GIRARDOT: Restoring the chalice in Holy Communion

February 14, 2023

(Photo by James Ramos/Herald)

On Epiphany Sunday, 2023, the people of our Archdiocese received a special spiritual gift. Daniel Cardinal DiNardo restored the practice of distributing Holy Communion from the chalice to the faithful throughout the Archdiocese. Now the ancient words of Jesus, prayed in the Eucharistic Prayer at every Mass, take on a renewed meaning: “Take this, all of you, and drink from it, for this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and eternal covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this in memory of me.” (RM3, EP I-IV)

Cardinal DiNardo asked all parishes to resume their customary pre-pandemic practice of distributing the precious blood to the faithful at Holy Communion on Epiphany Sunday. Understanding that some of the faithful may not be comfortable receiving Holy Communion under this form due to health concerns, he reminded us that the reception of Holy Communion from the chalice is always at the discretion of the communicant. As guests at the banquet of the Lord’s Supper, we can now fully share in the joy and graces of receiving both the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist.

While Communion under one kind is not lacking in any way theologically, there is a fullness in the outward expression of the sacred reality of the Eucharist when receiving both the body and blood of Christ. The invitation of Jesus to His disciples to drink of the cup, which is repeated at every eucharistic Liturgy, is an invitation to sacrificial living and dying for each of us.

It is beautiful that each species expresses a different aspect of the Eucharistic Mystery. In saying “Amen” to the body of the Lord under the appearance of bread, we remember St. Augustine’s Sermon 272, “When you hear ‘The body of Christ,’ you reply ‘Amen.’ Be a member of Christ’s body, then, so that your ‘Amen’ may ring true!” When receiving from the chalice, we express the way in which we become Christ’s Body, imitating Christ by pouring out our lives in love and service of God’s people. Receiving the precious blood refreshes the baptismal grace as we drink of the Spirit, inflaming us with the humble, gentle, patient, and compassionate love of Christ.

Many have valid reservations about receiving from the chalice. However, a reasonable hesitation in the hearts of the faithful can also become an opportunity to investigate anew the Mystery of Christ among us in the Eucharist. Some reservations regarding Communion from the cup stem from a fear of disease and the possible spread of germs. Professional, peer-reviewed medical research from epidemiologists concluded that there is no known outbreak of disease directly related to this liturgical practice.

Individuals with illness, of course, are encouraged to refrain from reception of the cup. For the many years of this ancient practice, we learned that proper procedures practiced by Ministers of Holy Communion and the alcohol content of sacramental wine on a metal surface reduce the possibility of transmission through sharing a common cup to a barely detectable level.

To all the faithful of the Archdiocese, Cardinal DiNardo shared, “We are grateful for your perseverance during these past years. Please be assured of our prayers for you as we receive our Lord in the great gift of Christ’s body and blood in which we celebrate Communion.” †

Dan Girardot, D. Min., is an associate director of Liturgical Formation in the Office of Worship.