ASK FATHER: Can the priest receive Precious Blood by intinction?

From a reader…


Is it permissible for the celebrating priest to receive communion via intinction? Or must they physically eat the host and drink from the chalice?

Thank you very much for all you do.

I am not sure there is a way to eat and drink other than “physically”.  Unless you mean Spiritual Communion!   o{]:¬)

You are surely asking about the Novus Ordo.

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal has seemingly conflicting information.

First, it says:

245. The Blood of the Lord may be consumed either by drinking from the chalice directly, or by intinction, or by means of a tube or a spoon.

This indicates that intinction is permitted.

The rubrics in the Missal says that the priest, “Deinde accipit calicem et secreto dicit… et reverenter sumit Sanguinem Christi“, which means that he consumes the Precious Blood from the chalice.  It is assumed that he does so directly, but it is permitted to use a means, such as the spoon or tube… or a piece of the Host!

However, it goes on to say:

249. If the concelebrants’ Communion is by intinction, the principal celebrant partakes of the Body and Blood of the Lord in the usual way, but making sure that enough of the precious Blood remains in the chalice for the Communion of the concelebrants.

I think that “in the usual way”, means drinking directly from the chalice itself, rather than using a means.  That’s the commonsense way of understanding that.

However, GIRM 245 suggests that a spoon, tube or even a piece of the Host could be a usual way.

Hence, I would have to say that, yes, the priest could receive the Precious Blood by intinction.  However, in order to follow the rubrics, that would have to be a in a second reception.  He would have to, first, receive the Host.  After receiving the Host, he would -I repeat, after – receive the Precious Blood in the usual way, or with a spoon, a tube… or by intinction.  It is a two step process that should not be reduced to one.

The other part of this question is: Should the main celebrant of a Mass do this?   I think not.  I think it is a bad “sign”.   It’s bad, liturgically, and could be confusing to people.

Of course if the priest is celebrating ad orientem then few or no one would see and it wouldn’t be so bad a signal.

Yet another reason!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    St. Albert the Great, in his 36 sermons on the Sacrament of the Eucharist, points out that priests are themselves like chalices, in that they are specially consecrated vessels for the altar.

    He also points out that when someone receives the Eucharist under just the species of bread, the Lord’s Body acts as a chalice that also contains His Blood (and Soul, and Divinity).

    I guess that’s why priests are so often given chalices – because it is associated with priesthood itself, not just as a tool of the trade (so to speak).

  2. Well, I have done this, and maybe I shouldn’t have, but the reason was, I had a cold, and another concelebrant was going to have to drink after me. I know, I know, another reason not to have concelebration, but that isn’t always easy to avoid, even when you are the celebrant.

  3. jbazchicago says:

    A small point of order….
    Papal Masses are of course a different affair from any other Liturgy.
    I was a sacristan and coordinator for Pope St. John Paul’s Mass at the TWA dome in St. Louis. The specific instructions we received from the office of liturgical ceremonies of the Supreme Pontiff told us that the concelebrants were to intinct.

    I presume this was due to the fact that we had over 1,100 priest concelebrants (all in chasubles, by the way), along with hundreds of bishops, and that we had only 20 minutes to distribute Holy Communion, and probably too, because the pope’s health was already declining. Also, it was a big Mass.

    As an aside, Msgr. Marini (of the West) was in disbelief that we could distribute Holy Communion to 120,000 people in 2o minutes. In reality, we did it in 25 minutes, with 950 Communion stations, each priest escorted by a couple with an umbrella who rehearsed exactly where to go. Leftover hosts were placed in stackable ciboria, on a cart with altar cloths , rolled by clerics to a waiting makeshift Eucharistic chapel underneath the football field, where cloistered nuns waited to guard and adore until Such time they could be removed and taken to parishes. The Vatican picked up on the umbrella idea for a while, but unfortunately with the usual Italian efficiency.
    Sorry to brag on the last part, but I haven’t seen anyone do better than what we did in STL.
    Thanks for reading…I thought it was kinda cool.

  4. TonyO says:

    Heh, OK, I am imagining this scenario, in the Novus Ordo. The priest’s host that he elevates is one of those enormous hosts that looks like a mini frisbee. He also has a really dry mouth because has a cold and had to take a decongestant 3 hours ago in order to even be able to say mass. He consumes a fraction of the host “dry”, as it were, has trouble getting it down, and so he takes up another fraction of it and gets it wet by intinction with the Precious Blood and consumes it. If I understood our good Fr. Z above, this is technically OK.

  5. frjim4321 says:

    This question seems to have come from one of our daily mass people.

    As I was rather sick since Wednesday morning with a temperature, cough, sore throat and body aches I did in fact use intinction in order to avoid spreading germs throughout the assembly.

  6. Suburbanbanshee says:

    If you aren’t feeling better, Fr. Jim, get well soon!

    If you are feeling better, thanks be to God!

  7. teomatteo says:

    Fr Jim wrote, “This question seems to have come from one of our daily mass people.”
    or….i could have been witnessed by 66,000 people who attended the Beatification Mass for Bls. Solanus Casey by the Cardinal who heads the Congregation for the Cause of Saints.

  8. Imrahil says:

    I think the common-sense interpretation of no. 249 helpfully cited by our reverend host is that concelebrant may receive the Precious Blood by intinction while the main celebrant must do so by actual drinking. [Yes. But review the answer I gave. There seems to be some room in the newer rubrics… for what is unthinkable in the traditional rite.]

    I think the common-sense implication of this is that in a not concelebrated Mass, the only celebrant must do so by drinking. [I think so too, but again…]

    My personal opinion on this is that what is sauce to the goose is sauce to the gander, that is, as the concelebrants are celebrants just as the main celebrant is, they, too, should receive by drinking. [That makes sense to me, but that is not what the GIRM says.]

    If the celebrant has a cold and wants to take extra precautions, then, maybe, the way to go is not have Communion from the chalice; or else, of course, having it from a separate chalice – especially if concelebrants are present. Though in case of “normal colds” and the like, we may also remember that there is no obligation in morality to keep the usual non-extraordinary health risks at their possible lowest.

  9. Mrs. Amen says:

    teomatteo – Right?! I was unable to attend the Mass in person (my child was ill & contagious), so I watched it on television. I was surprised to see the Cardinal receive the Precious Blood by intinction. I’m glad someone asked this question. I so enjoy learning more and more about the Liturgy and the rubrics of the Mass. I’m a convert, so there’s a lot to learn :-)

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