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Pete wrote:

Hi, guys —

Christ instructed us to eat his Body and drink His Blood but for years the Church just offered the host (His Body). Only recently has the Western Church offered the wine.

  • Was the Church doing it wrong until recently?
  • How can it justify offering the wine now and not before?

I realize some branches, the Maronites, for example, might have always offered both.

Pete

  { Was the Church administering Holy Communion incorrectly all these years? }

Mary Ann replied:

Pete —

The Body and the Blood are both, in the Host and the "Wine." The Living Christ is there, and His body and blood are not separated. Communion was offered under both signs at the beginning,
but even from the beginning was carried to the sick under only one sign. When congregations became large, then it was impractical to offer under the appearance of wine, and there were more possibilities of spillage/sacrilege. It was reinstated for small or special celebrations.

The Eastern Rites have always communed under both species, and they do it in a way that prevents disrespect and also contamination by germs ... something we need to address in the Roman Rite when Communion is offered under both species.

Mary Ann

Eric replied:

Hi, Pete —

It can justify offering both, or not offering both, as a discipline. In order to respond to changing needs and exigencies, the Church imposes and removes various disciplines on the faithful.
Just as a country passes and rescinds laws to meet its needs, so does the Church.

At one point, the Church deemed it necessary to prohibit the cup from the faithful — possibly as a means of:

  • checking a heresy that Jesus's Blood was only available under the form of wine
  • or maybe it was for hygienic reasons in an age with little hygiene among the people.

Now she deems it acceptable because that heresy is less virulent or because hygiene is less applicable.

In any case, Jesus gave the Church the power of the keys (Matthew 16:18) to loose and to bind, which, among other things, means making disciplinary decrees. Thus, she can do what she wishes within the bounds of doctrine.

Eric

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