A question that has come up as we enter into the cold and flu season, “Why do we all drink from the same cup? Isn’t anyone concerned with disease….” Yes the bishops and the liturgists are concerned about this issue. In receiving the Sacrament of the Eucharist to drink from a common chalice is a sign of our unity in Christ and a fuller expression of the sacrament, the body and the blood of Christ. Yet, if there seems to be a particularly strong virus strain the church may suspend the use of the chalice or cup to the faithful in the pews as a precaution.
As far as the transmission of some virus or bacteria by means of the communion cup, the Center for Disease Control studied the issue and determined that between the alcohol content of the wine (11%), the exposure to air between people receiving, and the proper wiping of the rim of the cup along with turning the cup a quarter turn between people receiving, the likelihood of transmission was pretty minimal. In fact, the most likely way that germs could be transmitted is from the top of the pew which people touch without thinking about it. I think it is important for individuals who might have a cough or cold to refrain from receiving the precious blood from the cup.
One receives the full Christ if one receives just the Host. There is no requirement that we all must receive from the cup. It should be a common courtesy to pass by the cup if one is not feeling well. We have been receiving the Precious Blood from a common cup or chalice since the late 70’s and in that time there has been no outbreak of disease that I have ever heard of.
Blessings, Father Dooley