WASHINGTON (June 15, 2001) -- Reception of Holy Communion under both bread and wine allows for Catholics to "experience a 'fuller sign of the Eucharistic banquet,'" according to a revised document approved today by the nation's bishops meeting in Atlanta.
The revised version of This Holy and Living Sacrifice, originally published by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in the late 1970s, specifies the appropriate rituals required for the celebration of the Mass where Communion will be distributed under both bread and wine.
For example, "Communion from the chalice is to be preferred to any other form of ministering the Precious Blood," according to the document.
It also reiterates that the "ordinary ministers" of Holy Communion are bishops, priests, and deacons. However, lay members of the congregation, "who have been commissioned according to the prescribed rite," may be allowed to distribute communion.
"In every celebration of the Eucharist there should be a sufficient number of ministers for Holy Communion so that it can be distributed in an orderly and reverent manner," the document says.
Other matters addressed in the document include planning and preparations for the liturgy to ensure sufficient quantities of bread and wine for the congregation; appropriate vessels for holding the Eucharist during the Mass; distribution of the Precious Blood by intinction, in which the minister dips the consecrated host into the Precious Blood and places it on the tongue of the communicant; the disposition of the consecrated hosts and the Precious Blood after the congregation has received Holy Communion; and the purification of the sacred vessels used for Holy Communion.
The Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) urged the restoration of Holy Communion under the outward signs of both bread and wine, also referred to as "under both kinds." The practice had been discontinued in the late eleventh century.
The action today updates the earlier document and incorporates changes included in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, issued by the Holy See last year for the entire Catholic Church.