This week's Reader Question is short and sweet, though the answer is a bit longer. Reader Jemajo asked the question through our submission form:
Can a communicant dip the Host in the Precious Blood in the Roman Catholic rite?
The practice of dipping the consecrated Host in the consecrated Precious Blood, in order to administer Holy Communion under both species, is customary in the Eastern rites of the Catholic Church and in the Eastern Orthodox Churches. The technical name for this is intinction, which simply means "to dip into." In most of the Eastern Churches, the bread used for Communion is leavened, so it cut into cubes and, after consecration of both the bread and the wine, is placed into the chalice with the Precious Blood. It is then administered to the faithful from a spoon.
The reader is asking about the Latin rite of the Catholic Church, however. In the Mass, intinction is allowed, but only under strict conditions.The particular situation that the reader outlines—the communicant receiving the Host in his hand, and then dipping it into the Precious Blood—is absolutely forbidden.
If Holy Communion is to be distributed in the Latin rite by intinction, then the practice that is followed in the Maronite rite of the Church must be followed. The Maronites (primarily Lebanese) use an unleavened host, like Latin rite Catholics do, but they administer Communion under both kinds through intinction.
The priest or deacon takes the Host and dips it into the Precious Blood before administering the Host to the communicant on the tongue. At no point does the communicant touch the Host with his hands—before, during, or after the intinction.
Priests who have a pastoral reason for giving Holy Communion under both kinds and want to do so through the practice of intinction must perform the intinction themselves, and they must then administer the Body and Blood only on the tongue, and not in the hand. The Church requires this not only in order to safeguard the Precious Blood, but also because communicants are to receive Communion, not to administer it to themselves.
That said, it is sadly not uncommon, in Latin rite churches where Communion is offered under both species, to see a communicant receive the Host in his hands and then proceed to the chalice, where he dips it into the Precious Blood. But such a practice is strictly forbidden, and priests in parishes where it is occurring need to instruct the faithful in the proper method of receiving Communion. Indeed, if the abuse continues, they may need to quit offering Communion under both species.
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