Hey, Father! Is intinction allowed?

In my last parish, I was told that intinction was not allowed.  Our parish priest does do intinction when he receives the Body and Blood of Our Lord. Is intinction okay for priests but not lay people?

– Christine

For those unfamiliar with the practice, intinction is the dipping of the consecrated host into the Precious Blood and then receiving the “intincted” host in holy Communion.

According to the GIRM (General Instruction of the Roman Missal), the detailed document that governs the celebration of Mass, the Precious Blood may be distributed in a number of ways: by drinking directly from the chalice, intinction, or by means of a spoon or tube. Receiving by spoon or tube, however, is not customary in the Latin Rite dioceses in our country.

Yet both the GIRM and the U.S. Bishops allow reception by intinction by both clergy and lay faithful when certain protocols are followed to ensure proper respect for the Precious Blood.

For priests, the GIRM specifies that after the principal celebrant has received communion in the usual way, the concelebrating priests wishing to receive by intinction “approach the altar one after another, genuflect, and take a particle, dip it partly into the chalice, and, holding a purificator under their chin, consume the intincted particle. They then return to their places as at the beginning of Mass” (249).

Concerning the laity, the GIRM instructs: “If Communion from the chalice is carried out by intinction, each communicant, holding a Communion-plate under the mouth, approaches the Priest who holds a vessel with the sacred particles, with a minister standing at his side and holding the chalice. The Priest takes a host, intincts it partly in the chalice and, showing it, says, The Body and Blood of Christ. The communicant replies, Amen, receives the Sacrament in the mouth from the Priest, and then withdraws” (287).

Notice what is required: a purificator for priests and a communion-plate under the mouth of the laity, as well as the imperative to receive the intincted host in the mouth. Both seek to prevent irreverences like the Precious Blood dripping onto the altar, floor, or one’s hands. Also, it is always the priest who intincts and distributes the host; neither deacons nor the lay faithful are to intinct the host themselves and self-communicate.

So, in answer to your question, yes, intinction is allowed for both priests and laity when the appropriate prescriptions are followed. Yet, receiving directly from the chalice has been and remains the customary way of receiving the Precious Blood in the Roman Rite.

Father Seth Brown is pastor of Mother of Dolors in Vandalia and St. Joseph in Ramsey. He is also chaplain of Our Sorrowful Mother’s Ministry, chaplain of the Vandalia Correctional Center, and research theologian for the Diocesan Curia