by J.D. Long-Garcia
PHOENIX (CNS) – Plans are under way in the Diocese of Phoenix to implement new local norms for the distribution of Holy Communion.
As a result, the wine that becomes Jesus’ blood at consecration will not be offered at every Sunday Mass, but instead will be reserved for special occasions, left to the determination of each parish pastor.
The change will bring local Catholic celebration of the Eucharist into union with the practice of the faithful around the world, according to diocesan officials, who said receiving Communion under both kinds is uncommon in most countries.
“What many people don’t realize is that we’ve had experimental privileges,” said Father Kieran Kleczewski, executive director of the Phoenix diocesan Office of Worship. “We’re now under the same norms as the Church in the rest of the world.
For Catholics in the United States, it will seem like a restriction, he said, but it’s an expansion for the rest of the world.
Communion under both species should be offered on the occasions in which both species further the sign of unity or are clearly a fuller expression of Christ’s presence, Father Kleczewski said. The Church teaches that Christ – body, blood, soul and divinity – is present fully in the bread form. He is also fully present in the wine form
“It’s offered to a bride and groom at their wedding. Why? Because it’s a beautiful sign of Christian unity in the sacrament of marriage,” he said. “That’s why you would offer them the chalice as well as the host.”
The same goes for offering both species on retreat, in order to recognize a great unity among participants.
“If the majority of people receiving Communion do not receive from the chalice, then you shouldn’t be offering the chalice,” Father Kleczewski said.
In his church, St. Thomas Aquinas parish in Avondale, the first four or five pews receive from the chalice. But few others do.
“That’s destroying the sign of unity that this is supposed to be,” Father Kleczewski said.
After the Second Vatican Council called for more occasions when the cup could be offered to the laity – which had not been the practice for hundreds of years – the United States, the United Kingdom and Oceania received experimental permission to offer the cup to the faithful.