Seven Theses on Current Discussions of the Doctrine of the Real Presence

 1. Because the doctrine of the Real Presence is a mystery, all human explanations of it are inadequate. This includes those explanations falling under the larger umbrella of ‘transubstantiation.’

2. Contemporary theologians who point out the inadequacies of ‘transubstantiation’ and attempt other explanations are almost never (if ever) denying the doctrine of the Real Presence.

3. Those who criticize contemporary theologians and defend ‘transubstantiation’ (as they understand it) sometimes show that they do not understand what contemporary theologians are saying.

4. A spiritually fruitful attitude toward various proposed explanations of the Real Presence, including contemporary ones, would be to draw inspiration from them all, though they are all inadequate.

5. Overly strong personal attachment to any doctrine and any explanation of it, including Real Presence and ‘transubstantiation,’ is a form of idolatry. The best antidote to this is the Real Presence itself, which draws us out of human constructs and into the abiding, mysterious presence of God in Christ.

6. The magisterium of the Church offers guidance which is helpful but may well be superseded in subsequent eras. Radbertus’ understanding of the Real Presence was affirmed by church officials, for example, only to be roundly rejected by Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas’ theology was condemned by church officials, only to be later rehabilitated and affirmed.

7. The conditions for an intellectually and spiritually fruitful discussion of the doctrine of the Real Presence all too often do not exist in the contemporary Catholic Church. Suspicion and misunderstanding are holding us back.


  1. 1. Agreed. Does anyone deny this?

    2. I would agree that few if any set out to do this. Whether they articulate positions that end up doing this is another question. Also, many unexceptionable positions expounded by trained theologians become exceptionable when translated by their epigones in pulpit and pew.

    3. And at least some of us do understand what some (not all) of them are saying, and just happen to find it wanting in some serious way.

    4. Agreed. Though, as far as I know, only the term “transubstantiation” has dogmatic status. In this way, it is something like homoousious: one might seek to understand it in various ways, and come up with alternative terminology, but one cannot deny it (or, I would argue, dismiss it as hopelessly unintelligible “Greek” metaphysics).

    5. I think this charge is unfair and a cheap shot.

    6. This is a bit misleading. Thomas’s account of transubstantiation was never repudiated by the Church. Also, his is not the dogmatic account of the doctrine; Trent’s is.

    7. Agreed. More charity all around would be needed.

    1. All good points, Fritz, though I disagree on #5. Regarding #4, I thought that the dogma is real presence, and transubstantiation has a slightly lower status as a hallowed, approved, venerable explanation of it. Trent defined substantial change, then carefullly went on to say that that transubstantiation is “most apt” – which it is, but doesn’t make it a dogma.

      1. I guess I would press the analogy with homoousious: the doctrine is that God is Father, Son and Spirit and homoousious is, if you will, canonized as a necessary if not sufficient verbal articulation of that doctrine. In other words, any account of what it means for God to be Father, Son and Spirit must be able to accommodate the term homoousious.

        Similarly, I think Calvin has a doctrine of “real presence” but one that cannot accommodate the term “transubstantiation” and clearly this is part of what Trent wants to exclude by identifying this as the “most apt” term for Eucharistic change.

        I should make clear that I think there are some enduring puzzles about how to understand and apply the term “transubstantiation,” but I would argue that this remains one of the tasks (but not the only one) of any Catholic account of the Eucharist. It can’t be set aside as hopelessly incoherent (as P. J. Fitzpatrick does) or as outdated metaphysics.

    2. ad 6. Correct. Church officials condemned many points in Thomas, including some or much of his philosophical underpinnings, but I don’t believe they condemned his Eucharistic theology explicity. Thanks, Fritz, for the clarification.

  2. The last time I looked up the weight of the term “transubstantiation,” I recall that officials argue that the word is the best we currently have for describing what happens during the liturgy. I believe the word used is “apt.”

  3. I only know of Rabanus what I’ve read here. It is mostly a summary and paraphrase, with very few actual quotes from him. If this is an accurate summary: “The change is brought about by a miracle of the Holy Spirit [who] creates from day to day, wherever the mass is celebrated, the same body and blood out of the substance of bread and wine“, then I can understand why the Church might have found a problem with his explanation. Is it proper to say that Christ’s Real Presence is “created … out of the substance of bread and wine”, or rather that the substance of the bread and wine cease and are replaced (is that a good word?) with the substance of the Son?

    Edit: actually, now I’m not so sure of my analysis, seeing as how Trent says “change of the whole substance of the bread into the body.” I don’t know for sure what is meant by “into” here. Is it a conversion of bread and wine into Christ, or is it something else? (I guess that’s why it’s a mystery…)

    Dom Ruff, could you or someone else provide some embellishment or clarification (or just a couple good links) on Radbertus?

  4. Jeffrey:
    Aquinas discards the idea that Christ “replaces” the bread (which either leaves or is annihilated), as difficult to reconcile with the words on institution. He favours eucharistic “conversion”—the bread “becomes” his body, the wine his blood. Scotus and his followers continued to work with replacement language, but Trent clearly favours “change.”

    So the Roman Catholic bottom line is not simply Real Presence (Calvin et al profess versions of this), but Real Presence by Eucharistic Change.

  5. Some of the most faithful Catholics I know, could not give a definition for transubstantiation, yet they believe with their entire being that the Lord is truly present and that it is the Lord they receive not just ordinary bread and wine.
    It seems to me that the discussion should revolve around how we show reverence for our Lord at Mass, after Mass and while we receive Holy Communion. I think most of us who can remember the “good old days” would ever recall intentional or unintentional “irreverence” shown toward the Mass and the Eucharistic species. Today this is quite common. Most of us have seen the host brought back to the pew, left on the floor or in missalettes or hymnals. Sometimes our Lord is brought home. I’ve seen parents break off a piece of the host and give it to a child, because the child wondered what it was. We’ve seen the girl friend of a South American politician place the host in her boyfriend’s shirt pocket, caught on video. We’ve seen and read liturgical theologians mock adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction, as though people in the real world don’t look at food in order to develop an appetite. Why do they watch the Food Network?
    So if we really believe that our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ is truly present at Mass and in the Eucharistic elements, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, what does it mean to reverently receive our Lord and in a state of grace? What does it mean to show reverence and be reverent at Mass and in the presence of our Lord after Mass? Should we recoil when the host is dropped or the Precious Blood spilled on shirts, shoes or the floor?

    1. I think we want respect and reverence, but not obsessive scrupulosity. I’ve never seen consecrated wine spilled here – but the point is, if it were, there is no sin whatsoever if it wasn’t done intentionally but was an honest mistake. We have to avoid sloppiness, but also obsessiveness.
      In catechizing the laity I suspect we have a lot of work to do both for those who believe too little and for those who, so to speak, believe too much. It is a rather serious distortion of the mystery of the blessed Eucharist to focus only on the real presence, to think this is localized, to think this is the most important thing in the Mass. There are people who believe all that, and it’s a problem. Thomas Aquinas thought otherwise – he said that the ‘res’ is the union of the mystical body (ie the people, the church). The elements, by contrast, are the ‘res et sacramentum’ – the sign which lead us to the important thing, the ‘res.’

      1. I don’t think it is a sin to unintentionally spill the consecrated Wine or drop the Host, but our piety should feel some kind of concern. I knocked a friend of mine in the face with my elbow , I didn’t mean it, but I felt bad nonetheless and so did he! Today’s problem in terms of reverence though, is not scrupulosity, but unscrupulosity. Neither are good, but I’d prefer to be in the company of a scrupulous person rather than an unscrupulous one.

      2. The problem of spilling the precious blood provides one more argument for banning carpets in church. The day we tore out the moss green, thick pile (not quite shag) carpet that had been inflicted on our church in the late 70s was a great and glorious one.The singing has never sounded better.

      3. In my previous parish church consecrated in 1863, the pastor in the 1970’s wall to wall carpeted over all the marble floors of the nave and the marble tile floors of the sanctuary. It was a gold shag! The next pastor re-carpeted in the 1980’s with a gray carpet. When I got there in 1991, I thought it was carpeted because the floor was disfigured or in disrepair. Then I was able to pull back some of it and saw what was underneath! I called the pastor who carpeted it in the first place and he said there was nothing wrong with the marble floor, he just didn’t like marble and the carpet made the sound dull so that the spoken word could be heard like in a studio. I had it all removed and the marble shined. All of it dates back to the 1860’s, Georgia marble, and I guess the 20 years it was carpeted preserved it, saints preserve us!

  6. “Most of us have seen the host brought back …”

    I hear and read many who advocate for more reverence suggest this, but I can’t say I’ve ever seen this.

    I think reverence should be all-encompassing, inclusive of our care for listening to the Word and giving honor and deference to other believers. Not to mention the poor.

    Which saint suggested we treat the Word of God with the same reverence as the sacrament, not allowing a particle of it to slip before it reached our ears?

    I’m not sure #5 is all that far from the mark, though I would suggest that once a believer feels they have achieved a sound and fruitful reverence for the Eucharist, perhaps it is a sign of their inspiration for continuing growth to explore Christ’s presence elsewhere–not as a replacement for Eucharistic belief, but as part of a search for the Lord wherever he may be found.

    1. “Most of us have seen the host brought back …”
      I hear and read many who advocate for more reverence suggest this, but I can’t say I’ve ever seen this.

      I have, on more than one occasion. This does not, however, make me advocate banning communion in the hand.

  7. I’m wholeheartedly in favor of reverence for the Mass in general. I teach my parishioners that this means getting up early to prepare for Mass, treating family members in a Christian way at home and on the way to Mass. It means greeting people in the parking lot and being warm and hospitable in the Church, making room for people in the pew, listening attentively to the Scriptures and dynamic homilies I give, responding in spoken and sung word, listening and responding to the Eucharistic Prayer, receiving worthily, staying at Mass until the recession has occurred, maybe say a prayer of Thanksgiving and don’t go into parking lot or road rage on the way home. Live your faith every day for the most important part of the Mass is Go in peace and evangelize the world, beginning at home and at work, at play, in politics and elsewhere. And yes, I’ve seen the host taken to the pew often. Wasn’t a host consecrated by the pope put on sale on ebay? Catechesis is important, but the symbol of the assembly showing respect and making this a priority helps the most.

    1. The wafer was alleged to be consecrated, but there’s no way to verify that claim. It very easily could have been consecrated.

      Then again, I am not in favor of huge outdoor Masses (or even Masses in huge indoor spaces where the congregation is pretty much reduced to being an audience)

  8. “Wasn’t a host consecrated by the pope put on sale on ebay?”

    I heard about this, too. At best, idolatry. At worst, profiteering on sacrilege. Not to mention the possibility it was a fake.

    Are our practices guided by a reaction to the worst, or by the urging to the highest positive motives and practices?

  9. I don’t want this to sound like I’m totally opposed to the chalice to the laity or the host received in the hand, but in terms of the hands, we’re sometimes dealing with a moving target, especially with children. I’ve learned in the past three years for the first time in 30, that when one kneels to receive, they kneel still and I see the host going into the mouth. Could they take it out afterward? I guess. With the chalice, I’ve seen backwash of saliva spill back into the cup after one has received, especially children. I’ve seen hosts dropped into the Chalice from the mouth, and twice, I’ve had communion ministers tell me gum dropped into the chalice from the communicant’s mouth. I’ve seen the Precious Blood on ties, floor and shoes, all by accident. I don’t think any of this is intentional or my recoiling scrupulosity. It just offends piety and if we don’t give a flip, then I think it continues the cycle of “it really doesn’t matter, God can take care of Himself mentality.” By the way this past First Communion, I gave our children Holy Communion by intinction–all had to receive on the tongue and all did. They stayed still and parents said to me it looked more reverent to them. Was it in reality? I don’t know, but it looked that way and reverence does develop from what we see and perceive. But don’t fret, we’ve taught the children how to receive in the hand also and from the chalice by mouth, multiple mouths!

    1. I am leaning on using my homily this coming weekend to simple re-instruct the people how to receive Holy Communion. In two years I know of several dozen hosts found on the floor, in hymnas, etc. People come up very casually, try to rip the host out of my hand, etc. What I have been doing recently (and have instructed the EMHCs to do as well) is to not let anyone leave my presence until I see them consume the host. In a few months I have probablt stopped 2 dozen people–adults and children (and probably not a few non-Catholics). Sure this has “delayed the communion line” and perhaps embarrassed some people, but I have not heard of many found hosts since I started.

      1. This is a delicate matter. I believe some Protestant churches have the regular practice of people taking it back to their seat, perhaps so a whole family can then consume it together. I suspect some are importing what they’ve seen elsewhere into Catholic Mass. That doesn’t justify it, but it does explain it. I’m sure a lot of others are just uninformed.

      2. When the 2002 GIRM was implemented in my parish along with the revised diocesan liturgical norms, my parish besides the educational session, put the bulletin inserts in for 10 weeks before the changes took place and they had liturgy lessons that were read as to why the changes were taking place, and the catechesis behind the changes.

  10. Fr. Allan:
    You said:

    By the way this past First Communion, I gave our children Holy Communion by intinction–all had to receive on the tongue and all did.

    If I’m not mistaken, intinction is not allowed in the Roman Catholic Church, per the document Reception and Distribution of Holy Communion Under Both Kinds published by USCCB that all Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion are required to read and follow, as well as by the Holy Father’s directive. I say this because I was an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion as a senior in high school and all four years at a Catholic college. And I was required to read that document even 24 years ago when I was first comissioned as Minister of Holy Communion. Now, in the Eastern Church, the Byzantine Rites, Holy Communion is administered through intinction, but NOT in the Western Church, the Latin Rite, the Roman Catholic Church and others. Also, I believe it states this in Redemptus Sacramentum

    1. You are mistaken. Redemptionis Sacramentum says:
      103. The norms of the Roman Missal admit the principle that in cases where Communion is administered under both kinds, “the Blood of the Lord may be received either by drinking from the chalice directly, or by intinction, or by means of a tube or a spoon.” As regards the administering of Communion to lay members of Christ’s faithful, the Bishops may exclude Communion with the tube or the spoon where this is not the local custom, though the option of administering Communion by intinction always remains. If this modality is employed, however, hosts should be used which are neither too thin nor too small, and the
      communicant should receive the Sacrament from the Priest only on the tongue.
      104. The communicant must not be permitted to intinct the host himself in the chalice, nor to receive the intincted host in the hand. As for the host to be used for the intinction, it should be made of valid matter, also consecrated; it is altogether forbidden to use non-consecrated bread or other matter.”

      You are probably remembering the prohibition of self-intinction, i.e., the communicant him/herself “dunking” the host into the chalice.

      1. Well,Terri, if the Bishops have not approved of intinction as a matter of local practice, then it DOES NOT remain as an option. Regardless if the priest performs the intinction or it is self-intinction by the people. The individual parishes are like a subsidiary or a division of a larger corporation(the diocese) and whatever liturgical norms the bishop sets, all parishes(divisions of the diocese) are obligated to follow those norms.

  11. I have to confess a certain amazement at both those who practice liturgy strangely (while I haven’t seen most of the mentioned abuses, I’ve seen some pretty strenge things) and those who seem to emphasize this misbehavior. I recall reading about some proposition floated at Trent advocating that it would be better for the lay people to stay home from Sunday Mass and let the clergy do it undistracted.

    If the gesture of Christ making his presence real weren’t so powerful, the risks to our own offended sensibilities wouldn’t be as significant, I suppose. That this is more than a symbol implies much more is at stake than an occasional error or blunder on the part of the laity.

    And again, I would advocate for seeking the benefits of sanctification inherent in the liturgy for guiding our practices, and less (though not zero) our worries about being offended.

  12. The problem in many places but perhaps not in some places is confusion about what reverence means and what the “transcendent” means. In the last 40 years we’ve all said that we have to judge by what is in our hearts, not by outward appearances. That doesn’t sound too catholic to me because as Catholics outward signs are meant to signify an inner reality. When I was a teenager, I pushed my father’s buttons by wearing jeans to Mass–this was frowned upon by many in the Dark Ages. When I arrived in my current assignment 6 years ago in July, teenage girls were wearing “Daisy Duke” shorts to Mass, with halter tops and bare midriffs. The bare midriffs was the style then. All of these sorts of things if left unchallenged contribute to a general malaise in what reverence is and if God is even worth our reverence. I suspect too a false egalitarianism has entered into the relationship between Creator and created. Lack of catechesis on Who it is that we receive in Holy Communion rather than “what” we receive is part of the problem, but also the dumbing down of reverence since Vatican II. And to bring us back to that wonderful new translation of English, I personally believe it is one more nail that is being used on the coffin of a liturgy that has contributed to a casual attitude about God and real presence and even a lack of respect for the reverence that many would like to see make a come back. The way your pray is the way you believe. I see it every Sunday.

    1. Count me a doubter on the notion of exceptionalism, that somehow pre-conciliar-trained priests and catechists suddenly fell down on the job and permitted widespread ignorance we have with us still today. I remember conversations with Catholics my parents’ age and I never got the impression that they were particularly well-catechized or educated about their faith.

      There’s a presumption that the Church was humming along fine on all cylinders up till the 60’s, but I think I’d want to see proof on this before buying. Seems to me that the Church was in deep trouble in 1959, and someone got the nudge from the Holy Spirit to take things from there. More likely is that a large mission land like the US was a patchwork of good and poor ministry: the occasional parish or monastery a spiritual oasis in a general context of scattershot catechesis and apathetic clergy.

      First time I’ve ever seen the suggestion that the liturgy itself contributes to bad behavior. Daisy Duke is a production of Hollywood, not the Roman martyrology.

  13. It seems to me that a lot of these issues (reverence and scrupulosity) are really about spirituality not theology, more about the psychology and sociology of our relationship with God.

    In our relationship with God like in other relationships there will be a lot of tokens and gestures of recognition, love, care, etc. Like all relationships there will be a lot of ritual (hello, goodbye) but we don’t want it to become stale, mechanical, unthinking etc. Ultimately it’s the whole relationship that matters. The tokens, gestures, and rituals should help that relationship along but if they become the relationship it is in deep trouble. Scrupulosity is a sign of a bad relationship just as much as taking God for granted. It may mean we don’t understand God or we think we can control God

    We get a lot of our ideas of how to behave in any relationship including that with God by seeing how other people behave in similar relationships. But if we are going to have a good relationship with God or anyone we have to be creative and loving and go with the flow of the relationship. We do live in community and so when we express our relationship with God with need to take into account what others might think. Sometimes in our relationships with others we do things, or don’t do things especially in public because others would misunderstand or misinterpret. Because social customs sometimes promote mediocrity or even wrongness, sometimes our gestures have to make a statement.

  14. I’m on vacation and have no resources to check against, but I think self-intinction is specifically banned in the instruction Inaestimabile Donum.

    In England and Wales, intinction by a minister, whether lay or ordained, is a breach of law. This is because in these countries the episcopal conference has laid down that the choice of whether to receive on the tongue or in the hand is the communicant’s, not the minister’s. Any minister proffering an intincted host is removing that choice from the communicant.

    Therefore intinction should never happen in England at all. But it does, because people see it being done on the Continent, etc. You’ll even see concelebrating priests communicating by intinction in Rome.

    One major problem is those people who see it as somehow more reverent than eating and drinking as Jesus commanded. And there have been parishes where whether or not you intinct is used as yardstick for personal holiness. We really don’t want to go down that pathway.

    Those at the extreme end of Coeliac-Sprue syndrome, who cannot receive under the form of bread without it being life-threatening, can nevertheless receive from the chalice as long as (a) the wine used has not had grain spirit added to it (as happens with some brands of altar wine) and (b) a glutened host has not been dipped in it. As soon as intinction has taken place, however, that chalice is contaminated from the point of view of the coeliac communicant and is no longer safe.

    1. As a sidebar, we give the choice, rightfully, to adults on how they wish to receive Holy Communion. But how many children are forced to receive as the DRE wishes them to receive? It is the same for confession–the choice whether to go face to face or anonymously is always up to the penitent–not the priest or the DRE. All priests probably have their preferences, but we cannot force that on the penitent. Of course, there will be places where many confessions are heard outdoors or large gatherings where the screen may not be available, but the penitent knows that beforehand. It is not right for a priest to sit outside a perfectly good confessional because he things face to face is better and take the option away from people.

      1. Children are “forced” to do a lot of things in both the secular and church culture. As for that being good or bad, as a parent I have my own opinions. And DRE’s, in the interests of communicating procedures and attempting to ensure decorum at First Communion, probably err on the side of uniformity. For that matter, I’ve never seen a fuss raised when the occasional family all receives on the tongue. In my (reportedly liberal) university parish, I see two or three families with female members in head coverings.

        “It is not right for a priest to sit outside a perfectly good confessional …”

        Today “good” is defined as visually non-private. Traditional confessionals are inadequate because they violate both cultural and ecclesiastical standards on visibility. My parish always provides options, but we are fortunate in that we have a second priest assigned and four others who live in the city when we celebrate form ii. The obvious solution is to offer both form i and form ii regularly, probably weekly and monthly respectively as a minimum. That gives people the option by liturgical style. It also avoids “forcing” children (and adults) to always celebrate as a penitent in the same way. Unfortunately, this is not the way most parishes do things.

  15. Intinction by the Minister of Holy Communion (ordinary or extraordinary) was approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on June 14, 2001 under the heading:
    Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion Under Both Kinds in the Dioceses of the United States of America of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM):
    From the 2002 GIRM with USCCB Adaptations:

    Other Forms of Distribution of the Precious Blood

    48. Distribution of the Precious Blood by a spoon or through a straw is not customary in the Latin dioceses of the United States of America.

    49. Holy Communion may be distributed by intinction in the following manner: “the communicant, while holding the paten under the chin, approaches the priest who holds the vessel with the hosts and at whose side stands the minister holding the chalice. The priest takes the host, intincts the particle into the chalice and, showing it, says: ‘The Body and Blood of Christ.’ The communicant responds, ‘Amen,’ and receives the Sacrament on the tongue from the priest. Afterwards, the communicant returns to his or her place.” (53)

    50. The communicant, including the extraordinary minister, is never allowed to self-communicate, even by means of intinction. Communion under either form, bread or wine, must always be given by an ordinary or extraordinary minister of Holy Communion.

  16. Another sidebar. We all know that it is preferable to receive the Blessed Sacrament actually consecrated at the particular Mass and not from the reserved Sacrament in the Tabernacle. As a little encouragement for those who agree with the ideal but don’t see it happening in practice, we are a parish of over 5000 families and very rarely do we have to go to the Tabernacle. Perhaps at one of the 6 Sunday Masses only if attendance is way off and perhaps once to twice during the week if the tabernacle becomes really full for some reason (like not many receiving at a funeral). We have someone do a head count at each Mass (usually during the homily and from the loft so no one sees). It is possible!

  17. Don’t forget GIRM #320, 321: “The bread for celebrating the Eucharist must be… recently baked.” And “The meaning of the sign demands that the material for the Eucharistic celebration truly have the appearance of food.”

    A couple weeks ago, I was enjoying an ice cream at Dairy Queen. At the tables next to mine, several parents and kids dressed in soccer uniforms were discussing their upcoming First Communion Mass and whether the hosts at church were really bread or not. The consensus was mixed, but about half the group agreed that the hosts are more like crackers than bread.

    Perhaps this is an instance of “by the etymological meaning of the word bread, these hosts are technically bread whether it appears that way or not.” Kind of like how we explain that the word “men” really means all people, even though no one outside of historical literature or churchy talk understands the word that way.

    1. not necessarily off topic, but I worked at the Dairy Queen from the time I was 14 until 20! They don’t have ice cream, it is dairy queen! Ice milk! But you didn’t know that. I can still make banana splits with my eyes closed!

  18. I am a strong advocate of adult choice in spirituality. I rejoiced exceedingly when the bishops gave us the choice of communion in the hand or on the tongue. I decry pastors implying all should partake of the chalice. In the nineties our mental health board also became an alcohol and drug addiction board. In solidarity with the new people we serve, they abolished all alcoholic beverages at board sponsored affairs such as our annual dinner. The executive director and myself as the two most prominent representatives of the board each decided to abstain from all public consumption of alcohol anywhere. I still continued to partake of the chalice until a pastor made an issue of advocating it. Now I selectively partake depending upon the parish.

    Children are another matter. The only instance of a chalice spill that I have seen involved a young boy who was simply too agitated to drink properly from the cup. Fortunately the parish had a stone floor, and matter was handled in a dignified manner. But it does point out that adult supervision and adult foresight are needed. Hopefully this will be done primarily by the parent in regular conversations about what went on in church including but not limited to church behavior. When a mother returned to my pew after a brief absence during Mass, she inquired about the behavior of her children to which I replied “Oh, nothing more than a minor riot.” Hopefully there was a discussion about what happened in church when they got home.

    1. I decry pastors implying all should partake of the chalice.

      In that case, you’ll presumably not be very happy about GIRM 85 and 281, which advocate precisely that.

      1. I see GIRM as part of the bureaucratic industrial era one size fits all Catholicism where authority resides in Rome, or somewhere up in the hierarchy. Not being a part of the church bureaucracy, I simply read GIRM when it came out as a heads up to what might be going on and then forgot about it, except perhaps to remember an item when it helped me make a point.

        In the agrarian societies bishops, abbots etc. had more authority to tweak the tradition, I am very comfortable with bishops and priests who bend the standards or wisely ignore them. Most priests seem to understand that many laity are not especially interested in the chalice. Priests who talk about health concerns are o.k. Priests who fail to be aware of or understand alcoholism are not o.k.

        Ultimately I hold pastors responsible. Just doing what the bureaurcracy told me is not an excuse,

  19. I am not a big Novus Ordo fan but one plus, in the US at least, is that my mother, who is caeliac, may receive Holy Communion from the Chalice when she visits the US. In Ireland, where she and my father live, that is only possible by prior arrangement with the priest and she feels very self-conscious going up alone after anyone else has received.

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