QUAERITUR: Should I kneel to receive Communion from the chalice?

From a reader:

If I receive communion kneeling must I also receive from the chalice kneeling?


The smallest drop of the Most Precious Blood of our Saviour and God, Our Lord Christ Jesus, is greater in dignity than the cosmos and every human and angelic soul ever created by Him.

Should you kneel to receive the Precious Blood?

The Church’s law at this time does not require you to.

If you stand to receive Communion, you are not violating the Church’s laws.

At the same time, people who receive kneeling (cf. Redemptionis Sacramentum 90-91) may not be denied Communion.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Brad says:

    I am too nervous to have the chalice passed into my hands while I am kneeling. The discrepancy of heights makes me nervous about butterfingers. So for me, I simply genuflect prior to saying amen and having the chalice handed to me, standing.

    With the Body though, since I receive on the tongue in ordinary form Masses, I just genuflect prior to standing and receiving, or genuflect and never get up, and thus receive on one knee, no rail.

  2. pfreddys says:

    “The smallest drop of the Most Precious Blood of our Saviour and God, Our Lord Christ Jesus, is greater in dignity than the cosmos and every human and angelic soul ever created by Him.” EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT POINT, and enough of a point to say to us that the laity should not recieve from the chalice.

  3. pfreddys: enough of a point to say to us that the laity should not recieve from the chalice.

    Oooops. You may be on tricky ground there.

    The smallest particle of a Host is also greater in dignity than the whole cosmos. Therefore … lay people should not receive the Host?

  4. Centristian says:

    The question of whether or not one ought to kneel to receive the Precious Blood is, to me, an interesting one insofar as I have typically imagined that Roman Catholics who kneel to receive Holy Communion at the ordinary form of Mass would typically be the same sort who might not be interested in receiving the Sacrament under both species. I imagine to do so would typically involve availing one’s self of the ministrations of at least one EMHC.

    As it is often the case that Roman Catholics who insist upon kneeling object to both EMHCs and to the communication of the faithful under both Species, I can’t imagine this dilemma actually arising very often.

  5. irishgirl says:

    But if we communicate while kneeling, don’t we also receive the Precious Blood when receiving the Host alone?

  6. Will D. says:

    “Oooops. You may be on tricky ground there.”
    That’s an understatement and a half. Both forms of the Blessed Sacrament contain Christ’s Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. If one is worthy to receive one, one is presumably worthy to receive the other. And logically, one should show the same respect to the Body as to the Blood.

    Having said that, I also have begun to genuflect to receive the Host, and the logistics of kneeling to receive the Chalice strike me as difficult or awkward, so I don’t receive the Blood. I do not recall seeing any of the other “kneelers” at my parish receiving the Chalice, either.

  7. AnAmericanMother says:

    I’m an anomaly as a former Episcopalian – we always received kneeling, both bread and wine (as I would now say given the invalidity of Anglican Orders). The cup was held by a deacon or lay chalice bearer, who never let go of it; one was expected to take the base of the cup between thumb and finger and gently guide it to ones lips while the chalice bearer held it.
    Now, I genuflect and then rise to receive the Host on the tongue, unless the priest or EMHC is very short, then I remain kneeling.
    I do the same for the Blood, genuflect and then rise. I know some people don’t receive the Blood, but I would feel extremely odd just brushing right by without any acknowledgement of His presence there.
    I feel odd anyway having the chalice handed entirely to me, old habits die hard. I tend to grasp it by the base, which gives some EMHCs the grues, but our regulars in the choir loft are used to it by now.

  8. LouiseA says:

    Fr. Z. has emphasized many times that one is permitted to receive Holy Communion twice in the same day provided that they are attending 2 entirely separate Masses. (I am excluding the only exception, Holy Viatecum.) So, if one receives the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity under EACH species, isn’t one communicating TWICE during the same Mass if one receives under both species? [No.]

  9. Geoffrey says:

    “I have typically imagined that Roman Catholics who kneel to receive Holy Communion at the ordinary form of Mass would typically be the same sort who might not be interested in receiving the Sacrament under both species.”

    I do not kneel when receiving Holy Communion at Mass in the Ordinary Form mainly because it would be difficult to do so (people behind me and such). I do receive Holy Communion under both kinds, but only on special occasions / feasts, which I think was the original intent of the Holy See. Unfortunately, It is offered even at daily Mass in my diocese. But I know of a few devout orthodox Catholics who genuflect and receive Communion under both kinds daily when offered.

  10. MyBrokenFiat says:

    There’s perspective and then there’s this. Ha ha ha. Wow. Way to frame this conversation, Father Z. :) Blessings to you and all.

  11. Father Z: The smallest particle of a Host is also greater in dignity than the whole cosmos. Therefore … lay people should not receive the Host?

    I suspect that pfreddys was referring to the fact — and I believe it to be a fact — that laity can not receive from the chalice without a high probability or even near certainty of spillage. Whereas there is no similar danger in the case of reception on the tongue at an altar rail.

  12. Brad says:

    AnAmericanMother: re rushing past the chalice: I will always recall seeing an incredibly devout teenage girl, from an incredibly devout family, do the following at an ordinary form Mass. Seeing her was like seeing someone come alive from an ancient illustrated psalter. And to think she was “only” a teenager! She rose in her turn to walk down the nave. Her hands were in perfect prayer form. She sung the communion hymn as she neared the Body. She bowed, very slowly, to ninety degrees and received. She then took some steps, again bowed slowly, to ninety, with hands in prayer form, at the Blood, but did not receive. The adults behind her, tailgating, simply had to wait two seconds. I thought to myself, Lord, now I see how we are supposed to acknowledge you even as, abstaining, we pass the oft ignored chalice.

  13. mike cliffson says:

    Dear American Mother:
    Off this post´s point, but despite Holy Mother Church´s´(latish, 19th cent I think) discernment on the general invalidity of their orders, SOME Episcoplian/Anglican clergy, if not yours then, MAY have been validly, albeit irregularly, ordained, and hence, it would then NOT be “just bread and wine”- of course intention comes in, etc. With many of them getting ordained/ reordained by Dutch Old Catholic Bishops after VAT I, etc, ´(I knew one who , given intention, was surely validly ordained in one of the superimposed fluctuating schisms of the Thomist church in India (LONG story).”Fr Hunwicke” had stuff on this which I cannot fully understand, let alone discern, even less presume to judge.)
    Apart from that,what historical precedents are there, East and Pretrent West for receiving communion? Is Anglican practice from Old Sarum rite, just because, part of an intent to be in communion with the east in the 16th cent? Chesterton has a graphic list somewhere?

    And FrZ is being careful here. Compare : unless you commit mortal sin, you CAN receive Our Lord (under one or both kinds )evn tho you haven’t been to confession since last Easter, the Church requires no more as a minimum -Yet , speaking for myself, for others I can’t, when I don´t confess a bit more regularly, and often urgently, than that, I end up blindly trailing around with an unrecognized cartload of mortal sins which make approach to the throne of grace ………well!!!
    “The smallest drop of the Most Precious Blood of our Saviour and God, Our Lord Christ Jesus, is greater in dignity than the cosmos and every human and angelic soul ever created by Him.”
    We sure better mean” Domine no sum digno….”, but a bita preparation and importancegiving on our part gotta help, too.
    We´ve got a bit blasé about communion.

  14. Random Friar says:

    I have only one parishioner who does this (kneel at receiving the Precious Blood). But it does put me a bit on edge, since there would seem to be a greater chance of spillage. I try to simply be more alert.

  15. salve95 says:

    Speaking of kneeling for communion, the Archbishop of Glasgow has told his flock to not kneel for communion. http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/scottish-archbishop-tells-catholics-not-to-kneel-for-communion/

    Not that he’s actually allowed to do that, but that never stopped anyone…

  16. St. Rafael says:

    Michael Davies wrote a great booklet entitled Communion Under Both Kinds An Ecumenical Surrender. Catholics should read it.

    I encourage all pastors to return to Communion under one species as fast as possible. Communion under both kinds is an indult granted by the U.S. bishops in the 70’s. Communion under one species is still the norm and the indult of both species is just that, a permission to do what is different from the norm.

    Communion under one species was the tradition of the Church for the last 800 years or so. It was part of the organic development of the liturgy guided by the Holy Ghost for centuries. It was a development in doctrine about the understanding of the Mass and Eucharist that reached its culmination in the TLM with Communion under one species and altar rails.

    Communion under both species was reintroduced by Protestants in the 16th century on purpose in order to deny the sacrificial nature of the Mass in favor of the concept of meal and banquet. The Protestants used Communion under both species to deny and oppose the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. It has been a Protestant practice for the last 500 years.

    The indult of having Communion under both kinds in the Mass was a huge mistake for the Catholic Church. It has led Catholics lose faith in the real presence of the Eucharist and they have adpoted a Protestant mentality to the Mass. The stats tell the story when only 25% of Catholics believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

    You can’t just turn your back on 800 years of tradition and adopt a Protestant practice and think everything is going to turn out okay. It was only natural that Catholics would lose their faith and doubt. As if the Church had somehow been mistaken for 800 years of kneeling and only receiving the Sacred Host.

    Liturgical restoration and reform will only begin when the laity demand it. Lay Catholics should just bypass the Chalice and refuse to accept Communion under both kinds. They have the right and responsibility to choose to recieve only the Sacred Host. At Novus Ordo masses in parishes, they can ignore the Chalices and the armies of busybodies that is lay EMHC. Having Communion under one species will go along way to end this plague of EMHC.

  17. Laura R. says:

    Like AnAmericanMother, I am a former Episcopalian, and I have to say that the method of receiving Holy Communion is the one thing I found better in the Episcopal Church; it is more practical as well as more dignified and reverent, IMHO. You go up to the altar rail, kneel, receive the Host and have a few minutes to remain kneeling in silent prayer while you await the arrival of the chalice, and you do not (normally) take the chalice into your own hands.

    Of course, as a Catholic now I see other sorts of considerations, and am usually content to receive the Host on the tongue, after genuflecting. I’m still struggling with whether or not to receive the Chalice, and how to acknowledge the Presence therein when I don’t.

  18. AnAmericanMother says:

    mike cliffson,
    When I began to have doubts about the Episcopalian succession, on account of Apostolicae Curae, I read a bunch of stuff, including Sapius Officio, the counterblast from Canterbury & York. I also tracked most of the Utrecht and Celtic lines.
    I’m not going to go back and review all that, especially since I have no idea where I put it . . . but my conclusion was that nobody in the lines for the Episcopal bishops and clergy in our neck of the woods had anything to do with the Old Catholics. It’s my general recollection that the double ordinations mostly happened in the splinter Old Catholic, National, and breakaway Anglican groups, not the main line ECUSA crowd. After all, since they don’t require belief in much of anything, not even the Incarnation or the Resurrection, why would they worry about something as arcane as the line of succession?
    As for the history of receiving in both kinds, Article XXX of the XXXIX directly addresses that, so it goes back at least to 1563! The impression I get is that it was just a snark at Evil Rome. You find a lot of that in the XXXIX, High Church Anglicans have always studiously ignored them, all the way back to Bl. Cardinal Newman.
    I do try to get to Confession on a regular basis, I figure the once a year is the bare minimum, and I certainly don’t receive if I’m aware of a mortal sin unconfessed.

  19. benedetta says:

    Strangely (or maybe predictably), the less reverent the NO Mass, the less inclined I am to receive the Precious Blood. Whereas the more reverent, I go out of my way to receive, not really by decision or thought process, and while I have not thought to receive whilst kneeling I do try to acknowledge the Real Presence. I appreciate being able to receive, but I tend to think that overall it may be easier to maintain due reverence and care for the Blessed Sacrament when the size of the congregation is relatively smaller.

  20. AnAmericanMother says:

    Laura R,
    I absolutely agree that the Episcopalian method was more reverent and one of the few things they actually did right.
    And for those who bow at the altar of Efficiency, it was also faster, and less likely to result in collisions in the line, since people would establish themselves on the rail after the priest passed that point and after those who had received rose and went on their way.
    I think Brad’s observation of the young lady communicant shows a good way to acknowledge the Blood even when not receiving, think I’ll put that into practice.
    I have never had a problem with the folks behind me running over me when I pause to genuflect. I take a long step forward as I kneel on the trailing knee so as to make a little extra space, and I also swing my trailing foot slightly out of line so my heel won’t get stepped on! I guess if I were a smaller or less substantial person somebody might not see me in time, but there’s no risk of that!

  21. One of those TNCs says:

    salve95, thanks for that excellent link. I encourage everyone to go read it.
    Regarding it, I have 2 points for ABp Conti:
    First, to his statement that “Standing in our Western culture is a mark of respect…”, I would add, “Kneeling, in our Western culture, is a mark of respect and HUMILITY.”
    Secondly, the statement by the spokesman for the Archdiocese of Glasgow is just plain silly, purporting, as it does, to explain why Bp. Conti wants his flock to stand to receive. If indeed the good bishop wants to “…encourage, and certainly not diminish, devotion to the Blessed Sacrament…” by reminding people of the need to make an act of reverence before receiving Holy Communion standing…” then why, why, WHY does he not encourage his flock to make the most reverent act possible – that of kneeling??
    The last sentence of the article is heartening: the ABp. is retiring! “May another take his office.”

  22. Mark Pavlak says:

    When I studied at the Angelicum in Rome, intinction was the norm while receiving Communion. Father would dip the Precious Body into the Precious Blood and place it on our tongues.

    Here in the states, I don’t think I’ve ever received both species via intinction.
    Does anyone know if this is more common in Europe, particularly Italy, or is it equally common everywhere? To me, that seems like the safest way of receiving Communion under both species.

  23. Gwen says:

    I receive kneeling at my OF Mass. It seems to me quite inconsistent to receive the Host kneeling and then receive the Precious Blood standing. I worry about the transfer of the cup/chalice from the EMHC or Deacon to me while I’m kneeling. Given that the situation is just unusual enough to possibly cause an EMHC to jostle the cup, I don’t take that risk and don’t receive the Precious Blood.

    The same jostling might happen while one is distributing the host, but dropping the Host to the floor (while not a good thing) is not nearly the disaster that spilling the Precious Blood would be.

  24. Nora says:

    One of the first things that “caught my eye” about Catholicism, even before I studied doctrine was how universally practical and human it was – just think about confession: no fuss, no muss, you are a sinner and hate it; welcome to our world.
    The manner of reception is a rupture in that practical nature of the Church. Nothing I can do will make me worthy to receive the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Nothing except humbly asking Him to make me worthy. I can kneel, lie prostrate, strip down to sackcloth, stand on my head – it doesn’t matter to my worthiness. OTOH how I receive can tell those around my what I think of the sacrament.
    The ways the Church now makes easily accessible do not allow me to make that proclamation. Decades of genuflecting have taken me past the “stronger muscles” into the “weaker knees” part of life. Without an altar rail or kneeler, I am not going to be a pretty sight receiving kneeling, however much I would prefer that. The practical needs a resurgence. Catholic means that.

  25. Samthe44 says:

    I am a former Anglican. My parish does not offer The Most Precious Blood, except on the Easter Vigil (but does offer it to the E.M.H.C.s on Sunday Masses, which is a different matter). My parish still has the altar rail and high altar, but they are not used, regreatably. We use the ‘conga-line’ style, sadly. To recieve The Living Flesh of Christ, I go on my knees, close my eyes, and recieve on the tongue. When I first converted, I recieved on the tongue standing, but switched to kneeling. The switch to kneeling was twofold: first it was to show reverence to The Lord, and also it was getting quite hard to receive on the tongue while standing. I am 6’3” (at least) and only 15 years old, and I tower over the E.M.H.C.s (who are usually short, elderly woman). When I serve Mass, I am a least a head taller than the priests, and was not untill two weeks ago that I had an alb that somewhat fitted me. They had to order a special alb for me, which just fits. So bending 45 degrees while trying to have my tongue out was hard. People are used to it now at my parish, but I do get some weird looks when I vist parishes when I travel, etc. If The Precious Blood is offered at other parishes or at the Easter Vigil at my parish, then I take it standing, because I do not want to drop It. BUT I do make a profound bow BEFORE I receive The Most Precious Blood.

  26. pfreddys says:

    @Fr. Z: Of course we must receive. But I think it is just so much easier for an accident to happen with a liquid. I don’t know when the hosts we use took their present form but I think it is a marvelous thing in that it is probably the safest way to distribute Our Lord to the greatest number of people.

  27. Tina in Ashburn says:

    When Communion is offered under both species, I receive the Host but walk past the Chalice. I am too afraid to take the Chalice in my own hands for fear of spilling the minutest drop.
    In my youth I received under both species and spilled half down the front of my white coat. I didn’t even understand what I had done until my mother saw and got upset, explaining that I had spilled Jesus’ blood. I knew it, but I didn’t really ‘get it’ until she described it. Then I was horrified. How many are like that today? If people really understood what Holy Communion is, they’d realize that they already receive both Body and Blood when receiving the Host anyway. I know Catholics who are used to receiving both Species who vociferously object to one species, saying that they are getting gypped!
    Over the years I have seen spillage, tripping, near-accidents and such. The routine is very risky and should be abolished just for that reason alone.

    For both species, intinction works well. This method discourages spillage, because the priest does it all, and this also discourages Communion in the Hand [the unconsecrated hands of EMCs and of the Faithful].

    Don’t forget the Byzantines communicate using a spoon holding the Bread dipped in the Wine and that is the very old Mass of St John Chrysostom. The practice of both Species does have ancient roots. But this method is done very carefully and reverently, with a cloth under the recipients’ chin.

  28. Brad says:

    Nora, hi sister. Please realize that for many in the pews who see people like yourself, who have to make more of an attempt to genuflect because of age or infirmity, you are an exceedingly “pretty sight”. To see a soul, shall we say, marshal her uncooperative body, in order to perhaps even painfully reverence the One who made both is so…what?…elucidating? encouraging?…to any witnesses who have eyes to see. Please keep doing so. As several female saints who come to mind would tell you, you are doing a service to your fellow souls and one day you will be shown just how much so: ripples in a pond.

    A lady in her 80s lays prostrate on the three steps leading up to the altar as she is saying goodbye to Him during my parish’s Adoration hours. I have the distinct feeling that she is carrying many souls on her coattails. Of course it comes at no surprise to hear her mention in passing, with no egotism, that she wakes up at 3am to pray, in her home, simultaneously with our pastor, to strengthen him, unbeknownst to him, miles away in his rectory.

    Enough said?

  29. pitkiwi says:

    I absolutely receive the Precious Blood kneeling whenever it is offered. If the God of the Universe is before me, I will bow down before Him. I have nothing against the distribution of Holy Communion under both forms (it has apostolic and widespread history), and actually believe it is laudable to offer the Precious Blood at every Mass, so long as a trained individual is available to assist in the distribution. Receiving under both forms is a fuller sign of the participation of the Sacrament, and should be encouraged, at least on Sundays or Feasts.

    Now, a couple of points to make:
    1) I am totally against armies “Eucharistic Ministers” so that more people can “participate” at Mass.
    2) Everyone who distributes Holy Communion should be properly trained, and, ideally, instituted an Acolyte.
    3) Those who are not instituted acolytes should at the very least regularly bring Holy Communion to the sick and home-bound. The ministry of EMHC should not be reduced to “helping out at communion time” – the real fruit of this ministry (I have experience as an EMHC both during Mass and outside Mass) is in the homebound ministry.
    4) We NEED more WELL TRAINED deacons who can distribute Holy Communion from the chalice at Masses.
    5) My preference is receiving Holy Communion by intinction. This eliminates the need for EMHC with chalices, prevents the faithful from “taking” the chalice from the Minister of HC, and requires receiving HC on the tongue. It does slow down the distribution process, but let’s be honest – in most places the distribution of HC seems like a gigantic race to the finish, with EMHC bouncing around to other “stations” to help alleviate “traffic”.

  30. St. Rafael says:

    I have nothing against the distribution of Holy Communion under both forms (it has apostolic and widespread history),

    We are not living in apostolic times are we? You are falling for the error of Antiquarianism, which has been condemned by the Church most recently with Pope Pius XII’s encyclical Mediator Dei. Antiquarianism is the error of going back to a practice or discipline simply because it is old, was practiced in apostolic times, or the first centuries. Such an attitude ignores the organic development of the Church and and her growth throughout the centuries. Communion under both species was replaced by Comunion under one species 800-1,000 years ago. Communion under one species has now been the tradition of the Church and Roman Rite. It was an organic development guided by the Holy Spirit. It was a culmination of centuries of growth in understanding the Eucharist.

    You can’t go back on what the Church has worked our for centuries in her tradition. You can’t go back on 1,900 years of Church history for the sake of the first or second century. It makes it seem as if the last 1,000 years were not serious, the Church was just playing around. It makes the Church’s history and tradition a mockery.

    Receiving under both forms is a fuller sign of the participation of the Sacrament, and should be encouraged, at least on Sundays or Feasts.

    No it is not. The Sacred Host contains the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ. The Precious Blood contains the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ. Nothing is added by receiving both kinds. Nothing is taken away by receiving one species.

    If you mean it is a fuller sign of participation as if it was the Last Supper, you are seriously mistaken because those who participated at the Last Supper were clerics. The laity are not priests and priests are not laity. The apostles were bishops and clerics. That is why priests have to receive both kinds because they are in Persona Christi. The Last Supper having Christ and his clerics. The laity have no right or obligation to receive both species like a cleric. Since the Sacred Host is sufficient, it is given alone for theological and hygienic reasons developed by tradition.

  31. Geoffrey says:

    pitkiwi says: “Receiving under both forms is a fuller sign of the participation of the Sacrament, and should be encouraged, at least on Sundays or Feasts.”

    St. Rafael says: “No it is not.”

    The General Instruction of the Roman Missals says:

    “Holy Communion has a fuller form as a sign when it is distributed under both
    kinds. For in this form the sign of the Eucharistic banquet is more clearly evident and
    clear expression is given to the divine will by which the new and eternal Covenant is
    ratified in the Blood of the Lord, as also the relationship between the Eucharistic
    banquet and the eschatological banquet in the Father’s Kingdom” (GIRM, #281).

    “Sacred pastors should take care to ensure that the faithful who participate
    in the rite or are present at it are as fully aware as possible of the Catholic
    teaching on the form of Holy Communion as set forth by the Ecumenical Council
    of Trent. Above all, they should instruct the Christian faithful that the Catholic
    faith teaches that Christ, whole and entire, and the true Sacrament, is received
    even under only one species, and consequently that as far as the effects are
    concerned, those who receive under only one species are not deprived of any of
    the grace that is necessary for salvation” (GIRM, 282).

    “It is most desirable that the faithful, just as the priest himself is bound to do,
    receive the Lord’s Body from hosts consecrated at the same Mass and that, in the
    instances when it is permitted, they partake of the chalice (cf. no. 283), so that
    even by means of the signs Communion will stand out more clearly as a
    participation in the sacrifice actually being celebrated” (GIRM, 85).

    P.S. Thank you for your comment, pitkiwi! You have me reconsidering the frequency that I receive Holy Communion under both kinds. I will be praying about it.

  32. Personally I do not receive the Blood of Christ from the Chalice. Since I receive the Body of Christ I receive the Blood also. I do not feel a need to receive it under both species. Since I usually attend the EF there is no option to though usually either. Sometimes it would seem less choices actually make life easier (or else there wouldn’t be a discussion about this topic). However, at our EF there was a lady who did once receive from the Chalice. She was visiting and unable to receive the Host (probably due to the gluten accidents). She just spoke to Father before Mass and he was very willing to accomodate her. Neither did I hear anyone whispering afterwards about how sacriligious it was. I think often those of us who attend the EF are unfairly labeled rigorists and intolerant. Oh well… So yes there have been occasions even at the EF that people have received from the Chalice.

    When I attend the OF I never receive from the Chalice as I definitely do not want to spill it nor do I have a desire to touch it (same reason I receive on the tongue). The handing of the vessel from one person to another opens the door to increased risk of spillage and I want to avoid that as much as possible . Granted the Chalice itself is not the Blood but it is also holy and not for common use. It helps to remind me of the sacred. I do make the sign of the cross and pause and a slight bow before returning to the pew. However, since one usually receives the Body previously that is not really necessary so long as one is reverent ( ie not casual). For the same reason even at the EF after the reception of Holy Communion and upon returning to their pews rarely do I see anyone genuflecting to the Blessed Sacrament before entering the pew. That is because the Blessed Sacrament is still present in our mouth, etc. Since we are carrying the Sacrament we do not genuflect to the Blessed Sacrament in the sanctuary. Reverence should be should to the Blood and chalice but it is not essential to genuflect, etc if you just received. If it is a personal pious practice and one desires to then we are free to do so.

    @ Geoffery
    The teaching at Trent was that one not only received all the graces but the entire Sacrament (ie Body and Blood) under either species. This was due to the protestants claiming that one only received part of the body of Chirst and not its entirety or fullness.

    The document you quoted is trying to encourage Catholics to receive under both species due to the fullness of the signs. However, whether one receives under either species they receive the fullness of the Sacrament. That means the signs do not equal the Sacrament- they are two very different things. This overemphasis upon the signs is a modern oddity. I believe they are referring to the signs of the bread and wine- or banquet. It is very bad theology to juxtapose the fullness of the signs to Sacraments themselves. Not saying anyone is doing this but if one’s sole motivativation to receive either species of the Sacrament is to obtain the fullness of signs then I would say that they are missing the forest for the trees. The signs point to the Sacraments and are symbols but nothing more than that. If one participates in the fullness of the Sacraments they need not look for the signs. The Sacrament (in this instance) is God. I would have to say that St Raphael is correct in his assessment of the Last Supper and the signs (though Rome has to a certain extent granted laity permission to receive the Blood- depending upon the local priest and bishop). It is much more important to fully participate in the Sacrament itself than of all the signs of it. Otherwise one emphasizes the sign of bread over the Body of Christ, the sign of wine over the Blood and the sign of the banquet over the Mass. Its topsy turvey theology at best. Then again much of what passes for theology the last few decades is.
    As far as the GIRM it can be theologically dubious at times like when it states that the faithful may kneel (after it was revised) for Holy Communion but should be catechized afterwards. I always wished they would publically publish an official catechesis upon that subject. However, I suppose that will never happen and Rome will never receive a copy of it- dare one ask why?

  33. I should say that in a lesser sense the Sacraments are also signs of heaven. Upon reflection to say that one need not look for signs is a bit too strict- the signs do point to the future and to a deeper meaning of the Sacraments. However, this overemphasis upon the signs has often led to a neglect of the essence and true message of the Sacrament. For instance the emphasis of bread and wine has been emphasized way to much over the last few decades so that when people think of Holy Communion they think of a meal (or cookie). The banquet has been empasized over the Crucifixion and Transubstantiation. Thus few Catholics believe in the Real Presence or the need to repent of sin. These are all fruits of overemphasis upon the signs and a loss of appreciation for the Sacraments themselves.

  34. I always fear great danger of spillage from kneeling on the floor if receiving from the Chalice or by intinction, which is the way the relatively rare distribution under both species has been handled where I am at the minute. I generally kneel but am afraid to under these circumstances and so, as far as I remember, have generally genuflected before standing to receive on the rare occasion when distribution of Holy Communion has only been by intinction. I am not sure if this is just my fear or if it constitutes a genuine worry. I would prefer to kneel if my worries were unfounded.

  35. Centristian says:

    I like the idea of intinction, although I have yet to encounter the practice in a Latin Rite church. I have only experienced Communion that way at various Byzantine churches. It would seem, however, to be the method that both satisfies the Church’s desire that the faithful have the opportunity to communicate under both Species, while at the same time avoiding the concerns that some have with respect to spilling the Precious Blood. And, of course, a communicant desiring to kneel to receive would have no concerns about having to awkwardly negotiate the chalice while kneeling.

    I am content to communicate either standing or kneeling; I follow the standard practice of the Church I happen to find myself at without concerns one way or the other (although I prefer it when kneeling happens to be the custom). I do not receive the Host in the hand, however. Not because of concerns that my hands must not touch the Body of Christ (if my not hands then why my tongue, palette, throat, esophogus, &c. ?), but simply because to receive on the tongue is what I’ve become accustomed to.

    I avoid reception of the Blood of Christ from the chalice or common cup simply because I find the practice unsanitary. I cannot bring myself to drink from a vessel that one other person has imbibed from, much less one that 35 other people have. But I realize that’s just me. I do not object to the practice for those who desire to so communicate. I think the symbolism of drinking Christ’s Blood from the chalice as well as receiving Christ’s Body in the form of bread is beautiful. It more fully calls to mind the Lord’s First Eucharist. I see why the pastors of our Latin Church began to initiate the practice.

    I find myself unconvinced by arguments I have read here in favor of abolishing the practice of allowing the faithful to receive from the Chalice. One argument says it must be abolished because it is a Protestant practice. Really? Was Our Lord a Protestant? He began the custom, after all. Protestants also use altars, communion rails, tabernacles, sanctuary lamps, sacred vestments, sacred music, and they worship in churches. Obviously, the mere fact that Protestants do certain things doesn’t make those things somehow inherently “Protestant”.

    The other, more prevalent argument I have read, is that the practice should be abolished because there’s just too much risk of spilling the Precious Blood of Christ. I don’t necessarily care for that argument, either. When Jesus Christ initiated the Sacrament of His Body and Blood he used food as the matter of the Sacrament. He chose bread that crumbs, and wine that spills. While I am certain He had in mind that we should and would handle His Sacrament with care, He certainly must not have imagined that wine would never spill and that bread crumbs would never fall.

    Watch in hi-def slow motion what happens when the celebrant of Mass cracks his host. Minute particles fly. They land all about; they don’t all obediently fall onto the corporal. They end up on the altar cloth, on the rug, on chasubles, on shoes, &c. Despite this, even the most minute particle is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ.

    It’s the same thing, therefore, as accidentally spilling the Precious Blood in the form of wine. Why is the latter a so much more horrifying thought than the former? I think simply because of the symbol involved. Christ clearly had fewer scruples over the crumbs and spills than we, ourselves, have. Obviously, the Sacred Species should always be handled with due care. Beyond that, however, we can only clean spills and collect crumbs as spills and crumbs happen. Clearly, Christ understands, and that should not be our focus or primary concern as we approach Him.

  36. DeaconPaul says:

    Just a brief comment on the frequently expressed concern over spillage of the Precious Blood. I am a permanent Deacon in a large parish where we provide Communion under both kinds at 3 of our 5 Sunday Masses. In 10 years of ministry I am unaware of any incident of spillage taking place. [Indeed? Unaware? Sadly, I have seen quite a few incidents.]
    I have to say we have only 2 parishioners who communicate kneeling and neither would contemplate reception from the chalice as it would offend their traditional practice, however preferring the chalice to someone kneeling is not intrinsically more difficult than the administration of the Sacred Host.

  37. Michael_Thoma says:

    There is always, always, always, the option of Intinction. It is quick, so the slowness argument can’t be reasonably justified, cuts down on the number of unnecessary EMHC’s as one clergyman would take the place of two EMs, and easily adjusts to reception while kneeling or standing.



  38. MJ says:

    @ St. Rafael – excellent. Loved what you said.

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