I recently went to Mass and received Communion at a church outside my parish, and I noticed that the priest held a large ciborium containing the hosts and a small inner chalice containing the Precious Blood. The priest dipped the host into the wine and gave it to parishioners on the tongue. I have never seen this done before, and as a result, I asked my local parish priest about this practice. I was informed this practice is called intinction, and he also stated that this method is not permitted in the United States. My question is whether intinction is forbidden, and was the priest in question wrong in this regard?
In 1970, the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments issued the decree Sacramentali Communione, which extended the practice of holy Communion under both species, giving preference to drinking from the chalice. However, the decree went on to say that, among the ways of communicating under both species, the choice of intinction “is more likely to obviate the practical difficulties and to ensure the reverence due to the sacrament more effectively. Intinction makes access to holy Communion under both species easier and safer for the faithful of all ages and conditions.”
According to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 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 a 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” (49).
While intinction performed by a priest or extraordinary minister of the Eucharist is fully approved by the Church, self-intinction, in which we take the host and dip it into the chalice ourselves, is not, and never has been, approved by the Church.
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