Just wondering if Catholics will be able to partake in the Blood of Christ since the pandemic is nearly over?
— Gail in Highland
Thank you for your question regarding when members of the faithful might be able to receive from the chalice again. It is a question that is shared by many of the faithful in our diocese at this time.
Receiving the Eucharist under both forms of bread and wine is not an innovation. History shows us that both forms of the Eucharist were made available to the faithful early on, but the practice disappeared sometime after the 12th century. The question of reception of the Eucharist under both forms was a topic of debate during the time of the Reformation and it was addressed by the Council of Trent which was held from 1545 to 1563. While Trent maintained that it was normative for holy Communion to be given under one form, bread, the council also was clear in asserting the truth of concomitance concerning the Eucharist. Concomitance is the doctrine that teaches that under each form of bread and wine that the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ are truly present: the blood of Christ is present in the sacred Host and the body of Christ is present in the chalice.
The Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, called for the allowance of the reception of holy Communion by the faithful under both forms in certain circumstances as a sign of fuller participation in the Eucharistic mystery. In 1970, the Holy See gave discretion to individual conferences of bishops to establish norms for dioceses within their own conference and, in 1984, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops determined that it was at the discretion of each individual diocesan bishop. Currently, Bishop Thomas John Paprocki has given parish pastors discretion concerning the offering of holy Communion under both forms.
It is important to note that while great value has been placed on the availability of holy Communion under both forms, it is not mandated by Church law, universal, or diocesan. However, it is a practice that is valued by many of the faithful, some of whom rely on the ability to receive from the chalice due to challenges such as a gluten allergy or intolerance. As we continue to come out of the COVID pandemic, the pastoral question of availability of holy Communion under both forms will be addressed by individual pastors since community wants and needs differ across our diocese. If you have a particular circumstance where you are better served by receiving holy Communion from the chalice and not the sacred Host, I encourage you to speak to your pastor.
It is important to remember that reception of the Eucharist under both forms is a fuller sign but not greater grace. The same amount of grace is given whether a person receives both forms of the Eucharist, only one form, or even just one small fragment of the sacred Host or one drop of the Precious Blood. The Eucharist in any quantity or form is the real presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, truly given to us in his body, blood, soul, and divinity.
Father Christopher House, S.T.L., J.C.L. is pastor at Christ the King Parish in Springfield and is the Vicar Judicial and director of the Department for Canonical and Pastoral Services for the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois.