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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

Vote With An Informed Conscience

Dear Parishioners,

It is that time again to do our part in the process of democracy: vote. Today like no other time, we are pressed to make an effort to vote. Here in Oregon, voting by mail couldn't be easier. Hopefully, you have all received your Voter's Pamphlet in the mail from which you can begin to understand some of the issues. It is a time for us all to remember that our nation was founded on "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Some, however, have pursued one's own well-being over that of others, especially the most vulnerable. As such, we need to keep the needs of the poor in the forefront of our hearts and minds.

The voting season has also marked an increase in mailings to my office from various political action committees or candidates. The Church does not endorse any persons or parties, but she certainly can make a stand about issues. Each of these mailings try to convince me of their particular issue or candidate. Some literature has even come across my desk as either "The Catholic Vote" or "The Pro-Life Vote," often failing to do both in a full way. So, what are we to do? I point you to the bishop's document called "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship" which outlines the ethical and moral principals by which we are to consider when participating in our political process. The bishop's outline four major themes. They are as follows:

1. Human Life: The right to life of every human person from conception to natural death, must be protected.
2. Family Life: Marriage between a man and woman is not just a sacred good but a social good that government needs to recognize, encourage and protect.
3. Social Justice: The Catholic consistent life ethic “extends from the vulnerable inside the womb to the vulnerable outside the womb.”
4. Global Solidarity: Natural resources are God-given and “we are all responsible for protecting them.”

The bishop's go on to warn us about two tendencies:
"The first is a moral equivalence that makes no ethical distinctions between different kinds of issues involving human life and dignity. The direct and intentional destruction of innocent human life from the moment of conception until natural death is always wrong and is not just one issue among many. It must always be opposed.
"The second is the misuse of these necessary moral distinctions as a way of dismissing or ignoring other serious threats to human life and dignity. Racism and other unjust discrimination, the use of the death penalty, resorting to unjust war, the use of torture,4 war crimes, the failure to respond to those who are suffering from hunger or a lack of health care, or an unjust immigration policy are all serious moral issues that challenge our consciences and require us to act. These are not optional concerns which can be dismissed.

I urge you to read this document in its entirety as well as the Archbishop's Oct. 6th reflection on voting. Here are links related to these writings:
http://www.faithfulcitizenship.org http://www.catholicsentinel.org

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor