Some years back we had a Catholic parish priest who said that as long as he had anything to say about it, we were not going receive Communion under both species.  It was my understanding that he did not think it healthy for all those people to be drinking from  the same cup.

In those churches where the cup was offered to the people,   extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist  were taught that they were to turn the cup a bit so the next communicant drank from a different side, and after each sip they were to wipe the rim of the cup with the napkin.   It is obvious that after four or five people had received Communion the rest  were drinking from a side of the cup that had already been used, and possibly the napkin had acquired a variety of germs from the wiping.

Nevertheless, Jesus did say, “Eat my body and drink my blood,”  and “Take and drink.”   Let me explain the way I think about it.  Even 2000 years ago, before Louis Pasteur and microscopes and nanotechnology, Jesus would have known about microorganisms – bacteria, viruses, and the like – and their potential for causing disease.  In fact, he may very well have spoken the Word that brought their DNA into existence so that they could multiply ad infinitum and do whatever it was they were supposed to do.

But Jesus also said,  “Unless you eat of the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood you shall not have life within you,”  which is why we Catholics think so highly of Holy Communion and try to receive often.  And he added,  “Do this is remembrance of me.”   These are serious words.  Let us assume that he meant them.

We Catholics believe that when a duly ordained priest says, “This is my body,” and “This is my blood,” the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ, while still having the appearance of bread and wine.

Now, reverting to the subject of health,  consider the nature and purpose of vaccines.   Vaccines are made from dead or weakened organisms and injected into a person so that the person’s body will recognize the germ and produce antibodies, thereby becoming immune to that particular germ instead of becoming sick from it.   The quantity and virility of the germ injected is such that it produces a very mild reaction and subsequent immunity instead of fulminating illness.

Suppose the alcohol in the wine were acting as alcohol usually does.  It would weaken or kill germs.  Suppose the wine had become the blood of Christ and has none of the properties of  alcohol.    If you really think it’s the blood of Christ do you believe that the blood of Christ would make us sick?  (By his stripes we are healed.  —  Isaiah 53:5)

So, I have this theory.  My theory says that drinking from the common cup is a good idea because we could be exposed to minute quantities of whatever germs are going around in the community in a weakened state and thereby acquire immunity to them.

That’s my theory and I live by it.    Maybe Jesus spoke wisdom.

It really would be nice to know if anyone else thinks this way.


And he took a cup and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying “Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”  – Matthew 26:27-28