Precious Blood distribution returns to diocese
"...holy Communion has a fuller form as a sign when it is distributed under both forms, while also lacking nothing if under one form.”
From the May 25, 2023 edition
By DAWN PROSSER
Director of Communications
After a three-year absence due to COVID-19 concerns, reception of the Precious Blood is returning to the parishioners in the Diocese of Sioux City. Bishop Walker Nickless announced to his priests and deacons that on the solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi), “we will return to Communion in both species.”
Father Andrew Galles, diocesan director of worship noted that the celebration of Corpus Christi is the opening of the parish phase of the National Eucharistic Revival, providing a fitting occasion to reinstitute reception of the Precious Blood in the diocese.
To prepare for the return of offering the Precious Blood at diocesan parishes, Father Galles provided a brief presentation to the priests via video conferencing to explain Bishop Nickless’ guidelines for Communion starting the weekend of June 10 and 11.
He noted that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops clarifies in a 2002 document regarding distribution and reception of holy Communion in the United States that the diocesan bishop “regulates when and how the Precious Blood is to be distributed.”
Historical information on the reception of Communion was shared with the clergy by the director of worship, including the Council of Trent, Second Vatican Council and the 1969 Missal of Paul VI that recognized “that holy Communion has a fuller form as a sign when it is distributed under both forms, while also lacking nothing if under one form.”
In the Diocese of Sioux City, the Precious Blood may be offered to the faithful on solemnities including Sundays, holy days of obligation and special Masses such as confirmations, ordinations, first Communions and nuptial Masses (for the bride and groom).
“In order to maintain a sense of progressive solemnity, the Precious Blood should not be distributed at daily Mass,” the director of worship explained.
He advised that intinction, dipping the consecrated host into the consecrated wine before receiving Communion, would be permitted if the communicant received by mouth and “patens must be used to prevent any drops of Precious Blood from falling to the floor.”
Pastors would determine how often and when Communion in both species would be offered in their parishes. Father Galles noted that the Precious Blood would not have to be offered “at every single parish Mass on a Sunday,” but could be offered the first Sunday of every month, as an example.
“It is at the pastor’s discretion how to implement this in his parish,” the director of worship said, noting the faithful should have “reasonable exposure” to the Precious Blood.
In instances of large numbers of the faithful assembled and/or when Mass is offered in a building other than a church, then Communion will only be offered as a consecrated host.
Also, Bishop Nickless will require that Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (EMHCs) make a public profession of faith and sign the profession at the time of their commissioning.
The bishop is also requiring that pastors provide catechesis to their parishioners prior to reinstated reception of the Precious Blood in their parishes. Father Galles said several concepts are necessary for instruction to the faithful, including:
Father Galles also noted that an EMHC should never replace a priest or deacon as Communion distributor in a Mass.
“By the very virtue and nature of the term, they are extraordinary, they are needed in extraordinary circumstances. By virtue of their ordination, bishops, priests and deacons are ordinary ministers of Holy Communion and should carry out this duty when present at the celebration of the Mass. It’s one of the things they were ordained to be – guardians of the Eucharist,” the priest pointed out, adding that deacons should be administrators of the chalice during Communion unless distributing the host out of necessity.
In training or re-training parish EMHCs, the director of worship said EMHCs should be instructed to dress appropriately to acknowledge the sacred ministry of distributing the body and blood of Christ at Mass.
“There shouldn’t be any shorts anywhere in the sanctuary. No immodest or irreverent clothing of any kind,” he advised his brother priests. “Remind people again of the great dignity and duty of what you are carrying out and its significance, especially in our demeanor.”
Because of the sacred nature of the ministry, pastors should personally select any new EMHCs from their parishes.
The priest said the faithful should be reminded of their postures during Mass – when to bow, stand and genuflect. Pastors can also review with their parishioners how to reverently receive the host or chalice, including not “gulping” the Precious Blood.
Father Galles also offered guidance to ensure that the distribution of holy Communion isn't expected to be too long or too short. He noted that most clergy are easily able to distribute Communion to around 100 people, and that “this number should be taken into consideration as many church documents express that we should not be over-reliant on EMHCs. This can blur the distinction between laity and clergy and make the faithful forget that the holy Eucharist is specifically entrusted to the custody of ordained clergy. In fact, the church reminds us that requiring too many extraordinary ministers of holy Communion is one reason why we might consider not distributing the Precious Blood.”
Pastors explained they have been approached periodically over the past three years regarding the return of distribution of the Precious Blood in the Diocese of Sioux City. Some parishioners noted they received Communion in both species recently in other dioceses.
“Since the parish is the next-door neighbor with the Dubuque Archdiocese which reintroduced the Precious Blood a while ago (people have been asking),” explained Father Matthew Solyntjes, administrator of Divine Mercy Parish, Algona. “A lot of people have family around Clear Lake or Mason City, for example, so they’re used to seeing the chalice offered when they go visit. So, they naturally wonder, ‘When we will do likewise?’”
As most hope to reinstate the Precious Blood on the solemnity of Corpus Christi, the pastors are considering delivering catechesis in various forms including announcements, bulletins, electronic communication and possibly others.
“I will talk to (the parishioners) about Communion at all the Masses on May 27 and 28. I will talk about the Eucharist, how each form of the Eucharist is the fullness of Christ’s presence with both forms being a fuller expression of the eucharistic meal. (And) that it is up to them to choose to partake in the cup/Precious Blood,” said Father Lynn Bruch, pastor of parishes in Lake City, Manson and Rockwell City, noting he will also review the proper reception of the Eucharist for his parishioners.
Msgr. Kevin McCoy, pastor of Holy Trinity Church of Webster County, noted that due to COVID-19, the Precious Blood has never been distributed in the new church as the building was dedicated in September 2020. His pastoral staff met to discuss the logistics of adding the distribution of Precious Blood at Communion.
“We are planning some catechetical pieces – print and perhaps video – to prepare the faithful for this beginning on Corpus Christi,” the monsignor said.
At the Cathedral Parish in Sioux City, parishioners will receive catechesis on how to receive Communion in general, according to Father David Esquiliano, pastor. Father Terry Roder of Good Shepherd Parish, Breda, said he will advise his parishioners at weekend Masses and provide explanations in the parish bulletin.
Various reception frequencies
Msgr. McCoy and Father Solyntjes said they plan to offer the Precious Blood at all Sunday Masses. Divine Mercy will also offer it at other solemnities. Father Bruch said he will offer the Precious Blood at all three of his parishes each weekend. Father Pick said he is considering offering the Precious Blood on the first Sunday of each month. Frequency at Good Shepherd Parish has not yet been determined. Parishioners at Cathedral Parish will have the Precious Blood offered periodically at specific Masses.
“It will be at special occasions – first Communions for the first communicants, confirmation for confirmandi, weddings for spouses and some holy days of obligation,” said Father Esquiliano.
At the Cathedral Parish, the faithful can receive under both species by intinction at times and other times from the chalice, Father Esquiliano added.
Pastors also pointed out that they will need to retool their ministry schedules to add more EMHCs.