I have had a number of people ask me about whether or not we will bring back a wider distribution of the Precious Blood at Mass. In the short time that I remain here, I do not plan on bringing back the distribution of the Precious Blood. I have a handful of reasons for this. Firstly, one of the aspects of our teaching on the Blessed Sacrament is the doctrine of concomitance. The doctrine of concomitance is the reality that in the Blessed Sacrament, even in the smallest fragment of a consecrated Host, is the whole Christ: His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. This is true for a single drop of the Precious Blood: we receive His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. Because we have held to the teaching of concomitance, the practice of receiving the Precious Blood from the cup is a relatively modern practice. Before 1965, the only time a person received from the cup was at their wedding; otherwise, reception of the Precious Blood from the cup did not occur. For centuries, Catholics received the whole Christ—Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity—in the consecrated Host.
Another reason for not returning to the distribution of the Precious Blood from the cup is the unsanitary nature of everyone drinking from the cup. Covid cases have decreased, although they also seem to be on the rise, and there are other communicable diseases to consider. Some may propose giving everyone small individual paper cups from which to receive the Precious Blood, but this is not tenable, which I’ll illustrate with a story. A priest came to say Mass at a house of hospitality, a part of Dorothy Day’s Catholic Worker Movement. The priest thought he was making a clever point by using a common coffee mug as the chalice for Mass. After Holy Mass, Dorothy Day took the mug and buried it in the ground. When asked why she did that, she remarked that the mug could no longer be used for anything else; once used for Mass, it could not be used for coffee anymore. Paper cups, if they were to be used for the Precious Blood, could not be thrown out. Furthermore, there is a reason the chalices and cups are plated with precious metals: the contents are even more precious, the Blood of Christ. Paper cups are not fitting for the Precious Blood of Christ.
The last reason, and in my estimation the most important reason, for not returning to the distribution of the Precious Blood from the cup is a matter of reverence. My first part here may seem petty, but words and names are important: they reveal what we really think of someone or something. When asking about the Precious Blood, many will ask about “bringing back the wine.” After the consecration, there is no longer wine in the chalice; it is the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ, not wine. If we are calling it wine, do we believe we are receiving the Precious Blood of Christ? Even more important, however, is the possibility of the Precious Blood being spilled. Sloppy handoffs, tipping the cup back too quickly, cups too full, dropping the cup, tripping while holding the chalice: all of these can lead to spilling a few drops or the entire content of the Blood of Christ onto the ground. To compound the matter is that we have carpeted churches, and therefore, absorbing all of the Blood of Christ that has spilled becomes complicated. The Eucharist—the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity—is something we take painstaking effort to keep from falling to the ground, for it is a sacrilege to have the Eucharist in any form fall to the ground (and I know that it happens unintentionally, so please do not beat yourself up if this has happened to you; it is the responsibility of the priest to ensure it doesn’t).
This may be difficult for some to digest or understand, but we remember that we come to Mass firstly to offer our worship by giving our body, blood, soul, and humanity to God, who in turn feeds us with the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ.
We are saints under construction, redeemed by the Precious Blood of Christ and nourished by His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Eucharist. Have a great week!