. . . Many years ago, my father told me that in hospital he had received holy communion from an Anglican chaplain, and that it had taken the form of a consecrated wafer that had been previously dipped in consecrated wine. Is that form of Reservation still practised? [Answers, 7 July]
As a chaplaincy volunteer in an NHS hospital in Bristol, I regularly use the reserved sacrament in the form of an intincted wafer. This helps to prevent the spread of infection as I move between wards and patients.
As for patients who are nil by mouth for whatever reason, I remind them of the imprisoned Dean of Johannesburg, Canon ffrench-Beytagh during apartheid. He celebrated the eucharist every day without any elements at all, and yet he felt that he received the presence of Christ within him as powerfully as if he had consumed bread and wine.
To quote Graham Greene in Monsignor Quixote, “Do you think it’s more difficult to turn empty air into wine than wine into blood? Can our limited senses decide a thing like that? We are faced by an infinite mystery.”
Chris Burbridge, Bristol
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