Communion from Cup, Corpus Christi Sequence

Take and Eat, Take and Drink

The Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ is a good time to reflect on our participation in the Communion Rite at Mass.

During the early centuries, everybody received communion under the form of both bread and wine: this was the way Christ instituted the Eucharist. For various unfortunate reasons, the practice grew during the middle ages of lay people not receiving the cup.

Although the Church teaches that Christ is truly present in either the consecrated bread or the wine, it also teaches that Holy Communion has a fuller form as a sign when it takes place under both kinds.

When we take the cup, we take up the cross. Jesus asked James and John, “Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?” Drinking from a common cup signifies our life together in Christ and our commitment both to God and to one another.

How then can we pass by the cup of the covenant and ignore Christ’s invitation to “Take this, all of you, and drink from it, for this is the chalice of my Blood”?

For those concerned about hygiene, the transmission of a disease has never been traced to the shared communion cup. Chalices are firmly wiped with a clean purifier and rotated after each communicant and washed in hot water and detergent after each Mass. As a matter of common courtesy and hygiene, individuals with any illness or infection that might be contagious should not take the cup.

Sequence for the Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

The texts in the Missal for the feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) include a sequence which is now optional and seldom used. A sequence is a long hymn text that follows the second reading and leads into the Gospel acclamation. Originally it served to embellish and prolong the Gospel procession on high feast days.

Although the language is formal and old-fashioned, this verse from the sequence offers a lovely reflection on the feast:

Bread is made flesh by words from heaven:

Into his blood the wine is turned:

What though it baffles nature's powers

Of sense and sight? This faith of ours

Proves more than nature e'er discerned.

Concealed beneath the two-fold sign,

Meet symbols of the gifts divine,

There lie the mysteries adored:

The living body is our food;

Our drink the ever-precious blood;

In each, one undivided Lord.

The final stanzas contain and echo of the sequence of Pentecost heard just a couple of weeks ago:

Come then, good shepherd, bread divine,

Still show to us thy mercy sign;

Oh, feed us still, still keep us thine; Our present food, our future rest,

Come make us each thy chosen guest.



Elizabeth Harrington