Take and Eat, Take and Drink - 7th June 2015

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

Process to the altar:  We walk together as a pilgrim people to the Lord’s Table where we share communion with Christ and with one another.

Sing: The General Instruction explains that the communion song begins while the priest is receiving the Sacrament and continues for as long as it is being administered to the faithful. Singing together is a sign of our unity as the body of Christ.

Make a gesture of reverence: “When approaching to receive Holy Communion, the faithful bow in reverence of the Mystery that they are to receive” (General Instruction 160).

Respond with “Amen”: When ministers present the host or chalice they say “The body/blood of Christ”. We affirm this statement of faith with “Amen”.

Receive the Body of Christ: Communicants never take the host but are given it in the hand or on the tongue according to their own preference.

Consume the consecrated bread: Christ’s invitation is to “Take this, all of you, and eat it”. As soon as the communicant receives the host, he or she consumes it entirely.

Drink the Precious Blood: “Take this, all of you, and drink from it.” The General Instruction explains that Holy Communion has a fuller form as a sign when it is distributed under both kinds because it makes our participation in the Eucharistic banquet more clearly evident. Yet many people bypass the chalice at Mass and do not drink the Precious Blood.

During the early centuries, everybody received communion under both kinds: 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, our commitment to being a community of justice, peace and love.

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.

Pray in silence: This is the time to offer thanks and to ask for the strength to be Christ in our world of family, work and community in the days ahead.



Elizabeth Harrington