24/5/08 – Self-Intinction

This week’s feast is that of the Body and Blood of Christ, the second “Feast of the Lord” in Ordinary Time after the conclusion of the Easter Season.  Those who participate in Mass daily have already started to hear once again the scripture readings of Ordinary Time, while the Sunday Masses will return to the Ordinary Time cycle next week.

The Body and Blood of Christ, or Corpus Christi as it was known in Latin, is a feast recognising Christ’s being made present to us throughout our lives in the Eucharist that we celebrate and receive.  The celebration of the Eucharist is the source and summit of our lives as Christians, and receiving Christ in the Eucharist is a high-point of that celebration.

Given our recent changes to the Mass that affect the Communion Rite, it’s timely to consider how we celebrate the Liturgy of the Eucharist as a whole.  This week we look a little more closely at the matter of intinction during Communion.

Intinction is the means of receiving Communion by dipping the host into the consecrated wine.  It is not the preferred means of receiving Communion (receiving each form of Communion separately is preferred), and it cannot be performed by a layperson.

I understand that in some other countries, the practice of people performing self-intinction, or dipping the host into the wine themselves has become normal, but it is not the practice in Wentworthville or the Diocese of Parramatta.  There are several reasons for this.

Firstly, we receive Communion, and self-intinction puts us in the position of taking Communion.  Secondly, the chalice is shared, and placing hands and fingers inside it increases the possibility of germs and the like in the chalice (did you know that studies have proven that our hands carry more germs than our mouths?).  There is then the risk of the host breaking up and of the precious blood being spilt.  Finally, some people receive Communion from the chalice only due to wheat allergies.  If hosts are dipped into the chalice, then they are placed at risk.

Finally, the most important reason of all is that Jesus told us to “take this… and eat” and “take this… and drink.”  In recognition of this profound call of Christ, and in consideration of others who share with us in Communion, We ask that you drink from the chalice, rather than dip your host into it.

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