Saturday, May 16, 2009

Contagion Anxieties and the Common Cup

Ever so often, I encounter folks who are anxious about getting sick from receiving Communion. Nationally, there is a wave of that concern these days related to the swine flu outbreak. Our office is e-mailing a helpful web site on the subject to all our Nevada priests this week. Anyone interested may want to check www.anglican.ca/faith/ministry/69 for a concise, accessible discussion.

Bottom line, the common cup used with wine (preferably with a high alcohol content) wiped appropriately by the chalice bearer after each communicant poses no significant risk. The practice of intinction does not improve hygeine. It may actually decrease hygeine. The riskiest part of worship is walking in the door. The only thing we do in worship that noticeably ups the risk is shaking hands at the peace. (Hugging is healthier.)

That said, I have seen some pastoral relationships crash quite unnecessarily on the rocks of telling people how they should or shoud not recieve communion. And I have not found the laity in Nevada to be at all worked up about it recently. So I recommend calm. As Jesus and numerous angels said, "Fear not" -- aptly paraphrased in The Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, "Don't panic." If you want more info on this, google "common cup hygeine." There have been upteen studies and you can find a wealth of reassuring information. But facts don't always assuage anxiety, so if you have someone who is really worried, assure them they don't have to receive the cup to receive the full grace of the sacrament. Reception in one kind is quite sufficient.

7 comments:

Karl G said...

"That said, I have seen some pastoral relationships crash quite unnecessarily on the rocks of telling people how they should or should not receive communion." Thank you for this. I'm always amazed when a clergy person tells me there is a correct way to do something and we shouldn't allow any other way. Sometimes it seems we get so hung up on doing things "right" we forget what we're doing.

Bishop Dan said...

Yep, receiving communion is a personally intimate kind of thing. I teach folks a few traditions about it, but actually I enjoy the wildly various ways people receive grace.

Rick+ said...

There is something just delightful about having my bishop quote the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I am so in the right diocese!

Bishop Dan said...

Thank you. I was just listening to it again on cd while driving across Texas.

DAVID said...

There have been weeks when I needed more than one worship and/or more than one Eucharist just to decompress from intense activities of the previous six days and nights. In those conditions, sometimes that meant seeking multi-denominational worship experiences -- some of those in different cities: Maybe two in churches across town in one city, then an evening service with really 'high octane content', e.g. Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA. God leads, but I try to keep up with directions from The Boss. In mornings, we dialogue about all events of the previous day - then I tell God "my plans" for the day, and God has a good laugh! ;-)

DAVID said...

DAN: Here's a MARK LAWRENCE STORY re: His first Eucharist celebrated at mid-Wednesday on arrival at St. Paul's parish [Bakersfield, CA]. I'd been sent from Lt. Luke's parish 'on-the-hill' - across town to greet him. It was then Mark's custom to listen to specific, private petitions as he made his way from 9ew view) right to left at the rail. He would listen, nod appropriately then serve the elements. One elderly communicant had a particularly involved petition and the explanation got longer then longer -- so much so that Mark would back off, lok in amazement then 'back into the breech' [as it were in his quite uniquely - Augustinian - listen mode. One the lengthy petition had been imparted and elements served, Mark had all he could do through the rest of that line of those awaiting to keep looking back several times(!) at this dear soul and suppressing laughter as best he could -- while she in all her humility looked so bloody pious at the rail. It was memorable indeed.

DAVID said...

IN LAS VEGAS, DAN = Recommended Jewish rabbis and Sabboth worship: Temple Beth Shalom, an easy drive from your offices. WHICH CONNECTION AT CCE SUNDAY WORSHIP, INCLUDES A CANTOR! QUITE MARVELOUS VOCAL AND PIANO KEYBOARD TALENTED GENTLE-MAN.