ASK FATHER: People “dunked” the Host in the chalice

From a reader…


During Holy Communion at Mass on Sunday I observed two individuals who took (not received) the blessed sacrament in hand then proceeded to an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion an we’re allowed to “dunk”.

the host into the cup. The two men eventually consumed the saturated host as they walked back to their pew. I intend to talk to my parish pastor, who was distributing Communion at the Mass in question. I know self-intinction is wrong. I don’t know why nor the grounds by which it is wrong.

Self-intinction is wrong because the Church does not permit it. That should be sufficient argument, but we can go a bit deeper.

Self-intinction contradicts the Church’s understanding of what is being done at Holy Communion. We are being fed by Our Lord with His Sacred Body and Precious Blood. We receive Holy Communion. Reception is a passive thing, not an active thing. In a position of humility (best exemplified by kneeling, in my opinion), we allow the Lord to feed us. Holy Communion is given to us, we do not take it. We do not take the host from the ciborium. We do not take the Precious Blood from the chalice.

If there is to be intinction (and it is one of the acceptable forms of distributing Holy Communion according to the General Instruction), the minister takes the host, dips it in the chalice, and places the dipped host directly on the tongue of the recipient.  That’s it.

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  1. John V says:

    It is worth noting that the General Instruction limits the distribution of the sacred species by intinction to the priest. Another minister holds the chalice, but it is the priest who intincts the host in the chalice and places it in the mouth of the communicant.

    “287. If Communion from the chalice is carried out by intinction, each communicant, holding a Communion-plate under the mouth, approaches the Priest who holds a vessel with the sacred particles, with a minister standing at his side and holding the chalice. The Priest takes a host, intincts it partly in the chalice and, showing it, says, The Body and Blood of Christ. The communicant replies, Amen, receives the Sacrament in the mouth from the Priest, and then withdraws.”

  2. Mr. Graves says:

    In the NO mass we attended in Belgian Wallonia (before locating a TLM), this is still the practice to receive the Precious Blood. The priest places the Host in one’s hand and an EM stands at his left elbow with the chalice slightly tilted toward the communicant so he or she can dip the Host.

  3. Michael_Thoma says:

    If the celebrant is a Syro-Malabar or Chaldean Church dual-ritual priest, it may be an honest mistake. These two Eastern Churches do have the Traditional practice of receiving in the hand and via separate Chalice.

    Could the two men receiving also have been from one of these Churches?

    It should not be done in a Latin Church Mass, however, giving them the benefit of the doubt – maybe they are unaware.

  4. EoinOBolguidhir says:

    I suggest that emulating our Eastern brethren and making communication by intinction the norm would go a long way to restoring reverence to the reception of the Blessed Sacrament. Intinction obviates reception in the hand, of course. I think it is best done for a person kneeling at an altar rail, with a Chalice under the chin of the communicant to prevent the spilling of the Precious Blood, obviating the need for a patent, and, I think, queuing up to receive Our Lord. And the action of the Priest in performing the intinction emphasizes that it is he who confects the Sacrament in the Person of Him by Whom It was instituted, and intinction does so right at and right until the moment when the Communion is effected.

    It’s hard enough to find Catholics who believe they receive the Whole Christ under either species, so I don’t think we need to worry about the norm of recieving both species confusing those who might think that they don’t receive the Whole Christ under only one species rather than both, which I think may have been one reason not to offer both in the past.

  5. Volanges says:

    When Communion under both species became available several parishes I know, including a few I was a member of over the years, only allowed it by having the communicant do the intinction. The practice was discontinued in most but there is still a remnant of the faithful who have never been advised that it’s not allowed.

    In my present parish we’ve almost succeeded in eliminating the practice but it usually requires a reminder, once or twice a year, as new folks educated elsewhere move to the area.

  6. Ben Trovato says:

    I noticed this happen in our parish, and I quietly mentioned it to our Parish Priest after Mass. He thanked me, and stopped it fothwith – he had not been aware it was happening. The problem, of course, is with poorly instructed EMHCs; also with EMHCs at all; also with Communion in the hand… One thing leads to another…

  7. Geoffrey says:

    This is indeed becoming an issue. I am seeing it more and more. When other concerned orthodox faithful have mentioned to the powers that be at the parish, the official response is “we don’t want to be unwelcoming”. Communion time doesn’t need to be confrontational. Just run a few explanatory notes in the bulletin.

  8. JARay says:

    Only very recently I was distributing from the chalice and a woman came to me and tried to dip the Host. I covered the chalice with my hand and told her that she is required by the Church to drink from the chalice not dip the Host into it. She looked startled but she did as I said.

  9. CharlesG says:

    This is the normal mode of receiving here in Hong Kong, at least at the Cathedral, and I was told it was so decreed by the bishop. I always worry about the Precious Blood dripping. I do notice that most communicants carefully hold their other hand under the dripping Host like a paten.

  10. Allowing self-intinction also increases the possibility that a careless person will wind up dripping the Precious Blood onto the floor. When people are moving about hurriedly, irreverence is already a problem.

  11. Fr. Reader says:

    In the place in Asia where I live (which is not Hong Kong as CharlesG writes), it is also a common practice.
    They say, for instance, that this is in line with the Redemptionis Sacramentum.
    RS94 (Quoting IGMR) writes “It is not licit for the faithful “to take . . . by themselves . . . and, still less, to hand . . . from one to another” the sacred host or the sacred chalice”
    They see it in this way: the priest gives Holy Communion (in the hand) and then the chalice is “offered” to them. It is not (they say) that they are taking Communion by themselves, but that they are receiving, because, somehow, the chalice is offered to them (because it was rotated 15 degrees, I think.)

    In this place I also had problems with receiving Holy Communion in the tongue (before my ordination), and there was a battle between some who wanted to received Holy Communion that way, but the priest was a bit annoyed. Looking at it retrospectively, I think part of the problem is that he does not know how to distribute the Eucharist in the tongue. “Although each of the faithful always has the right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue, at his choice…” (RS, 92).

  12. JARay says:

    As I understand the rubrics of this:-
    Jesus said “Take ye and drink this is my blood…”
    Intinction is not drinking!
    None of the recipients are actual Ministers of Holy Communion and the requirement is that unless one is an actual Minister of Holy Communion then the Sacred Species has to be GIVEN to the person. They may not take it for themselves. Anyone who dunks the host into the chalice is, in fact, taking the Sacred Species for themself and this they are not permitted to do.

  13. Rob in Maine says:

    Life and Faith Lesson:

    When I was a boy in the 1970’s we had a memorial mass for my Grandfather who had passed away shortly before. We attended the hip Irish Catholic church in town rather than the stodgy old French church (despite being Franco –American. I remember it well; we were all gathered around the altar during the Consecration. There was this large gold dish with a little cup in the middle – like one was serving chips and salsa. Father came around and we all took a host and dipped it in the consecrated wine. As a kid I thought that was different and neat.

    Twenty years later I’m on my own in a new town with my first job. I had a bad cold so I dipped my host into the precious blood – and was dressed down by the EMOHC! I was so shaken I left after communion and it took me a few weeks to have the courage to go back to Mass.

    The lesson I took from that? 1) It was a teachable moment the EMOHC blew, though my horror at the thought of sacelige was effecacious. 2) I don’t like EMOHCs. 3) It set me on a course to learn about the truth of my faith, lex orandi, lex credenda and say the black – do the red.

    So, thanks to God’s grace, crappy 70’s bad Catholicism has made me a better Catholic. :)

  14. taffymycat says:

    not that anyone cares except dyed in the wool old timers like me, but i recall there is a stricture of some sort against receiving both species…have to investigate. no need for drinking the wine and certainly no need for this communion in the hand thing which annoys me like i cant even tell you. i feel like giving the guy in front of me getting his host in the hand a huge boot in the rear.( i have to find a TLM that sticks to the old liturgical calendar as well so my st joseph daily missal will work.) are any of these things–both species, communon in hand, dunking—were these forced on us by VII? i think they were optional, correct? and maybe some of these practices came about thru laxness of the priests or bishops???

  15. Bob B. says:

    Reminds me of the local Jesuit high school where almost anything goes.
    I was new to the school and during one of the first Masses, the teacher in front of me “dunked” the Host, held by a Jesuit priest, who said nothing. Afterwards, I asked this priest if self-intinction was allowed. His wink said it all.
    Added to the other nonsense that went on there, this wasn’t surprising.

  16. Jonathan Marshall says:

    Self-intinction is the one liturgical abuse guaranteed to set my blood pressure soaring to stratospheric heights. It’s an occasion for sin – anger, in my case, sometimes even leading to a desire to break the 5th Commandment – and on more than one occasion I have refrained from receiving the sacred species because of this.
    I’m sure that in most cases Ben Trovato is right and it is more a problem of poorly-instructed EMHCs (or indeed having them at all) but I have come across a few priests who see no problem with this egregious practice.

  17. Kathleen10 says:

    Rob in Maine, your sad story is a good lesson in the importance of charity. Another great reason not talked about for only having clergy distributing Holy Communion is that if something should go wrong, as in, your well-intentioned effort at intinction, the pastor has been trained in gentle correction, which was appropriate in your case. Having untrained and zealous laypeople distributing the Body and Blood of Our Lord means that when things go awry, the people in charge are not well equipped to handle it appropriately. Naturally, Jesus deserves to be our primary concern, but embarrassing people without cause or worse, upsetting them, is pointless. They could have caused you to stay away from your faith, as people have left for less.
    Even a deserved “dressing down” should be done only by the priest, and most circumstances call for that to be done in private.

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