A communicant drinking from the common chalice that upwards to 30 people will use:
When I was in Augusta, I celebrated the funeral of a college age woman who contracted the deadly Meningococcal Disease by drinking after her boyfriend from the same Pepsi can. She looked even worse than the child in this photo who has the same disease. Amputations are done to save the life of someone with this deadly disease.
Drinking from the common chalice was banned in our Diocese last year and for several months because of the fear of transmitting H1N1 flu virus by drinking after someone who carried it. There is a news story from Australia concerning the deadly Meningococcal Disease down under and the Church's common sense approach to banning the common chalice.
YOU CAN READ THE STORY ABOUT THE FEAR OF CONTRACTING THE DEADLY MENINGOCOCCAL DISEASE FROM THE COMMON CHALICE BY PRESSING THIS SENTENCE CONNECTING YOU TO AUSTRALIA!
What annoys me to no end is that many bishops and liturgists are very callous to the very real threat of contracting a mild, severe or deadly disease from the common chalice. They continue to spout off old, out dated, wrong information about the dangers to health by sharing the common chalice. I think it will take an expensive law suit to move them from this silliness.
It simply won't do to tell someone who has a serious, contagious illness not to receive from the chalice. How do you police that? And what about those of us who have to purify chalices (and only the clergy and officially installed acolytes are permitted to do it) who must first drink the dregs from an almost empty chalice that nearly 30 people have had their mouth on and which the dregs is mostly their saliva mixed with some of the Precious Blood. Then the ablutions must be drunk.
In our country there is also a silly aversion to intinction, when the minister of Holy Communion dips the consecrated Host into the Precious blood. One must receive the intincted host on the tongue. The silliness is that this upsets those who think that receiving in the hand should be the norm and a right. The "right" to receive in the hand is preserved, tough, when the person who comes forward extends their hands. They simply don't get an intincted Host.
Finally, in the Australian communique, it is suggested that people receive on the hand rather than on the tongue. When people are standing to receive Holy Communion, they are moving targets and yes it is easy to get saliva on the minister's fingers if the person receiving moves forward as the host is placed on the tongue. It is also easy to touch the hands of those who receive in the hand and the hands supposedly have more germs than the mouth.
When kneeling for Holy Communion, which should not be outlawed, the communicant is still, the mouth lower and there is very little chance of touching the tongue in this fashion of receiving.
I have dropped hosts that I intended to place in someone's hand because they moved so quickly from me even before I placed the host onto their hands. Children are the worst offenders.
Communicants should never, ever self-intinct the host as they can actually get their fingers into the Precious Blood thus contaminating it. The Eucharistic Ministers, both extraordinary and ordinary should always wash or sanitize their hands before they distribute Holy Communion.
All very reasonable. Have you thought about founding a group of Catholic clergy and health workers who could publish some information about this as well as make recommendations that are both healthy and reverent?
Scientific studies HAVE been done.
"The Hobbs study, which Dr Danewicz cites, notes that a 1943 study by Burrows and Hemmens found that 'under the most favorable conditions for transference only about 0.001 percent of organisms were transmitted from the saliva of one person to the mouth of another.' It was the general conclusion of the Burrows and Hemmens study that 'the communion cup cannot be regarded as an important vector of disease.'"
" 'People who sip from the Communion cup don't get sick more often than anyone else," said Anne LaGrange Loving, a New Jersey microbiologist who has conducted one of the few studies on the subject. 'It isn't any riskier than standing in line at the movies.'" (Times, 1 January 2005)
" 'No episode of disease attributable to the common cup has ever been reported,' Dr. Gould writes. 'Thus for the average communicant it would seem that the risk of drinking from the common cup is probably less than the risk of air-borne infection in using a common building.'" (Dr. David Gould 1987)
Bishops and liturgists are not being callous. Rather, they are not allowing their own personal preferences to turn them into liturgical Chicken Littles. Priests who rant and rave in the face data are being, well, absurd alarmists.
What Australians FEAR should not be the basis for any decisions or actions. If you want to argue that the common cup is deadly, show us the data from a reputable, peer-reviewed medical/scientific journal.
Just as I complain and try to be an alarm for people, your data is all out of date, the latest you provide way back in the 8th decade of the last century. Shame!
Father, after having read your in-depth description of what is at the bottom of the cup after all have received, I almost vomited. I am an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. I will never drink from the cup again.
There is no current 'study' on communicating diseases from the common chalice, and there won't be.
However, ask any dentist or oral surgeon about disease transmission via oral fluids....There are plenty of studies about that!
Ever notice how they don gloves, masks, and protective eyewear to prevent being innoculated with the patients' infectious material? How they wipe down and spray disinfectants all over the room between patients and sterilize all non-disposable intrumentarium? And they've been doing this for DECADES.
While the spreading of DEADLY diseases by sharing the cup is indeed very rare, it is not unheard of.
Yet the spreading of rather bad and unpleasant common diseases by sharing a cup is very frequent. There are more bacteria in the mouth than any other part of the body; morethan at the 'other end' of the gastrointestinal tract.
Many parishioners have always avoided the common chalice to avoid getting or spreading germs.
Everyone thatI know would like to receive both the Host and the Precious Blood and would WELCOME the opportunity to receive them both by Intinction.
Are special permissions from the diocesan Bishop necessary in order to instute Intinction?
Father, if there is anything that you'd like your parish Health Ministry to do regarding this topic, just let me know.
Sheila K. Shah, D.M.D.
Even if the risk is minute why risk it for something which is unnecessary? Communion under both species is redundent and unnecessary when the host will suffice.
I think intinction would be interesting to do- I have never been to a mass where we did it.
I'm strongly in favor of intinction for the main reason that it forces the issue on proper reception (i.e. on the tongue). Beyond that it would be a rare pleasure to receive that way, but hardly a necessity for the obvious reasons.
I'm with Dr Shah. Seems like intinction would be a perfect answer. The odds of contracting a desease this way are not so great globally. But as the problem is that populations can move so rapidly these days. In Shetlands the dances are always lubricated by shared hip flasks and bottles. They are almost always diluted with the group's saliva well before they are completely drunk. But diseases don't enter those populations all that often as, for some reason, not many people venture into the Arctic ocean to attend dances.
Sunny Macon is another story and as Catholic Churches often host refugees the variety of people that pass those halls are at least as varied as the ones who visit hospitals and clinics. There is an older woman in our church who refuses to make shake hands during the sign of Peace out of concern for bird flu.
It seems the trick is determine a technique where an intinctured host could be deposited with some grace and accuracy on the tongue of a communicant. Distribution of the host orally has characteristics similar to feeding a giraffe. I wonder if kneeling would allow for the host to be 'dropped' into the mouth? I suppose that could introduce a choking hazard.
What are the chances of contracting a serious disease in church compared to, say, a restaurant at a Renaissance fair?
Yes, why is it that Latin Rite Catholics don't intinct like the Eastern Rite Catholics do. It'd solve a lot. Only question I'd have is what effect intinction would have on alcoholics in recovery.
I am more than pleased to learn that you as pastor have given this matter such serious consideration. I have never partaken of the common chalice - I was never comfortable doing so. My 2nd grade teacher instilled in me that I received the body AND blood of our Lord in the host. I have never doubted it. Further, my mother would not stand for us drinking after even our own siblings or parents, so I was certainly never inclined to drink after a small crowd of fellow Mass goers. Besides, I don't seem to ever get a compelling argument as to why we should take Communion under both forms. The most common and sad answer is that the precious blood helps to swallow the host!!
In terms of alcoholics, it would be up to them to indicate they do not want an intincted host. But the amount of Precious Blood, thus alcohol is very small. When the common chalice is used, I've had EM's report to me that some communicants will drink the entire cup! This has been reported to me numerous times.
And they wonder why Americans are falling behinder and behinder in science . . .
"Within the CDC, the consensus of the National Center for
Infectious Diseases and the National Center for Human
Immunodeficiency Virus, Sexually Transmitted Diseases, and
Tuberculosis is that a theoretic risk of transmitting infectious
diseases by using a common communion cup exists, but that
the risk is so small that it is undetectable. The CDC has not
been called on to investigate any episodes or outbreaks of
infectious diseases that have been allegedly linked to the use
of a common communion cup….
In summary, the risk for infectious disease transmission by a
common communion cup is very low, and appropriate
safeguards -- that is, wiping the interior and exterior rim
between communicants, use of care to rotate the cloth during
use, and use of a clean cloth for each service -- would further
diminish this risk. In addition, churches may wish to consider
advising their congregations that sharing the communion cup
is discouraged if a person has an active respiratory infection
(i.e., cold or flu) or moist or open sores on their lips (e.g.,
herpes)." [CDC 1998]
"No episode of disease attributable to the shared communion
cup has ever been reported. Currently available data do not
provide any support for suggesting that the practice of sharing
a common communion cup should be abandoned because it
might spread infection."
[UK Report 1998]
"Although numerous studies (including my own on intinction)
have demonstrated that microbes are transferred during Holy
Communion, and that the potential for spread of disease
during this ritual does exist, the survey study clearly
illustrated that receiving Holy Communion as often as daily
does not increase one's illness rate."
[Dr Anne LaGrange Loving, Convalescence 1:1 1998 / Journal of Environmental Health July-August 1997]
Yes, current research is being done and is being reported.
The Church shouldn't even have a pit bull in this fight! I recommend that if we do this, then we allow the state to regulate it, like states regulate restaurants. Oh, we can't do that, because they would not permit us to have the common cup.They might even close us down if we persisted in an unsafe practice. I wonder why? This silly discussion reminds me of the sex abuse scandal--that somehow the Church is above common sense and the law.
"Common Sense" is too frequently uncommon. And good judgment based on factual evidence is sidelined by pop "science." Remember when people with AIDS were shunned because "everyone knew" you could get the virus by being in the same room with those infected? I sure do.
The "silly" part of the discussion is some people's irrational fears are being turned into bases for taking unnecessary action in spite of factual evidence.
I don't like sharing anything with anyone like that. I don't even go to buffets
OMG! Are you kidding? Enough with the phobia. Make the cup available to the few who want it and explain last one on the cup drinks the dregs or the EM. What do you think Jesus would have said if the Apostles refused the cup he shared or asked for sanitized personal cups? Have faith and trust!
The standards of cleanliness were much different in Jesus' day. But apart from that no where in Catholic belief are we do presume that the Sacred Species of either the consecrated wine or bread cannot become contaminated. Neither should we tempt the Lord in these things. Again, I say let's follow state law on what is and isn't allowed in eating establishments. Would the state shut us down for our common cup practices or not? I'd like an answer to that question. Fear of some things can be very health, like not eating raw food, walking in the middle of the street, and providing warnings to people that drinking after someone can spread germs and viruses.
It is not common sense, it is the application of knowledge. The caution is well founded and the measures may be extreme. However, once one becomes aware one is required to explore the facts. Of course it is possible to have many people drink from a cup with no serious health problems. It is in HOW it is done that makes the difference.
The point is to reduce the chance of infection as much practicable versus to reduce it to zero.
Intinction seems like a great solution, no pun intended. Likewise kneeling to receive seems like a good idea if for no other reason to stabilise the communicant as much as possible. Some practice to apply the wafer to the tongue in a manner like applying a bandage without touching the wound would make it as safe as a reasonable person could demand.
We must reduce the risk!
1943: transference of organisms at 0.001 percent...
1998: the risk is so small that it is undetectable ...
1998: transmission by a common cup is very low ...
2005: it isn't any riskier than standing in line at the movies...
1987: less than the risk of air borne infection in using a common building ...
Now if your "common sense" tells you otherwise, it may be time for some recalibrations of your senses.
And Father, State Law does not address sharing a common cup at a reataurant table. Ever see a Mom or Dad give their small child a sip? Are we harboring a nation of criminal parents, or parents who endanger the lives of their children? Common Sense tells us "No."
If you don't prefer communion under both species, for whatever reason, don't participate. But don't try to drum up fear based on baseless claims of the potential for infection. And, don't let your personal preferences lead you to deny both species to the people in your parish when clearly the "risk" of infection in infinitesimally small.
One day a couple of weeks ago I was checking the teeth of a mother and child after their dental cleanings. After checking the child, the mother got in the chair and I changed my gloves and changed my instrumentarium. For the first time in my 25 years in dentistry a parent questioned why I bothered since she shares cups and such with her child all time anyway.
Opportunity knocked, so I answered.
I told her unequivocally, but gently, that she needs to stop doing that. She'll give her child the Herpes Simplex virus that causes a lifetime of fever blisters, bacteria from her mouth that cause cavities and periodontal dieases, and a number of other febrile illnesses etc. etc.
While it's true that the overall rates of reported illness from germs contracted this way (sharing of drinking cups) is low, it's because they're rarely reported; because one rarely knows or remembers how one could have picked up the germ. Furhtermore, people pass along germs while in an incubating (pre-symptomatic) stage all the time.
This isn't fear mongering, or making a mountain out of a mole-hill...it's sensible sanitary practice. Period.
Mr. Hus, before pulling bits out of 'scientific studies' one must research the actual study, how it was completed, peer reviewed, etc. and remember that just because someting is on the internet or in other print, even esteemed journals, doesn't make it valid.
A basic rule of scientific study is that all scientific studies/reports should always be approached with scepticism and critique.
Sheila K. Shah, D.M.D.
I find it absolutely fascinating that the Church burned Hus for...are you ready...his views on the Eucharist...LOLx10 BWAHAHAHAHA!
So, Dr. Shah, what do you find wanting in the studies cited?
I'm still waiting for Jon Huss to explain why a restaurant would be cited or shut down if they allowed customers to share the common cup (not family members at a table, which is his way of avoiding the topic) but customers allowed to share let's say a glass of beer and the waiter(ress) goes from customer to customer letting them drink from the same glass or mug.
You posed the restaurant hypo, so why don't you answer it by a citing state law (not simply your opinion of what the law should be). Also, apply this line of reasoning consistently. Would the state allow a matradee to place a host-sized mint directly into the mouth of every guest without washing his hands?
In terms of restaurant etiquette, when I worked at the Dairy Queen we were not required to wear plastic gloves and we touched the food all the time, ice cream cone, hamburgers, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, everything. But if we let people sample our Mr. Misty by having everyone drink but a sip from the common cup, large size of course, we would have been cited even in 1968.
I have found that when I distribute host to someone kneeling and on the tongue, it is very difficult to touch any part of their mouth. When they stand for this and I have to reach upwards and they come forward in head or body, then yes I get a licking. However, I touch many more hands when I distribute the host in the hand and I try not to, but it just happens. But even with these two cases, it is not as egregious as letting many people, upwards of 30, to sample a Mr. Misty from the same cup, even if the icy concoction does give you brain freeze.
Father, you pose a hypothetical that doesn't exist. No eatery I have ever been in has a common cup being passed from table to table. Maybe this is the kind of place you like to hang out at, but they are not my style. Let's deal with real circusmtances, shall we? That is, a common communion cup (or cups) in church.
And let's deal with the real circumstance of an epidemic, large or small, being reported in the scientific literature, that resulted from a common cup being used at communion.
The world is waiting...
Wait no longer, waiting world, a significant number of our bishops in the USA and many in Australia banned the common cup because one could contract the H1N1 virus from it here in the USA and anywhere where this virus is on a chalice, and in Australia the concern was even more deadly, the Meningococcal Disease. What more, waiting world and John Huss do you want?
There may be less of a risk (an insignificant risk based on the studies cited), but do you think state law would allow it? Yes or no? Please cite an actual statute or regulation. Your memory from 40 years ago may well be correct, but citing an actual law would strengthen your argument. And then explain why the Church should start using state regulations as a baseline for liturgical practices.
I appreciate this discussion. Personally, I prefer to kneel to receive Communion. And Intinction sounds like a very reverent way to receive the Blood of Christ. However, I agree with John Hus' concern that fear is simply being used as a pretext for change. I think most people would see through such a thin argument and I fear it would ultimately undermine the authority of those pushing for these changes based on unfounded health concerns.
The request was for evidence that an epidemic, large or small, attributable to the use of the common cup, has been reported in the scientific (medical) literature.
If you were really worried about contagion - and you are not - you would also call for a ban on other behaviors that pose a similar risk.
Your concern is to hype the remote possibility of contagion as a pretext for ending the practice of communion under both species. And that is a pretext for ending the use of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.
Why not just be honest here?
Me thinks you jump to too many conclusions that are wrong and never jump to a right conclusion. We have many Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion and sometime three at each Sunday Mass to distribute the hosts. I would prefer intinction for the Precious Blood because it is more sanitary and the laity are allowed to receive under this form. In addition, we have numerous EM's who bring Holy Communion weekly to the homebound. It is a wonderful ministry.
Do we have to wait for an epidemic before we institute common sense practices? The bishops of America and Australia were very wise in banning the common chalice, so I hope this answers the other valid question that fear can be healthy if it leads to a change of practice that could lead to an epidemic. We've moved all smokers out of buildings to protect us from second hand smoke, but I wonder how valid is the concern that one can get sick from second hand smoke. I grew up with it and look at me!
The EMC issue and the epidemiology issue are two distinct issues. I prefer receiving in one kind only on the tongue, and I think EMC's are an unnecessary distraction.
Now: 1. I doubt any studies have been done of the Communion cup re: spread of disease. However, you are perseverating about "evidence" for contagion being spread that way while missing the entire point....which is:
2. Anybody with Bio 101 or a course in Biochemistry or Microbiology understands that germs (microbes) are really, really tiny and there are really a lot of them in itsy bitsy places. Just wiping a surface off with a cloth will not remove all of them...maybe not even a majority. Most diseases are spread either by droplet or through the air, some both ways. It only takes a few little germs, maybe only one really potent one,to make you sick. Germs especially love mucous membranes...fertile fields of wet, warm epithelial tissue just eager to catch and coddle any one of millions of microbes hovering in the air or in the bodily secretions of our fellow hosts. Can the Host be a host? (And, yes, there is a poem in there somewhere.) Indeed so.
So, Ignotus/Hus, Fr.'s and others' concerns are well placed. I dare say that scientists could not possibly tell us where we contracted certain diseases. Many of their studies are educated guesses...hypotheses, theories. But, why take the chance, especially in this country where, because of political correctness and liberal social policies we have opened our borders to diseases and vermin from every undeveloped, savage, and backward rat hole on the globe. AIDS is now a protected designer disease with its own PR troupe, advertising agencies, and first run movies and TV shows. And to think, my Daddy used to believe he was wishing the very worst on someone when he said, "I hope they get the clap, diarrhea,and the seven year itch." Those seem like mere bad colds in today's "progressive" society. Happy Hew Year Fr. Ignotus!
pinanv525, Have you read through this thread? Multiple studies have been cited and the actual risk of passing on an illness is insignificant. I find it interesting that the solutions posed for this insignificant risk conveniently fit into personal preference. And I'm really bewildered by the continued implication that state regulation should be used to support liturgical practices (see: 1st Amendment).
There are valid arguments for and against the common chalice. I am not convinced that health concerns is one of them. I'd argue we should be willing to take a chance, because the risk is insignificant. And because use of the common chalice can be based in scripture and tradition. I am admittedly a little over my head with that last sentence. If anyone can cite a good source outlining the history of the common chalice I'd appreciate it.
Clearly the only rational solution is that individual Hosts be wrapped in cellophane, preferably with barcodes so that they can be traced in the case of a recall. I'd be interested in anyone else's commonsense solutions for the Blood. (That was suppose to be funny, not disrespectful).
Well before the Reformation, the laity were not allowed to receive the Precious Blood, only the priest celebrating the Mass did. In the East the custom was for the laity to this day to receive the Precious Blood, but not by drinking from the common chalice, but by either intinction of the priest using a spoon to place both the host that is in the consecrated wine into the mouth of the communicant. There is an art to this where the priest does not touch the mouth of the person. In the west, the common chalice was certainly used in the early Church, but very quickly faded out of use. As the centuries proceeded and a more developed understanding the Holy Eucharist came about, especially defining transubstantiation, there was more and more a concern about spilling the Precious Blood or desecrating either the Precious Blood or the host and also a profound and perhaps scrupulous unworthiness about receiving the Eucharist developed. Long before the Reformation the laity did not receive the Precious Blood. It was only in the very early 1970's that permission for limited ocassions was allowed. The first method to be used when the Precious Blood was reintroduced to the laity was intinction. The laity loved it. Then liturgists insisted that this was like "dunking donuts" and that the early Church drunk from common chalices. The laity balked at doing this so liturgists persuaded them that there was no harm citing some of the evidence already commented on by others. Turning the cup, the alcohol content of the wined, wiping the rim, etc. Many laity were aghast that this was happening at Church when they had taught their children never to drink after someone else.
Did the Black Plagues have anything do with with not allowing the common cup to the people. Someone else will have to answer that, but it possibly could be in part why the Church stopped allowing the laity to have the chalice.
Let me make clear though, that I don't want the state regulating our Communion practices, but I think what the state does in other venues should be a wake up call for us. That's why I posed the question.
Anonymous, I read all of the "proof texting" from the CDC.
That's a government agency, right?
The first sentence is enough: "...a theoretic risk of transmitting infectious diseases by use of the common cup exists..."
So, let's name all the remote possibilities that theoretically could happen: Getting struck by lightning (but people get struck every year); getting killed by a shark (happens every year); dying from snake bite in the US (but several die each year)...and on and on. Any gambler would bet heavy odds against any of those happening to a particular person in a particular place, yet people do die from these things. All the statisticians love to quote all the zeros after a number listing the odds against something like this happening, yet they do happen. Let's see, what is another of those remote possibilities...oh, yeah, getting AIDS or TB from a common cup....
Father McDonald, I do not choose to be motivated by fear as you do. Fear led our Church to ghettoize Jews, it led our country to condemn Japanese citizens to internment camps, and it led whites to lynch blacks.
No, choosing to be motivated by fear is not wise. It is not a proper basis for changing behavior in general and it is certainly not a proper basis for ending communion from the common cup.
Fr., thank you for the information regarding the tradition of the common chalice. I think it is essential for the laity to understand the history and importance of the liturgy. I do think it is a shame that this type of information is not common knowledge. I have one small quibble with your description. The laity did in fact receive the Blood by a common chalice before the Reformation. A very crude timeline would show that the common chalice was a common practice, then it changed, then it was recently brought back. My opinion counts for nothing, but place me in the camp for the common chalice. If nothing else, I think Jesus had a pretty good understanding of the importance of the Eucharist. And if it was good enough for St. Peter, then is good enough for me.
pinanv525, Are you suggesting that people not leave their homes because of the remote chance of getting hit by lighting. Should we ban swimming in the ocean because of the fear of sharks? Both are much, much, much more likely happen than contagion of illness from the common chalice. The theoretic risk of transmitting infectious disease through the most careful liturgical practices exists. Theoretically, its possible to contract a disease simply by standing in line for Communion. Does that mean you'd rather do away with the Holy Sacrament altogether? Or just do the ones you already have an issue with?
No, Anonymous, that is not what I am suggesting. I am suggesting that one not stand out in the open during thunderstorms, that one not swim in the ocean at night, early dawn, or when sharks are known to be around, and that one receive in one kind only on the tongue. See, wasn't that simple.
Hus/Ignotus, fear and caution are different. So are common sense and hysteria. In typical liberal fashion, you wring your hands hysterically and run in little circles and somehow make the leap from concern about transmitting disease from the common cup to hanging blacks, interring Japs, and ghettoizing Jews. Are you even aware of how ridiculous that is?
You are just like the liberal rabble who cry, "Eww, eww, Hitler, Hitler,": every time someone suggests that homosexuality might be an undesirable behavior, or those that holler "Eww, eww, racist," whenever it is suggested that Blacks might want to get off welfare and go to work or maybe vote for a candidate based upon issues rather than simply because he is black.
This is such typical pseudo-logical nonsense...can't you do any better?
I suggest anyone that reads this blog to totally disregard anything that pinanv525 has to say. He is truly a racist, a bigot, an anti-anything if you do not agree with him. He puts no thought into what he has to say. He does not care about anyone but himself. He is a disgrace to society in general. I do not care how "Catholic" he makes himself out to be, but he is a disgrace to humanity, in general.
Ah, there we go...the liberal fall-back position...name calling and dismissive attempts at character assasination. Didn't take you very long to get to that point, Ignotus/Hus/Anonymous. Can't come up with any intelligent rebuttal? Well, that's ok. There will be other issues posted for you to practice on. Hang in there.
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