Issue: Is intinction permitted by the Church? What is the procedure for receiving Holy Communion by intinction?
Response: Christ is present in both species of the Eucharist—bread and wine.The Church has provisions and norms for receiving Holy Communion under only one species
or both. Intinction, dipping the host into the Precious Blood, is permitted when done according to Church directives.
Discussion: The Church provides the norms for reception of Holy Communion by intinction in the Norms for the Celebration and Reception of Holy Communion Under Both Kinds in the Dioceses of the United States of America, which was issued in June of 2001 and revised in November of 2011.
Holy Communion may be distributed by intinction in the following manner: “the communicant, while holding the paten under the chin, approaches the priest who holds the chalice and at whose side stands the minister holding the vessel with the hosts. The priest takes the host, intincts the particle into the chalice and, showing it, says: ‘The Body and Blood of Christ.’ The communicant responds, ‘Amen,’ and receives the Sacrament on the tongue from the priest. Afterwards, the communicant returns to his or her place” (no. 49).
It is important to note that:
The communicant, including the extraordinary minister, is never allowed to self-communicate, even by means of intinction. Communion under either form,
bread or wine, must always be given by an ordinary or extraordinary minister of Holy Communion (no. 50).
These norms reflect those in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM), which state:
If Communion from the chalice is carried out by intinction, each communicant, holding a communion-plate under the chin, approaches the priest, who holds a vessel with the sacred particles, a minister standing at his side and holding the chalice. The priest takes a host, dips it partly into the chalice and, showing it, says, Corpus et Sanguis Christi (The Body and Blood of Christ). The communicant responds, Amen, receives the Sacrament in the mouth from the priest, and then withdraws (no. 287).
The Church provides that when Communion is given by intinction, it must be planned beforehand. This can be seen in the practice of having a minister stand at the priest’s side for the purpose of providing the chalice for the intinction. Further, a communicant should never take the Host and dip it in the chalice himself. Nor may the communicant take the Host over to a minister with the chalice and hand it to him or her to dip. Intinction must be carried out as the norms above state.
Regarding whether lay ministers of Holy Communion may distribute by intinction, the wording of the above statements are consistent with the normal use of extraordinary ministers. That is, only ordinary ministers (priests and deacons) should distribute if possible. Then, if there is a pastoral need, extraordinary ministers (preferably installed acolytes) may assist (cf. GIRM, nos. 284, 162).
Distribution of Communion by intinction has been suggested as a way of limiting the use of extraordinary ministers. In the document Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion Under Both Kinds, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops stated:
In practice, the need to avoid obscuring the role of the priest and the deacon as the ordinary ministers of Holy Communion by an excessive use of extraordinary ministers might in some circumstances constitute a reason either for limiting the distribution of Holy Communion under both species or for using intinction instead of distributing the Precious Blood from the chalice (no. 24).
Holy Bible (Catholic edition)
Catechism of the Catholic Church
Vatican II Documents
Hahn and Suprenant, eds., Catholic for a Reason: Scripture and the Mystery of the Family of God
Leon Suprenant and Philip Gray, Faith Facts:Answers to Catholic Questions
Ted Sri, Mystery of the Kingdom: On the Gospel of Matthew
Leon Suprenant, ed., Servants of the Gospel
Most Rev. Thomas J. Tobin, Without a Doubt: Bringing Faith to Life
To order these and other titles, call Emmaus Road toll-free: (800) 398-5470.
Available Faith Facts
- Bread and Wine Used in Consecration
- Who Receives Communion First?
- Smells, Bells, and Other Liturgical Odds & Ends
- Signs of the Christ: Sacraments of the Catholic Church
- Reception of Holy Communion
- Holy Communion Under Both Species
- Handling of Eucharistic Species After Communion
- First Confession / First Communion
- The Year of the Eucharist
- This is My Body: Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist
© 2005 Catholics United for the Faith Last edited: 5/23/2006