Water and Wine


Does the mixing of the wine and water during Mass come from a Jewish tradition or something else? I have heard conflicting information on this. May be some of you well learned here can give the correct answer.



On a practical level, it was done in antiquity because of the scarcity of clean water supplies (and since alcohol is alcohol, bacteria does not grow in it). Even to this day there are certain alcohols commonly mixed with water in the middle east (primary amongst them, arak).

Now there are many symbols attached to this rite:
-the mixing of divinity and humanity
-the blood and water from the side of Christ
-mixing ourselves with Christ

I’ve read in some places that Armenians don’t mix water into the wine because they’re monophysites. To that I roll my eyes :rolleyes:. That’s pretty analogous to the accusation that Latins don’t use leavened bread because they don’t believe in the rising of Christ.


MorEphrem is correct about mixing water and wine for practical health reasons. Clean water was not a given in the ancient world. Mixing a bit of alcohol with water for health reasons is explicit in the Bible.

No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments. (1 Timothy 5:23)

The spiritual meaning, or one spiritual meaning, is expressed by the priest or deacon at the Mass when they add the water to the wine and say,

***By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity. ***

One of the priests at my parish says this audibly but most say it inaudibly. It is not surprising to me that many don’t know that this is what is being said at that moment in the Mass.



I don’t understand what the mixing of water with a bit of wine for health reasons has to do with the mixing of wine with a bit of water for the Mass. In the first instance, the wine is being added to the water to make the water healthy to drink. In the second case, the water is being added to the wine…:shrug:
How is the second one related to the first?:confused:


Does the water added to the wine that will become the Blood of Christ make reference to the water that flowed when he was pierced on the cross, or it it part of a Jewish custom of the time that is incorporated into the Mass?


It’s related only, as [post=11349153]MorEphrem[/post] put it, on the practical (i.e, hygienic) level. It really doesn’t have anything to do with liturgical symbolism.

The former. For example, the traditional Maronite prayer for the mixing goes (my off-the-cuff translation from the Syriac):

“And this water, a symbol of the water which flowed for us from the side of Your Beloved Son Our Lord Jesus Christ, do I mix in this chalice, the Chalice of Salvation, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”


Why Water with Wine?




Further to my previous [post=11349833]post[/post], I suppose I should add that mixing water with wine wasn’t only a Jewish custom. It was a common thing in the Mediterranean, mainly because the local wine was rather strong. (The warm climate causes grapes to ripen quickly, and the fermentation process produces a stronger wine due to the residual sugar.) In many cases, the wine was so strong that it would have been unpalatable without the admixture of some water. That said, though, the amount of water traditionally used liturgically is very small – not more than a few drops – which would not have a noticeable effect on the strength of the wine.


The wine is not the true Blood of Christ without the water. :wink:


I am not sure that the water is essential to the sacrament. In the Roman Rite it should be done but I don’t think it is essential for it to be the Eucharist.



I heard that water had to be added to the wine to make it valid on a Catholic radio station but I might have misunderstood.


Thank you. I think this link gives a great insight into my question.


That is untrue. Wine is not required for sacramental validity of consecration in the Roman Rite. While it is heavily recommended for fuller symbol, the only required matter is the bread made from wheat flour/water and wine made from grapes.


It is a wonderful part of the Mass.

If you notice Mass with a deacon, you may see him pause for the briefest moment before he pours just a drop into the presider’s chalice. That is all that is needed although many put a drop into the presider’s chalice and the pitcher or other cups. You may see him whisper a prayer inaudibly. That is the deacon saying, “By the mystery of this water and wine, may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity.”

What is interesting is that for a deacon, it is the only prayer he has during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. One of our deacons said, “It is my only part. I like to get it right.”



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