Comments: swine flu

This seems to me be an over-reaction to something...can anyone tell me what? In my US parish, the rector generally advises intinction in flu season and many of us do it year-round anyway.

But we take the host from the priest and then dip it in the chalice ourselves. I cannot for the life of me figure out what is prevented by having the priest dip the host rather than the communicant.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Thursday, 23 July 2009 at 1:10pm BST

This advice was issued to the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham three weeks ago. HC in one kind only into the hand not the mouth, with the president of the Eucharist only receiving the wine. Can't think why it has been so long coming generally!

Posted by Jeremy Pemberton at Thursday, 23 July 2009 at 1:46pm BST

I'm not suprised about this and it would seem to be a sensible provision.

We used the acoholic hand gel for all those administering last Sunday and I learnt you don't need to use very much at all - I put too much on our hands and thus we all had alcoholic soaked bread! Thankfully our hands had dried by the time we came to adminster the bread to the congregation so no-one else had to deal with the distracting taste! With regard to the adminstering of the wine....I know this goes against the great image of the common cup but what is the official position on using those small individual cups?

Posted by AGPH at Thursday, 23 July 2009 at 3:25pm BST

"But we take the host from the priest and then dip it in the chalice ourselves. I cannot for the life of me figure out what is prevented by having the priest dip the host rather than the communicant."

According to my rector, it's to prevent having 80 people accidently dabble their fingers in the Precious Blood.

Posted by BillyD at Thursday, 23 July 2009 at 6:02pm BST

Our bishop here in Florida did this months ago, when swine flu first hit the news.

Posted by JPM at Thursday, 23 July 2009 at 6:18pm BST

The Archbishops' letter states that the bread of the Eucharist (immediately after intinction) should be placed 'in the hands' of the communicant, IF it is decided to offer HC in both kinds. Intinction by either the communicant or the eucharistic minister is normally followed by the host being put straight into the mouth. Accepting that the fingers of the communicant should not touch the the chalice or its contents, and that those of the minister should not touch the tongue or mouth, damp or soggy sacrament in the hands leads me strongly to favour HC in one kind only!

Posted by Peter Edwards at Thursday, 23 July 2009 at 6:23pm BST

"According to my rector, it's to prevent having 80 people accidently dabble their fingers in the Precious Blood."

Well - I'd think the chances of that would be slim to none, and I would think that if someone did get a finger wet [like a child] that the alcohol in the chalice would have the same beneficial properties as the pre-communion handwashing. Or maybe we should switch to something stronger - grappa?

And I'd think the chances of accidental contact would be greater for the priest placing the dipped host on a succesion of tongues. That's not a common way of receiving, at least around here.

Of course, I understand that there are a growing number of cases of H1N1 in England, no? It's pooped out here, although they tell us a fall resurgence is likely.

As one who is 65, bearing down on 66, I'm likely to have some built-in immunity, according to what I've read.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Thursday, 23 July 2009 at 7:02pm BST

Peter, I noticed that as well. It seemed a very odd instruction - besides the "ick" factor of having wet Hosts in your hands, there are problems with reverence, as well (people ending up with drops of consecrated Wine on their hands).

Posted by BillyD at Thursday, 23 July 2009 at 7:21pm BST

To those of us who take the post-communion ablutions seriously, the small, individual cups would offer quite a challenge!

Posted by Old Father William at Thursday, 23 July 2009 at 7:29pm BST

Hi folks - just to let you know the ACoC has had a document on this issue since HIV/AIDS became an issue and when in the last 5 years SARS was an issue in the civil province of Ontario. Here is the link http://www.anglican.ca/faith/ministry/euc-practice-infection.htm - do take a look.

We have had a serious issue with this flu in our isolated indigenous communities and none, and I repeat, none of our bishops is suggesting only receiving communion in one kind - they have however suggested that we not use personal intinction at all as there is a greater risk of transferring something from one's fingertips than there is from one's lips.
Fiona Brownlee
Diocese of Keewatin

Posted by Fiona Brownlee at Thursday, 23 July 2009 at 7:55pm BST

As I understand it, the real problem with communicants undertaking intinction is that all the germs and bacteria on the person's hand can so easily be transferred into the wine.

There is a similar issue should the Priest place a host (where or not intinction has taken place) directly onto the communicant's tongue.

All in all, I'd rather continue sharing the cup...

Posted by Graham Smith at Thursday, 23 July 2009 at 8:15pm BST

How about i) dry wafer placed into hands;
ii) wafer held firmly over chalice;
iii) one drop of wine placed on wafer by (sterile) dropper;
iv)immediate transfer to mouth by worshipper?

The only likely problem seems to me that of wafers being dropped into the chalice, and these would be consumed during the ablutions.

Posted by tony cullingworth at Thursday, 23 July 2009 at 8:16pm BST

According to the Sacrament Act, I've been illegally giving people communion for the last 10 years without exhorting them at least 1 day before with the threat of divine judgement. So a few months without wine is comparatively minor.

The link to the said Act took a while to load, quicker one at http://www.opsi.gov.uk/RevisedStatutes/Acts/aep/1547/caep_15470001_en_1

Posted by David Keen at Thursday, 23 July 2009 at 8:25pm BST

If you want to prevent swine flu, ban the passing of the peace and sharing of hymnals. Sharing the common cup is not a risk per se- we've been doing it for centuries with alot more contagious diseases than Flu floating around.

Posted by William Benefield at Thursday, 23 July 2009 at 9:06pm BST

I've been doing intinction ever since I became an Episcopalian (some 25 years now). Never had a problem avoiding putting my fingers in the wine, never had a problem with "soggy sacrament".

Again, I ask, what is the issue that has caused this instruction to be issued? Is there some horrible contagion spreading though Old Blighty than I'm unaware of?

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Thursday, 23 July 2009 at 9:16pm BST

If intinction is to be done effectively,

1. The server only should intinct
2. The personal hosts should be sufficiently large to ensure easy handling
3. The server should intinct the host to no more than halfway, making sure fingers do not touch the wine
4. The server should place the intincted portion on the receivers tongue, making sure the fingers do not touch the tongue

However, if personal hosts are allowable, why not personal cups and be done with all these dirty fingers and tongues and contaminated wine!

Posted by David |dah•veed| at Thursday, 23 July 2009 at 9:20pm BST

This is surprise. I've been to several churches in Sydney Australia where there is the communal chalice, but also individual shot glasses on a tray. Those concerned about contagious diseases pick up a glass on the way to the communion rail. Take the piece of given bread, the wine is blessed at the pulpit and then reverentially swallowed.

If it is good enough for a Jensenite parish (the conservatives of conservatives), then it should be good enough for the whole communion.

It helps reduce the spread of several contagious diseases: flu, hepatitis and AIDS.

Posted by Cheryl Va. at Thursday, 23 July 2009 at 10:02pm BST

Sorry, slight correction. The wine in the chalice and shot glasses and the bread are first blessed by the priest, then the shot glasses brought to the front so the communers can choose which container they prefer.

Posted by Cheryl Va. at Thursday, 23 July 2009 at 10:15pm BST

Shot glasses are horrible. Horrible. They don't intend to imply that we all have a tiny individual share on God, but it is what they do, making the Eucharist into a very individual communion.

I really would rather not go to a Eucharist at all than go to one where they are used.

Posted by RosemaryHannah at Thursday, 23 July 2009 at 10:56pm BST

From the CofE document:
http://www.cofe.anglican.org/info/swineflu/communion.doc

"The use of individual communion cups is not lawful in the Church of England and would, in any event, also involve hygiene risks in the context of pandemic flu."

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Thursday, 23 July 2009 at 11:14pm BST

As others have noted...flu is more likely to be passed around at the peace than at communion.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Friday, 24 July 2009 at 12:18am BST

Perhaps a few Sundays given over to Morning Prayer would be an acceptable solution?

I know that communion/ eucharist / mass is the ideal service for every Sunday. Nonetheless, instead of being forced into significant changes in the celebration there is a perfectly acceptable alternative for at least a few Sundays this autumn and winter.

Morning Prayer can be a glorious and wonderful Anglican service and it has a long tradition that we have ignored for too many years now. The needs of the moment provide us with the opportunity to rediscover Morning Prayer.

Posted by Dennis at Friday, 24 July 2009 at 12:55am BST

"If it is good enough for a Jensenite parish (the conservatives of conservatives), then it should be good enough for the whole communion."

There are many, many things going on in the Diocese of Sydney that I would fight tooth and nail to keep from my parish. Little shot glasses are one of them. What next - cellophane wrapped Hosts?

Posted by BillyD at Friday, 24 July 2009 at 1:07am BST

The use of individual glasses is quite common in evangelical churches here in Sydney but I have wondered, since moving to a more Anglo-catholic parish, that they are not used. We have been advised that communion in one kind is quite permissable and I have noticed some people leaving the rail before the cup arrives which can cause confusion to those lined up. However we have also been told that intinction is probably more risky than sharing the cup. As a result of it being winter down here, I read that the highest rate in the world of swine flu is in Australian and NZ.

Posted by Brian Ralph at Friday, 24 July 2009 at 1:47am BST

Cherly Va wrote: "If it is good enough for a Jensenite parish (the conservatives of conservatives), then it should be good enough for the whole communion."

This assumes that the Jensenites are "the conservatives of conservatives." They aren't. They're quite happy to innovate and depart from classic Anglicanism in the direction of conservative Calvinism... or even further, as in their moves towards lay celebration of the Eucharist, something unheard of in any of the great churches of the Reformation.

I'm not really surprised to hear that they are using non-conformist-style shot glasses.

But, on the specific issue: Has the C of E really received reliable public health advice about the wine and the common cup? As someone else noted, policy in the Canadian Church is against intinction. Where I am worshipping this summer, there is a bulletin notice with the regional bishop's instructions providing for people either to skip the cup or drink from it, but firmly banning intinction. In my regular Episcopal Church parish we have been told several times that the fortified wine we use in a silver chalice does not pose health risks.

Posted by WilliamK at Friday, 24 July 2009 at 2:11am BST

Good heavens: has someone misinformed the ABC and ABY that H1N1 is as easy to catch as Gay Cooties? ;-p

Posted by JCF at Friday, 24 July 2009 at 2:42am BST

Good heavens, people!

For well over 600 years, all Christians in Europe received the consecrated Host only, and not the chalice.

It's just no big deal!

And an opportunity for some liturgical teaching, as well. ("It is suitable to administer the Sacrament in one kind only." BCP p.457)

Posted by John-Julian, OJN at Friday, 24 July 2009 at 3:59am BST

As a special needs school teacher, I'm surrounded by flu's, colds, this virus and that virus.

The fact that the priest didn't just wash his hands and hands you the host could mean you got something. Who put the host out in the first place (a LEM?). You pass the peace then without washing your hands, take a host in your hands and put it in your mouth. Think of all the coughs you heard in church and all the hands you've just shook. If your going to catch something there is plenty of opportunity. It's nice to be proactive if you can but short of everyone running and washing their hands before communion you just have to live with the chance of catching something.

Posted by BobinSWPA at Friday, 24 July 2009 at 4:02am BST

Can someone medically qualified tell me how washing hands in soap and water or with anti bacterial gel eliminates viruses?

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 24 July 2009 at 8:47am BST

A pointless gesture to make it look like you are doing something. 100,000 did not catch flu this week as a result of sharing a chalice!!! It will be picked up on the door handle into church, at coffee after the service....or on the bus on the way home.

Mind you one could use it to promote a few masses where only the priest recieves, in order to get people thinking about how flippant we have grown in our attitude to the sacrament

Posted by Ed Tomlinson at Friday, 24 July 2009 at 9:18am BST

Cynthia -
if only the chances of "dabbling fingers" were slim to none! But alas - people being people - my colleague has been coming in with stories of people putting theirs fingers in the chalice for the last four weeks - she cannotget through to her vicar what a daft and unhygenic procedure this is, nor persuade him that a little education would go a long way. I am all for one kind - though I will so miss the common cup.

Posted by Jeremy Pemberton at Friday, 24 July 2009 at 9:49am BST

Why not just suspend Communion for a few weeks or months ?

I don't think it would do us any harm at all.

Sometimes I long for the simple religion of yesteryear, with Mattins and the early service and Evensong (HA Williams also speaks well of it in his autobiography)

Posted by Rev L Roberts at Friday, 24 July 2009 at 12:27pm BST

This whole "Oh my, the common cup will kill us all! Everybody panic!" mentality is a bit much on times. OK, now there's swine flu, which, perhaps, as few as 98% to 99% will survive. We are more likely to spread it "passing the Peace" than we are drinking out of a cup. Yes, people DO get their fingers in the Chalice. Often. I have even heard what I hope to be apocryphal stories of false fingernails floating in it. The Real Orthodox have been receiving from a spoon for the last two millennia, give or take. They must have some obscure resistance to contagion the rest of us lack. But wait! We Anglicans have sharing a cup for five hundred years, and we seem to be fine too. That the Jensenites use shot glasses is no surprise. Neither is the fact that when they started doing it a few years ago, they managed to find some doctor who was actually enough of a scare mongerer as to claim the common cup was a source of contagion. The "contagion" of course, was the risk of Romish Doctrines, though that wasn't admitted. Better to misrepresent the facts and frighten the faithful. And I, as well, will receive from a shot glass in a Methodist church, not in an Anglican one.

I'm all for it on the rare occasions when there is a highly transmissable and dangerous illness going around, but where does it stop? If the disease is that transmissable, then we should NOT have any kind of touchy feely glad handing in the middle of Mass, for starters. And if it is airborn, ought we to come together in the same building at all of a Sunday? And flu IS airborne, you know. How many have stopped going outside? Going to work? Going to school? So you'll breathe potentially contaminated air, you'll shake someone's hand, but you won't receive from a common cup, despite the fact that the former two are at least as good means of transmission as the latter one? Gee, now there's logic!

And then on the BBC news last night the headline was about massive increases in the numbers of cases. Of course, it was buried in the piece that the VAST MAJORITY of people who get it will survive what is, after all, the flu. But no fear there, can't get good distribution of your news program if people aren't in abject panic about the dire consequences of coming down with the flu! This thing MAY mutate and become a killer. But, guess what? All those who get it before it mutates will have a much greater chance of being immune! So, if you're truly afraid of the Swine Flu mutating into something deadly, go out and get it now BEFORE that happens, and stop frightening the horses!

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 24 July 2009 at 1:06pm BST

"Can someone medically qualified tell me how washing hands in soap and water or with anti bacterial gel eliminates viruses?"

Hand washing, ancient and simple though it may be, is the best thing to avoid spread by person to person contact. It does not necessarily killl bacteria, but it removes them from your hands. Hand sanitizers usually contain alcohol which neutralizes viruses as well as bacteria. Soap marketers trying to create a new niche market for something no-one actually needs, and is in fact dangerous, have taken the term 'antibacterial', and now push such soap with the assumption that "antibacterial" is better. It isn't. It is one of many factors leading to antibiotic resistence in bacteria, and it seems to be that children raised in such overly sterilized homes have a much greater risk of allergies, asthma, and even anaphylaxis, as a result of the deprivation to their developing immune systems caused by living in such a sterile environment. I think antibacterial cleansers should be banned, actually. Handwashing has to be done properly, and in this the end of the antibiotic era, we have forgotten how. Here's a link.

http://www.health.gov.on.ca/english/public/pub/pubhealth/pdf/handwash_tech.pdf

Sanitizing gels do not remove the bugs, they kill 'em outright, and are equally effective as hand washing. But, if you wash your hands properly, you do not need, and I would say you shouldn't use, "anti-bacterial soap".


Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 24 July 2009 at 1:48pm BST

As many have pointed out, there are far more chances of catching the flu at church than by the remote possibility of germ-drenched wine. Someone should enroll the two archbishops in a basic first year biology class. Hey! They might even learn something about human sexuality!

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Friday, 24 July 2009 at 1:52pm BST

The debate about the Common Cup and the practice of Intinction was surely 'done to death' in the HIV-Aids scare. We were at the time assured by the N/Z. House of Bishops that the likelihood of catching HIV-Aids by sharing the Common Cup was negligible. Therefore, it was up to each parish to decide whether or not to change their accustomed tradition. No-one that I know of was ever struck by disease from the Common Cup.

This time around, Bishops have advised that there may be more danger of infection from the practice of Intinction (dipping the wafer into the Common Cup) than receiving from the Common Cup by mouth. Therefore, Intinction has been discouraged (by at least one Diocesan Bishop that I know of). In offering this compromise, the Bishops have made the observation that to receive Communion in One Kind only (the Host), is to have received the full benefit of the Sacrament. As Rome has survived on this premise for centuries, and in some places the laity are still only offered the consecrated Host, surely those of us who understand the grace of the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist can put up with this latter procedure - at least for the time being, until the present panic is over?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 24 July 2009 at 3:32pm BST

"Why not just suspend Communion for a few weeks or months ?"

What an absolutely astounding question from a member of the clergy! In the words of the martyrs taken in North Africa in the time of Diocletian "Because it's what we do." After reading posts from me and various others on this site, after having studied theology, and been ordained in the Anglican church (I presume) do you really need to ask that question?

Posted by Ford elms at Friday, 24 July 2009 at 3:45pm BST

What a nice, civilized Anglican conversation!

People who don't - or can't - ingest alcoholic beverages will tell you there's an easy way to decline the cup without disrupting the flow of the communion rail. Just look up at the server and you need only shake your head with a brief "no" gesture.
-
Erika, the hand-washing rules seem to follow the hygiene practices in patient care, where you want to rid hands of both bacteria AND viruses. Alcohol does make many viruses inert, and it's best to use it on clean hands (better to use gloves). But you need instructions on how to wash your hands properly, how long to wash, cleaning under the nails, etc. And then you should glove up. It's the preferred drill in food handling, too - I cook at a homeless shelter. Trust me, it's difficult to remember when and how to do it 100% of the time, and I used to work for surgeons. But every bit helps. Expect dry, cracked hands with strong detergent and alcohol, BTW, if you use them all the time. Grabbing the bottle of hand lotion introduces pathogens you just washed off.
-
Churches that use those little plastic cups have special holders for them with the hymnal racks, and they are placed before the service (I sang in a Methodist choir for years). The idea of a server with a tray at the rail, quite a funny image (towel on arm, she offers the tray...). It seemed a lonely way to take communion, using a little cup at your seat.
-
There's my bit of trivial knowledge.

Posted by Lynn at Friday, 24 July 2009 at 4:02pm BST

There is no scientific evidence to support the contention that drinking from the chalice is dangerous. In fact, most researchers will tell you that shaking hands at the Peace is far more likely to make you sick.

http://articles.latimes.com/2005/jan/01/local/me-beliefs1
Does Communion Cup Runneth Over With Germs?

If the chalice is made of silver and the LEM is properly trained, you shouldn't be worried about germs. The combination of metal, wiping, and alcohol will kill most germs.

If you intinct because you think it makes you safer, you are wrong. You are taking bread that has been handled by the LEM (one potential set of germs), handling it yourself (another potential set of germs), and then dipping it into wine that others are going to drink. You are actually putting the rest of us at increased risk by intincting. If you are *really* worried about germs in the wine, you should stick to receiving in one kind. It will protect you AND those of us who drink from the chalice.

Posted by Doxy at Friday, 24 July 2009 at 4:17pm BST

I remember reading that somewhere in Canada during the SARS crisis there were Anglican churches that were inserting vodka-soaked pads inside their purificators to disinfect the chalice after each communicant. Does anybody know if this is still going on?

Posted by BillyD at Friday, 24 July 2009 at 4:37pm BST

Interesting that none of you "Thinking Anglicans" has thought about the theological implications of these instructions, beyond a bland acceptance "We have been advised that communion in one kind is quite permissable", and "It's just no big deal!" It is a big deal to deny the Communion cup to the laity, because this was a significant issue at the Reformation. It is in direct contradiction to Article 30 of the Thirty-Nine Articles, and to the words of Jesus and Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:25-29. If we can't do Communion properly, according to the Lord's institution and the Anglican formularies, let's indeed suspend it completely. For more discussion of this, see my blog post http://www.qaya.org/blog/?p=1196.

Posted by Peter Kirk at Friday, 24 July 2009 at 4:51pm BST

There is no scientific evidence to support the contention that drinking from the chalice is dangerous. In fact, most researchers will tell you that shaking hands at the Peace is far more likely to make you sick.'

Maybe discontinue 'the peace' as well for a few decades ?

Posted by Rev L Roberts at Friday, 24 July 2009 at 5:28pm BST

Why not just suspend Communion for a few weeks or months ?"

What an absolutely astounding question from a member of the clergy! In the words of the martyrs taken in North Africa in the time of Diocletian "Because it's what we do." After reading posts from me and various others on this site, after having studied theology, and been ordained in the Anglican church (I presume) do you really need to ask that question?

Posted by: Ford elms on Friday, 24 July 2009 at 3:45pm BST

Yes Ford I have found your posts very enlightening. May be I shouldn't have suggested it, but sometimes, I think the parish communion movement has gone a bit far. The BCP only enjoins HC x 3 per year. And to my mind there has been a surfeit of Communion. (I do understand those who (presently) wish to receive daily or weekly.)

THE BCP also recommends an act of Spiritual Communion at times of Necessity.

Yes, I reckon I do feel, even with my vast training*-- that what we do has been overdone.

* as with so much education and training it has had to be unlearned and discarded. Just think of all that untenable ather meaningless theology that also had to go --just wouldnt do! But though sad is also a sign of some kind of life, growth. I couldnt stay on Wm Walsham How etc -- god bless im -- forever !

Posted by Rev L Roberts at Friday, 24 July 2009 at 5:39pm BST

It is funny Lynn, different churches use those pew back cup holders for different purposes. I have been in churches that passed trays in the pews with the individual cups. After everyone had a cup in their hand, the presider of the eucharist said a few significant words and everyone drank the cup together. The little holders were for used cups!

Erika, the hand sanitizers they are selling here in Mexico are both anti-viral & anti-bacterial. Plus they have vitamin E for the chapped hand syndrome. As for soap & water, my doctor says that is more a mechanical form of removing pathogens than sterilizing or sanitizing.

There is research to suggest that we have not done ourselves any favors by introducing anti- pathogenic additives to just about everything in our homes. We are setting ourselves up for super-germs.

Posted by David |dah•veed| at Friday, 24 July 2009 at 6:01pm BST

"May be I shouldn't have suggested it, but sometimes, I think the parish communion movement has gone a bit far."

"a surfeit of Communion"

In all honesty, I thought the comment was a playful attempt to wind up the purists like myself, a bit of ingroup ribbing that actually serves as a form of bonding, and did NOT take any offence at the idea. I am, however, gobsmacked at your last sentence. That's like saying we have a surfeit of worship, at least to my ear. The Eucharist is the central, most important act of Christian worship, at least for the Catholic minded. It is not, for us, merely an act of pious memory, but an act of anamnesis, of bringing into being by remembering. I read here a while ago someone make the comment that the Incarnation happened 2000 years ago. My response was just like that of my parish priest "Funny, it happens on our altar every Sunday." If you are of a more memorialist mindset, I can see why you wouldn't think it important, or would allow yourself to be guided by the BCP recommendation of infrequent communion. I grew up in a situation where we had communion once a month. I am not a cradle Anglocatholic. But the idea of "a surfeit of comunion" shows a huge difference between thee and me.

It is a fundamental difference. I too miss a nice sung Matins, especially the Canticles, and especially the Benedicite, which we sang to a particularly lovely melody in Lent in the church I went to in college. But my attraction to the Canticles is no reason to displace what it is that we Christians DO when we meet together.

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 24 July 2009 at 7:56pm BST

"I remember reading that somewhere in Canada during the SARS crisis there were Anglican churches that were inserting vodka-soaked pads inside their purificators to disinfect the chalice after each communicant."

I'd favor gin, myself.

How about wafers predipped in wine and sealed in plastic envelopes, and handed out to congregants with tongs?

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Friday, 24 July 2009 at 8:39pm BST

Simon, thanks for the link which includes the quote:
"The use of individual communion cups is not lawful in the Church of England and would, in any event, also involve hygiene risks in the context of pandemic flu."

I'd be really keen to know where this prohibition comes from.

The Sacrament Act of 1547 certainly does not seem to make the prohibition, certainly not explicitly and I can't even see it implicitly there. So where does the prohibition come from?

Obviously it's common Anglican practice, well established, to have a common cup. Yet I am confused as to why the Archbishops have preferred to opt for bread only rather than other solutions, especially in our ecumenical age?

If we are to be exhorted not to pursue the ecumenical solution of individual cups, even temporarily, it seems pretty important to me for us to understand the precise legal impediment to that? Can anyone enlighten please?

Posted by Neil Barber at Friday, 24 July 2009 at 9:52pm BST

"How about wafers predipped in wine and sealed in plastic envelopes, and handed out to congregants with tongs?"

Forget the tongs - they could be loaded into vending machines, and do away with the human element altogether!

Posted by BillyD at Saturday, 25 July 2009 at 2:02am BST

Why do people object to separate communion cups, as going against the symbolism of the common cup, while not objecting to separate communion wafers, as going against the symbolism of the common loaf?

Posted by Peter Kirk at Saturday, 25 July 2009 at 10:30am BST

"Why do people object to separate communion cups, as going against the symbolism of the common cup, while not objecting to separate communion wafers, as going against the symbolism of the common loaf?"

Interesting question. I think it might be because the separate Hosts are not as obvious as the shot glasses. When given separately (as opposed to how it's done in Eastern Orthodox liturgies) everyone is going to get their own separate portion of the Bread; we don't bite off our own portion from a Host held out by the celebrant, after all.

Posted by BillyD at Saturday, 25 July 2009 at 11:24am BST

"Why do people object to separate communion cups, as going against the symbolism of the common cup, while not objecting to separate communion wafers, as going against the symbolism of the common loaf?"

....and what about in Cathedral Sunday Eucharists where the norm is to use a number of chalices?

Posted by AGPH at Saturday, 25 July 2009 at 11:52am BST

I have always felt the force of this argument and so use large hosts and break them in many pieces thus making the fraction more obvious and taking much of the Agnus Dei up in the breaking....after all it was introduced to cover this action.

Posted by Perry Butler at Saturday, 25 July 2009 at 4:21pm BST

To consume all the consecrated wine if there were individual shot glasses would be a nightmare - how would ablutions work? (This is not such an issue for the free churches). And multiple handling of the various glasses probably guarantees the infection of the priest.

Though I do agree that multiple chalices suggest that there is no inherent prohibition.

Posted by Mark Bennet at Saturday, 25 July 2009 at 8:46pm BST

Consuming leftover wine from shot glasses is no problem - just empty each of them into a big glass and drink from that. Then you can probably get volunteers to wash them up in a suitably reverent way.

Posted by Peter Kirk at Saturday, 25 July 2009 at 11:09pm BST

Just an update from my locality - today we had wafers intincted, and no chalice. We also had the peace banned for the duration. Why not just stay at home, for goodness' sake!

Posted by MikeM at Sunday, 26 July 2009 at 6:07pm BST

MikeM
Like you, we had wafers intincted and no chalice - but a lot of people hugged each other during the Peace. I like to think it was a deliberate sign of common sense in the midst of orchestrated hysteria.

Posted by Erika Baker at Sunday, 26 July 2009 at 8:24pm BST

I wonder how many other churches like ours have just refused to succumb to media-induced hysteria, panic-stricken politicians and ill-considered advice from feeble church leaders and are carrying on as normal. Infectious diseases are with us all the time and we encounter far greater risks in day to day living than sharing a chalice now and again. I shall be interested to see how (if?) a return to using the chalice in due course will be justified by those whose capacity for logical thought is clearly seriously impaired.

Posted by David Lovelock at Monday, 27 July 2009 at 11:46am BST

"If we are to be exhorted not to pursue the ecumenical solution of individual cups, even temporarily, it seems pretty important to me for us to understand the precise legal impediment to that?"

"Consuming leftover wine from shot glasses is no problem - just empty each of them into a big glass and drink from that. Then you can probably get volunteers to wash them up in a suitably reverent way."


Legal or theological? And for some of us, you are consuming the Blood of Christ, not "left over wine". Some of It is left over in those cups. It has to be ritually cleaned up, in the ritual washing of the dishes, and that is what the Ablutions are, after all, clearing the table after the family meal. True, said ritual washing of the dishes could be done by lay people, even after Mass, for that matter. I just detect a lack of understanding of the beliefs of some of your more Catholic minded brethren. Don't forget that the idea that the wine BECOMES the Blood of Christ is a political issue. It underlies Sydney diocese's introduction of shot glasses, for instance. Doing so pretty much makes the abloutions impossible, thereby removing the chance that such actions could give the idea that the wine is anything more than wine. Yes, these ideas ARE used in Church politics, which is why this issue stirs up such emotions. I usually think it has nothing to do with contagion and everything to do with underscoring some concept of Protestantism, especially when it comes from those who seem to have no problem whatever with the RECOGNIZED method of transmission of flu by the kind of back slapping, hand grabbing affirmation of everybody's validity that we call the Peace. And that's what's most maddening: that "flu hysteria" should be allowed to take the place of common sense in even the highest leaders of the Church. We KNOW that contact transmits flu. Yet we do nothing to cut down on person to person contact in Mass. We have a pretty good idea that for the past five hundred years there has NOT been mass transmission of infection via a common cup, and our Orthodox brethren have been doing it a lot longer than we have, same thing. So, why do this at all, if not either for some political reason, or because people are just getting all panicky over what at this point is really just the flu? We know there are over a hundred thousand cases in England, it gets reported on the news every night. Does anyone know what that MEANS? How many deaths? How much lost work? THAT never makes it to the news, because you can't sell papers reporting on a mere flu. It's a "pandemic"!!! Everybody panic!!!! Well, suppose this thing mutates and becomes deadly. How many of us will be so fed up with this scare mongering that we don't take precautions? The media should be taken to task for crying Wolf every six months or so. THAT'S what's dangerous.

Posted by Ford Elms at Monday, 27 July 2009 at 2:03pm BST

Ford, if you say that it is not "left over wine", so denying that the wine remains wine, you are holding to the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, "the idea that the wine BECOMES the Blood of Christ" and is no longer wine, which is condemned by Article 28 of the 39.

If you just mean that the wine becomes more than wine, fair enough. But surely "proper ablutions" of shot glasses are not impossible, just time consuming. It seems to me that the church authorities' insistence on denying the cup completely rather than allowing individual cups has everything to do with underscoring some concept of Catholicism which is not acceptable to a large and growing part of the Church of England. I detect, on their behalf and yours, a lack of understanding of the beliefs of some of your more evangelical minded brethren.

Anyway, I am not trying to insist that everyone must use individual cups, just offering it as a sensible suggestion that is preferable to completely withdrawing the cup. I have written more about this at http://www.qaya.org/blog/?p=1200.

But I entirely agree with you about how stupid it is to focus on this point while making no attempt to cut down on other person to person contact in our services. It's all a matter of panic and the Archbishops feeling they should be seen to do something.

Posted by Peter Kirk at Monday, 27 July 2009 at 10:51pm BST

Erika - well, you seem to have had more self-assurance and composure than our flock - good for you, I say: we were even given examples of alternative signs we could make, all of which excluded any contact, and we duly, somewhat taken aback, followed them.

Posted by MikeM at Tuesday, 28 July 2009 at 1:33pm BST

"I detect, on their behalf and yours, a lack of understanding of the beliefs of some of your more evangelical minded brethren."

I confess to a lack of understanding about the beliefs of a group of people I didn't even know existed till a few years ago, and who I even now cannot separate from Fundamentalists. That's MY problem. But, when it comes to "not understanding the beliefs" of one's brethren, I think that cuts across large numbers of Anglicans. What is most confusing for me is how Anglican Evangelicals reject the term "Fundamentalists", yet in speech, behaviour, and attitude are exactly the same as the Fundemantalists I grew up with, and that includes defining "Crhsitian" as meaning "Evangelical Christian". I see it as having a big role in the current state of affairs WRT gay people: get the non-Christians out of the Church. That those who do not agree with the largely Evangelical anti-gay side are called "Apostate" and "faithless" is no coincidence. Your claim that their number is growing gives me chills, actually. We have been a broad Church for 500 years, I believe God led us through the troubled politics of the 16th-18th centuries to teach us tolerance for our differences. We would certainly lose that if there were an Evangelical ascendancy, and it scares me, to be honest. Sorry, but that's based on personal experience for which I have had some balancing experiences of late. So, now I know my stereotypes aren't true. I just don't know what the truth is, and here at least most Evnagelicals seem unable to clarify the issue. One of our TA comerades has tried to help, but time constraints have been severe.

And, no, just because I believe the consecration of the sacrament brings about a permanent change in the nature of the elements does not mean I espouse Transubstantiation. That's a leap of logic like the one that I make when I think that because some Evangelicals are overtaken by hysteria during worship, it happens to all of them. The Real Orthodox believe the elements are permanently changed too, but they reject Transubstantiation. And why the reliance on 39 statements that, in there day, were merely meant to bring some sort of stability to a politically fractured Kingdom, that have never been required of anyone outside the UK, at least not once we loosened our allegiance to the Monarch, and which contain some things that are patently wrong? The 39 Articles are not Scripture, they are not canon law, they are not dogma, they are not anything other than an attempt by an English monarch to bring some sort of religiopolitical stability to the an uncertain throne.

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 28 July 2009 at 1:58pm BST

"...which is condemned by Article 28 of the 39."

OH, NO! NOT THAT! *Anything* but affirm something condemned by the 39 Articles!

The Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion have "reached substantial agreement on the doctrine of the eucharist," in the words of the ARCIC 's "Agreed Statement on Eucharistic Doctrine, by the way.

http://www.prounione.urbe.it/dia-int/arcic/doc/e_arcic_eucharist.html

Posted by BillyD at Tuesday, 28 July 2009 at 2:16pm BST

Billy, thank you for linking to the ARCIC agreed statement. But the historic formularies of the Church of England do not include this statement, but do include the Thirty-Nine Articles. I am not trying to impose on everyone the understanding of Communion in those Articles. But I do want to say that that understanding is an authentically Anglican one which should not be ignored or condemned by Anglicans.

Ford, I am not suggesting that "fundamentalists" will or should take over the Church of England. Many of us who hold a more evangelical view on the Communion are not at all fundamentalist on social or moral issues. On the other hand, I note that a good proportion of those who are vocally opposed to gay bishops etc are not evangelicals at all, but Anglo-Catholics. So that is an entirely separate issue from this one about Communion. Meanwhile, if you believe that the wine is no longer wine after being consecrated, but don't call your position transubstantiation, then perhaps you could explain a bit more clearly what you do believe about Communion.

Posted by Peter Kirk at Tuesday, 28 July 2009 at 4:49pm BST

Peter:

As I read Ford--and I know he'll tell me if I'm wrong--it is that the wine and the bread, after consecration, are no longer JUST wine and bread. They are something more.

Think of it as similar to the nature of Christ himself--wholly man and wholly God simultaneously.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Tuesday, 28 July 2009 at 7:26pm BST

"I note that a good proportion of those who are vocally opposed to gay bishops etc are not evangelicals at all, but Anglo-Catholics."

This is interesting, because I see it precisely the opposite. I don't see all that many Anglicatholics among them actually, but maybe that's just becasue I don't know enough about who those people are. +Akinola, who seems to be one of their more prominent leaders certainly isn't, Harvey makes claims to be, but seems to have long ago gone off the rails. Any any Anglo-catholic who could sign the Jerusalem Statement shoud be given a crash course in Christology and the definition of "orthodox".

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 28 July 2009 at 8:21pm BST

Peter,

I believe that the Eucharist is the central, most important act of Christian worship. In the words of some North African martyrs taken during the Persecution of Diocletian "it is what we do." When the ecclesia gathers to do anamnesis, which connotes a kind of "bringing into being by remembering", Christ is Really Present in the elements. I believe that because He said so, and because it is what the Church has always believed. It is not simply an act of pious memory. Read Kallistos Ware's The Orthodox Church, you'll get a better idea of where I'm coming from. Transubstantiation does not simply refer to the idea that the elements of the Eucharist are changed in some fashion, but is a way of understanding what that change is.

When the elements of our Eucharist become the Body and Blood of Christ, they are united with all the other bread and wine of all the other Eucharists ever celebrated or to be celebrated, including that first one where He said "This is My Body....This is My Blood." So the Eucharist is a sacrifice. It is NOT a repeating of that once for all sacrifice, but a joining on to it. After all, what else do we Christians have to plead before the Throne, if not the sacrifice of Christ? The Eucharist is a sacrament of unity not only with the people there in the church at the time, but with all who have ever celebrated it across space and time.

This is about how God interacts with His Creation, how the simple things of life are made vehicles of Grace. When we speak of the transformative power of God, I get the idea that for Evangelicals it is about God's power to change people's lives. For me, it about God's power to transform all Creation. It is very Incarnational, this idea that created matter is the preferred vehicle by which God redeemed us. It is NOT New Age or airy fairy, it goes waaaaaaay back. God could, presumably have redeemed us however He liked, He IS God after all. But He chose to to become a part of His Creation and created matter is instilled with a Godliness as a result. That's why we can venerate icons, for instance, and why that act is considered essential by the Orthodox for a proper understanding of the Incarnation, and why every year in Lent they anathemize those who do not. Modern Protestantism is very non-materialistic, seeing created matter as somehow bad and tainted. That seems to reject the idea that the Incarnation changed everything, frankly, and has a lot in common with some strains of Gnosticism.

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 29 July 2009 at 6:42pm BST

BillyD wrote: The Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion have "reached substantial agreement on the doctrine of the eucharist," in the words of the ARCIC 's "Agreed Statement on Eucharistic Doctrine, by the way.
-------------------------------------------------
I find myself wondering how many ordinary members of Anglican Communion churches KNOW what the Anglican Communion seems to have agreed to on their behalf and how many would actually accept what the statement says. Did TEC's General Convention ever vote on the ARCIC statement? If not, then the statement has no authority for members of TEC.

I'll second the thrust of Peter Kirk's point that the ARCIC statement is not one of the historic formularies of the C of E, and add that it isn't one of TEC's either. Our teaching about the Eucharist is found in our BCP, most explicitly in the Catechism, where we are told that "[t]he inward and spiritual grace in the Holy Communion is the Body and Blood of Christ given to his people, and received by faith" (pg. 859), which is the classic Anglican doctrine. Anglicanism now tolerates acceptance of the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, as well as beliefs about Real Presence that are closer to those held by the Eastern Orthodox and by classic Lutheranism (and that's a good expression of Anglican comprehenisveness for the sake of Truth), but there should be no doubt about the fact that such beliefs are departures from the formally-promulgated teachings of Anglicanism, and from the beliefs of our martyrs, such as Cranmer, Ridely, Latimer, and Tyndale. Anglicanism can NEVER accept the Roman assertion that belief in Transubstantion is necessary for salvation (see the Decrees of the Council of Trent), and any "unity" achieved on that basis would have to be resisted.

All of this said, I object to the use of little shot glasses for communion on aesthetic and liturgical grounds. I think they take away from the dignity of the Eucharistic ritual and risk "profanation" (which is a perfectly "orthodox" Anglican term with reference to the Eucharist; see the final rubric in the 1662 BCP, with reference to kneeling to receive). The Elements should be treated reverently, because of that for which they are outward and visible signs. Little shot glasses make such reverence more difficult. I write this based on my experience having belonged to a denomination that used small individual glasses before coming to Anglicanism.

Posted by WilliamK at Thursday, 30 July 2009 at 12:57am BST

"[t]he inward and spiritual grace in the Holy Communion is the Body and Blood of Christ given to his people, and received by faith"

How is Real Presence, or even Transubstantiation for that matter, contradictory to this? If I claim the Body and Blood of Christ are really present in the elements, that is by necessity a statement of faith. Of COURSE I receive the Body and Blood through faith, how could it be otherwise? I just happen to have faith that the Body and Blood of Christ are really present in the elements. How does that constitute anything other than receiving by faith?

"The Elements should be treated reverently, because of that for which they are outward and visible signs."

We have FAITH that they are outward and visible signs. We of a more Catholic mindset have FAITH that they are outward and visible signs because they have been changed by the grace of God. How is that NOT reception of Christ in the Eucharist through faith? I have a suspician that this isn't about faithful discernment of Christ in the elements. It's about a pretty classic Protestant anti-materialism that borders on Gnosticism, this idea that any perception of the Divine in a created object is suspiciously like idolatry. Well, in Christ, the Divine was very forcefully present in created matter for 32 years, give or take, and we believe that that created matter, perfected in the Resurrection, now sits at the right hand of God. And we have FAITH that the created matter of the bread and wine become in some mystical sense the Body and Blood of Christ. For the life of me, I can't see how this contradicts the Articles. But then I can't see why Articles are held up by some as somehow authoritative to all of us.

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 30 July 2009 at 3:22pm BST

"How is Real Presence, or even Transubstantiation for that matter, contradictory to this?"

Ford, I have often been amused by what some Anglicans seem to say about the Eucharist: "Exactly how the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ, we don't know. Unlike some Churches, we don't try to define the change. It's a mystery. Except we *do* know that it positively, absolutely, isn't Transubstantiation. What do you think we are, a bunch of Romans?"

Posted by BillyD at Thursday, 30 July 2009 at 7:33pm BST

OK, so that was stupid of me. Transubstantiation is denied by the Articles. But I still don't see how they preclude eithere the understanding that the elements are not changed, nor that they are. The Articles are deliberately vague, as far as possible, for a reason.

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 30 July 2009 at 8:13pm BST

For my part, I am perfectly happy to affirm all sorts of things seemingly denied by the Articles of Religion, and to deny other things affirmed by them.

Some of the Articles are true. Others, not so much (Article XXI's injunction that General Councils meet only by "the commandment and will of Princes" leading the pack).

I don't know what is the "correct" explanation for what I believe to be the objective and real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. If it's the mystery that I've been taught that it is, I don't see how Transubstantiation can be definitively ruled out, except on the word of a 16th century collection of articles that seem to be as much political as they are religious. On the other hand, I don't see any reason to insist upon it. I'll stick with the rhyme that Elizabeth I was reputed to have answered would-be inquisitors during the reign of Queen Mary:

Christ was the Word that spake it
He took the bread and brake it
And what that Word did make it
I do believe, and take it.

Posted by BillyD at Thursday, 30 July 2009 at 11:09pm BST

Ford, it is clear that you and I have radically different understandings of the Church. I would suggest that an indication of which is genuinely Anglican can be seen from the way that concerning the Communion you have appealed to an Eastern Orthodox writer, Ware, whereas I have appealed to the Thirty-Nine Articles. But I will agree with you that God's power transforms not just individuals but the whole of creation.

Posted by Peter Kirk at Friday, 31 July 2009 at 3:01pm BST

"Ford, it is clear that you and I have radically different understandings of the Church. I would suggest that an indication of which is genuinely Anglican can be seen from the way that concerning the Communion you have appealed to an Eastern Orthodox writer, Ware, whereas I have appealed to the Thirty-Nine Articles."

Good Heavens. So much for Anglicanism's claim to have no doctrine of its own, but only that of the undivided Church.

I honestly don't care much which approach is "genuinely Anglican," but I can tell at a glance which one is genuinely Catholic.

Posted by BillyD at Friday, 31 July 2009 at 4:51pm BST

some Anglicans seem to say about the Eucharist: "Exactly how the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ, we don't know. Unlike some Churches, we don't try to define the change. It's a mystery. Except we *do* know that it positively, absolutely, isn't Transubstantiation. What do you think we are, a bunch of Romans?"


That's it. You can't forget that some people are still fighting 500 year old battles. Anything with a hint of Romishness is of the Devil himself. It has been around a long time. Look at Jensen's statements, RCs are "subChristians", that sort of thing. What I find funniest is that these people, as I said above, espouse some Reformation era beliefs that were far more radical in their day than anything being proposed now, yet the actually call themselves "orthodox" in public as though no-one can see how heterodox they are, and all their opponents, many of whom a far more adherent to traditional Catholic teaching, are the "reassessors" and "innovators". I mean, do they think people are blind? I know Don harvey, he used to be our priest. I KNOW he knows why the Jerusalem Declaration isn't in any way orthodox, I know that he knows that much of what is preached by the Evangelicals who are his bedfellows is heterodox, yet he still calls himself "orthodox"! It's an amazing display of selfdelusion.

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 31 July 2009 at 5:49pm BST

I have three main gripes about the swine flu advice in the CofE. (1) It seems OTT, given the fact that deaths seem to be no greater than during orindary flu outbreaks, (2) While most bishops are only giving advice, some are purporting to give instructions to their clergy - I don't think they have the legal authority to do this - see my recent letter in the Church Times. (3) Some of the advice against intinction (from a minoiryt of bishops)is frankly potty. Allowing for the fact that there may be some slight helath risk with self-intinction, how can there be any risk when the priest thoroughly cleanses his / her hands, dips the host in the chalice and then puts it into the communicant's hand? It's been done in several Dicoeses without any complaint, but some bishops seem quite prejudiced on the issue. And the laity don't get a look in on the argument. Beyond that, I see no end to the current withholding of the chalice - our Government is not going to change its advice soon and the Archbishops aren't going to change theirs until the Government acts. We are walking into a situation where the chalice is permanently denied to the laity. What a situation in a church that is heir to the Reformation!

Posted by Stephen Linstead at Sunday, 23 August 2009 at 9:31pm BST


Maybe the Church should consider using Vinifera wafers.
Vinifera is a flour made from grapes after the winemaking process.

Posted by Vicki kellett at Wednesday, 30 September 2009 at 1:32am BST
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