“When we gather once more, let us be sure that our Eucharistic practices are not only physically safe, but that they also reflect the fullness of the hope and challenge given to us in the sacrament.”
Beloved, these concluding words from a theological essay written by the Rev. Dr. Hilary Bogert-Winkler are top of mind as I release the pandemic prohibition on receiving from the common cup. Beginning this Sunday, April 3, 2022, congregations may resume the use of the common cup (Eucharistic chalice) as part of our regular practice of receiving Holy Communion. The depth of our longing to receive communion in both kinds speaks to our desire to be one with Christ and one another in the Eucharistic feast. We have waited long for this day. As we approach the holiest days of our year—Holy Week and Easter—I rejoice that we will be able to offer and participate in the sacrament that, along with baptism, most makes us who we are: the Body of Christ.
I’m aware that public health practitioners are consistent in noting that it will be some time before we are fully out of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the increasing prevalence of the latest SARS-CoV-2 virus (Omicron B.A.2) I expect that vestries and regathering teams will find it necessary to continue monitoring local conditions to ensure the ongoing safety of our faith communities. As we continue forward into our “new normal”, I ask that you and your leadership keep the following in mind:
- Receiving from the common cup assumes the consecration of one chalice and, when appropriate, additional cruets or flagons. This additional consecrated wine should be poured into a chalice allowing communicants to sip and consume the wine. Please note that I discourage the practice of intinction to receive the wine.
- The resumption of our full Eucharistic practice presents an excellent opportunity to retrain lay Eucharistic ministers or to train new ones. Please contact my office if we can assist in preparing leaders for this ministry and issue the appropriate license.
- Preparing to receive communion in both kinds as we come through a pandemic is both an intellectual and emotional exercise. Understand that not everyone will be ready to receive from the common cup right away. The attached paper, commissioned by my bishop colleague, the Rt. Rev. Bruce Myers of Quebec, offers some helpful information on the relative risks associated with receiving from the common cup in the time of Covid.
- Seek to create a judgment-free space to accommodate varied practice for those who may desire to receive in one kind for a while longer.
- While we are becoming more comfortable with congregational singing, gatherings with optional mask-wearing, and reduction in social distancing protocols, recognize that changing pandemic conditions and community spread of other sub-variants may require pulling back from these practices for a time. If and when this occurs, reviewing and/or changing Eucharistic practice would be expected.
- My staff and I continue to be available to you and your regathering teams to offer guidance and answer questions.
May God continue to bless and keep you as you serve those in your care. I remain abundantly grateful for your leadership and the ministry we share in Christ’s name.