QUAERITUR: self-communication from the chalice

From a reader:

I have a question about self-communication. I was at a monastery this weekend for a retreat and a monks allowed the laity to receive the Chalice. How they did it was a bit odd though. A lay brother took the chalice and set it on a table and stood by it. The communicants would go up. The brother would say "Blood of Christ" and the communicant would take the Chalice themselves and receive the Precious Blood and put the Chalice back down. The brother never held the Chalice during distribution. I didn’t receive this way because I wasn’t sure if it was permitted (and since I received the Host I didn’t think it was necessary). Is this considered self communication or am I being too scrupulous?


That is self-communication and it is not permitted.

The "Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion Under Both Kinds in the Dioceses of the United States of America" state:


44. The chalice may never be left on the altar or another place to be picked up by the communicant for self-communication (except in the case of concelebrating bishops or priests), nor may the chalice be passed from one communicant to another. There shall always be a minister of the chalice.


This describes what is necessary in the USA.  I am reasonably sure that the norms are pretty much the same everywhere.


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  1. dans0622 says:

    Yes, the “GIRM” (in the famous #160) rules out this sort of thing. I have no doubt that this happened to this person, and happens elsewhere. That being said, it is so absurd. What’s the point of “distributing” Communion in that manner?


  2. Fr. Basil says:

    I can understand why this was done. Obviously the less the chalice is handled, especially when handing it from the deacon or other minister to the communicant, the less likely it is to be dropped.

    But if the regulations say don’t do it–then don’t do it!

  3. Tradster says:

    I understand that this particular case was in a monastery but I’m always bemused by posts about receiving under both forms. The comments imply that it is a regular practice of receiving Holy Communion in parish churches. Except for special occasions, in all my years in a fairly significant number of parishes in the US, I have never seen the Chalice offered to any laity other than to the cantor, lectors, and the EMHCs themselves. Just Host only. So how common is the practice of offering the Sacred Blood, and where?

  4. Dave N. says:

    I sometimes think religious communities become lax because it’s usually “just them”–sort of an out of sight, out of mind thing– and all kinds of practices become ingrained.

    I recall one experience at a monastery where the host (a more “bready” substance that I’m reasonably sure was illicit) was passed from person to person, though no self-communication thankfully. However, once the host was passed, the unconsumed portion was unceremoniously set on top of the chapel’s piano!

    @ Tradster–very common here in California.

  5. dans0622 says:

    Fr. Basil,

    You may be right, but it seems like it would be a minimal improvement, if any. Either way would seem to include a basically equal chance of clumsiness that would result in spillage. Yes, with two people, the clumsiness of either can cause problems. But, with two people, either one can also act to prevent a problem. The brother standing there would not have enough time to react if, for example, the chalice started to tip over.

    Tradster: I’ve seen it done regularly, at Sunday Masses, at perhaps 5 parishes out of … 20? 3 of them were small parishes, with small crowds. The other two, with lots of people, were in North Carolina.


  6. Jack Hughes says:

    howabout the laity only recieve the Sacred Host?

  7. One of those TNCs says:


    In the past 20 years or so, I have seldom attended a Mass where both species were NOT used. This includes large (i.e. huge) parishes in Phoenix & environs, to tiny parishes in Wyoming. I’ve lived in or visited parishes in Washington state, Colorado, Wyoming, Arizona, and Georgia, which covers both coasts and the West. Both species were used when I visited (5 times) a US Army base in Germany. Where do you live?

  8. Tradster says:

    I live in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and have been at nearly two dozen parishes here. Have also attended in surrounding dioceses in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, as well as parishes while traveling in Florida, Pittsburgh, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, London, Bonn, and Madrid. Always just the host, even at weddings and funerals.

  9. GirlCanChant says:

    Okay, I’ve lived in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia my entire life, and been in a number of parishes as well. I know that at my home parish they used to have one Mass with both species; I don’t know if they still do that. Also, at the Newman Center where I used to go to Mass, they received under both species up until the flu scare last fall, and they have not brought it back since (but the new priest in charge still wants to use EMHCs even though they’re not needed considering the number of people at Mass).

    In the last parish I attended, I was a cantor, and the cantor, lector, and EMHCs would receive under both species, but not the general congregation.

    I recently came back from a mission trip in Appalachia where we sat in a circle for Mass (outside!) and passed around the hosts and all received at the same time. We also passed around the chalice. Last year, we had 2 priests. This year, we had a priest and a deacon. I have no clue why they insist on doing it the way they do, and I am sure that the majority of the people there don’t even know that it’s an abuse! (The priests are from Erie diocese, btw. I doubt Philly priests would allow this kind of nonsense.)

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