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Can lay people assist in consuming the consecrated wine after communion?

08 February 2019

Write, if you have any answers to the questions listed at the end of this section, or would like to add to the answers below.


The 1662 post-communion rubric states: “. . . the Priest, and such other of the communicants as he shall then call unto him, shall, immediately after the blessing, reverently eat and drink [the remaining consecrated bread and wine].” Has any of the members of the laity among your readers ever thus been “called”? The timing of the action is also interesting.


Your answers: While I suspect that a desire for fidelity to the rubrics of 1662 is not the primary cause, my experience when serving or assisting in the distribution of communion is that it is increasingly common to be asked to join in this reverent consumption.

I see the reason as twofold: first, the growing awareness among the clergy that consuming a couple of chalices of wine is likely to render them unfit to drive home; and, second, the trend to use “real” bread (or, as 1662 would say, “such as is usual to be eaten”), which invariably leaves a much larger volume to be consumed than wafer bread does.

As for timing, while once it seemed the default that the consumption of remaining elements would occur immediately after the distribution to the people, there is now a drift later, either towards a final hymn or some point, not necessarily particularly immediate, after the blessing. The reason for this is less clear, although when faced with the need to chomp through a significant pile of consecrated bread, removing oneself to the vestry is probably wise.

Gwilym Stone


I have often called members of the laity to help me with the consecrated wine. A misjudgement at either or both of the 8.30-a.m. and 9.30-a.m. eucharists I have presided at has, on occasion, left me in need of some assistance if I am to make it to the 11-a.m. eucharist in a third church. My soul may be in good shape, but my mind (and my co-ordination) would not be up to the rigours of the local constabulary, or my conscience. This may be more of a rural thing.

(The Revd) John Toogood
Chieveley, Newbury


The consumption of surplus consecrated elements by lay people is surely quite common. I know of one church with a priest and a server who are both recovering alcoholics. If their duties coincided, consumption would fall then to the lay eucharistic assistant and, if needed, any other lay person.

Matthew Clements
Bicester, Oxfordshire


Other lay people tell of helping in the consumption of the consecrated elements, less often after the blessing (as in the 1662 rubric) than before it. The Revd Shaun Atkins has called on the licensed eucharistic assistants. Bridget Swan recalls assisting as a Reader acting as liturgical deacon. As for the timing, consuming the elements before the post-communion prayer, or “taking the ablutions in the right place” (“TARPing”), was the subject of answers on 9 November 2012 (link online). Other considerations apart, if lay people’s help is needed, they should be asked before they have begun on any after-service refreshments. Editor


Your question: Looking at the painting The Light of the World, we could be forgiven for forgetting that Jesus was a rav talk­ing to Jews. Jews who at 13 had their bar mitzvah became adults: sons of the law. So, when Jesus talks of being son of God, does it not mean be­­coming an adult under God? Is this not how his audience would have understood it?

P. B.


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