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Reception of holy Communion

06 Feb 2015, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Doctrines

I got a message on my Facebook page from Mr. Chuks Vincent Chuks; he read one of my articles titled: THE HOLY EUCHARIST (THE MASS), and he wishes to know why at Mass only the Priests consumes the blood of Jesus (the consecrated wine) and distribute only the body to the lay faithful. I am sure there are many others out there that want to know the answer to this question.Euch1

I want to begin by letting you know that there is no Divine law binding the laity from partaking or sharing in the cup (the blood of Jesus); no, there is no such law. For some grave reasons, the Church may withhold the cup from the laity, not because they are not worthy, neither are they denied their reception of Jesus. The issue of worthiness is out of it because the Priest himself also needs the mercy of God. Before I tell you some of the reasons that may make the Church withhold the cup from the laity, I wish to explain something significant.

Jesus Christ cannot be divided; we cannot claim that part of him is in the blood (the consecrated wine) why the other part is in the body (the consecrated bread). The Church believes that Jesus Christ is present, Body, Soul, and divinity in both forms (Bread and Wine). Whether you receive the Holy Communion under the appearance of bread or wine, you received Christ in total (Body, Soul, and Divinity).

Note that at some point, during the consecration, the Priest breaks the breadbread 2 and cuts a portion of the large host (consecrated bread), and puts it into the Chalice (the cup containing the blood). This is an essential thing to note; he is doing that for nothing but to pass a message. That mingling rite he performs signifies the union of the body and blood of Jesus Christ; be warned, the union did not take place at the mingling but as the words of consecration were spoken over the bread and wine by the Priest. This is a mysterious gift to the Church; we may not be able to explain satisfactorily to everyone; it demands a lot of faith. Jesus is present in both forms.

Let’s go back to why the laity are sometimes not given a chance to receive Christ in the form of wine. AS I said earlier, there is no Divine law that binds them from receiving in this form, but the Church may stop the laity to control abuses. You and I know how difficult it would be to let every parishioner partake of the cup, especially on Sundays when we have huge congregations; receiving communion under the form of wine may take the whole day. But in a situation where the congregation is small and controllable, they can be given a chance. I do that during wedding ceremonies, and the couples at least receive Christ in both forms.bread 3

The Church may also consider the health challenges connected to this form of reception of communion. You can imagine a congregation of over Ten Thousand parishioners, as the case may be, sharing from one or two cups. It’s dangerous.

The laity is not segregated or discriminated against; we are one body (the church) with one head (Jesus Christ).