Friday, 21 October 2011

Holy Communion under both kinds. Limitations?

I have only just discover this information about the indult for Holy Communion from the chalice (Fr Z's blog). I should have know this but did not. I did not even know that the permission given for reception from the chalice was temporary. According to this information, although bishops have the right to extend occasions when reception from the chalice is to be permitted and encouraged, their permission is necessary. I suspect that most of the bishops of England and Wales do not even know that the indult ran out in 2005. Apparently the American bishops applied for an extension - and this was rejected!

Strangely (or not so) I have only recently decided not to allow Holy Communion from the chalice at primary school Masses, and I no longer make it available at funeral Masses. In doing this I am following the example of some other priests who have made the same decisions - largely because of a perceived "lack of understanding" (or faith) regarding the Real Presence, and, sadly, what appear to be abuses of some kind. Now I discover that reception from the chalice should not be simply accepted as the norm at parish Masses. Of course, as one priest I can do nothing, and my guess is that most priests, hearing of this, will simply ignore it. Does anyone know of any statement about this?


  1. I think Communion in the hand has given many Catholics a protestantised view of That which is taken, rather like a pill as opposed to being received like a medicine.

    We can all draw our own conclusions from this.

  2. I am personally opposed to Communion in the hand, as I have said, because I know how it was introduced, through manipulation and dishonesty (a scandal if ever there was one)and because actually receiving in the hand standing was a mark of heresy at one time (I do not refer to Anglicanism which, in some ways, has a more devout custom - at least, in many places receiving kneeling). I once wrote to Pope John Paul 11 telling him that I could no longer, in conscience, go on giving Communion in the hand. This letter was answered in an extraordinary way. Usually such letters come back through the bishop's office. This reply came through the nunciature and it was written by the nuncio himself at the wish of the Pope who said he was deeply concerned about my letter and wanted to assure me that it was acceptable to give Holy Communion in the hand so long as people were reverent etc. I took three things from this letter - a certain solidarity with my concerns, the Holy father's great compassion (which we now know more about)and his great sensitivity in sending the reply through the Vatican's diplomatic representative in England. The nuncio told me that he had been asked to convey the Holy Father's concern and prayers. I do believe he prayed for me in his chapel (we now know that he did this). As everyone knows - or should - Blessed John Paul 11 did not agree with Communion in the hand and this was actually forbidden in St. Peter's. I believe his sensitive reply to me was to allow me to continue in present circumstance whilst showing some solidarity with my dilemma.
    I should make clear - as the Pope did - that this is not a condemnation of all those who receive in the hand. Many receive devoutly and have great devotion to the Real Presence. I have seen this myself so these are not empty words. God, in His mercy, would not withhold such graces from His people because of the initial mistake. Until we are able to see the changes that are needed we must be careful not to give offense to those who believe Communion in the hand is best for them. I believe - personally - that Christ will rectify this, and other mistakes, but not through arguments and dissension. Our own prayer lives and devotion are important, and those who do not believe in Communion in the hand need to show their faith by example, always being respectful towards others. I believe this understanding was given to me through the prayers of Blessed John Paul 11.

  3. Thank you Father,

    As a former Anglican I can add a few observations here. There was a great to-do in the Anglican Church in the 1980's when AIDS started to be an issue. I had been personally doing Communian by Intinction well before this, and I knew the vicar did not like it, but frankly I got a lot of colds round that time and thought it wrong to share my germs.Also we were told to intinct if we had a cold . When I explained this the Vicar said "Germs!!! Germs!!!" like Lady Brnaknall saying "a handbag!" Anyway as he didn't forbid me I carried on, but then after the aids situation blew up and there were letters galore in the Church Times for and agin, I was accused, while on a Retreat, of being prejudiced about Aids forsooth! I replied to this vicar that I had a serious illness myself which was very infectious, which was a bit naughty of me but took him by surprise. However he said that the silver and the wine killed all known germs, and as it was the real presence there could be no germs anyway. Well as that was Anglican I am not sure about that one!

    Believe me, I was happy to find in the Catholic Church there were none of these problems and I never take the wine now and nobody has a go at me, as at least half the congregation don't either, though I don't know their reasons. Recently attending your Latin Mass, father, I realised we had to take communion on the tongue, I felt very uncomfortable and indeed rather silly, but as that is the way I am sure I will get used to it.


  4. Given that the local Bishop should establish norms, never mind what we think or even what Fr Z thinks, what does Bishop Arthur say?

    (I am sure that you as the celebrant have a responsibility to restrict communion under both kinds if you judge irreverence might be a result)

  5. PtP: I have no idea what my bishops says, or has said, about this. I am puzzled that priests have not been told anything about it. At the moment, that is where I remain - puzzled. As far as your last point goes, I entirely agree.

  6. I would have thought that the Local Ordinary would have been your first Port of call.
    I fail to understand why so much credence is given to Fr. Z. You have The Bishops Conference of England and Wales to refer to, surely you would take advice from our own Bishops and Archbishops first.
    The church in this country must be in a very sorry state, if priests have so little faith in our own Bishops that they would prefer to take advice from an American priest who runs a parish in Italy.
    I have seen Canon withhold communion under both kinds when he suspected that Intinction was taking place and also when we had a very bad flu epidemic.

  7. Thanks for that slap on the wrist!

  8. I understand all that, but I am still unclear whether thre have been any infection issues, ie the common cold, swine flu etc--I am sure I have never heard of any clinical trials anyway. Can any body tell me then, why half the congregation take the chalice and half dont?

    I was told by the Anglican Church that silver and wine killed the germs, then they said there were no germs anway because it was the blood of Christ anyway...................

    After the recent swine flu scare nobody seems to know what to advise,that is in the RC and Anglican Church, but its unclear whether the Anglican church believes in the real presence, I think some do and some dont

    many thanks

  9. Some people do not receive from the chalice because they do not want to. They have the freedom to make this choice. Why so many refuse it is something I don't know. Some may have an aversion to drinking from the same cup. As a matter of courtesy the bishops asked people with bad colds and sore mouths not to receive from the chalice. This does not denote a lack of faith but a concern for others "feelings" and fears. During the aids crisis we were told that, indeed, the alcohol and the reaction with the gold and silver kills any bacteria etc. Saying that does not deal with some people's unreasonable fears (many fears are precisely that which is why so many people have a problem with fear). My own take on the recent flu scares has been - in line with medical advice which I sought - that there is more danger in the "sign of peace" than in receiving from the chalice, which is why I advised my congregation not to shake hands whereas in some places (including some cathedrals) advice was to refrain from the chalice and no warnings were given about the sign of peace (even though, as I found out, the hand is one of the most dangerous parts of the body for spreading disease)

  10. Thank you Father,

    Good gracious, I feel as though I am sinking deeper into a quagmire so will leave the topic where I found it. However, just to add that from a medical point of view, these answers from certain higher authorities sound anecdotal and nothing more, as far as I am aware there has been no proper research done on either the chalice or the shaking of hands. It would not pass muster with the medical profession , large numbers of people would have to be tested in a trial to find out the true situation, "before and after" and any subsequent illnesses would have to be proven to relate directly to either the chalice or handshakes. It would take many years to complete any such research . The AIDS situation was tinged with hysteria--in the past there were many more infectious and dangerous diseases--The Book of Common Prayer has some fairly sensible advis as to what to do concerning Communion in times of plague and pestilence!

    Thank you again father, I think I will leave this topic and carry on as normal,