QUAERITUR: adding the water to multiple chalices

chaliceFrom a reader:

I am wondering what the rule is concerning mixing both wine and water for chalices that will be used for communion under both species.  I have seen some priests only add the water to their own chalice, and other priests who add a drop of water to each individual chalice to be used for communion.  Is there a certain way to do this?

Since I pretty much never am involved with concelebration with multiple chalices, I need to open the floor up to priests who do this sort of thing more often.   On the rare occasion when I have been, I have this to attending deacons, etc.

That said, I think the GIRM only requires that the main chalice (singular), i.e., of the celebrant, must receive a small portion of water in the wine.   Nothing is said about other chalices one way or another. 

It strikes me as appropriate for water to be added to all the chalices at the time of the preparation of the celebrant’s chalice, but I don’t think that is prescribed.

Also, we must not after the consecration pour the Precious Blood from a container into chalices.  Chalices should be prepared ahead of time (cf. Redemptionis Sacramentum). 

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  1. medievalist says:

    Some lay people at my parish receive from the chalice only (perhaps a solution to gluten allergies?). A chalice is prepared for the priest and another for the laity. The parish priests, who always celebrate reverently, add water to both chalices.

  2. I could have written the same as Medievalist due to gluten allergies except that a verya very orthodox and reverent Congregation of Priests celebrating both OF and EF only add water to the
    priest’s chalice.

  3. Jord says:

    I just spoke with a canon lawyer who is adamant that the consecration of whatever chalice of wine is invalid if some small amount of water is not added to the wine. I’m thinking this is wrong, but…

  4. Jord: …adamant that the consecration of whatever chalice of wine is invalid if some small amount of water is not added…

    He is wrong. It is illicit, but valid.

    It is a serious flaw not to add the water in the prescribed manner, but the matter is still valid.

    I think that to leave the water out purposefully, and not just by a slip of memory or serious circumstance (such as lack of water!), would be a grave sin.

  5. What would happen if you added the water to the wine flagon when it was brought up at the offertory, before pouring it into the individual chalices?

  6. Brian Day says:

    My parish does not follow the instructions of RS in that the the most precious blood is fractioned into individual “chalices” after the Rite of Peace. Water is added to the flagon of wine at the Offertory though.

    At another parish I occasionally attend, the water is added to the flagon at the Offertory and then immediately fractioned into individual chalices. I believe the latter is in line with the instructions of RS.

  7. Fr Gregory, that’s how it’s done at my parish, the water is poured into the flagon, then poured into the various chalices, I’m guessing it’s not wrong, not sure.

    I’m glad that my parish does not pour the Precious Blood after the consecration…So many parishes in LA do this, it’s very discouraging to see the Blessed Sacrament treated with such disrespect and the lack of dignity that’s deserved to the Blessed Sacrament.

    If there’s one Liturgical Abuse I’d love to see come to an end, it’s the pouring of the Precious Blood after the Consecration.

  8. Which i might add is even worse when the EMHC’s pour the Precious Blood after the Consecration.

  9. beez says:

    At the seminary, water is only added to the main chalice from which the celebrant receives on the basis of the fact that the GIRM does not specify that water must be added to multiple chalices.

  10. MikeM says:

    Where I go to Mass, water is added to all the chalices. Three chalices are consecrated. We have two out for people coming up to receive communion. Only the priest and EMHCs receive from the more decorative chalice (the one the priest raises at the consecration).

    If the priest and EMHC don’t quite finish consuming the Precious Blood in that chalice, often an EMHC will pour the remainder into one of the other chalices. I’m guessing that RS forbids that? If so, I guess I’ll try to tell the Extraordinary Ministers to just make sure to finish it off themselves.

  11. benyanke says:

    At our parish (when we have the extra chalices), we would add the water to all of them, but that being said, there would only be 3, including the old, newly-restored, main chalice.

    As for when we have a lot of chalices (chrism mass, ordinations, etc. ), I believe the deacons add the water to all (10) of them by just going down the line. And in case you were wondering, we pre-prepare all of the non-main-chalices before mass, and bring them to the altar on trays.

  12. Fr. Steve says:

    On paragraph 142 of the GIRM, “the priest stands at the side of the altar and pours wine and a little water into the chalice,” and in the Code of Cannon Law c.924, “The most holy eucharistic sacrifice must be offered with bread and with wine in which a little water must be mixed.” Could these be understood as saying that a little water MUST be mixed with the wine that is offered, which is suffeciently done by pouring a drop into THE (main) chalice. Or do we understand the GIRM as written with the assumption that communion is normally given only under one kind, and therefore only one chalice is forseen and mentioned; and that there would be other norms for communion under both kinds given by the bishops conference? Which, by the way, don’t prescrib what to do in this regard. I for my part, have only been putting a drop in the main chalice at the right side of the altar to signify the blood and water that poured forth from Christ’s right side. But, I have not thought about putting it in the other chalices, since I figured that the substance of grape wine is still being changed to the substance of the blood of Christ and is therefore still valid. I want to do what’s right, so if anyone else can help me understand this better, please do.

  13. roamincatholic says:

    Sorry to be long-winded, but I thought this was a very thorough answer from the Liturgical Institute at Mundelein. original link (4th question down):


    Q: I just got a new pastor, and I found out this morning that he has instructed the deacons to add a small amount of water to the cups as well as to the chalice. I have never seen this done before. I can’t find any reference in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal to this practice or in fact to cups–just to the preparation of the chalice. Nor can I find any reference to this practice in either Redemptionis Sacramentum or Sacramentum Caritatis. Is it permissible/proper/optional to add water to the cups as well as the chalice?

    A: There has been some confusion about the issue for some time, largely because most people do not have a good grounding in sacramental theology. In terms of sacramental theology: The matter in the sacrament of the Eucharist is bread and wine. (De fide). Although the ritual requires the addition of a small amount of water in the chalice for liceity, “the validity of the Sacrament does not depend on this.” (cf. Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, 391-392.

    Liturgically speaking: the ritual itself is clear the the mixture is takes place in the chalice, not in the cruet or carafe. (infundit vinum et parum aquæ in calicem). If the Church meant for all of the communion chalices to be prepared in the same way, that would have been made explicit. Perhaps the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments will in the future give more clear direction. On the other hand, what is clear is that not even a priest has the right to change the liturgy on his own authority. (cf. IGMR 24, see also Sacrosanctum concilium 22).

    How to understand this: the symbolism of mixing the water and wine is meant to remind us of the water and blood that flowed from the side of Christ as he hung on the cross. It turns our attention to the source of sacramental grace, the Paschal Mystery as well as to the birth of the Church, the New Eve taken from the side of the New Adam. I would suspect that the addition of water to all of the chalices in American culture is motivated by the idea of treating all of them the same (so that the people won’t feel like they are being slighted by not having water mixed in their chalices like the priest’s.) We need to look at this through the eyes of sacramental theology, though, rather than the rules of hospitality and courtesy. The Body of Christ is One, even though there are many different hosts in the ciboria. It is the same Body of Christ even though the wafer given to the people may be round, while the priest consumes a piece which is triangular or demi-lune. We speak theologically of One Bread, even though we see many pieces. In the same way, theologically the Precious Blood in the so-called priest’s chalice is the same as the Precious Blood in the other chalices and the water mixed with the wine in the Celebrant’s chalice is theologically mixed with the wine in all of the others.

    In conclusion: it is not necessary to mix water in all of the communion cups. If you will indulge a pun, it dilutes the symbolism of the one cup since it treats the sacrament as if there were four or six individual cups. The mingling of water and wine is required in the celebrant’s chalice, but redundant in the others. (Answered by Fr. Douglas Martis).

    [hmmm… that all sounded pretty familiar!]

  14. Random Friar says:

    That is what Zenit had answered, what roamincatholic just posted, in essence. So I have personally tended to add water to one chalice at large Masses, like a Sunday Mass (where we have many chalices) and to both chalices at smaller daily Masses.

  15. Joseph says:

    A few Sundays ago the altar woman, girl, boys forgot to bring up to the altar the ciboria with the unconsecrated hosts from a side table. After the consecration the priest realized the omission, but nevertheless had all placed onto the altar before communion and then dumped the contents of the ciborium of a previous mass on top. That surely was then an invalid communion, no?

  16. dcs says:

    A few Sundays ago the altar woman, girl, boys forgot to bring up to the altar the ciboria with the unconsecrated hosts from a side table. After the consecration the priest realized the omission, but nevertheless had all placed onto the altar before communion and then dumped the contents of the ciborium of a previous mass on top. That surely was then an invalid communion, no?

    It would depend on whether he intended to consecrate the hosts in the ciboria on the credence table.

  17. John F. Kennedy says:

    I would like to know if it’s licit for a EMHC to consume the remaining liquid contents from their chalice. They had received it once a few minutes earlier from the Priest or another EMHC and a then again after all have received, they self communicate. I know they are not supposed to self communicate, but should this be done.

  18. FrCharles says:

    Almost every Mass I offer has multiple chalices. Most priests I know and work with do either that ‘drop for you, drop for you’ method, or the water into the flagon method. Neither is adequate for me. I pray the formula while I mix some water into the principal chalice. My practice and theology matches that of roamancatholic above. But this has always bugged me since my ordination.

  19. Bryan says:

    Simple solution:

    Since each of the individual elements are the entire body, blood, soul, and divinity of our Precious Lord in and of themselves apart from the other, receiving from the ‘common cups’ is redundant (except in the case of the aforementioned celiac sufferers…). I admit that, a couple of times since the practice was innovated, and the priest ran out of hosts, I just partook of the chalice, knowing full well that was a complete and true communion, just as if I had received the host alone.

    So…do away with the chalice. It’s redundant, and would eliminate about 60% of the need for EMHCs. That sounds like a plus to me.

    Our priests (generalizing here…) don’t talk up sacramental theology often enough…and when they do…they somehow make it sound like if you don’t receive both, you are somehow not receiving a ‘full’ communion. People have come to believe that you have to receive both.

  20. sacerdosinaeternum says:

    The Director of Sacred Liturgy at our seminary- who was really excellent- instructed us opposite of the opinion given above. This was his rationale: Obviously the Istitutio Generalis does not foresee multiple chalices. It speaks of the one chalice. But precisely because it says to pour a little water into the chalice, it would seem that the same should apply to every chalice that is used. This is the practice I followed in the previous assignments I’ve had that offered Holy Communion under both kinds to the Faithful. Now that I’m in a parish in which the distribution of Holy Communion is under one form, the Sacred Host, I no longer have to worry about this.

  21. uptoncp says:

    From the answers given, and the terminology used, above, it looks like the question could be rephrased as “Is there one chalice, for the priest, and the rest are lesser “cups” for the communion of the faithful, or are they all equal chalices, one of which happens to be used by the priest at the elevation?”

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