely, and indeed probably inevitable.

    So far only the disadvantages of Communion under both species as a regular and universal practice have been discussed. However, it seems to me that there are also positive advantages to another option: restricting the use of Communion under both species to special circumstances or occasions, determined and specified by the Church. It is desirable to have ways in which to acknowledge the special character of particular events or feasts with additional symbolism and ceremony within the context of the Mass. There are only so many ways in which this can be done, while still preserving the integrity of the Mass, and the availability of Communion under both species might be a perfect opportunity.

    Cam

  • True story: Ok, I tell my children (and hubby ;>) to wash their hands when we arrive home from Mass before eating bc we might have germs on them from shaking hands at the sign of peace. Sounds reasonable, eh?
    No. One Sunday we innocently sit in the first row. Father decides to skip down (can you tell I don’t like that stuff) from the altar to shake our hands at the S of P. Well, after the hand shaking our five year old YELLS out as he holds his hand high in the air, “I have to wash my hand!”  I grabbed the hand (that was held high like a surgeon prior to surgery)and explained quickly that he didn’t need to wash it just then and he yelled, “But he shook my hand!”
    The Church was silent. I aged a thousand years.
    And yes, this occured at the height of the priest-scandal.
    I’m not equipped to talk about germs and the cup. I’m still having flashbacks to the hand in the air, the closeness of the assembled shocked faces and the not- too- pleasant- look on my normally pleasant looking husband.

     

  • True story: Ok, I tell my children (and hubby ;>) to wash their hands when we arrive home from Mass before eating bc we might have germs on them from shaking hands at the sign of peace. Sounds reasonable, eh?
    No. One Sunday we innocently sit in the first row. Father decides to skip down (can you tell I don’t like that stuff) from the altar to shake our hands at the S of P. Well, after the hand shaking our five year old YELLS out as he holds his hand high in the air, “I have to wash my hand!”  I grabbed the hand (that was held high like a surgeon prior to surgery)and explained quickly that he didn’t need to wash it just then and he yelled, “But he shook my hand!”
    The Church was silent. I aged a thousand years.
    And yes, this occured at the height of the priest-scandal.
    I’m not equipped to talk about germs and the cup. I’m still having flashbacks to the hand in the air, the closeness of the assembled shocked faces and the not- too- pleasant- look on my normally pleasant looking husband.

     

  • I still think there’s a problem with “receiving” Communion in the hand. (Is it a phobia? <g>)

    Seriously…it seems to me that this is equivilent to self-communication. I’ve read and re-read Memoriale Domini (1969) and still can’t shake the idea that we’re not supposed to do this…that the only reason we are is that some folks went ahead, changed the rules before they were given permission to do so, and that, as is so often the case, the rules changed to suit the breakers of the rules.

    I don’t know…maybe that’s because that’s what I was taught way back in high school. Still.

    Kelly <———-aching for Lily and also, alas, cracking up wink

  • I still think there’s a problem with “receiving” Communion in the hand. (Is it a phobia? <g>)

    Seriously…it seems to me that this is equivilent to self-communication. I’ve read and re-read Memoriale Domini (1969) and still can’t shake the idea that we’re not supposed to do this…that the only reason we are is that some folks went ahead, changed the rules before they were given permission to do so, and that, as is so often the case, the rules changed to suit the breakers of the rules.

    I don’t know…maybe that’s because that’s what I was taught way back in high school. Still.

    Kelly <———-aching for Lily and also, alas, cracking up wink

  • Lily, I wilted in my seat for you when I read that! How in the world did you keep your mind on the Mass after that? Out of the mouth of babes…

    I probably sound like a trad but I can’t shake the belief that Communion in the hand, moving the Tabernacle, removing the altar rails, choir on the altar, all coincided with the sad decline of belief in the Real Presence. One of the big reasons I love the Tridentine (this and the music) is the chance I get to kneel at the altar and gaze at the Tabernacle and have that few minutes of thankful prayer before the priest makes it around the altar to my spot… so much better than moving forward in line like at McDonald’s or BK.

    Then again, it offends me when stuff is changed strictly for the sake of change but maybe I just don’t get it.

  • Lily, I wilted in my seat for you when I read that! How in the world did you keep your mind on the Mass after that? Out of the mouth of babes…

    I probably sound like a trad but I can’t shake the belief that Communion in the hand, moving the Tabernacle, removing the altar rails, choir on the altar, all coincided with the sad decline of belief in the Real Presence. One of the big reasons I love the Tridentine (this and the music) is the chance I get to kneel at the altar and gaze at the Tabernacle and have that few minutes of thankful prayer before the priest makes it around the altar to my spot… so much better than moving forward in line like at McDonald’s or BK.

    Then again, it offends me when stuff is changed strictly for the sake of change but maybe I just don’t get it.

  • “True story: Ok, I tell my children (and hubby ;>) to wash their hands when we arrive home from Mass before eating bc we might have germs on them from shaking hands at the sign of peace. Sounds reasonable, eh?
    No. One Sunday we innocently sit in the first row. Father decides to skip down (can you tell I donntific approach, but is there any evidence that this practice actually generates any ill effects?  In other words, do we have any evidence that sharing the cup and the hosts (from the same bowl!) spreads viruses in a dangerous manner?

    We do have an immune system that protects us from most harmful agents, you know?  And there is plenty of evidence that avoiding contact with harmful agents to extreme levels (like this would be) actually makes you weaker, not healthier.

  • From the Vatican Website:

    Can._IP>192.168.1.1
    2004-12-01 11:30:11
    2004-12-01 15:30:11
    No one is saying that you have to receive under both species. I just don’t nderstand the squeamish or reluctance to receive from the cup when it is offered. It is after all the EUCHARIST! Sorry for shouting, but this is all so surreal to me.

  • Domenico,

    We have had an interesting custom at one of the local parishes here.  One of the priests who loves music came up with an anthem which he sings with a congregational verse just before the distribution of Holy Communion.  He is a normally obedient priest, but he gets carried away now and then.  His rationale was boosting the belief in the True Presence—it’s what the anthem was about—a catchy tune too.  However, not only was it a violation of the Roman Missal but it was an occasion for showing off someone’s voice at precisely the time when the emphasis should be on the Eucharist and prayer before the Eucharist.  The reason I bring this up is that this is like what people are saying here.  It may be laudable to emphasize the True Presence in song, but NOT by means of a homemade anthem inserted into the middle of Mass.  A good intention gone wrong.

    Likewise, it is not necessary to receive under both species.  There are plenty of people who insist on such things simply because they reason that receiving under both is somehow “better” in some way.  However, if their insistence becomes uncharitable, how is that “better”? 

    I, for one, also have a problem with novelties being pushed on laypeople.  This can, if demands are blatant enough, almost become a novelty as far as laypeople are concerned.  People should be free, if it is offered, to receive under both species or not.  As the canons above have shown, those receiving under one do not “lose” any part of receiving Holy Communion by doing so.

    It also certainly does appear that this is used to justify armies of “Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion” which really makes me crazy.  I’m not the only one either.  Armies of “lay ministers” are forbidden in document after document from Rome.  These documents are completely IGNORED by most Catholics.  That’s a very serious issue.

    For one of the documents, see ON CERTAIN QUESTIONS REGARDINGTHE COLLABORATION OF THE NON-ORDAINEDFAITHFUL IN THE SACRED MINISTRY OF PRIEST at the Vatican website.

     

  • Personally, I have never understood the fuss over receiving communion in the hand.  Since it is permitted by our liturgical norms (despite the origins of that exception Kelly describes) it doesn’t bother me one bit.  Frankly, I think there are more serious problems than debating the general merits of two permitted practices.  Is it similar to self-communication?  I suppose.  But it still involves a minister and I don’t think we should ignore that.  Otherwise we could get lost in histerical minutia trying to differentiate between our actions and the minister’s.  (Did I self-communicate because I brought the host into mouth by retracting my tongue, etc.)  I think the better response is to try and instill the appropriate reverence that can be part of reception in the hand.  I don’t have access to it right now, but I wrote a prayer on this issue once.  My mind is drawn to the example of Holy Simeon, the old man who was promised by God that he would not die until he saw the Savior.  What awe he must have felt when he finally saw the Christ Child and, not only saw him, but was able to hold him in his hands.  If that spirit can be brought to bear on this practice for the reception of communion, then frankly, I don’t see how it is bad at all.

  • Sorry to take a more scientific approach, but is there any evidence that this practice actually generates any ill effects?  In other words, do we have any evidence that sharing the cup and the hosts (from the same bowl!) spreads viruses in a dangerous manner?

    We do have an immune system that protects us from most harmful agents, you know?  And there is plenty of evidence that avoiding contact with harmful agents to extreme levels (like this would be) actually makes you weaker, not healthier.

  • Mich,

    The difference is that the priest’s prayer is a violation of liturgical law as it stands right now, whereas liturgical law allows communion under both species. Intention has nothing to do with it. It is allowed.

    And, again, no one is saying it is necessary, just that it is permissible. And why bring in hypotheticals? Of course if insistence becomes uncharitable it’s not good, but then anything uncharitable is not good.

    Bottom line: You are fighting a battle no one else has joined. No one has said that Communion under both species should be pushed on people, that people should not be free to choose whether to receive or not. You’re fighting a straw man.

  • Mich,

    The difference is that the priest’s prayer is a violation of liturgical law as it stands right now, whereas liturgical law allows communion under both species. Intention has nothing to do with it. It is allowed.

    And, again, no one is saying it is necessary, just that it is permissible. And why bring in hypotheticals? Of course if insistence becomes uncharitable it’s not good, but then anything uncharitable is not good.

    Bottom line: You are fighting a battle no one else has joined. No one has said that Communion under both species should be pushed on people, that people should not be free to choose whether to receive or not. You’re fighting a straw man.

  • The only problem I have with distributing under both kinds is simple: it is used as an excuse for using extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion.

    Since it is not necessary to receive under both kinds, it should not be done unless there are sufficient ordinary ministers (e.g. priests and deacons).

    I have writted previously about this here

  • The only problem I have with distributing under both kinds is simple: it is used as an excuse for using extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion.

    Since it is not necessary to receive under both kinds, it should not be done unless there are sufficient ordinary ministers (e.g. priests and deacons).

    I have writted previously about this here

  • Dom,

    I don’t at all object to receiving Jesus under the appearance of wine because of “squeamishness.” I do object to the habitual use of extraordinary ministers of Communion. If offering Communion under both species necessitates this, then there lies my objection—actually, there lies the Church’s objection.

    Regarding Communion in the hand:

    It’s certainly true that the ancient Church not only received this way; moreover, no special ministers were required. The faithful simply took the concecrated elements themselves and regularly took the Eucharist home for those not present at the Mass. But early on, as I understand it, as the recognition of the Real Presence became ever more pronounced, the Church began to take great pains to insure all due reverence to Jesus Christ. And so, early on, the practice of entrusting the ministry of Holy Communion to the ordained alone, and the reception of the consecrated Host on the tongue, was instituted.

    “In the following period, after the true meaning of the Eucharistic mystery, its effect, and the presence of Christ in it had been profoundly investigated, from a pressing sense of reverence toward this holy Sacrament and of the humility which its reception demands, the custom was introduced by which the minister himself would place the piece of consecrated bread on the tongue of the communicants.” Memoriale Domini.

    It seems pretty clear to me that Paul VI did not want this practice changed. What’s always bugged me is how it got changed anyway.

  • Dom,

    I don’t at all object to receiving Jesus under the appearance of wine because of “squeamishness.” I do object to the habitual use of extraordinary ministers of Communion. If offering Communion under both species necessitates this, then there lies my objection—actually, there lies the Church’s objection.

    Regarding Communion in the hand:

    It’s certainly true that the ancient Church not only received this way; moreover, no special ministers were required. The faithful simply took the concecrated elements themselves and regularly took the Eucharist home for those not present at the Mass. But early on, as I understand it, as the recognition of the Real Presence became ever more pronounced, the Church began to take great pains to insure all due reverence to Jesus Christ. And so, early on, the practice of entrusting the ministry of Holy Communion to the ordained alone, and the reception of the consecrated Host on the tongue, was instituted.

    “In the following period, after the true meaning of the Eucharistic mystery, its effect, and the presence of Christ in it had been profoundly investigated, from a pressing sense of reverence toward this holy Sacrament and of the humility which its reception demands, the custom was introduced by which the minister himself would place the piece of consecrated bread on the tongue of the communicants.” Memoriale Domini.

    It seems pretty clear to me that Paul VI did not want this practice changed. What’s always bugged me is how it got changed anyway.

  • This is definitely one of those:

    “in the world, not of the world” discussions. 

    Goat:  Given the fact that here is RCAB there aren’t enough ordinary ministers to keep open all the churches, then we would NEVER receive under both species.

    I can imagine it now:  Hurry up, we have to drive to Nashua for Mass!  This is the week we make our pilgrimage to receive the Precious Blood! 

    And who decides what is a sufficient number of Eucharistic ministers, anyway?  Is there a Vatican published calculator that says:

    If you have X in the congregation, you need y people distributing Holy Communion?

    X/a=Extraordinary M

    -Joe “Back from the World” Soucy

  • This is definitely one of those:

    “in the world, not of the world” discussions. 

    Goat:  Given the fact that here is RCAB there aren’t enough ordinary ministers to keep open all the churches, then we would NEVER receive under both species.

    I can imagine it now:  Hurry up, we have to drive to Nashua for Mass!  This is the week we make our pilgrimage to receive the Precious Blood! 

    And who decides what is a sufficient number of Eucharistic ministers, anyway?  Is there a Vatican published calculator that says:

    If you have X in the congregation, you need y people distributing Holy Communion?

    X/a=Extraordinary M

    -Joe “Back from the World” Soucy

  • Domenico,

    Where undue pressure is used to make people feel as though they must receive under both species, this is not a straw man.  That is precisely my point. 

    It is left up to the individual, and yes, it is permitted.  But not required.

  • Domenico,

    Where undue pressure is used to make people feel as though they must receive under both species, this is not a straw man.  That is precisely my point. 

    It is left up to the individual, and yes, it is permitted.  But not required.

  • Fine, but no one here has provided even one example of undue pressure. This conversation isn’t about undue pressure, it’s about having communion under both species at all. You’re having a different discussion.

    Like I said, no one here is saying that it is or should be required. That’s why it’s a straw man argument. You’re not arguing against anybody. No one is holding the opposite position.

  • Fine, but no one here has provided even one example of undue pressure. This conversation isn’t about undue pressure, it’s about having communion under both species at all. You’re having a different discussion.

    Like I said, no one here is saying that it is or should be required. That’s why it’s a straw man argument. You’re not arguing against anybody. No one is holding the opposite position.

  • This is kind of off-topic, but not entirely, since this thread started with whether we’re spreading germs.

    When I was a kid and went to the Baptist church, they served grape juice (not wine) in little individual “shot glasses”.  If you’re ever in one of their churches, you may notice racks on the back-side of the pews to hold the empties.

    The ushers distributed the grape juice using round trays that had little compartments to hold the cups.  Of course there’s no Real Presence, but as I recall, Mr. Welch got rich making the juice.

  • This is kind of off-topic, but not entirely, since this thread started with whether we’re spreading germs.

    When I was a kid and went to the Baptist church, they served grape juice (not wine) in little individual “shot glasses”.  If you’re ever in one of their churches, you may notice racks on the back-side of the pews to hold the empties.

    The ushers distributed the grape juice using round trays that had little compartments to hold the cups.  Of course there’s no Real Presence, but as I recall, Mr. Welch got rich making the juice.

  • Domenico, please pardon what I’m going to say in the interest of being straight-forward.  I do not mean to offend but only to cast some light on the topic.

    You yourself said that “this conversation is not about undue pressure, it’s about having communion under both species at all.  Yet, you have also written:

    As for those who think we should only receive under the species of bread, Jesus says in the Eucharistic prayer, tianity IS a very historical religion. 

    Sorry if I took your meaning incorrectly.  Yes, reception under both species is NOW allowed.  No argument there. 

  • Nothing in my statement says that people should be forced to receive under both species and only a prejudical reading would lead one to think it does.

    I was only addressing those who said we should not be able to receive under both species. I only said that everyone should be allowed to, as the Church’s current liturgical law allows.

    Who’s says it’s despicable? There are lots of things that weren’t done in the past but then were done later. There are many great saints who never prayed the Rosary. There are many great saints who never prayed the Divine Office. There are many great saints who never sang Gregorian chant. But all of these things are laudable and highly recommended.

    I’m as conservative as anyone, but we should not be so conservative as to think that just because something is new, it is less worthy than something old. Chronological snobbery goes both ways.

  • No chronological snobbery intended.  Even though Christianity IS a very historical religion. 

    Sorry if I took your meaning incorrectly.  Yes, reception under both species is NOW allowed.  No argument there. 

  • Boy all this discussion is goping to make me ask my Monsignor why he doesn’t offer the chalice at all…..

  • Boy all this discussion is goping to make me ask my Monsignor why he doesn’t offer the chalice at all…..

  • michigancatholic,

    “If you compare this one to the one cited previously (above), there are *significant*differences…..”

    I am assuming that your snipe about Can. 925 was aimed at my earlier post.  Take it up with Fr. Hardon, it is his statement.  I simply agree with it.

    “Remember that for better than 1000 years, non-clergy members of the Catholic Church received under the species of the Body alone.  That includes many great saints.  It canblogspot.com
    66.255.204.12
    2004-12-01 23:32:05
    2004-12-02 03:32:05
    Goodnight and God bless.  I’ve said what I’m going to say. 

  • michigancatholic,

    “If you compare this one to the one cited previously (above), there are *significant*differences…..”

    I am assuming that your snipe about Can. 925 was aimed at my earlier post.  Take it up with Fr. Hardon, it is his statement.  I simply agree with it.

    “Remember that for better than 1000 years, non-clergy members of the Catholic Church received under the species of the Body alone.  That includes many great saints.  It can/wp:status>
    0
    0
    post


    20732

    camilam42@gmail.com

    10.3.0.101
    2004-11-30 21:46:53
    2004-12-01 01:46:53
    Look at what the Council of Trent says,  “If anyone says that the holy Catholic Church was not moved by just causes and reasons that laymen and clerics when not consecrating should communicate under the form of bread only, or has erred in this, let him be anathema.”  (s. 21 Can. 2)

    According to the Code of Canon Law, “Holy Communion is to be given under the form of bread and wine or under both kinds in accord with the norm of the liturgical laws or even under the form of wine, alone in case of necessity” (Canon 925). The Second Vatican Council has encouraged the reception of Holy Communion under both forms. Yet since the Vatican Council, there have been various qualifications which limit the administration of the Eucharist under the form of both bread and wine. The reason for this restriction is the liability to abuse of the Blessed Sacrament where the whole congregation, at every Mass, would receive from the chalice. Not the least of these abuses is consecration of such an abundance of wine that a large quantity of the Precious Blood is left over after Mass. Sacrilegious disposition of the consecrated chalice is not uncommon in some places. As a result, the normal procedure is to restrict the reception of communion under both species only to special occasions, such as weddings or certain solemn feasts. Moreover, the priests may administer Holy Communion by intinction. Here they dip the consecrated Host into the chalice and say to the communicant, “The Body and Blood of Christ.” (Rev. John Hardon)

    It is one thing to state the doctrine on the Eucharist clearly, but it is another thing to get all the people in the Church to understand the doctrine correctly. This was always one of the main advantages of prohibiting, or restricting to special circumstances or occasions, the general distribution of Communion under both species. By not allowing this as a universal practice, the Church made clear by its actions what not everyone might easily understand in words: that the full sacrament was contained in the reception of Jesus under one species alone.

    When reception of Communion under both species is widely introduced, a certain amount of confusion among the faithful is likely, and indeed probably inevitable.

    So far only the disadvantages of Communion under both species as a regular and universal practice have been discussed. However, it seems to me that there are also positive advantages to another option: restricting the use of Communion under both species to special circumstances or occasions, determined and specified by the Church. It is desirable to have ways in which to acknowledge the special character of particular events or feasts with additional symbolism and ceremony within the context of the Mass. There are only so many ways in which this can be done, while still preserving the integrity of the Mass, and the availability of Communion under both species might be a perfect opportunity.

    Cam

  • michigancatholic,

    It says essentially the same thing.  I think that you are starting to lose it if you think that Fr. John Hardon, SJ (requisecat in pace) is wrong about his statement.  Where is the problem?  Where is the significant difference?

    “Holy Communion is to be given under the form of bread and wine or under both kinds in accord with the norm of the liturgical laws or even under the form of wine, alone in case of necessity.”  (Fr. John Hardon, SJ)

    “Can.  925 Holy communion is to be given under the form of bread alone, or under both species according to the norm of the liturgical laws, or even under the form of wine alone in a case of necessity.”  (michigancatholic)

    There is no significant difference.  It is like you saying tomatoe and Fr. Hardon saying tomato…BTW, Fr. Hardon has a lot more pull, experience and expertise than you do, on this, I think that I will take his word (posthumously) over yours any day.

    Are you seriously getting everything in a bunch over one part of one phrase?  Kinds v. Species?  You need to relax, it is ok to agree once in a while.

    Cam

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