Here is the final edition of Q & A’s related to the Eucharist. If you didn’t catch the previous ones, check out my previous blog entries.
Question: “When we receive only the host, should I bow when I pass the minister with the chalice?”
Answer: No. One should make a simple bow of the head when receiving the host or from the chalice. But, there is no such rubric stating that one should bow when passing the chalice minister if not receiving from the chalice. I don’t know where this custom has come from, but I cannot not recommend adding or subtracting from the guidelines, also called the General Instructions of the Roman Missal (GIRM). Doing so inserts one’s own personal piety in a liturgical moment for the community. Imagine someone stopping and bowing while someone collides with that person. In one sense, the person who collided with the bowing person might be considered rude, yet the person bowing is not following the rubrics of the Church and, instead, is adding an uncalled for gesture not found in the rubrics. This question opens up a larger issue about following the rubrics of the Mass and that of the local bishop. Some people desire to kneel or genuflect when receiving the Eucharist and others desire to kneel during the Lamb of God. The liturgical rubrics and our bishop are clear when and how we are to bow and kneel, and those moments are not among them. All that being said, it is important to be aware of one’s surroundings at Mass in case someone genuflects or stops and bows unexpectedly and you collide or fall over them. People who kneel or genuflect when receiving the Eucharist should not be refused… that has happened and the GIRM expressly calls ministers not to refuse people for this reason. For those who kneel during the Lamb of God, I simply ask them to obey the current liturgical law of the bishop and remain standing. Imagine if I decided to make up liturgical gestures because of my personal piety. People would have a reasonable gripe to challenge me about it. I make an effort to speak to my parochial vicars about this when they first arrive at our parish. I also spend time every year to review the GIRM, for I am prone to form a habit or forget something and reviewing the GIRM keeps me fresh and obedient. Archbishop Sample recently made it clear to all of us priest that he just wants us to be faithful to the Roman Missal and the GIRM contained therein. In addition, Archbishop Sample will be reflecting more on the gesture at the Lamb of God, and until such time he decides to change the gesture, it is still the determination of the bishop for the people to stand at that time (http://www.archdpdx.org/liturgy/documents/girm-local-complete.pdf). If ever there is a liturgical rubric change, rest assured that I will make it known to everyone.
Question: “I heard that we will no longer be offering the chalice to the elderly? Is this true?”
Answer: No. This is a misunderstanding of the information that was given to our Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion during their latest refresher training. What we will be doing is no longer transporting the chalice to the back of the church for someone who is unable to walk in the communion line. The reason is simple: spillage. We will continue to offer the host to those in the back, for there is little issue therein. I am calling upon those who are lacking mobility and wish to receive both species to sit in the front pews and let the ushers know of their desire to receive the Eucharist. At the Rite of Communion, the mobility-challenged parishioners, a host minister and, if possible, a chalice minister will be directed to such persons to receive the Eucharist. This is not a grand change other than not allowing the chalice to be traveling around the church. This is simply a decision of prudential judgement on my part. We will continue to offer the chalice at Mass as long as our bishop allows it. It is a good thing to be able to receive from the chalice, though not necessary, as the host is available. At Christmas and Easter Masses, sometimes we have people in the balcony. In those situations, I have directed an additional host minister go to them, but have not done so with the chalice. Again, the same principle applies.
This concludes my Q & A’s regarding the Eucharist. I truly hope that these reflections have been helpful. If you have other questions, please email me or bring your question to the office and I will do my best to answer it either personally or here in the bulletin.
Fr. William Holtzinger