QUAERITUR: washing a shirt stained with the Precious Blood

From a reader:

I need immediate advice.  This morning my son spilled the Precious Blood on his shirt when receiving this morning.  There is no sacrarium in the Church.  I brought him home and washed the shirt in cold water which I intend to pour into the ground near a tree.  However, there is still a stain.  Can I use soap?  Is Jesus still present when there is a stain or are the accidents sufficiently gone?


I commend you for being so careful!

You don’t have to put the shirt in the tabernacle.

Wash the shirt. 

In this case you don’t have to worry.  The accidents of "wine" are no longer present.  The Presence of Christ was probably broken at the moment the liquid was absorbed and dried a bit, that is, when it was no longer recognizable as "wine".  You have to be able to recognize the accidents of wine, not the accidents of a wine stain.

It was always the tradition that stained altar linens were first washed by the priest himself in a first rinsing. The water poured down the sacrarium…. just in case.  It was a very prudent practice, and one which stemmed from and fostered reverence and care for the Eucharistic species.  There may have been particles of Hosts caught in the linens, etc.

But, in the situation you are describing, I think you did the right thing. 

I think this also brings up other questions.

Is it prudent to have Communion under both kinds?

Is it prudent to have the very young receive in that way?

I think laundry tips will be forthcoming from readers.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Martial Artist says:

    I was fairly sure that I remembered a few of the tips, and I was correct. The ones I remembered are contained in the following article:

    Even if it doesn’t work for this one because too much time has elapsed, it might be a good idea to save it for future reference.

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

  2. Geoffrey says:

    I often feel conflicted when it comes to receiving Holy Communion under both kinds at Mass in the Ordinary Form. I often feel a desire to but I don’t want to contribute to the abuse that has taken place. The Precious Blood is offered even in weekday Masses here in California!

    So, I do what the Church originally envisioned when granting this permission: Receive under both kinds on special occasions / solemn feasts. For me, that is Christmas, Easter, Holy Thursday, and Corpus Christi.

    I wish intinction was utilized more! I have only ever seen it when the Holy Father gives First Holy Communion at the Easter Vigil.

    As for stains, I’ve heard good things about sparkling water!

  3. Titus says:

    My grandmother was a rectory housekeeper for many years. She washed purificators in their own load after they had been rinsed in the sacrarium.

    As for receiving the Precious Blood, what if use of the fistula were made a universal practice? It would be an innovation, since for as long as I’ve ever heard of only the pope uses one. But it could make the process of distributing the Sacrament substantially less hazardous.

  4. Titus says:

    Of course, for anyone unfamiliar, a fistula is a sacramental straw.

  5. pewpew says:

    @Geoffrey: I think it’s good to want to receive in both forms, but you should remember that Jesus in fully present i.e. body AND blood in both the bread and the wine, so you’re not like missing out if you only receive the bread (Catholic Encyclopedia http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05573a.htm -> Council of Trent)

  6. QMJ says:

    There are so many problems that arise from distributing under both kinds. The “need” for more Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, how often the Precious Blood is spilled, and the consumption of any Precious Blood left after Communion to name just a few. I mention the last one because as an altar server I once had to consume a very large amount of the Precious Blood after Communion (I wish the priest had done it). Let’s just say I was definitely feeling the accidents of wine. When the Precious Blood is distributed it is preferable that it be by intinction. Personally, I prefer receiving by spoon as they do in the Byzantine Church.

  7. Andrew says:

    Many years ago I started to entertain doubts regarding what I perceived as a possibly “incomplete” reception of the Sacrament by receiving only the Host. A good catechesis might be useful for those who might be tempted to think that they “should” partake of the Chalice in addition to the reception of the Host in order to communicate “more fully”. Everyone receives both the Body and the Blood of the Lord, even those who do not partake of the Chalice. Christ does not exist in two separate parts: anyone who receives only the Host receives the Body and the Blood. Sacramentally, the Body and the Blood is separated but in reality, the Risen Christ is present complete, undivided, Body and Blood in either of the species.
    It is common practice where I live to offer communion under both species with many lay “extraordinary ministers” offering chalices for the lined up communicants. I pass by the chalice without the least of scrupples knowing that by having received the Host I have received the fullness of the Sacrament, which includes the Blood of Christ.

  8. Igne says:

    As a matter of interest, what is the difference between the basis on which reception under both species is permitted and the utraquism of Jan Hus and his contemporary followers? I’ve always thought the recent dispensation looked like an erosion of Latin Catholic identity because it could be perceived as a concession to Protestant sects.

  9. Geoffrey says:

    @pewpew: Yes, I do know my faith. Thank you! :-)

  10. rakesvines says:

    When I served Mass in the 60s, I used a plate to catch particles as people received the host on the tongue – “paten”? Later, when both species were given out i.e. the host dipped in the consecrated wine, a cloth was placed on the paten – “purifier”? to catch drops of the sacred wine. With the reception on the hand and the attitude that “the Lord can take care of Himself” (quote from my pastor) these practices became passe. I guess the attitudes need to be straightened out first, then we can have the patens with purifiers back.

  11. StevenDunn says:

    Re: fistulas

    I’ve seen pictures of fistulas from the Middle Ages that were not used by the Pope. I don’t know anything else about their history or the traditions around their use. I think their re-introduction could be a very good thing if done correctly. It would certainly make it easy to receive the sacred blood at an altar rail, once that practice finally returns to the NO Mass.

  12. Marcin says:

    These are indeed important questions, Father.

    In general I don’t think it’s a good idea to make distinctions between communicants and varying the practice of receiving to the circumstances of the particular subgroup, with an obvious exception for the clergy at the Altar, and infants (and yes, I fail to understand arguments for a discipline that amounts to excommunication of a baptized faithful until ‘the age of reason’). Creating yet another group of ‘reasoned-yet-clumsy’ would not be in my view prudent.

    So if one insists on receiving sub utraque specie (nothing wrong with that if argued for from the orthodox standpoint, i.e. accepting teaching of Trent) my answer is intinction. Added benefits – no hands involved on the communicant’s side and no place for EMHCs!

  13. Toronto_Sacristan says:

    I am surprised that you where permitted to leave the church without being given direction as to the situation at hand or that the priest didn’t try to remedy the situation? Perhaps the stain was not noticed by the priest. The only solution is to stop giving communion under both forms…however nice it may be to some people as a sacristan I know it is not the most practical…and one still receives Jesus under the form of bread alone.

    Stained altar cloths or altar linen in general are treated as normal laundry once they have been rinsed (traditionally three times – a practice we still maintain at our parish) and the water poured down the sacrarium or not having a sacrarium..simply pouring the water into the ground. You may use any stain fighting agent/soup you deem fit once the linen has been rinsed.

  14. albinus1 says:

    What jumped out at me in this post was the the church didn’t have a sacrarium! Is that permitted? Or this is this yet another thing that has gone by the wayside? Or do small chapels, etc. not have to have them? Or was this always something that was customary but not required?

  15. dcs says:

    There is no sacrarium in the Church.

    How can the church not have a sacrarium?

  16. dcs says:

    Maybe, if one absolutely must distribute Holy Communion under both kinds, one ought to use white wine for the Sacrament instead of red wine. It is valid and won’t stain as much.

  17. RichardT says:

    As a related query, a while ago my wife saw an EMHC spill some of the Precious Blood during communion.

    As we were leaving the church (after most people had gone, due to the children lighting candles) she noticed that it was still there on the floor. By this point the priest and EMHCs had left (I’m not blaming the priest – since our parish priest died we have had to rely on visiting priests from other parishes).

    She mopped up the Precious Blood with a (clean) paper tissue, took it home and burned it on the fire.

    To me, that seemed like a reasonable action in the circumstances. Any comments?

  18. Sandy says:

    @pewpew: That is exactly why I feel no compunction to receive both species, even though the Precious Blood is offered at every Mass at my regular parish. I believe it has contributed to a lack of understanding about the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity being present in the Host alone. We wouldn’t need as many lay people if the Precious Blood were not offered. Wouldn’t that be great!

  19. SonofMonica says:

    I have only received the precious blood from the chalice perhaps once or twice, and never from a “Eucharistic Minister,” as every parish I’ve been to insists upon calling them. I received from the chalice on my confirmation and perhaps one other time. Any other time, I simply receive the host. It’s not really out of a belief that things “ought to be as they were before VII,” as much as (1) my own fear of spilling the cup when it’s being handed to me (2) my perceived unworthiness to handle any of the Eucharistic species or the chalice (I receive the host on the tongue) and (3) the fact that EMHCs are used unnecessarily. It truly sickens me that there are so many laypersons distributing communion, and I absolutely refuse to receive the blood from someone wearing bright blue Crocs (even if they do match her shirt). If you’re going to have laypeople running around trying to “minister” to the congregants, is it too much to ask for a cassock and surplice? They did it in my old Episcopal parish. For Pete’s sake….

  20. asophist says:

    Firstly: hydrogen peroxide, available off the shelf in drug stores, is your best bet for getting the stain out of the shirt.
    Secondly: receiving the Precious Blood in Holy Communion is a practise that was discontinued for the laity a long time ago for a good reason. That’s why it is not done in the Extraordinary Form – which will someday, I hope, replace the Ordinary Form (which is so awfully ordinary!)

  21. helgothjb says:

    Ok, it was my question to Fr. Z. First, I do not think the EMHC even noticed that the precious blood was spilled, which is a major problem. The issue was that the EMHC was not trained properly and attempted to hold the chalice while my son was receiving, which caused the problem. Normally my son can drink out of a cup just fine, he does it multiple times every day! My son told me as soon as we got back to our pew. I talked to the priest as he was processing out of the church to ask if I could use the sacrarium to wash the shirt. He told me there was not one, even though the new sacristy was finished not 6 months ago. Then he said I should wash it in water. He said nothing about pouring it in the ground, but I asked and he though that was fine. This was disconcerting to me because this is a very solid priest who is very concerned about things liturgical. Thank you Fr. Z for the info. about the stain, that makes perfect sense.

    Now, in response to those that think it is on the verge of sin (I am giving them the benefit of the doubt here) to receive under both species – The CCC does actually say that it is a fuller sign when Christ is received under both species. Now, that does not mean that the entire Christ, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, in all of His resurrected glory (veins included, as St. Thomas says) is not received. It just means that it is a fuller sign.
    I would have to agree that saving it for feasts and solemnity as well and sacramental occasion (like marriage) would seem very fitting. Intinction is a great practice. I first experience it at EWTN and thought it sped up the process as well as reduced the need for EMHC and made it necessary to receive on the tongue, all very good things. But, the practice will never not spread quickly because, gasp, it takes away one’s option to receive in the hand.
    The over use of EMHC is disturbing and the lack of training they receive in general is even more disturbing.
    Thanks for all the comments.

  22. laurazim says:

    This happened to me several years back. The good Monsignor who aided me explained as we went along. Because the spot on my lapel was still wet, we first used a purificator to absorb as much of the liquid as possible. I was then instructed to hand-wash the lapel at home in plain water, allowing it to air-dry, and pouring the water directly into the ground. After that, he said, I was free to clean it however I wished, having done everything necessary to ensure that the Precious Blood of Our Lord was completely removed from my jacket.

    @Richard–something similar happened in our parish about 5 years ago–the person carrying the chalice tripped and fell. I must say, the absolute flurry of seminarians (all cassock and surplice garbed, too) was something which in my memory stands out as a flock of angels descending to the aid of Our Lord. They immediately came to the place, while the Monsignor brought out abouut a dozen purificators. These were laid on the floor over the Precious Blood, and it was well guarded until after the Mass had concluded. All the while, the seminarians were pressing the purificators over the spill to absorb what they could. I do know that the cleansing process took some time, but all was right by about Thursday.

    You know, accidents can occur whether priests or deacons or bishops are present and offering the Eucharist to us or not. I absoltely prefer to recieve the Body of Our Lord from the consecrated hands of a priest, but the Precious Blood, being held in a chalice, I am not opposed to receiving from a very well-trained, reverent EMC. If the training is done correctly, and the requirements of these lay ministers are strictly adhered to (I cannot imagine what would befall an EMC in our parish if they were to come sporting crocks–come to think of it, I don’t think it would even be attempted!), I don’t see anything wrong with it. Our Monsignor and Bishop go to great lengths to assure that we can receive the Body of Our Lord from their hands–EMCs are absolutely forbidden to act in this role–but allow EMCs to offer the chalice. If it’s good enough for Bishop Morlino, well then, it’s good enough for me.

  23. JohnW says:

    We must get back to respect and awe of the Blessed Sacrament. When I attend Mass in the Extraordinary Form and kneel at the altar rail it seems that only I and the Lord are their together. It is a very personal encounter with Christ. I have time to pray at the rail. At the Ordinary Rite I try and am open to the same encounter but it is not the same. I pray for change to be ordered, it is the only way for universal change.

  24. cblanch says:

    I am so grateful that we are able to receive both kinds…I, along with an ever increasing amount of people, cannot have any gluten which would be found in the accidents of bread. So, the Precious Blood definitely makes life easier for us!

  25. Mike says:

    In addition to serving as a sacrastin, serving the Mass both the TLM and the Novus Ordo, I have had many occasions to serve as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. My wish, at some point, would be to have enough vocations so as to eliminate the Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. In any case, I have had a number of people, both adults those who are younger, receive the precious blood in such a casual way. Additionally, some hand the chalice back to me and are already walking away, not taking care to insure that it is securely back in my hands.

    I recently had a girl come to communion to me in my parish, where only the Novus Ordo is celebrated and as she receive the Precious Blood she removed the chalice from her mouth and in doing so spilled some of the Precious Blood onto the floor. I had to immediately walk away, get water and a purificator to purify the floor in that area. This kind of thing will never happen in the TLM.

    I attend often and prefer the TLM and have come to the conclusion that reception of Holy Communion under both species is not necessary. I do not feel cheated in any way if I do not receive under both species as is the practice in the Novus Ordo today. In fact, I will often prefer not to receive under both species because there are many Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion who are themselves careless.

    I so love receiving Holy Communion kneeling at the communion rail from the priest with the altar server holding patten under my chin. Those few seconds waiting while kneeling in anticipation of receiving the Blessed Sacrament allow me a moment or two to clear my mind and be ready to receive our Lord. The time the priest takes with the prayer for each person is so wonderful it escapes compare in the Novus Ordo. So many people that attend only the Novus Ordo and don’t have and use a communion rail in their parish church will sadly never know this joy.

  26. kat says:

    My 9 year old son was having a conversation with a stranger when we were fundraising for our school, and they talked about the Eucharist and reception Thereof. This lady did NOT want to only receive the Host, as my son does at the EF Mass, because “she wants to receive ALL of Jesus.” We believe as we pray and act. This woman, through poor catechesis and seeing what is common at Mass, obviously does not really believe that Our Lord is present Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity under both Species. So very sad. Receiving under both Species in the Roman Rite needs to be done away with. The Host was good enough for nearly 2000 years. It still should be today. And certainly this incident shows why young children have no need to receive under both Kinds. I know it is a tradition in the Eastern Rite. But we are talking about the Roman Rite.

  27. Jayna says:

    I only receive under one species, mainly because it’s just how I was brought up, not to mention that the line often backs up for the chalice and since there is no real reason to receive it, why bother? I also don’t like receiving communion under any kind from the laity and it’s always the church ladies who say “blood of Christ” far louder than necessary who are giving it out.

    As to small children, I really think First Communion through early teens is a bit young to be receiving under both species, if only because of incidents like this. You inevitably see the kids scrunch up their face in disgust at the taste (which is not really something you want kids to associate with receiving communion) and it also instills in them at a very young age (when, perhaps, they aren’t able to fully understand the fine distinction) that they have to receive both the host and the wine in order to receive the fullness of grace from the sacrament.

  28. Supertradmum says:

    For wine stains and stains of the Precious Blood, and if the stain is still wet, or if one has wet the cloth again, use salt, especially rock salt, and the stain will come out in the wash. As a sacristan for years, we rinsed out the specific linens and if necessary used salt.

  29. Supertradmum says:

    Oh, as to the Byzantine Catholics, the two species are put into the mouth by a long-handled Communion spoon, even for the youngest, who receive communion as babies. I have never seen an accident.

  30. RichardT says:

    Of course my patron saint is the expert in preventing any spillage of the Precious Blood.

  31. Lee says:

    A. “The Presence of Christ was probably broken at the moment the liquid was absorbed and dried a bit, that is, when it was no longer recognizable as ‘wine’.”

    B. When I expressed concern that the friable hosts we were using in our parish were resulting in too many crumbs, my pastor told me not to worry: Our Lord was no longer present in the crumbs, since the crumbs were no longer recognizable as bread.

    Obviously the two arguments above are coming from the same philosophical/theological framework, but A seems correct and B does not. However,w hat is the difference really? Is Our Lord’s real presence actually dependent on recognizability? Recognizability has precisely to do with the accidents of appearance, but the bread and wine had undergone transubstantiation, had been changed into another substance. Substance perdures while accidents change, non e’ vero?

    Believe me, I am not challenging anything, but I need to go to school on this…. Where would I look for an in depth discussion of this?

  32. Paul says:

    @ Lee,

    That is something I been wondering about quite a lot really.

    At what point does Our Lord cease to exist in the Blessed Sacrament. How does one define the accidents of bread? As far as I can see the church has always believed that small crumbs are the Blessed Sacrament which is why we got these rubrics to prevent the loss of even the smallest crumbs.

    Apparently at the fractioning of the Host a lot of microscopic particles escape into the air and can go quite far. However one could identify them as bread using chemistry. So are all these particles the Blessed Sacrament or are they considered to no longer be the accidents of bread?

    I do not understand what the position is on this, because I do not like reducing something to being the Blessed Sacrament if it could be seen by the naked eye and not if it is too small for any Human to see because that seems to contradict all of modern chemistry.

    We need St Thomas.


  33. Thomas S says:

    Count me as opposed to Communion under both species for a variety of reasons:

    – Disasterous accidents far “messier” than dropping a single host.

    – A sense of entitlement I see from the lib crowd who want to receive under both species to show their “equality” with the priest.

    – And worst of all, though not necessary, it breeds heresy. How many Catholics realize that they do indeed receive the Precious Blood when they receive the Host? I bet it’s shockingly low. Even my own pastor at Holy Thursday Mass discontinued Communion under both species because of the Flu scare. In his explanation he said he hoped next year we could “return to a fuller reception of Communion.” He’s no heretic, he just chose his words very poorly on the fly, but the effect is the same. How many people think without the consecrated wine they’re not fully receiving the Eucharist?

  34. Mitchell NY says:

    Growing up and having the option to receive the Precious Blood introduced I have to say that I have never felt that by not taking the option I felt in some way “incomplete” in my reception. In fact I find it a distraction to go to another line and wait again to what amounts to receiving again, in my perception. And if the Church says it is a “fuller” reception or something to that effect and people stand by that reasoning, I am curious if those same people would go on the internet in their spare time and learn a few prayers, not a whole language, in Latin because the Church has stated that the depth of Latin conveys certain meaning that is difficult if not impossible in some instances to absorb in vernacular, contemporary language. A “fuller” comprehension so to speak according to the Church. Just an analogy.

  35. capchoirgirl says:

    cblanch: At my parish we have gluten free hosts! So maybe ask your parish if you can get some?

  36. Traductora says:

    I don’t see any reason to receive under both species. I have never seen this in Spain, where I go fairly often, or even in Italy, so I assume it’s primarily an American custom, probably legitimized by practice, as were altar girls.

    I still don’t see any reason for it. The Church decided that it was not necessary to receive under both species, it makes things difficult, increases the risk of accidents, results in squadrons of elderly female “eucharistic ministers” (and I have twice seen these ladies drop the chalice, one by falling and the other by fainting), and actually diminishes the impact of the occasion when laypeople could traditionally receive under both species (wedding Mass).

  37. Geoffrey says:

    “…diminishes the impact of the occasion when laypeople could traditionally receive under both species (wedding Mass).”

    Was (is) this allowed in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite?

  38. Dr. Eric says:

    I would be in favor of introducing intinction by the the priest or deacon for Holy Communion. The Maronites, which are the closest to the Latins as far as the Eastern Churches go, use intinction and it works very well. The priest holds a chalice shaped like, for lack of a better term, a sombrero in which he picks up a host, dips it, and places the Sacrament into the communicant’s mouth. There is an acolyte who holds a paten under the communicant’s chin also present.

  39. Gulielmus says:

    Geoffrey, most certainly it was allowed to receive under both species at one’s own nuptial Mass pre-Vatican II, so I would imagine it still is. The only other occasion I remember from my altar boy days in the late 50s-early 60s when laypeople received the Precious Blood is that the parents of a newly ordained priest were given both species at his first Mass.

  40. Lee says:

    One thing I have noticed is that at one beautiful daily Mass I used to attend (Holy Rosary in Portland, which has adopted the Benedictine altar arrangement) where the chalice is not offered to everyone, people-between one and six, depending- would come forward after everyone had received the host in order to receive the chalice. Presumably these people have celiac disease or at least an allergy to wheat.

    Now at an NO daily Mass where the chalice is offered, such sufferers would not have to stand out in this fashion, and would be more likely to attend Mass for that reason IMHO.

    It’s true that this option was not available in the past and people survived, but allergies of all kinds are rampant now. So the chalice offered at daily Mass seems a good thing and probably results in more people receiving Holy Communion.

  41. Geoffrey says:


    Interesting! Was this done by intinction?

  42. Jerry says:

    re: capchoirgirl – “At my parish we have gluten free hosts!

    If they are indeed gluten free, as opposed to low gluten, they are not valid matter for the sacrament!

  43. mpolo says:

    I believe the low-gluten hosts use wheat starch rather than straight wheat, and these are valid matter. However, a lot of Protestant church supply stores sell rice hosts, which are not valid matter. If the gluten intolerance is so strong that even a low-gluten host is not possible, then (1) it is an impediment to receiving orders, as the priest must receive under both species and (2) as a lay person there is no problem at all with receiving only under the form of wine. The priest may consecrate a second chalice without a particle of the host in it in order to be doubly certain that no gluten is included.

    For communion under both species, I greatly prefer intinction with use of a paten. (And then, only at a few Masses per year.) Of course, receiving in the hand is so prevalent, it becomes a little puzzle for the priest — you have to see if the person is holding out their hands so as to not use intinction with some communicants. I’ve had to skip over someone in the communion line because of having already dipped the host into the Sacred Blood and finding a communicant before me holding out his hands.

  44. Supertradmum says:

    Geoffrey and mpolo,
    You may know this, but intinction is absolutely forbidden if the person is doing it. Under certain circumstances, the priest may do intinction, but then he must put the Host into the person’s mouth. This could have happened at a pre-Vatican II Nuptial Mass. At some Nuptial Masses, even in those days, the newly married couple were allowed Holy Communion under both species using the Chalice, but it was not common.

  45. lux_perpetua says:


    i went through my own phase of “am i really receiving Jesus?” when i explored i found catechetical writings similar to your post [which is much appreciated]. so, i now understand that the Church professes that both species contain the entire Divinity of our Lord. And so i believe that also. But, would you care to share the “why” of that explanation? Why do we believe this, or how did we come to the understanding that the entire divinity of Jesus is present in each species?

    Also, i never knew until this thread that having the chalice present was not common until after Vat II. Care to elaborate on why people seemed to think this would be a practice worth fighting for?

    to lee: Sufferers? Really? Why is it that we’re all so afraid to “stand out’ based on the crosses that Jesus has given us? I’m not going to try and hide my blindness so that others aren’t made uncomfortable by me being a “sufferer” of blindness. under your explanation a gluten-free person would not stand out, but what about someone with no use of his upper limbs and so could not take the chalice from the priest? If people have gluten problems and need to get in a separate line to receive only wine, well then they can join the club with the disabled, the alcoholics, the elderly, and all the rest of the minorities in the universal church who might have to receive Communion in a way different from the majority. and we should embrace that, being universal and all.

  46. Andrew says:

    lux perpetua
    “But, would you care to share the “why” of that explanation?”

    Because the risen Christ sits at the right hand of the Father in His glorified risen body. He is not divided into body and blood. Wherever His body is, the blood is present also. The Sacrament is a representation of something “real”. The reality is the Risen Christ. He is not split into two parts. But the Sacramental sign is in two parts. That’s the fulness of the sacrament, the bread and the wine. But the priest who is offering the sacrament takes care of the fulness of the sign. All I need to receive is the Host. That’s how my thinking goes. I am not a theologian. I prefer to take the advice from the Imitation of Christ by Kempis who councels not to get caught up in too many questions when dealing with such a profound mystery. I just think people should relax and understand that they receive the fulness of the sacrament even though they do not partake of the chalice.

  47. Geoffrey says:


    Yes, I knew that intinction is only to be done by the priest. Once upon a time, I was an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist (of course they didn’t call it that!) and I witnessed more than a few communicants receive in the hand, and then “dip” in the chalice. This went uncorrected. One of the many reasons I “resigned” as an EME!

  48. Charles E Flynn says:

    When I was a child, I was not good at sports, because, as it turned out, I had bad depth perception.

    One Sunday, when I was serving as an altar boy, I noticed that a woman who had just received Holy Communion had a host on her tongue and one on her fur stole. I reached forward with the patten, and carefully and gently scraped the host from the stole onto the patten. It was the only catch I ever made, and the only one that ever mattered.

    The priest told me that I had spared him from two hours of scrubbing the spot where the host would have otherwise landed upon the floor, and that he was therefore able to spend Sunday afternoon watching the Boston Red Sox. This made up for the time when I set the carpet in the sanctuary on fire because I was required to serve at Benediction with no training in the safe use of the thurible, and for the time when I and my altar boy partner both filled a cruet with water. Of course there was no wine remaining in the sacristy, and of course it took fifteen minutes for someone in the rectory to locate the key to the sacramental wine supply. Even worse than the delay were all the bad jokes about how the priest could turn wine into the Precious Blood, but could not turn water into wine.

  49. bookworm says:

    Re “gluten free” hosts: there are Hosts made with just a trace amount of gluten, enough to constitute valid sacramental matter, but not enough to make most gluten-intolerant persons sick. Those who cannot tolerate even this trace amount of gluten can receive the Precious Blood only, provided they do so from a chalice that has NOT had any pieces of the Host dropped into it. Usually this requires making special arrangements with the priest ahead of time.

    Also, I have heard that in some Eastern Rites, which administer communion and confirmation along with baptism to infants, a drop or two of the Precious Blood may be given to infants not yet able to consume solids.

    Personally I would hate to see communion under both kinds abolished COMPLETELY for the faithful, although I understand completely the reasons for doing so. If it were restricted to special occasions only (Easter and Christmas, confirmation/ordination/nuptial Masses) and/or done only by intinction, that might solve or alleviate some of the practical and theological problems associated with routine reception under both kinds.

  50. Revixit says:


    please don’t assume that the EMHC wasn’t properly trained.

    when i was trained, we were told not to let the communicant take the chalice out of our hands, only to allow them to help guide it up to their mouths, while we kept a good grasp on it.

    the reason EMHCs are supposed to hold onto the chalice is to prevent spills such as you are now dealing with, and worse. it sounds like your son got in a little tug of war over the chalice so perhaps he is the one who needs to be properly trained in how to receive the Precious Blood. i don’t know because i didn’t see what happened but you might want to talk to him about it.

    we are supposed to receive the Precious Blood reverently and it is not necessary to wrest the chalice away from the EMHC to do so. you wouldn’t reach out and grab the Body of Christ from the priest’s, deacon’s, or EMHC’s hand, would you? that would be irreverent. it is also irreverent to think that you must hold the chalice in your own hands when receiving the Precious Blood, or that you must swallow a few large gulps, or even one large gulp.

    let the EMHC protect the Precious Blood by keeping a good grasp on the chalice and helping you tilt it up to your mouth.

    the chalice needs only to touch your lips enough to allow a small amount of the Precious Blood into your mouth. you don’t need to turn it up and drink from it the way some try to do.

    by the way, i quit serving as an EMHC and i quit receiving the Precious Blood after i became aware that both the use (and in most cases, overuse) of EMHCs and the practice of the laity receiving both species are practices that were sneaked in under the cover of “the spirit of Vatican II.”

    the Body of Christ and the Precious Blood each are fully the Body and the Blood of Christ and the laity are to receive only the Body of Christ, the consecrated Host, except for those with celiac disease or other severe allergies to wheat, who may receive the Precious Blood alone.

    pax tecum

  51. swamp_rabbit says:

    I live in Taiwan with my family — my daughter just received first communion, and the priest dips the Eucharist into the Precious Blood and places it directly into the mouth. The same was done for my son a couple years earlier (in a different parish, as we’ve moved since). We always receive the Eucharist and never the Precious Blood. I don’t know, that’s just how it’s done here… No one bats an eyelash or feels they’re not “getting it all”… As far as I know here, the Precious Blood is for the priest at the alter and for those receiving their First Communion…

    The video’s here on our blog if anyone’s interested :)


  52. lux_perpetua says:

    andrew, thank you for taking the time to write that explanation. much appreciated

  53. Re: children’s dislike of the taste of the accidents of wine

    Unless there were alcoholism worries in the family, most ethnic Catholics in the US were serving their kids small amounts of wine at formal dinners before the age of First Communion. Possibly legal considerations make this more difficult nowadays… but although as a child I wasn’t particularly fond of the taste of wine, it wasn’t anything I’d make a face over. (And my hometown parish wasn’t exactly shelling out for the good stuff, when I come to think about the labels I saw in the sacristy.)

    And anyway, nobody’s holding a gun to a kid’s head to make him receive both species. You might feel obligated at First Communion, but when else?

    There’s way too much peer pressure in the way people attend and assist at OF Masses, these days. Didn’t use to be like that, before the 80’s or 90’s. The dignified milling around and minding one’s own business that goes on at Communion at an EF Mass is a useful corrective.

  54. Supertradmum says:

    Again, Byzantine babies and children get a little of the Blood of Christ at each Sacred Liturgy. In our house, we grew up having wine on the high holydays. To be honest, wine tastes a lot better than those sickly sweet juice-substitutes for little children. And, don’t they drink out of those little pouches and bottles all the time, which I think, takes some skill?

    I have never seen children at the NO Mass taking the Blood of Christ anyway, but then, our parish has few children.

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