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Out of the Question

by
08 November 2013

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Your answers 

At my parents' church, consecrated hosts are intincted before they are reserved. Is this common practice in the C of E? If so, why?

The ninth-century Abbot Regino of Prume provides evidence of reservation by intinction, and the benefit this has for communicants: "the sacred oblations ought to be intincted in the blood of Christ, that the presbyter may be able truthfully to say to the sick man, May the body and blood of Christ protect thee" (quoted on page 611 of Liturgy and Worship, ed. W. K. Lowther-Clarke, SPCK, 1959).

For many centuries before the Lateran Council of 1215 decreed communion in one kind, intinction was common at the liturgy, and thence the reserved sacrament. The prevalence of this method of reservation in the modern Church of England has, therefore, good precedent in the early-medieval Western Church (particularly in Spain and Gaul) and, of course in the universal practice of the Eastern Orthodox Church. This widespread practice in many churches must, however, be located within the Anglican tradition that has always placed importance on communion in both kinds (Article XXX).

When reservation was restored in Anglican churches, diversity of practice reflected doctrinal presuppositons. Clergy who relied heavily on the accepted doctrine that Christ is received whole and entire under either the consecrated bread or wine - the doctrine of concomitance - always reserved the sacrament in one kind only: the consecrated bread.

On the other hand, insistence that communion in both kinds separately should be the norm necessitated ways and means of reservation in both species, as required by specific rubric in the Communion of the Sick in the 1928 Proposed Prayer Book. It was against this diversified background that reservation with intincted hosts was widely adopted.

It is a method that avoids problems of prolonged preservation of wine in an aumbry, but at the same time preserves a reality of "both kinds in one" when given in holy communion. Additionally, it has the practical advantage of greater security when carrying the sacrament from church to housebound communicants.

(Canon) Terry Palmer
Magor, Monmouthshire

 

Your questions

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