Thursday, January 18, 2018


Our bishop just issued recommendations concerning the horrible flu season we are having in our diocese. Here it is (my comments/rants at the end):

To all priests and deacons,

Given the severity of the flu this season across the United States, particularly in the State of Georgia and bordering states, pastors may decide to suspend distributing the Eucharist in sharing a common cup. The option of course could  be to continue to offer the precious blood by cup and people can make their own choice whether they wish to share it or not, which is the normal practice. But if pastors decide to suspend the use of the cup, it must be understood that it is only a temporary precaution against the spread of influenza. This should not be used as an opportunity to discontinue the use of the cup at the end of this epidemic. Proper catechesis should be utilized if there is a suspension of the cup.  

This decision will be left up to each individual pastor as to when such a practice will begin and end.

The same will hold true to those congregations that have the custom of holding hands during the Our Father. 

People who have the symptoms or the diagnosis of the flu should also be instructed to stay home on the weekend rather than come to Mass for fulfillment of an obligation.  

I would also appreciate taking precautions by not mingling with large crowds of people on weekends and washing hands frequently.

My comments/rants: I hate when things fall on me. I like to blame others. That's number one.
But in addition to this I can't stand the fact that we provide the common chalice to the congregation knowing full well that germs, viruses and other diseases can be spread regardless of the flu season that is more severe than usual.

Why is this? Because when the laity received permission to have the common chalice in the early 1970's there was reluctance on their part to drink from the chalice, so the first method was intinction which was wonderful. I remember it full well.

But then those damn, rigid liturgists said intinction wasn't biblical and that it was like "dunking donuts" and thus not reverent! So they insisted that intinction be dropped (please note, there was no official requiest from Rome to stop intinction because it is still allowed even in the new GIRM!!!

But to convince the laity they should drink from the common chalice these damn rigid liturgists told us to tell a lie that wiping the rim of the chalice with a purificator and turning the chalice would eliminate any risk of contagion. This is a lie (bald or bold face?).

But the other ideology this damn, rigid liturgists wanted to foist onto the liturgy was the proliferation of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. Make no mistake, this was the goal, for better or for worse. 

And intinction meant the communicant couldn't receive in the hand and that ideology was more important than health and preserving reverence for Holy Communion. 

I have been ranting about the danger of the spread of contagion for longer than I can remember.

Will it take multi million dollar lawsuits to end it, to create zero tolerance for the common chalice?
History tells us yes!

In the meantime, those bishops and priests at Vatican papal Masses  do not ever drink from the common chalice but in fact intinct with papal approbation. When will we learn from the Holy Father and Rome?

And no,I will not ban the common chalice at St. Anne's but warn people as our bishop recommends. Only when there is a consistent band based upon common sense will I abolish the common chalice and resort to intinction!


ByzRC said...

If the spiritual effect of one species includes the other, why is this potentially unhealthy practice necessary? Just to make an ideological point as you suggest? Perhaps another nod to the halcyon days of the late '60s and '70s? It would also be nice of the sign of peace was discontinued (which, it is in places though with hesitation) for the same reason.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Resort away.

When you find evidence of a epidemic caused by sharing the common cup, let us know...

Oh, and as you "can't stand the fact that we provide the common chalice to the congregation knowing full well that germs, viruses and other diseases can be spread regardless of the flu season that is more severe than usual." remember, you let them touch your door knobs and handles, share common bathrooms, have altar servers wear un-sanitized vesture following other children....

Relax. If the diocesan lawyers thought there was a chance we'd be sued, they'd have chimed in a looong time ago.

John Nolan said...

So people need catechesis if (for whatever reason) they partake of Communion in one kind only? Is the bishop suggesting that Communion in both kinds (originally envisioned as an exception) must be regarded as constituting a rule? I remember that catechesis was recommended before the Chalice was offered to the laity after Vatican II, lest they assume, as do protestants, that Communion had to be in both kinds to be complete.

As Fr K points out, there are many ways by which infection can be transmitted. I recall being next to a woman of Asiatic appearance who spent the entire Mass coughing into her hand. At the 'sign of peace' she proffered the same hand. Mine stayed firmly in my pockets.

ByzRC said...

Fr. MJK -

While I appreciate your point, two 'wrongs' don't make a right. All that you suggest is bad enough without compounding the problem with a common chalice. And, if not myself purifying, I felt bad for those that did (we used 6 chalices given the size of our church) given that the true presence was surrounded by all that you can imagine around the chalice's lip in addition to what had washed inside.

Adam Michael said...

Traditional Christian worship does not fare well alongside a fear of communicable diseases. Many germs may exist alongside the veneration of icons, reception of Holy Communion from a common Chalice (with common spoon!), kissing of hand crosses, and kissing of the priest's hand. I reckon one might die before leaving an Orthodox church on a Sunday in the height of flu season! However, where flu abounds, grace seems to abound more. I think we should be careful to not allow liturgical practice to be dictated by fear of illnesses (isn't this similar to how some Catholic parishes do not use incense because of a fear of allergies?).

It seems better to return to historic Christian practice and ask why are laity distributing Holy Communion and laity touching the sacred objects. The cumulative effect of innovation of holy traditions leads to spiritual illnesses much worse than the flu.

rcg said...

It is interesting that the Bishop felt compelled to point out that this should not be considered an excuse to permanently discontinue the use of the Cup for Communion for the laity. Could there be more than one priest, like our host, who would love to offer only the Bread of Life to his congregation kneeling?

James J. said...

It seems to me that the catechesis that is needed here is that after the consecration, Christ is whole and entirely present under the appearance of the bread, and just that alone, without the introduction of the chalice at all.

Woody said...

We Byzantine Catholics are taught to receive the Gifts by opening our mouths and letting the priest empty the spoon of its contents onto our tongues without touching the spoon or closing our mouths on it. You can see videos on YouTube, however, of Orthodox, e.g. videos of Russian soldiers receiving, where they all close their mouths on the spoon.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Byz, there is no "problem" that is being compounded here. Good Fr. McDonald has a germ phobia. That's the beginning and end of the story.

Anonymous said...

I think I can understand the common Chalice for small groups of people such as a daily Mass attended by people that work for a parish, or a Mass that is centered around a family event: but every Sunday, Christmas and Easter leaves me confused. Is it the priest saying the Mass that makes the determination, or is it the Bishop that has the power of decision even though he cant witness the circumstances?

Anonymous said...

People who have the symptoms or the diagnosis of the flu should also be instructed to stay home on the weekend rather than come to Mass for fulfillment of an obligation.

If the bishop is talking about the "Sunday" Mass obligation why doesn't he just say that? There is no obligation to go to Mass on the "weekend!"

TJM said...

Looks like Kavanaugh has a callous disregard for the health of his congregation. Isn't that evidence of clericalism on steroids?

Henry said...

It is fatuous (if not mendacious) to demand proof of disease being spread by the common chalice, because it is impossible scientifically to determine how a specific case of influenza was contracted.

But in the case of an endemic disease that can be contracted by ingesting the saliva of an infected victim, it is not only contrary to reason, but also morally irresponsible, for any bishop or pastor to continue use of the common chalice.

Thus the only pertinent scientific question is whether influenza can be contracted in this manner.

TJM said...


What's comedy gold is that these clowns believe in man-made global warming as a matter of faith!

Anonymous said...

I will plan to partake of the common cup this Sunday in 30327, just as I did last Sunday, and the Sunday before....

But our pastor did tell us last Sunday, please don't come to church if you have flu or flu-like symptoms, don't feel obliged to come if caring for sick one at home, and don't feel obliged to receive the chalice (reminding us of course that communion in one species suffices). He also said if receiving communion and not well, please receive in the hand, noting that putting the host on one's tongue (if he is sick) is not healthy for when the next person comes to receive.

AS Trump says, we could use some global warming, at least this January! July, I'd probably prefer global cooling......

I guess the reception of communion is not an issue in most Protestant churches, because few of them receive it on a weekly basis. I think Methodists typically do it just once a month. Episcopalians usually have communion every Sunday, but not necessarily at every service (you still get some parishes which might have communion at the earliest service, then the mid-morning one might alternate each week between Morning Prayer--basically our Mass up to the offertory---and Holy Eucharist.)

ByzRC said...

Fr. MJK -

With all due respect, perhaps it is the beginning and end of the story for you. I would prefer not to speculate and/or gossip about phobias plaguing anyone (not that I think that to be the case here).

ByzRC said...

Woody -

True! However, we share the other practices mentioned by Adam Michael with our Orthodox brothers and sisters. Like Adam Michael, I would happily die for the same reason before ever giving any of it up!

TJM said...

Kavanaugh at 1:01 PM,

I would say, better have your life insurance paid up, but you don' need it!

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

"Thus the only pertinent scientific question is whether influenza can be contracted in this manner."

No, it is not.

Of course the flu CAN be contracted in this manner. So can rhinovirus, mononucleosis, type-1 herpes, strep, hepatitis B and C, and cytomegalovirus, and other ailments.

The pertinent scientific question is, "Does sharing the common communion cup pose such a serious threat to the health and well-being of a congregation that it should be suspended or ended altogether?"

The data indicates that it does not.

I have no doubt that SOME people have been infected via use of a common cup. I have no doubt that SOME people have died from driving a car and being struck by a drunk driver - or a cell-phone distracted driver as is more often the case these days I fear.

BUT, because some negative outcome CAN result from some behavior, we don't then conclude, scientifically or according to common sense, that that behavior must be discontinued.

If we did, none of us would venture out in an automobile again.

TJM said...

Kavanaugh, LOL, you really believe the bilge you're trying to palm off? I guess our schools and hospitals are all wet when they modify behavior during flu season. You are clericalism on steriods. You may not be strutting around in a cappa magna, but you've got it!!!

John Nolan said...

The picture which accompanies this thread sums up why I and many others object to the practice; the woman is self-communicating. That the chalice was handed to her by another lay person with the bald statement 'the Blood of Christ' - compare this with the priest's 'Sanguis Christi custodiat me in vitam aeternam' (or whatever it is in the current translation) - is beside the point.

Which raises another interesting question. Why, in 1965, was the formula for the distribution of Communion changed? The traditional version replicates what the priest says before he receives. 'Corpus Christi' is simply a statement of fact. The obvious answer is that it is shorter. But there remains the intriguing possibility that Bugnini and Co. were already envisaging lay people giving out Communion. In 1965 this would have (rightly) caused scandal; ten years later people had become so disorientated by madcap innovation that it could be slipped in.

By the mid-1970s congregations were rapidly dwindling; those who had not voted with their feet could sign up to become a new-fangled 'Eucharistic Minister'- women included. By this time I had distanced myself, as had many of my contemporaries, from the manifestations of the post-Conciliar Church, with its kindergarten 'liturgies', showman priests, crap music and the rest. It was a question of seeking out places which had deliberately bucked the trend, or staying at home.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Also, John, making the sign of the Cross with the Host as the formula was said, was dropped too. Lay people distributing would not be able to do that.

rcg said...

I hate agreeing with John’s conspiracy theory but I have wondered that exact same thing for a while. Why did the Vatican support such widespread changes back when the seminaries and convents were full and that only became relevant after those same institutions were emptied? Fr K rejects the causality of Vatican II but it was certainly prescient.

Henry said...

"Does sharing the common communion cup pose such a serious threat to the health and well-being of a congregation that it should be suspended or ended altogether?"

Though, admittedly, a more compelling reason for ending it altogether is the casual irreverence and dilution of belief in the Real Presence that is attendant upon offering of the common cup by otherwise unneeded EMHC's (which I continue to suspect was the original motivation for this questionable practice).

My own parish--surely by any index an unusually faithful one--doesn't offer the chalice as a regular practice, and never has. And thus doesn't need the hordes of dubiously clad EMHC's commonly seen in many parishes. Just one of the many blessings of a truly faithful parish.

John Nolan said...


When I was a tiny child, well before first Communion, I thought that the Host was wet and Father was shaking the drops off it!

Little did I realize that in my lifetime, in fact before my 21st year, the Mass and Catholic worship generally would have degenerated into the travesty it now is in most places.

I am in my 70th decade (a couple of years older than you, reverend Father!) and I thank God that I can now attend the Mass 'quae laetificat juventutem meam'. And sing for it as well! Pope Francis can do his worst. I have come full circle, and can die in the Faith, and with the same ritual, in the same language, into which I was baptized back in 1951.

Oremus pro invicem.

Henry said...

"I am in my 70th decade"

Wow, decades of decades over Methuselah!

John Nolan said...

Henry. LOL! Where did the extra nought come from? Come to think of it, 600-odd years would give one a good perspective on events.

Henry said...

Perspective, indeed. Six centuries hence, Vatican II, which today seems like the worst disaster in Church history, will have long since been forgotten, authentic Catholic faith and worship rerstablished, and the idea of a Vatican controlled by a pack of homos and heretics will again be utterly unthinkable.