Communion in both kinds–how patrimonial is it?

A while back, on one of the Facebook forums, there was a discussion about how one Ordinariate community was forced to give up the Chalice during flu season because the local Roman Catholic archbishop decreed so for health reasons.

This led to concerns among some of the members.

In our community in Ottawa, we have always been used to receiving Holy Communion in both species, kneeling at the altar rail.  First we receive the Body of Christ; then the priest comes around with the Chalice.  A couple of people may let the Host remain in their cupped palm for the priest to come and intinct it before placing it on the tongue of communicant.

We have never, to the best of my recollection, had the Chalice suspended during flu season, though I personally avoid receiving from the Chalice if I am feeling a little ill so as not to risk passing something on.

In some of our bigger communities, such as our cathedral Our Lady of Walsingham and at St. Thomas More in Scranton, Communion is by intinction.

I would imagine that if we got word our community was moving to intinction alone, we might have some consternation and concern among our people, especially those who have a gluten intolerance.  We have several in our congregation.

Today, I received the following in an email from a friend, who suggested the issue might be worthy of discussion on the blog:

Communion under both kinds has been recognized as a worthy element of the patrimony by Anglicanae Traditiones. Fine.  But what is patrimonial about it? Is it the form of reception of the chalice (the externals), in which case there is an argument against the practice of intinction? Or is it the so called “fuller sign” of reception of both species of the Eucharist, which is accomplished just as well by intinction as by reception of the precious blood from the chalice directly? In other words, is the manner of reception under both kinds more important than the meaning of reception?

In a larger sense, this can open a discussion about the relationship between praxis and doctrine – and that is something that is VERY important to be talking about these days.

How patrimonial is reception under both kinds?   What is the difference between “we’ve always done it this way” as we have in Ottawa vs. true patrimony?

Would our experts kindly chime in?




8 thoughts on “Communion in both kinds–how patrimonial is it?

  1. “one Ordinariate community was forced to give up the Chalice during flu season because the local Roman Catholic archbishop decreed so for health reasons” — I’m no expert, but if it was indeed an Ordinariate parish, whence the territorial archbishop’s jurisdiction decreeing any such thing for it?


      • Canonically, the ministry of a diocesan priest to an ordinariate congregation is under the jurisdiction of the ordinary of the ordinariate — not of the diocesan bishop. Article 9, Section 2, of the Complementary Norms for the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus clarify this explicitly. Thus, a directive of the bishop of the local diocese canonically would not apply within the ordinariate parish.

        That said, a priest has a duty to exercise pastoral judgement as to what is best — or perhaps what is least bad — for the congregation that he serves when confronted with a situation of this type. To my knowledge, there is no known instance of transmission of disease via a communion chalice, but we also want to keep it that way. If a priest is aware of an outbreak of some illness that is likely to be transmitted via sharing a chalice, it is within his competence to decide not to distribute the chalice in a particular mass even when distribution of the chalice is the established custom of the community, unless the community’s ordinary has determined otherwise. A directive from the priest’s diocesan bishop certainly would have brought an outbreak to his attention.

        So, did the priest make the right decision in this situation? Not knowing what he knew, I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt.



  2. One of the little known facts of liturgical history is how, in the Western or Latin part of the Catholic Church, communion-by-intinction was always strongly reprobated and even condemned whenever and wherever it appeared – before the 1960s. It appeared in Spain in the seventh century, only to be condemned by the Council of Braga in 675, where the assembled bishops denounced that method as an imitation of Judas’s receiving a “sop” at the Last Supper (cf. John 13:26-27), and ordered that the elements be received separately. It appeared in what is today northern France and the Rhineland from the ninth to the twelfth centuries, but was condemned at the Council of Clermont in 1095 (canon 28) and subsequently by Pope Paschal II, which both likewise ordered the two kinds to be received separately. Underlying this there appears to have been the notion, or instinct, that the Body of Christ was to be “eaten” and the Blood of Christ “drunk,” and that to receive the latter species by intinction did not really constitute drinking. The current “Eastern” custom (among the Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox alike, and their Catholic counterparts – but not the “Assyrians” who still receive each species separately) of administering by a kind of intinction from the chalice with a spoon extends no further back than the eleventh century, and so could not have been the “inspiration” for analogous Western practices.


  3. (I posted the previous comment too soon.)

    In any case, there is no evidence whatsoever of intinction in England before the Norman Conquest. It was, however, advocated subsequently by the Norman Ernulf, bishop of Rochester from 1114 to 1124, and then denounced by Robert Pullen (d. 1146), the first great Oxford theologian. Finally, the custom was forbidden throughout England by the Council of Westminster in 1175.

    In the light of this, it is hard credibly to account communion-by-intinction as “patrimonial.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Without prejudice to the doctrine of concomitance established infallibly by the Council of Trent, the Catholic Church teaches that the reception of communion whereby the faithful receive both elements is the fullest expression of the sacrament. The most ancient account of the eucharist in scripture reflects our common patrimony and what is clearly true orthodox practice.

    I Corinthians 11:23-26 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

    The practice of intinction, though officially allowed by the Catholic Church when performed by a minister of holy communion rather than by the recipient, is a poor substitute for distribution of the chalice.

    The pastoral reality that many people are now diagnosed with Celiac Disease is also a very compelling pastoral reason to distribute the chalice to the congregation, as it permits those who suffer from this condition to receive from the chalice alone with no need for special arrangements.

    Note that any refusal to distribute the chalice to members of a congregation who have a gluten intolerance during mass would be illicit in the Catholic Church, as the effect of such an action would be to deny the sacrament to those individuals, who have a right to receive it.



  5. “How patrimonial is reception under both kinds?”

    In a word: very. Communion under both kinds was among the very first liturgical acts done under Edward VI, even before the first Book of Common Prayer. Communion under both kinds was enacted in an English Communion order that was inserted into the old Sarum Mass, still in use in 1548. This order may be seen here:

    This is the first appearance of those parts of the Prayer Book tradition most familiar to us in Divine Worship: “You that do truly and earnestly repent you of your sins…”, “Almighty God, Father of our Lord…”, “Hear what comfortable words…”, and “We do not presume…”.

    At the same time, it must be stressed that Christ is fully present in both forms, and one’s Communion is complete in receiving under either form alone.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. As a cradle Catholic, I can remember the reintoroduction of Communion inboth Kinds in the Latin Rite. In those days, the priest held the chalice to the communicant’s lips, as the Anglicans do. I have not received it in its current manner of distribution, because the Eucharistic Minister’s handing the chalice to the communicant reminds me of Inaestimabile Donum’s stricture: “It is not permitted that the faithful should themselves pick up the consecrated bread and the sacred chalice, still less that they should hand them from one to another.” I do not recall when this change took place. I have no problem with either reception directly fron the chalice (so long as I’m NOT handed it) nor intinction.-but I would say that reverend reception from the Chalice certainly IS patrimonial – AND a good example to the rest of the Latin Rite!

    Liked by 1 person

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