Pastor Mark has left a comment on my post on shrouding images during Lent:
Never mind the shrouding , David, what about the mangled Mass? Not offering both kinds? Surely, you don’t buy concomitance? After all, if true, why would our Lord bother with the wine anyway? Another reason not to be Catholic, I’m afraid.
Well, yes, Pastor, I do “buy concomitance” because it is a doctrine of the Catholic Church. The Catechism has a simple statement on this (without using the technical term):
1390 Since Christ is sacramentally present under each of the species, communion under the species of bread alone makes it possible to receive all the fruit of Eucharistic grace. For pastoral reasons this manner of receiving communion has been legitimately established as the most common form in the Latin rite. But “the sign of communion is more complete when given under both kinds, since in that form the sign of the Eucharistic meal appears more clearly” [GIRM 240]. This is the usual form of receiving communion in the Eastern rites.
But I am aware of the need to give a little more consideration to the matter. The usual story given in liturgical histories is that the chalice was first withheld from the faithful around the 11th Century due to a growing respect for and adoration of the Eucharistic species. This is a little too simple. It certainly doesn’t take into account the broad history of the varying practices regarding communion. The Catholic Encyclopedia (1911 – and so not “up to date” with current ecclesiastical law, but still helpful) notes that:
there existed from the earlist times the custom of communicating in certain cases under one kind alone. This custom is exemplified (1) in the not infrequent practice of private domestic Communion, portion of the Eucharistic bread being brought by the faithful to their homes and there reserved for this purpose; (2) in the Communion of the sick, which was usually administered under the species of bread alone; (3) in the Communion of children which was usually given, even in the churches, under the species of wine alone, but sometimes under the species of bread alone; (4) in the Communion under the species of bread alone at the Mass of the Presanctified, and as an optional practice, in some churches on ordinary occasions. To these examples may be added (5) the practice of the intinctio panis, i.e. the dipping of the consecrated bread in the Precious Blood and its administration per modum cibi. We will notice briefly the history of each of these divergent practices.
The Encyclopedia gives more detail on each of these, but I believe there is more detail yet that we should take into account. For instance, what are “the pastoral reasons” (as the Catechism calls them) for communion “under one kind”?
Keep in mind first that Catholics understand the Eucharistic action a little differently from Protestants. Since Protestants see it primarily as a “meal” for the whole community to share (a not infrequent understanding to be found in some modern Catholic writing) it is, of course, necessary that the “Do this” of our Lord is seen to apply to all the people. But for Catholics, the Mass is offering of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, and this sacrificial act is completed when the celebrating priest communes himself on both Eucharistic species. As the Encyclopedia article states:
In reference to the Eucharist as a sacrifice, the communion, under both kinds, of the celebrating priest belongs at least to the integrity, and, according to some theologians, to the essence, of the sacrificial rite, and may not therefore be omitted without violating the sacrificial precept of Christ: “Do this for a commemoration of me” (Luke 22:19). This is taught implicitly by the Council of Trent (Sess. XXI, c. i; XXII, c. i). (b) There is no Divine precept binding the laity or non-celebrating priests to receive the sacrament under both kinds (Trent, sess. XXI, c. i.) (c) By reason of the hypostatic union and of the indivisibility of His glorified humanity, Christ is really present and is received whole and entire, body and blood, soul and Divinity, under either species alone; nor, as regards the fruits of the sacrament, is the communicant under one kind deprived of any grace necessary for salvation (Trent, Sess. XXI, c., iii).
That being said, back to the “pastoral reasons” why the laity and non-celebrating priests might well receive communion only under the “kind” of the species of the Eucharistic bread.
Some years ago, as a Lutheran pastor, I was put in charge of organising a Eucharistic liturgy for a large gathering of Lutherans in Geelong. There were about 600 or 700 communicants. We procured additional chalices and flagons for the wine, and we had several “distribution points” around the large gymnasium in which the service was held. To facilitate the communion and the pouring of the wine into the chalices for all the people, we had tables set up around the space at each “distribution point”. Afterward, when it was time to pack up, I was somewhat distressed to see that there was spilt wine over all the tables where the pouring had taken place.
First keep in mind that up until recently (in both Lutheran and Catholic liturgies) only the ordained minister(s) could distribute the Eucharist. This meant that way of distribution was needed to commune large numbers of people efficiently (time-wise) and with a minimum of possibility of profanation of the Eucharistic species. Using unleavened bread pre-baked into wafers was one way of ensuring that crumbs of the Eucharistic bread were not spilled in the “breaking”. In the East, where leavened bread was used, the solution was found to place the bread in the chalice and for the priest to distribute it with a spoon into the mouths of the communicants. Even this method was difficult for a large number of communicants. In the West, communion under one kind seemed the best way to go, given the historical precedent for this (as outlined in the Encyclopedia).
At the same time, numbers of communicants at liturgies in the middle ages in both East and West were not as high as they have customarily become in recent years in the West. You might think of the 400,000 that received communion at the Papal Mass at Randwick during the 2008 World Youth Day. Or you might think simply in terms of the couple of hundred of people at St Mary’s in Cowes yesterday, or even the regular hundreds who attend masses in St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne. In all these cases, communion under both kinds would be very difficult both in terms of efficiency (keeping the communion time to under 10-15 minutes) and in terms of protecting the Eucharistic species from profanation.
So it seems to me that given the truth that “Christ is really present and is received whole and entire, body and blood, soul and Divinity, under either species alone”, it is a suitable and responsible pastoral decision to offer communion under only the species of the Eucharistic bread.
I would have to do much more study on the history of the practice to understand it completely. If I had a time machine, one thing I would like to do is to do a documentary on the development of the practice of the Eucharistic Liturgy over the ages. We don’t have any such thing, of course, but I simply caution Lutherans, Orthodox and Catholics alike not to assume that just because “this is the way we do it today”, that this is the way communion has always been administered.