Finishing Consecrated Wine- Catholic compared to Episcopal (Real Presence issue)

Hello all. I am going through RCIA after seven years of marriage to a Catholic man, and I am learning more every day.

My parents are not Catholic, I was raised Episcopal with my dad and UCC with my mom (who is now Methodist). Anyway, neither is supportive of my conversion. Yesterday my dad saw something that prompted a discussion about consecrated wine- that at the Episcopal church they have a special sink that drains into the earth that they pour the wine into- any that is left over.

I said, well no, in the Catholic church the priest or the EMs finish the consecrated wine- it’s the blood of Christ and it can’t just be poured on the ground. That started the whole “it’s not LITERALLY the blood it’s representative” argument.

But at any rate, is there something more I could have said? As to why the wine must be all consumed? Thanks for your help. I dislike arguing especially with my Dad…but I am trying to stand up for what I believe in.

Actually you’re both right! In Catholic churches, in the sacristy, there is the same kind of sink used in the Episcopal churches. That is the sink where the chalices are washed and cleaned after Mass. :slight_smile: However Catholics would never “pour” the precious blood down the sink. It is always consumed. The Eucharist is ALWAYS consumed (ultimately) and never disposed of. The only exception to this might be when a host falls to the ground. It MAY then be dissolved in water and poured down that sink.

First of all welcome to the catholic church. We welcome you with open arms. Second you are absolutely correct that the precious blood is consumed and never poured down a drain. Lastly I encourage you to read John chapter 6 to familiarize yourself with the biblical basis for our belief in the real presence of Jesus in the bread and wine. Jesus is clear that his flesh and his blood is real food. He is quite clear. Read it and share it with your family.

The sink is called a sacrarium or a piscina. The sacrarium is actually the drain of the piscina but the words are used interchangeably nowadays. Every modern Catholic Church has one.

It has a french drain - directly to the earth. It does not go to the sewer system. It is for rinsing sacred vessels, soaking purificators with Precious Blood on them, emptying the ablution cup which might have particles of the Eucharist in it, and anything else having to do with the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist. Soap, handwashing, pouring out your sweet tea is not allowed. It is for our Eucharistic Lord only and so often has a cover to discourage profane use.

AmbroseSJ is correct. The Eucharist is Jesus. We will never pour it down the drain - sacrarium or otherwise. We consume it. That is our belief.

Some particles of the Eucharist do go down the drain of the sacrarium. The purificators always have some precious blood on them as well. This cannot be avoided. It goes down the drain to the earth, not to the sewer system or cesspool.

Here is a picture of a sacrarium with purificators soaking. I treat the sacrarium as if it was the chalice when I am sacristan.


Having come from an Episopal background, I understand your father’s frustration…and anger. Prayers for both of your parents. We all know the passage about being ready to explain the reason for our joy…let’s also remember the next sentence to ‘do it with gentleness…’

Correct. Very good explanation.:thumbsup:

I’m actually rather shocked that the EC would pour (what they consider) the consecrated species into sacrarium. I was raised EC, was an acolyte and very active into young adulthood and I never witnessed such a thing.

The priest in my EC church consumed all the precious blood and all the hosts (we did not reserve in a tabernacle). He purified the vessels at the altar. Not different in any way from the CC. As far as I know the wine is to be consumed in the EC too and pouring it in the sacrarium would be abusive.

The sacrarium was used only by the sacristan when washing the vessels AFTER services ended.

So, your dad is basically tilting at windmills.

But even if the EC poured the species in the sacrarium and the CC consumes it, I find his objection quite silly actually and in no way disproving the real presence. The EC’s plurality of belief in basic things such as is it or is it not the real presence is what drove me out of there 25 years ago. I mean, it is or it’s not, it can’t be both/either/it depends. How intellectually dishonest of the Anglican Communion, IMHO.

Maybe your father kind of leans on the side of Protestantism or “low church.” I am Episcopalian and we finish the wine at Mass. We believe in the RP.

If a host falls on the ground, I would quickly pick it up and consume it, even if it was given to someone else (I heard on Catholic Answers that Patrick Coffin and the guest said the same thing).

I’ve done that myself. However not everyone is comfortable doing it. There may also be circumstances that would make it more difficult, i.e. the floor is wet and dirty (due to weather) or such things.

:thumbsup: I agree! Once my Pastor and I walked by the Tabernacle and he found the Blessed Sacrament on the floor. Father picked Him up as I knelt and told him I would Receive. Both of us said a prayer, and I Received. It was a “strange” situation. We purified the area afterward. I am an EMHC, and personally, I do not know when I would place the Blessed Sacrament in a glass of water until it dissolved (3 days?) so that I may dispose of the water. I know when I may do it. Thank God I have not come to the situation in which I would do it. I would not give the Blessed Sacrament that dropped to the floor to someone else if I am giving Communion, but would reserve the Host as I was taught, and then consume it.

Luz Maria

Wonderful answers as always.

I may have misunderstood some of what my Dad meant, because he did mention it was in the sacristy and I guess I didn’t know exactly what that was :o

Thanks for the image, that was very helpful!

He is pretty low church, and was brought up by his mother and her family to be ant-iCatholic even though his own father was Catholic, and went to daily mass. Meanwhile, my older sister has long since converted, I am in the process, and so all of his grandchildren are Catholic! He enjoys a good philosophical or theological argument, but I have no chance of convincing him of anything :wink: I just am trying to avoid stammering and fumbling for words in these discussions!

As with so many things, practice in the Episcopal Church varies. The practice in the parish where I was confirmed was the same as the Catholic practice. In fact, when the Episcopal Church reached a full communion agreement with the Lutherans, my priest was opposed to it because he’d seen Lutherans pour out the consecrated elements.

However, in my second parish in New Jersey, the practice was as the OP describes, particularly when we got a new priest who was quite low church and also clearly did not want to consume too much of the elements, being a small woman. As an altar server, I was disturbed by this and would try to intercept the elements and consume the elements before they were dumped out. This was especially a problem at the 7 AM midweek Eucharist. The priest would regularly consecrate too much wine and most of it would be left, and I would go to breakfast a bit woozy.

I’m not sure what the practice is in my current parish, since I have not been an altar server here. The parish has a fading history of Anglo-Catholicism, so some of the older folks have fairly Catholic practices, but the priest is more or less on the low side of middle by Episcopal standards (he won’t do veneration of the Cross on Good Friday and believes that the Anglican view of the Eucharist, particularly the sacrifice, is not the same as that of “Roman Catholics”).


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