Re-Reading Sacrosanctum Concilium: Article 55

As Pray Tell readers may have noticed from my reports on the Universa Laus 2013 gathering I have spend the last two weeks out of the United States and away from my home computer system. Now that I am back home, I am able to resume the postings in our close reading of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.

Vatican website translation:

55. That more perfect form of participation in the Mass whereby the faithful, after the priest’s communion, receive the Lord’s body from the same sacrifice, is strongly commended.

The dogmatic principles which were laid down by the Council of Trent remaining intact (40), communion under both kinds may be granted when the bishops think fit, not only to clerics and religious, but also to the laity, in cases to be determined by the Apostolic See, as, for instance, to the newly ordained in the Mass of their sacred ordination, to the newly professed in the Mass of their religious profession, and to the newly baptized in the Mass which follows their baptism.

Latin text:

55. Valde commendatur illa perfectior Missae participatio qua fideles post Communionem sacerdotis ex eodem Sacrificio Corpus Dominicum sumunt.

Communio sub utraque specie, firmis principiis dogmaticis a Concilio Tridentino statutis (40), in casibus ab Apostolica Sede definiendis, tum clericis et religiosis, tum laicis concedi potest, de iudicio Episcoporum, veluti ordinatis in Missa sacrae suae ordinationis, professis in Missa religiosae suae professionis, neophytis in Missa quae Baptismum subsequitur.

(40) Sess. XXI, Doctrina de Communione sub utraque specie et parvulorum, capp. 1-3, cann. 1-3: CONCILIUM TRIDENTINUM, ed. cit., t. VIII, pp. 698-699.

Slavishly literal translation (kindness of Jonathan Day):

55. The more perfect participation in the Mass by which the faithful, after the Communion of the priest, receive the Body of the Lord from the same sacrifice, is strongly commended.

Communion under each kind may be granted to clerics, religious and lay faithful, based on the judgment of the bishops, in cases to be defined by the Apostolic See, and with the dogmatic principles set out by the Council of Trent remaining constant (40) – as, for example, to the [newly] ordained in the Mass of their sacred ordination, to the [newly] professed in the Mass of their religious profession, and to the newly baptised in the Mass that follows their baptism.


Two issues concerning the reception of holy communion at the Eucharistic liturgy are addressed in art. 55.

First, without forbidding the practice by which holy communion could be distributed to the faithful at any point during Mass (with the exception of the consecration), the Council Fathers express a preference that the communion of the faithful be associated with the priest’s communion at the same Mass. This is one of the more successful of the conciliar reforms insofar as the almost universal present practice is to have both priest and people receive holy communion during the communion rites prescribed in the reformed form of Eucharistic celebration. This certainly falls in line with the principle articulated earlier that the meaning of the individual parts of the liturgy and their interrelations be made more clear. It would be difficult to see how the faithful’s reception of holy communion during the Mass of the Catechumens (Introductory Rites and Liturgy of the Word) or during the Dismissal Rites expresses the fundamental meaning of these portions of the rite. Calling this form of liturgical participation “more perfect” (perfectior) raises some conceptual questions, but probably refers back to earlier distinctions between “interior,” “exterior” and “sacramental” participation in the liturgy. An extension of this principle will appear in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal’s call for people to commune from elements consecrated at the Mass they attend rather than from pre-consecrated hosts reserved in the tabernacle, if possible.

Second, the Council Fathers extend the reception of Holy Communion under both forms of consecrated bread and consecrated wine to clerics, religious and lay faithful. Contrary to popular belief, the Council of Trent had not forbidden communion under both species to the laity as a doctrinal principle but simply as a prudential judgment, and the Fathers of Vatican Council II here state their prudential judgment that situations have arisen that would make reception under both forms appropriate if not preferred. The three examples in which communion under both species would be given should be seen as a minimum on which most of the Fathers could agree rather than a definitive and final listing of the only situations in which communion under both forms would be appropriate. Wisely, the judgment about implementing communion under both forms is left to bishops’ conferences in cooperation with the Apostolic See.

Pray Tell readers may wish to discuss how the prescriptions of art. 55 have been implemented in their communities over the last fifty years, what we have learned from this implementation, and what further reforms might be appropriate.


  1. Thank you for continuing this series Father.
    In our parish reception of communion under both kinds is the norm. It seems to me that the article here does not set a clear limit on the practice but does give such limited illustrations that the norm I experience is not what is indicated here.
    No doubt many Pray Tell readers will welcome this. Without arguing whether it is a good thing II wonder if your readers can show that I misread the article?

  2. Re: Mr. Haydon’s comment at #1: The extension of permission to receive holy communion under both forms can be traced through a series of requests made by bishops’ conferences and approbations of those requests made by the appropriate Vatican overseeing body at various points over the last fifty years. That’s why I suggested that the three examples given in article 55 were not seen by the Council Fathers as the MAXIMUM fixed number of cases in which communion under both forms would be allowed but rather a MINIMUM number of cases that almost all of the Council Fathers could agree upon, with the actual determination left open to territorial bishops’ conferences acting along with the Apostolic See. One could make a parallel case to the extension of the use of the vernacular in the Roman Rite, where the cases presented in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy were a MINIMUM set of examples that were then expanded through requests of territorial bishops’ conferences and responses of the Apostolic See over the last fifty years.

    1. @Fr. Jan Michael Joncas – comment #2:
      Thank you Father.
      I think that I misread your point. I thought you meant that the examples given indicated the limit of agreement.
      Still, if it took a series of requests to develop current practice it would indicate that this is an evolution rather than what was stated by the text here.
      I think that your parallel with the use of the vernacular is apt.
      May I put it another way: I think that occasional, rather than regular, communion under both kinds would be also consistent with the wording of this article? It is not as if the article include words like “Communion under both kinds may be given whenever the celebrating priest considers it wise”.
      As with other articles the meaning of the text seems to allow more than one understanding.

      Turning to the other point, the timing of distribution of communion, I see in my older missal that it was shortly after that of the priest. Was it common practice to do so at other times as well or was this article merely confirming standard practice in which case why mention it?

      1. @Peter Haydon – comment #3:

        Turning to the other point, the timing of distribution of communion, I see in my older missal that it was shortly after that of the priest. Was it common practice to do so at other times as well or was this article merely confirming standard practice in which case why mention it?


        Communion was fairly frequently distributed at other points in the Mass, or even when Mass was completely over or outside Mass altogether, in order to cater for workers who could not attend an entire weekday Mass or indeed any part of the Mass at all. The availability of assistant priests made this far more possible than it would be today.

        So one could suggest that the Council Fathers were suggesting that perhaps the divorcing of Communion from the action of the Eucharist was not the ideal, and that Communion during Mass, following the priest’s Communion, was preferable.

      2. @Paul Inwood – comment #4:
        Thank you Paul, and Jonathan
        As you have demonstrated, some knowledge of practice at the time is necessary to understand the changes proposed.

      3. @Peter Haydon – comment #3:
        Peter, it was not that unusual to receive communion at almost any time on a Sunday morning — in cathedrals, especially, multiple Masses, most of them “private”, might be taking place on multiple altars, and in many cases the laity in a church were not following any particular Mass.

        From Thomas Merton’s Seven Storey Mountain, describing a pilgrimage to Cuba in 1939:

        But I was living like a prince in that island, like a spiritual millionaire. Every morning, getting up about seven or half-past, and walking out into the warm sunny street, I could find my way quickly to anyone of a dozen churches, new churches or as old as the seventeenth century. Almost as soon as I went in the door I could receive Communion, if I wished, for the priest came out with a ciborium loaded with Hosts before Mass and during it and after it – and every fifteen or twenty minutes a new Mass was starting at a different altar. …

        And there were a thousand things to do, a thousand ways of easily making a thanksgiving: everything lent itself to Communion: I could hear another Mass, I could say the Rosary, do the Stations of the Cross, or if I just knelt where I was, everywhere I turned my eyes I saw saints in wood or plaster or those who seemed to be saints in flesh and blood – and even those who were probably not saints, were new enough and picturesque enough to stimulate my mind with many meanings and my heart with prayers.

        I don’t present this as something wrong. In many ways it is inspiring. Equally, I think it is clear that it is not what the Council had in mind in this section of SC.

      4. @Peter Haydon – comment #3:
        I once had the following experience (on my way home frm the Liturgical Conference at Notre Dame) at a cathedral parish where Sunday Mass was celebrated in the church hall due to renovation work. A priest began the celebration of Mass while another read the readings. Then two or three priests distributed Communion which was finished by the consecration. At this point the ushers took up the collection. The blessings was given and we departed.

        I think that one of the fundamental reforms of SL was the teaching that the celebration of the liturgy was he work of the whole Body of Christ

  3. This is how HC was distributed in the parishes I grew up in. While the priest was praying the Lord’s Prayer, assistant priests emerged from the sacristy and went to the tabernacle on one of the side altars to retrieve ciboriums filled with dime-sized, razor thin Hosts. From there they proceeded to the altar rail where the devout headed to receive HC. I remember them stopping and genuflecting toward the main altar during the triple “Domine, non sum dignis”. After the priest consumed his personal Host, he would turn and glance towards the rail to see if he was needed to move communion along. If so, he reached into the tabernacle to get a ciborium filled with pre-consecrated Hosts. If not he just went ahead and finished the Mass. At that time I had no knowledge of the history or structure of the Mass though I often used a missal. I knew it had a structure so didn’t really know what it all meant. As far as I knew the Mass was how Catholics worshipped God and that during it the priest used sacred powers to bring Jesus down from heaven to replace the bread and wine.
    The Liturgical and sacramental theology I learned in the seminary as the 60’s turned into the early 70’s provided me with an understanding of the Eucharist that I could never have imagined. It rendered the practice of the distribution of communion referenced above as really peculiar bordering on nonsensical.
    The practice of distributing HC in a manner in which the faithful could both take and eat and take and drink has made a huge difference in how the people understand the Eucharist. While still appreciating through a profound and attentive silence the consecration of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, they now grow in their appreciation of the transformation that takes place in them through the reception of HC. In this paragraph the council Fathers gave voice to restoring an ancient practice but could not have imagined where this would lead. But soon enough they would vastly expand the practice to the one common today.

  4. And it perhaps we should consider how Holy Communion was typically administered before Pope St Pius X finally implemented the Council of Trent with regard to frequent communion: not frequently, and in some places most likely in connection with (that is, right after) confession, rather than in the context of Mass.

  5. I have no problem with the administration of the cup to the laity at Mass. Indeed, if the parish has the resources to do so, this could even be done on weekdays. I could even foresee the administration of the cup at the EF. Anglicans and Lutherans have received from the cup while kneeling at rails for centuries. While communion under both kinds will probably not be received well by my more conservative EF brothers and sisters, I don’t see how this could not be allowed by positive legislation (Summorum Pontificum rider?)

    My only concern with the administration of the cup to the laity at any Mass is the purity of the consecrated wine. I fear that the push (even requirement) in some dioceses to administer the cup to the laity at Sunday Mass might lead some parishes to attempt to consecrate adulterated wine. I had a somewhat heated debate here at PTB a while ago about the use of wine-like beverages (i.e. Franzia (R) in the United States) which are often not strictly fermented grape (some varieties have “natural flavorings”). I see no shame if a parish resorts to administering the host only to the laity if the parish can only afford or obtain enough pure wine for the priest’s cup.

    The goal of the cup for the laity is admirable, but maybe not feasible for many parishes. I would say that attempting to consecrate adulterated wine is far worse than withholding the cup from the laity.

    1. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #8:
      Jordan, in every parish I’ve served, we have had Communion under both kinds at daily and Sunday Mass. We use sacramental wine. Apart from training enough EMC’s and making sure they show up to serve when scheduled, there are no problems. I have experimented with intinction and like it very much and our communicants do too. Intinction is the method in Rome for concelerating prelates as they self intinct and the Holy Father uses this method for deacons as they kneel before him and at the Easter Vigil to the standing neophytes. And I believe Pope Francis used intinction in the Roman parish for children’s First Holy Communion. Intinction would be splendid at the EF Mass. In terms of the EF Mass today I think the practice of distributing Holy Communion after the Ecce Agnus Dei is most common as in the OF Mass. My problem with the common chalice is not liturgical or scrupulosity but hygiene and the possibility of communicable diseases and drinking someone’s saliva as backwash. We have seen gum accidentally drop into the chalice. I pray intinction is mandated for these reasons and drinking after each other forbidden, just my opinion.

      1. @Father Allan J. McDonald – comment #9:
        I thought that hygiene concerns about sharing the same cup had been pretty much set to rest. Meanwhile it seems that if one is concerned about passing saliva from one person to another, one would certainly avoid Communion on the tongue. I don’t know of a priest who has not returned to the altar with fingers wet from encountering someone’s tongue. Many communicants, often elderly, will be slightly unsteady on their feet. Others will lunge at the Host. And it may be the priest or other minister is unsteady or imprecise in placing Communion on the tongue. Whatever the cause, it is rather alarming to think that saliva is passed around by wet fingers, not to mention that, at least in the old Latin Mass, the water used to purify the priests hands must then be consumed. Solution? Let’s take the Last Supper as the norm.

      2. @Jan Larson – comment #12:
        I suspect if the health department of any community examined our communion practices from a hygiene point of view, their greatest concern would be that upwards to 30 people would drink from the same chalice. I think any eatery would be shut down by the health department if management didn’t think it necessary to wash glasses between customers but allowed glassware to be washed only after two customers had used it. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t other problems, such as the person who places your hamburger in its paper wrapper without plastic gloves and also is cashier and handles money and touches your hands when returning your change. The fallacy of no contagion issue with the common chalice was laid to rest with the H1N1 virus when most dioceses banned the common chalice. I had to do it last fall and winter when we had an epidemic of flu in Macon, worse than the H1N1 season a few years back, in which Macon saw huge numbers of elderly/housebound dying as did our parish.

      3. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #15:
        We know they would shut down an effort to serve food directly on people’s tongues without hand coverings. The common cup remains more sanitary than many traditional practices. I also hope your parish’s sanitary practices extended to ensuring doors were opened for parishioners coming and going for Mass. Otherwise your banishment may well have had no discernible effect.

      4. @Todd Flowerday – comment #17:
        We provide hand sanitizer at all of the entrance tables of the church and also for EMCs where they gather during the Agnus Dei. Also, drinking after another person has a psychological impact on those who watch it compared to watching someone shake hands (which I understand in many northeastern parishes is banned during Mass for flu season). I would also suspect that if it were proven that the common chalice passed HIV from siliva containing blood and a the Church continued to permit the practice of the common chalice that the Church would be open to major law suits as we are in other areas that we disregarded in the past.
        I might add that my parents’ generation taught us never to drink after our friends when we were small. I don’t know if this is true today.

      5. @Father Allan J. McDonald – comment #9:

        I have experimented with intinction and like it very much and our communicants do too.

        I agree Fr. Allan that intinction is preferable, especially for the EF. The Polish National Catholic Church (American schismatics, valid orders) always intincts the Host and places it on the tongue of the kneeling communicant. I believe this has been their policy for quite some time. I wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that what works for a PNCC parish will work for a Roman Catholic parish. Perhaps PNCC liturgical culture is more open-minded to intinction particularly since I suspect communion in the hand was never introduced in their parishes.

        It’s important that traditionally-minded Catholics like ourselves respect the many reasons why some Catholics would not want to received an intincted Host on the tongue, even standing. These preferences have many different liturgical, social, and theological valences, such as the restriction of the act of intinction to priests and deacons only. Still, intinction might be more widely offered so long as there is one OF Mass each Sunday where communicants can receive the Host in the hand and partake from a common cup if desired.

  6. I would suspect that the distribution of Holy Communion apart from Mass today is a much greater problem than prior to the Council with today’s proliferation of Communion Services even in place of or in addition to daily Masses especially with Permament Deacons and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion leading these.

  7. As for “receiving the Lord’s body from the same sacrifice,” i.e. not from the tabernacle, I think I can count on one hand the number of priests I have encountered in 30 years who observed this practice. At least in these parts, most every priest heads to the tabernacle before distributing Communion, every day of the year. Apparently they haven’t gotten the message.

  8. The fact that the majority of priests ignore this precept that everyone receive Communion consecrated at the Eucharistic celebration they are attending is also a pet hate of mine. This is pretty much a constant teaching of the Church and is an absolute requirement for concelebrating priests. I recently translated the 1742 encylical Certiores Effecti by Pope Benedict XIV on this subject and it was published in Antiphon 16.2 (2012): 130-143 (with a heavily edited version of my introduction, which I did not see before it went to press). Here we can see that this is not simply a Vatican II issue, but one of the basic nature of the Sacrament of the Eucharist, Jesus said “take and eat” not “take, leave for a few months in the tabernacle and then distribute to the People of God.” I’m afraid the translation isn’t in the public domain yet, but hopefully it should be available on the Antiphon website soon.

  9. One of the significances of consuming the elements over which the prayer of blessing has been said is that it is a ritual affirmation of that prayer, equivalent to saying ‘Amen’ at the end. The significance is diminished if not lost when hosts from the tabernacle are resorted to. Using preconsecrated hosts would be like pronouncing a toast, say at a wedding, with raised glasses, then replacing the glasses on the table without drinking from them, and drinking something else.

  10. Distributing already-consecrated hosts from the tabernacle for a particular celebration of Eucharist should only happen after the plentiful bread consecrated during that Mass has been distributed. Paul VI reminded us that the primary reason for reservation of the consecrated hosts was for communion for the sick, the homebound, etc.

    I was under the impression that intinction was forbidden. Have things changed?

    1. @Lee Bacchi – comment #19:
      In the most up-to-date Roman Missal with the GIRM for American adaptations, Intinction is the second choice for receiving under both kinds, with the common chalice as the first choice. I suspect a bishop could eliminate one of these choices in his own diocese if he so desired. Intinction when the communicant him or herself does it is forbidden, but not when the minister, either ordinary or extraordinary does it.
      In Rome intinction is the method by which the Pope distributes under both kinds to deacons and other communicants. Concelebrants never drink from the common chalice at the altar, but rather take the Host which is next to the chalice and intinct. This means that concelebrants do not receive the Host during the Agnus Dei which is the common practice in our country for concelebrants so that the celebrant and concelebrant all consume the Host simultaneously.

  11. The Mary in me appreciates the beauty of the symbolism of receiving the Precious Body from those consecrated during the same Mass and not from the received Sacrament in the tabernacle. The Martha in me hasn’t figured out how to make it happen consistently in the parish where I serve as sacristan. I welcome any suggestions from the readers of the PT blog.
    We have anywhere from 7 to 11 Masses on a weekend. They include English language Masses with a fairly stable and predictable population of 50-70 communicants, to Spanish language Masses where there can be as many as 1200 worshipers, but the number of communicants fluctuates from week to week. Throw into the mix two or three weddings or quince anos celebration and maybe a funeral. At all of these, a large majority of the participants can be inactive Catholics or members of other faith. Merely counting people in a pew is not a good way to judge how many hosts to have for consecration. Given the occasional weekend when we have a deacon who does a communion service as part of a wedding or XV liturgy, it is necessary to have reserved hosts in the tabernacle.
    Misjudgments have led, on occasion, to having no consecrated hosts for participants in a Mass to having two full ciboria in the tabernacle after Mass.

    To throw one more complicating factor into the environment, because of an increased devotion to Eucharistic adoration in front of the tabernacle during the week, I suspect some folks think receiving from the tabernacle is more holy than from the altar.

    Perhaps this is a wonderful symbol than can be honored where possible, but where practical considerations override a rigid application of principle.

  12. Fr. Allan J. McDonald : The fallacy of no contagion issue with the common chalice was laid to rest with the H1N1 virus when most dioceses banned the common chalice.

    Maybe it’s just because the semester is beginning and I am trying to get Freshmen to make arguments that have a semblance of logic, but I cannot keep from noting that diocese banning the use of the chalice lays absolutely nothing to rest with regard to the issue of contagion. The infallibility of diocesan bishops does not, I’m pretty sure, extend to epidemiology.

    1. @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment #22:
      Of course when liturgists told us that there was no risk of contagion from the common chalice due to the alcohol content, wiping the rim and turning the chalice, this pontificating upon things of science is equally non infallible as are scientists also, btw.

      1. @Father Allan J. McDonald – comment #23:

        Of course when liturgists told us that there was no risk of contagion from the common chalice due to the alcohol content, wiping the rim and turning the chalice, this pontificating upon things of science is equally non infallible as are scientists also, btw.

        Not only [alcohol content,] wiping the rim <inside and out and turning the chalice, but also using a fresh part of the purificator for each communicant. Most ministers — and priests, come to that — have never been trained to do all of these things, alas.

        Scientific fact: normal, healthy humans have an enzyme in their own saliva which kills off the AIDS virus as soon as it comes into contact with it. It is therefore impossible to catch AIDS from drinking from the chalice. Meninigits and severe strains of ‘flu, yes; AIDS, no. The only people at risk from drinking from the chalice under normal circumstances are people with AIDS whose immune systems are non-functioning.

      2. @Paul Inwood – comment #27:
        Thanks, Paul, for that last paragraph. I remember hearing that last sentence years ago; it struck me as the absolute most important point to remember in all the talk about infections and communion from the cup.

        I can see the reasons for people susceptible to illnesses not communicating from the cup, it is something that people have to decide for themselves in any health situation. I remember some dioceses advising against communicating from the cup during the H1N1 episode of a few years ago. Some recommended having hand sanitizers on the altar for EOMs and clergy to use right before beginning to distribute Communion under either form.

  13. Epidemiology has never been Fr. McDonald’s long suit… The scientific studies relating to the possibility of infection through the use of the common cup and intinction are pretty clear. While both are POSSIBLE sources of infection, “sipping from the common cup represents a minimal risk of transmission of contagion; sharing a handshake in the exchange of the peace presents a minimal risk of transmission of contagion. Both of these activities fall within the parameters of the normal risks of daily living. The level of risk compares to any of the following daily behaviors: shaking hands with a neighbor, attending a buffet dinner, sharing a cup or utensils, attending the theatre or welcoming a friend with a hug or kiss.” (From “A REPORT CONCERNING THE RISK OF TRANSMISSION OF
    November 2003, Prepared by the SARS Working Group of the [Anglican] Diocese of Toronto, Chairperson, Rev. Douglas Graydon, Co-ordinator of Chaplaincy Services.)

  14. Sad that the comments have been led astray from the actual value of the SC article. As Fr. Joncas states well, Trent tried to address the poor eucharistic practices of its day (valid points made by Protestant reformers); yet, over 400 years, frequent reception did not happen, reception from the cup disappeared quickly after Trent; and VII also addressed eucharistic practices – emphasizing that the sacrament is an action not an object; that the actions are human – taking, breaking, sharing and need to be full and complete (why only bread? and why intinction is seen as second choice). Ressourcing VII theology addressed accretions – side altar masses; masses with no congregations; communion separated from the actual liturgy; object mentality of the eucharist; questions of placement of the tabernacle, eucharistic worship outside of mass; etc. All of these questions came out of an agreed upon eucharistic and sacramental theology which led to this article directly – fuller sign/symbol for the people of God; fuller participation; link between what we pray and the action of reception; etc.

    These comments remind me of a local monsignor who refused to implement the cup for 15+ years – his excuse, church parking was limited and there would be too much car congestion between masses because receiving from the cup would add time (even tho, experience shows that it may add a couple of minutes at the most) and he persisted on this even after a new church and parking lot were built.

    Doubt this is about hygeine – it is an idosyncratic play by one pastor and we see this happen over and over across multiple issues.

    Here is a link to the CDC study:

  15. You’re welcome, Lee.

    I refrained from also commenting that it is in fact far less hygienic to receive Communion under the form of bread than under the form of wine when the cup is properly administered as described above, for fear of derailing this thread even further….

  16. The Eastern Churches (both in and out of communion with Rome) have been continuously distributing Holy Communion using intinction via a spoon or by “dipping” with no problems. SC, being a Roman Catholic document and not one for the whole Catholic Church, never takes this into account however, as not only an ancient and venerable method of distribution, but as a true ecumenical issue.

    1. @John Kohanski – comment #32:

      using intinction via a spoon or by “dipping”

      Just to be clear, the Orthodox practice of giving Communion under the form of wine with a spoon is not intinction. Intinction is dipping a consecrated host into consecrated wine.

      1. @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment #34:
        Deacon Fritz, yes, the portion of the Lamb for the communion of the faithful is placed, intincted, in the chalice, right before Holy Communion, and then pieces are cut off with the spoon, so that they receive both the Body and the Blood together from the chalice. I have never heard anyone call this method anything but “intinction.”

      2. @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment #34:

        Yes, except in the case of infants, who receive wine only. But I do not believe that this is normally referred to as intinction, a term which is reserved to the dual action of dipping a host (or a portion of a host) into a chalice and then removing it, the host still being held by the fingers of the minister. If anyone knows the technical term for the Eastern usage, I’d be happy to learn of it.

        It appears that Melkite Greek Catholics and Greek Byzantine Catholics have adopted the Western practice of intinction (host held by the fingers of the minister), so even in the East the practice would seem to vary.

      3. @Paul Inwood – comment #36:
        Yes, infants do receive only the Precious Blood (not wine) until they can have solid foods, and that can be from the spoon or the priest’s finger, I have seen both. The Middle Eastern practice (mostly) has been to dip, while the Slavic practice (mostly) is using the spoon, which is why I said “via a spoon or dipping.” Again, I have never heard another term for these methods of distribution called anything other than “intinction” or “mixing.”

      4. @Paul Inwood – comment #36:

        re your last paragraph:

        If the Wikipedia article you appear to rely on is accurate, to the extent it represents a material occurrence.

        FWIW, when I attended my first Byzantine divine liturgy 4 decades ago, the priest described communion via the traditional Byzantine method as intinction. I suspect the specific term is not often used because it represents the near universal traditional form (other than for infant communion or other special cases) and so there’s no need for a descriptor.

        Western-style intinction doesn’t work as well in the Greek tradition because of the use of leavened bread that needs to be portioned.

      5. @Karl Liam Saur – comment #38:

        Thank you, Karl. I’m happy to accept your suggestion that because it is normative they don’t have a special name for the technique and simply think of it as “Communion”.

        I have no idea what your first sentence means — something missing? — but in any case placing credence in Wikipedia articles is a risky business.

  17. As in other affairs of life, “proper terminology” is often disregarded. I placed the term proper terminology in scare quotation marks for a reason. I wonder if any liturgical term is truly resistant to any malleability.

    Many of my Orthodox friends (or friends who are now agnostic but raised Orthodox) will refer to the Divine Liturgy as Mass. Mass is properly the name for the western Christian Eucharist in many traditions. Still, it’s easier I suppose for many Orthodox to say Mass instead of Divine Liturgy simply because many people of all faiths have a better idea what a Mass is rather than a Divine Liturgy. Although some Orthodox might strongly disagree, Mass and Divine Liturgy are sacramentally identical at least from a Roman standpoint. Also, Mass is a monosyllabic word.

    I wouldn’t stress over terms. Often, it’s easier to use a rough analogue when the analogue is better understood by more people.

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