Monday, July 8, 2019

A little catechesis on the Eucharist and receiving under both species

I found this article just this morning while researching the devotion to the Precious Blood of Jesus for my reflection tonight at Benediction.  It comes from a website called “Ask Fr Francis” who runs a Catholic Q & A Blog with the permission of his Bishop.  I quote from the article below:


“ When the host and chalice are consecrated at Mass, each part of the host and each drop of blood is transformed into the totality of the glorified Jesus, that is Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.  Traditionally, when we refer to the consecrated host as “Body of Christ” and the consecrated chalice as “Blood of Christ”, that was merely for ease of reference and not technical accurate reality.  The consecrated host is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ.  Receiving one or the other is receiving the whole Christ.  Indeed, technically, there is no need to receive both.


In fact, because of the greater danger to spillage and abuse, for many centuries, the Church has withheld the chalice from the faithful reasoning that it is sufficient to receive the host alone, for it is the whole Christ.  The chalice was re-introduced into the liturgy at Vatican II, not because the host is insufficient, but rather as a way to enrich the symbolism and the overabundance of God’s grace.  By allowing the faithful to have access to both the host and the chalice at certain special times of the year, they are invited into appreciating more the fullness of what they are receiving, by allowing more of the visible symbol to arouse in us the reality and fullness of Christ’s Real Presence.


It was the intention of Vatican II that Communion under both species to be given for only special occasions like Holy Thursday, Corpus Christi, First Communion, etc., but some places began the practice of providing Communion under both species all the time.  This has created new catechetical and pastoral challenges.  Whereas in the past people may be taught to assume receiving the host is sufficient, now they are disposed to assume they need to receive the whole Christ.  With the lack of catechetical instruction today, many used to this new practice would feel slighted by pastors who do not give from the chalice.  Pastorally as well, how people receive the chalice, and how they are cleansed have produced not a few problems.  One abuse is self-intinction when the faithful take the host and dip it into the chalice himself and place in his mouth.  This practice is explicitly forbidden by Rome but still occurs across the world.  I have witnessed cleansing chalices when traces of the Precious Blood are washed out into the sewage.  


The Priest goes on: “I am not writing this to discredit giving Communion under both species, or even doing it daily.  I myself am all for giving the faithful a richer symbol of the mystery of the Eucharist, though probably not every day.  I am writing this to show that there is a lot more catechetical and pastoral work that needs to be provided in giving out the chalice.  Doing so only for special occasions allows the parish to take those occasions to properly educate the faithful and renew our fervor for the Eucharistic Lord.  Doing it daily without training and general understanding among the faithful opens up to abuses and devaluation of the sacrament.  And of course, it is absolutely possible, and I have seen it beautifully done, that when an entire community of believers have great respect for the Eucharist, how receiving it in both species on a regular basis can elevate the whole celebration.”

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