Purification after Communion

I have heard, in a conversation with some priests, that it is very important that the priest purifies the chalice and suborium after Holy Communion, they were concerned that this didn’t happen in another parish. Can anyone explain to me what the significance of this is please?

Well if they aren’t clean, all the fragments of the eucharist are still in the ciborium. All the crumbs are still Christ, so its very important to make sure they are all either in the tabernacle or consumed.

Thank you Andrew. I see that that is very important. Does it matter that the priest himself performs this?

The ritual purification of the sacred vessels is to be done either by a priest or a deacon. From Redemptionis Sacramentum:

[119.] The Priest, once he has returned to the altar after the distribution of Communion, standing at the altar or at the credence table, purifies the paten or ciborium over the chalice, then purifies the chalice in accordance with the prescriptions of the Missal and wipes the chalice with the purificator. Where a Deacon is present, he returns with the Priest to the altar and purifies the vessels. It is permissible, however, especially if there are several vessels to be purified, to leave them, covered as may be appropriate, on a corporal on the altar or on the credence table, and for them to be purified by the Priest or Deacon immediately after Mass once the people have been dismissed. Moreover a duly instituted acolyte assists the Priest or Deacon in purifying and arranging the sacred vessels either at the altar or the credence table. In the absence of a Deacon, a duly instituted acolyte carries the sacred vessels to the credence table and there purifies, wipes and arranges them in the usual way.

Our priest doesn’t want to “do the dishes”. Yikes. Our Deacon is perfectly willing to do the purification rite…but it appears it isn’t going to happen in our parish.

Or by an acolyte (as mentioned in the paragraph you quoted). It may also be done after Mass if there are many vessels to be purified, so if you don’t see it being done during Mass it’s likely being done after Mass in the Sacristy.

Yes but note that an instituted acolyte may do this only in the absence of a deacon. Otherwise, he may only assist the priest or deacon in this duty. Also note that this refers to an “instituted acolyte” which is different from an altar server, and from what I’ve come to understand, there are far fewer instituted acolytes than there are deacons.

As well as this, in the Extraordinary Form of Mass, the celebrant holds both thumbs and forefingers over the chalice as the server pours wine and water over them into the chalice. The purpose of this is to rinse off any fragments of Sacred Host into the chalice, to be consumed when the priest drinks the wine/water mixture. This is for the same reason as given in the quote.

What’s an acolyte? A server? What about EMHC, do they count?

Also, surely there would have to be a good reason why the priest couldn’t do it that would facilitate it being done by someone else?

=FightingFat;7507538]I have heard, in a conversation with some priests, that it is very important that the priest purifies the chalice and suborium after Holy Communion, they were concerned that this didn’t happen in another parish. Can anyone explain to me what the significance of this is please?

It has to do with Church Practice; Sacred Tradition of many hundreds of years, and Romes concerns about the posibility of abuse in the cleaning of the vessals, and the possibility of improper disposition of excess Blood of Christ being perhaps treated ONLY as wine.

God Bless,
Pat

No, it’s not an altar server, and no, EMHCs do not count. An “instituted acolyte” is (more-or-less) equivalent to what used to be called a subdeacon in the Latin Church. (The Minor Orders in the Latin Church were abolished in the early 1970s (I forget the title of the instruction) and replaced with the “instituted ministries” of lector and acolyte. Essentially the same thing with different names.)

Well, the ritual purification of the vessels can always be done by a deacon, (in the East it’s supposed to be the deacon), but beyond what Redemptionis Sacramentum says, no one else should be purifying the vessels. Not EMHCs, not altar servers, etc. The fact that such is often the case means only that this is a common abuse.

For our priests the purification (as the previous pastor called it jokingly ‘making the dishes’ takes about 5 minutes. (Two priests distributes communion, and onlyt the celebrant receives under the species of wine). For us it is practical time for adoration after the communion.

The reason as others pointed out is that any visible particle of the consecrated bread or wine is Jesus Christ in his physical presence. The priest washes all this particles into his chalice and consumes it.

This is unfortunate abuse that in most of the Churches the extraordinary ministers or servers set aside the sacred vessels, many times with very superfluous cleaning. There are lot of steps to do to make the Mass reverent.

Be careful not to add meaning to the instruction. It is proper for the instituted acolyte to purify whether a deacon is present of not. In each case he would assist the celebrant or deacon.

The acolyte is instituted in a mass by the bishop to be a “special” Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. This minor order, if you will, gives that person authority by the bishop to purify the vessels and serve as EMHC in front of the “normal” EMHC.

The acolyte assigned to be vested and serve at any given mass, should serve before other EMHC even though not scheduled to distribute communion. This causes issues with some, but there is a rank that should be observed; Bishop, Priest, Deacon, Acolyte, Consecrated Religious then the laity.

I will look for the ritual for the institution of the acolyte. It is centered on the distribution of communion. When my bishop installed us as acolytes, we had to place our hands on the unconsecrated host in a ciborium.

These were the two main duties in the mass assigned to the acolyte, distribution of communion when EMHC’s are needed, and to purify the vessels; which in itself assists the priest and deacon.

This is unfortunately very true. I have seen EMHC pour remaining Precious Blood down the sacrorium…made my skin crawl!!! All of the sacred species must be removed before washing. There is a big difference between purifying and washing. The purification ritual has a practical purpose, to remove ALL of the sacred species and consume it. But to do it in a reverent way as to let the faithful know that all of the sacred species is most definitely Jesus; body and blood.

If I’m not mistaken, Canon law prohibits pouring the remaining sacred Blood down the sacrorium. If I remember correctly, it could mean excommunication. I will have to go back to the canon to see…don’t quote me on that one for now please.

I’m not going to argue this, but be equally careful not to take meaning away from the Instruction.

Moreover a duly instituted acolyte assists the Priest or Deacon in purifying and arranging the sacred vessels either at the altar or the credence table. In the absence of a Deacon, a duly instituted acolyte carries the sacred vessels to the credence table and there purifies, wipes and arranges them in the usual way.

It’s quite clear to me that, where a deacon is present, it does not fall to the instituted acolyte to do the ritual purifications alone.

It’s not an arguable point; I simply stated that if a deacon is present that doesn’t mean that the acolyte cannot exercise his function. If the priest and deacon are busy greeting and talking with the faithful after mass, the acolyte is within his duty under direction of the priest and deacon to purify. He is not disqualified because the priest and deacon are present.

I can assure you, if there are 20 priest and 20 deacons present with the bishop at a diocesan celebration, more than likely there will be one or more acolytes there and they will be purifying vessels, it is what they are instituted for; to serve at the altar.

I’m not trying to argue with you, only trying to illustrate what the instruction reads. I am not taking away from the instruction. I was installed as an acolyte by our bishop in March of ’09. I served as acolyte until December 11th 2010 when I was ordained into the permanent diaconate. As acolyte this is what the Church teaches are his duties, exactly what the instruction says.

PS. I didn’t say that the duty simply falls to the acolyte, it is his duty to assist at the altar; nothing falls to him. As stated before the deacon being present does not preclude the acolyte from his duty to assist, whether that means alone if need be or along side of the deacon.

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