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Receiving Communion by Intinction

Posted on Oct 08 , 2010 in Most Holy Eucharist & Sacraments

Reception of Holy Communion under Both Forms by Intinction

At Saint Peter Church Holy Communion is offered via Intinction. Here are is a “Question and Answer” article to help you understand what intinction is and how to receive Communion in this way.

Q.      Just what is “intinction”?

A.      Most Catholics are familiar with receiving Holy Communion under both forms (of bread and wine) by receiving the Sacred Host on the hand (or on the tongue), and then drinking the Sacred Blood of the Lord from the Chalice (Cup). When using intinction, the priest (or Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion [EMHC]) dips the Sacred Host in the Precious Blood of the Lord and then places the Eucharist on the communicant’s tongue.

Q.      Why does St. Peter’s intinction, rather than using the cup like other parishes?

A.      There are several reasons. We have had some difficulty in the past getting a sufficient number of EMHC. And even if we had them, numerous EMHC sometimes make for a rather cumbersome crowd in the Sanctuary at Communion time. There is the additional problem of preparing the proper amount of wine for the Offertory. When the Precious Blood is then distributed, we either run out before all have received, or have much remaining, which then must be consumed by the Priest and/or EMHC. Many people also refrain from receiving the Precious Blood of the Lord from the Cup because of hygiene concerns. Intinction eliminates these problems.

Q.      I’ve never seen intinction done before. Why isn’t this more widely used, if it is better than using the Cup?

A.      Receiving the Body and the Blood of the Lord by intinction isn’t “better” than using the Cup. But it does have some advantages which are mentioned above. For centuries Catholics typically received only the Sacred Host. After Vatican II (which ended in 1965) the ancient practice of receiving the Lord under both forms was restored under certain conditions. It was natural that the usual means by which the priest receives (consuming the Sacred Host, then drinking from the Chalice) should be used for the laity as well. Nevertheless, intinction has also been used from the earliest times. In fact, Eastern Rite Catholics and the Orthodox always receive the Body and Blood of the Lord together, rather than drinking from the Cup.

Q.      Will only the priest be distributing Holy Communion by intinction?

A.      No. The Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion will also be distributing by intinction.

Q.      Do I have to receive by intinction, or can I still receive just the Sacred Host alone?

A.      Each communicant has the choice to receive the Sacred Host alone, or under both forms by intinction.

Q.      Practically speaking, how is this done?

A.      All communicants will come forward to receive Holy Communion in the same manner as we currently do. When approaching the priest (or EMHC), simply extend your hands out (left hand on top of the right hand) if you desire to receive the Sacred Host only. If you desire to receive the Body and the Blood of the Lord by intinction, then you will keep your hands folded and open your mouth in order to receive on the tongue.

Q.      May I receive the Host in my hand, and then intinct (dip) the Host in the Precious Blood myself?

A.      No. Church liturgical law does not permit the communicant to “self-intinct”.

Q.      Do I have to receive on the tongue if I receive by intinction?

A.      Yes.

Q.      Is there a certain age limit, or can children receive by intinction, too?

A.      Any Catholic who is able to receive Holy Communion may receive by intinction. Of course, parents may decide whether or not their child should receive only the Sacred Host, or by intinction.

Q.      Are we receiving “less” Jesus if we receive only the Sacred Host?

A.      No. The Catholic Church clearly teaches that you receive the “whole Christ” whether you receive the Host only, the Precious Blood only, or both.

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