Thursday, May 17, 2012

Article XXX: Of Both Kinds

Today's article has to deal with one of the Reformation era liturgical bugaboos for Protestants:

 XXX. Of both kinds 


 The Cup of the Lord is not to be denied to the Lay-people: for both the parts of the Lord's Sacrament, by Christ's ordinance and commandment, ought to be ministered to all Christian men alike.


One of the unfortunate customs that evolved in the Western church during the Middle Ages, partly out of theology and partly out of fear of the plague, was the practice of the priest not giving the chalice of wine to the laity during Communion. In actual fact, in the high Middle Ages, the laity would not receive either the wine or the bread all, or if they did, it was only once a year or so, and then only in bread form. The priest did everything and consumed everything. Or if there was a deacon, the deacon might be allowed to partake of the Eucharist. Practically speaking, people looked onto the Bread and Wine and did not receive them.

Again, part of this evolved from fear of spreading the plague. Mostly, however, it evolved from the theology of Transubstantiation, wherein the elements became the literal Body and Blood, at least in the philosophical sense. As such, priests were scared of any drop or crumb of a host or wine falling on the floor and being trampled under foot and desecrated, seeing as it was consecrated. I admit I fall into this school of thought because, though I temper it with God's Grace. I try to be as reverent as possible, but I realize you can take this to superstitious extremes. I trust that a loving God will forgive me if there is an accident. This is why I abhor the use of actual bread loaves for Communion because crumbs fly everywhere and invariably get trampled under foot or end up floating as some gelatinous blob in the chalice, which is just nasty.

I agree with the sentiment of this article. I think the Bread and Wine should be available to the laity, should they wish to partake in both kinds. However, it is theologically and morally sufficient to receive in only kind, particularly if you have a fear of the common chalice. You enter into Communion with God and the Church in either form or in both forms. Communion is not negated in moral theology by receiving in only one kind.

Remember this during Flu season.

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