When you grow up in an Italian family as I did, special meals always included wine. Wine meant celebration and gathering in friendship and intimacy. Since drinking wine was often associated with holydays such as Christmas and Easter, wine also symbolized a connection to God.
Numerous stories about vines and the wine made from them are in the Scriptures. The vineyard is a symbol of Israel, God’s Chosen People. In the New Testament, Jesus reveals himself as the true vine and his people as the branches, urging followers to remain in him and bear fruit.
One of the ways to remain in Jesus is to drink from the cup at Mass. The cup is the only liturgical vessel mentioned in Scripture and has several associations, the cup of suffering, the cup of destiny and the cup from which to drink. In the garden at Gethsemane before his passion and death, Jesus prayed to his Father, “If it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” When James and John asked Jesus if they could sit at his right and at his left in the eternal Kingdom, Jesus said, “Can you drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” At the Last Supper, Jesus took a cup, gave thanks, and offering it to the disciples, said, “Drink from it, all of you.”
The offering of the Blood of Christ to communicants was continued for more than a millennium, but the Middle Ages witnessed a decline in the use of the cup. Controversies arose over whether the laity or only the priest should drink from the cup. In the sixteenth century, the Council of Trent affirmed that the cup was to be reserved for the clergy. However, the Second Vatican Council document the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy states that Communion under both kinds may be granted to the laity at the discretion of the bishop. Not long after the Council, the instruction Eucharisticum mysterium explained:
Holy Communion, considered as a sign, has a more complete form when
it is received under both kinds. For under this form the sign of the
Eucharistic banquet appears more perfectly. Moreover, it shows more
clearly how the new and eternal Covenant is ratified in the Blood of the
Lord, as it also expresses the relation of the Eucharistic banquet to the
eschatological banquet in the Kingdom of the Father.
(cf. Matt. 26:27–29). (32)
Beginning next weekend, Aug. 6 and 7, we at St. Thomas Aquinas will again offer the Precious Blood (along with the Body of Christ) after a long absence due to the coronavirus. The faithful are not obligated to drink from the cup and if a person is feeling ill or has a cold virus, they should refrain from taking the cup. Please know that the parish will exercise every safety and hygiene precaution regarding the cup. Still, it is understandable that some may choose only to receive the Body of Christ, and in the reception of one species, Christ is received “whole and entire” (General Instruction of the Roman Missal). Drinking from the cup, though, offers “a more complete form” when received under both kinds.
The restoration of the cup brings with it the need for more Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. A training for new ministers and for recertification of current ministers will take place on Saturday, August 13, from 9:00 am to 11:00 am in the church. For more information, contact Kathy Kuczka, [email protected].