August 19, 2018
20th Sunday in Ordinary Time
“…whoever eats this bread will live forever.”
This weekend we are beginning the option of receiving Holy Communion by intinction. Intinction means that the Host is dipped into the Precious Blood as it is distributed by the priest.
While “self-intinction” is not allowed (i.e. you dip the host yourself), intinction by the minister of Communion is allowed. I have experienced using intinction at other parishes and think it is a very wonderful option for receiving Holy Communion.
There is great symbolism in intinction. First and foremost, it signifies the unity of the Body and Blood of the Lord. Jesus is always fully present when we receive Communion—whether we receive only the host, or only the chalice, or if we receive both. However, both the bread and the wine have a special symbolism, and receiving them together is considered the fullness of the sign of Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist. Through intinction, the Body and Blood of Christ are symbolically brought together as they are distributed to the faithful.
Additionally, the Body and Blood of Jesus together is a symbol of the Resurrection. In Jewish sacrifice, when an animal was sacrificed to God, its blood was “poured out” from its body. (Note the connection with Jesus’ words at the Last Supper of his blood being “poured out” as the perfect Lamb of God.) When the body and blood are separated, death occurs. Therefore, bringing the Body and Blood of Christ together in Communion is symbolic of Christ’s Resurrection—although Christ has died (his Body and Blood were separated,) yet he has also risen, and his Body and Blood brought back together.
This is the same reason why when the priest breaks the main host, he places a small fragment into the chalice, symbolic of the unity of Jesus’ Body and Blood. And as he does this, the priest says a quiet prayer to God the Father: “May this mingling of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ bring eternal life to us who receive it.”
What a beautiful prayer to pray just before receiving Communion! (And I encourage you to pray something similar in your own heart before you receive Communion too.) Just as Jesus promised us in today’s Gospel: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life”, so we pray that as we receive Communion here and now, we too may have eternal life.
A few practical notes…
Because the Blood of Christ is on the Host during intinction, Communion in this form must always be received on the tongue (not in the hands). That being said, no one is forced to receive Communion on the tongue or by intinction. If you wish to receive in your hands, simply have them open as you approach me for Communion, otherwise if you’re hands are folded, I will assume you would like to receive by intinction and on your tongue.
Additionally, I will plan to begin always distributing Communion on Mary’s side of the church (rather than changing every other weekend which side I distribute to), so if you would like to receive Communion by intinction, please plan to sit on that side.
I’m very excited to begin offering Communion by intinction at IC, and while it may take some getting used to, I hope you will give it a try.
You are in my daily prayers.
God bless you,
Fr. Nick VanDenBroeke