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Chalice

Guidelines at Mass During Flu Season

Guidelines at Mass During Flu Season

Dear Parishioners,

We are now at the peak of the flu season.  Last weekend, I shared that we are trying to be sensitive to this health issue. Similarly, many parishes have been concerned and have asked for guidance from the archdiocesan Office for Divine Worship. Here are their guidelines which they offered:

1. While communion under both species has “a more complete form as a sign when it is received under both kinds,” [GIRM 281], it is not always necessary or advisable.

2.  It is left to the prudent judgment of the pastor whether communion under both kinds should be offered during a period in which there is a high incidence of colds and the flu.

3. If Communion under both kinds is retained those who are not feeling well should refrain from receiving from the chalice, and should receive Holy Communion under the form of bread alone to avoid transmitting any illness.

4. Due to the fact that our hands are often transmitters of the cold and flu, care should be taken that:


a. No one should ever be permitted to self-intinct (dip) the consecrated host into the Precious Blood. The practice is prohibited by law and its result can be the unknowing transmission of illness.
b. In place of the regular way of offering the sign of peace a nod of the head and a verbal greeting of peace rather than the shaking of hands during this cold and flu season may be used.
c. Holding hands during the Our Father should be discouraged.


5. Those who are Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion in the parish church or those involved in ministry to the homebound should take special precautions. They should heed all health directives by frequently washing their hands and avoiding contact with others, especially those most susceptible to illness.

6. Catholics who are ill are excused from Sunday worship out of respect and concern for their fellow worshipers. Catholics who are ill may make a spiritual communion during the time of their illness.

So, I believe it prudent during all Masses to refrain from offering the chalice, discouraging shaking hands at the Sign of Peace, as well as from holding hands at the Lord’s Prayer.  It is my hope that fewer people will communicate the flu virus while at Mass.  Thank you for your understanding and patience, as this may be a source of sacrifice, especially for those for whom the chalice is the only way they receive communion due to celiac disease.  In these cases, a blessing and spiritual communion is the best that can be offered. These practices will be in place through the end of February where we expect to return to our regular practices.

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor

Questions About The Eucharist. Part V

Questions About The Eucharist. Part V

Dear Parishioners,

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.


Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor

Questions About The Eucharist. Part IV

Questions About The Eucharist. Part IV

Dear Parishioners,

Here is round four of Q & A’s related to the Eucharist.  If you didn’t catch the previous ones, check out my previous blog entries. This week, there is only one question since the answer is more involved.

Question: “When did the laity first start receiving from the chalice?”

Answer: Here’s a brief history.  The Liturgy in its earliest form always had both species offered to those present up to the late 11th and early 12th centuries. Due to practical and prudential judgement in view of cost, logistics, availability, the age of recipients, and especially the potential of spillage, etc. the offering of the chalice fell out of custom. Afterwards, it gradually became reserved for the priest himself since it was essential for the sacrificial nature of the Mass, though not necessary for others to receive both species since reception of either is reception of Christ’s true presence (Body and Blood). It eventually became the universal practice and even declared church law. In the Council of Trent (1570), it was explicitly forbidden to be given out to anyone other than a priest.  In 1963, the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council allowed a reintroduction of the Precious Blood to the faithful (see the document, Sacrosanctum Concilium, no. 55), and in 1970, the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship allowed the bishops’ conferences to discern its use and practice. Already by that time it had been permitted for a bride and groom at a nuptial Mass or at a Mass for the reception of converts to the Faith. In 1984, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), decided to give the decision to the bishop of each diocese. So, some dioceses allowed it where others did not. Here in the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon, it has been allowed and is offered at most parishes. Be mindful, however, that in churches or dioceses where the chalice is not being offered, it is not a violation of anyone’s rights, faith practice, or even of what Christ instituted at the Last Supper since we do receive Him in each individual species. You might remember a few years back when our Archbishop asked us not to offer the chalice due to the outbreak of the H1N1 virus.  The may be times when such a health situation, again, may warrant such a decision.  In developing countries, offering the chalice is impossible due to sheer cost. We can afford offering the Precious Blood, therefore we do. It has been profitable for our faith, and we are grateful for its allowance. For some, as already described in last week’s Q & A, who struggle with alcoholism, they may very well refrain from receiving from the chalice, yet still receive Christ’s true presence in the host.

Hope this helps.  Next week’s question: “When we receive only the host, should I bow when I pass the minister with the chalice?”  Do you think you could answer this one?  Return next week and find out.


Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor

Questions About The Eucharist. Part III

Questions About The Eucharist. Part III

Dear Parishioners,

Here is round three of questions related to the Eucharist.  If you didn’t catch the previous ones, go to previous blog entries. This week, there is only one question since the answer is more involved.

Question: “If the priest is alcoholic or has Celiac’s disease, how can he offer the Mass? What about parishioners?”

Answer:  If a priest suffers from either of these issue, it is a real issue whether he can offer the Mass since it is required of him to partake of the host and chalice for the sacrifice to be complete.  To be clear, one solution is not to simply use grape juice instead of wine.  The chalice of Christ was truly wine, fermented fruit of the vine of grapes.  So, in order to maintain this reality while also minimizing the effects of alcohol on the priest, something called “mustum” is used.  Mustum is a special grape juice, the result of the crushing grapes allowed to begin fermentation, but then quickly frozen so as to retain some alcohol content, but a very small amount.  So, mustum is not common table wine nor grape juice.  Mustum is something in-between. Grape juice, as we know it, is pasteurized which evaporates any natural fermentation that was present.  That is why we can buy juice at the store and it can last so long before it begins to turn to wine or vinegar.  To be clear, non-alcoholic grape juice was not used during the time of Jesus and therefore not used at the Last Supper.  Wine, fermented grape juice, was used by Jesus, and so we do the same.  Mustum is fermented, albeit only slightly.  I have never heard of mustum being offered to the congregation due to the complexity and pragmatics of such an approach.

In regards to Celiac’s disease, the species of the host always maintains its “wheat-ness,” that is its appearance and qualities of wheat.  This is true even after consecration.  What changes due to consecration is the substance, the what-it-is-ness.  How’s that for a strange new word? This is true about the species of the Precious Blood.  It maintains all the physical qualities of grape wine.  But, due to consecration, both are changed into something substantially, truly, essentially different… the Body and Blood of Christ.  Back to Celiac’s disease.  An estimated 1% of the population has Celiac’s disease.  While that may not seem like a lot of people, think of it as 1 in every 133 people. That means there is at least one or two people at every Mass that struggle with this disease.  Celiac’s disease is a “genetic autoimmune disease that damages the villi of the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food” (celiaccentral.org). That means foods with gluten are a no-no.  Unfortunately, wheat has gluten in it, and is considered constitutive and essential for wheat to be wheat, and bread from wheat is necessary for the host to be valid matter.  Some have proposed the use of non-gluten hosts, but then these are not considered truly made of wheat, therefore invalid matter for consecration.  So what is a priest, and for that matter anyone, to do who has Celiac’s disease? Depending on the priest or person’s physical reaction to the gluten in a host, they can still choose the host regularly offered at Mass and know the consequences of such, or use/receive a low-gluten host.  A low-gluten host is valid matter for consecration, though the pragmatics of its use are very difficult to pull off.  For example, depending on the person, there can be no contamination of the other hosts with a low-gluten host.  For the priest, that would be difficult to do since he has to handle the bulk of hosts during the Mass.  I have pondered on all of the ways to make this happen considering all the complexities of our church, the variety of priests, and its praxis.  I have concluded simply to ask those who struggle with Celiac’s disease to make a personal choice to either receive a regular host or receive only from the chalice. Remember, there is no harm in receiving from one species, for Christ is truly present in either species. This is a very sensitive situation which needs to be dealt with in the most pastoral way.  Different churches will decided differently on how to work with this disease and the pragmatics of their solutions.

Whew!  That was a long response!  Next week’s question: “When did the laity first start receiving from the chalice?”  Do you think you could answer this one?  Return next week and find out.


Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor

Questions About The Eucharist. Part II

Questions About The Eucharist. Part II

Dear Parishioners,

Here is the second round of of questions related to the Eucharist.  If you didn’t catch the previous ones, go to my previous blog entry.

Question: “Is it okay to just receive the Eucharist in the host or chalice?”

Answer:  Yes.  The Church has always believed that at Mass, the bread and wine become the very presence of Christ’s Body and Blood.  Furthermore, they don’t change afterwards, but remain so.  That is why we have a Tabernacle where we place the remaining hosts and carefully make sure the contents of all chalices are consumed before Mass concludes. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that Christ’s true presences "endures as long as the Eucharistic species subsist" (no. 1377).  “Species?”  What is that you might ask?  The term for the two appearances of the Eucharist are each called, “species.”  At Mass, we bring forward bread and wine.  These two are consecrated by the priest and are then considered the “species” of the Eucharist. It is good and permitted to receive both species at Mass, though sometimes it is best not healthy to receive both species depending on one’s situation.  If you are sick, I ask that you receive the host only and in the hand.  Reception on the tongue, while noble and reverent, also introduces the high probability of communicating a virus from toungue-to-hand-to-toungue. In addition, I would recommend not receiving from the chalice.  This is simply in view of prudential judgement and the reduction of scandal for those who are concerned about their health especially during the cold season.  Have you ever noticed that all our Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion sanitize their hands before coming forward for their ministry during the Rite of Communion?  Yes, we are all trying to be good about the reality of communicable diseases and the health of our parishioners, most especially the elderly.

Question: “Is Christ’s body only present in the host and his blood only in the chalice?”

Answer: No. We believe that Christ’s true presence, his Body and Blood, are present in both species.  That means a person can receive either species and know that they have received the fullness of the sacramental presence of Jesus Christ.  Sometimes a person is alcoholic and will not receive from the chalice, but instead receive only the host.  Sometimes a person suffers from Celiac’s disease (is allergic to the gluten in wheat) and will not receive the host, but instead receive from the chalice. This has always been our belief, but it was more formally define in the Council of Trent and reiterated in our current catechism (Council of Trent, Session XIII, Canon III as quoted last week, Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1377).  Another way of viewing this is that Christ’s essence or glorified humanity cannot be divided, but is always one, though found in varied presences.  For example, Christ’s humanity and divinity are two natures, but indivisible in what the Church has described as a “hypostatic union.” That term can be reflected another time. Be assured, though, that Christ’s body, blood, soul, and dignity are found in each of the species of the Eucharist.

Again, I hope this helps.  Next week’s question: “If the priest is alcoholic or has Celiac’s disease, how can he offer the Mass?”  Do you think you could answer this one?  Return next week and find out.


Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor

Some Liturgical Changes


Dear Parishioners,

In the past several weeks, Fr. Manuel, Jessica, and I have been pondering upon and experimenting with some ideas and ways to adjust our liturgy.  Beginning this weekend, we will be implementing two changes, one for Sunday celebrations and Holy Days of Obligation and one for daily Mass.

On Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, we decided to change the way the vessels will be purified after Communion.  Going forward, the cup ministers will return their chalices to the Credence Table while the host ministers will continue to return their bowls to the Altar.  The vessels will still be purified by the priest or deacon, but in two different locations, expediting the clearing of the Altar.  To do this, the servers are being retrained to make sure that the Credence Table is mostly free of other items used earlier in the Mass such as the lavabo (the bowl for the priest to wash his hands) and other items used in preparation for the Liturgy of the Eucharist.  Also, the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion are being trained to follow this new process.  This will also allow the sacristans to clean or prepare the vessels for the next Mass if they wish.  The clearing of the Altar is not a separate Rite in the Mass but a procedure in a transitional phase from the Communion Rite to the Concluding Rite.  However, due to the number of vessels, this procedure has been taking so much time so as to appear as a formal rite in and of itself.  This change will clarify and simplify this part of the Mass.  The General Instructions to the Roman Missal directs that the purification of the vessels can be done at their location. (GIRM 163).

On weekdays, we have decided to emphasize a greater unity with the Universal Church and increase awareness of the principle of Progressive Solemnity.  This term, Progressive Solemnity, is the principle where by the Mass ebbs and flows according to the state or “level” of celebration in the Mass.  When Mass is being offered on a day in Ordinary Time and there is no saint of whom we memorialize nor is there any feast or solemnity, the Mass should take on a very basic form.  This kind of day is called a “ferial celebration” or “ferial day”  The term comes from the Latin, feria, meaning “free day.”  On these weekday Masses, we will forego singing at the beginning and end of Mass and, instead, replace the entrance song with the universal antiphon which the Church is expressing all through the globe.  This is called the Entrance Antiphon.  The procession of the priest leaving the Sanctuary will be done in silence.  This small change will let us experience the change of a seasons via memorials, feasts, or solemnities in contrast to those days where none of these are prescribed.  So on ferial days, the Mass will be much simpler.  When a saint is to be memorialized, singing at the entrance and recessional of the Mass will return.  On feast days, as the Church prescribes, the Gloria will be said or sung.  On Solemnities, the Creed will be added.  So, depending on the kind of day the Mass lands, there will be more or less things happening.  We hope that this very small shift will allow our daily Mass goers to experience more the variations or the progressiveness of the sacrifice of the Mass while also bringing more harmony with the Masses offered throughout the world.

Are these important or critical changes, no.  But, I do believe that these small changes will aid us in more clarity and intelligibility of the actions, meanings, and sense of progression within the celebration of the Mass.

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger