The Precious Blood After Distribution of Communion
Date: October 29, 2023
Author: Fr. Edward McNamara, LC
Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy and sacramental theology and director of the Sacerdos Institute at the Pontifical Regina Apostolorum University.
Question: With the precious blood being reinstated after COVID, I was curious as to the proper way of distributing and receiving it. Can an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion drink the “leftovers,” or would this be some kind of self-communication? I have also heard that deacons should be distributing the Precious Blood rather than the Body, is this true? -- K.K., Austin, Texas
Answer: With respect to distributing the Precious Blood, unless there are more precise norms issued by the local diocese, the general rules indicated by the U.S. bishops’ conference should be followed.
These can be found in several websites, especially https://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/the-mass/norms-for-holy-communion-under-both-kinds.
Normally it would be the priest and deacon who would consume the Precious Blood that remains after distribution of communion.
However, if it happens that the quantity is such that they require assistance from the EMHCs, it would not constitute a self-communion as it is supposed that they have already received communion before initiating the distribution themselves. Therefore, just as for the priest and deacon, consuming the sacred species at this moment would be considered as a practical necessity and not a second holy communion.
This is reflected in the above-mentioned norms from the bishops’ conference:
“Purification of Sacred Vessels
“51. After Communion the consecrated bread that remains is to be reserved in the tabernacle. Care should be taken with any fragments remaining on the corporal or in the sacred vessels. The Deacon returns to the altar with the Priest and collects and consumes any remaining fragments.
“52. When more of the Precious Blood remains than was necessary for Communion, and if not consumed by the bishop or Priest celebrant, the Deacon, standing at the altar, ‘immediately and reverently consumes all of the Blood of Christ that remains, assisted, if the case requires, by other Deacons and Priests.’ When there are extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, they may consume what remains of the Precious Blood from their chalice of distribution with permission of the Diocesan Bishop.
“53. The sacred vessels are to be purified by the Priest, the Deacon or an instituted acolyte. The chalice and other vessels may be taken to a side table, where they are cleansed and arranged in the usual way. Other sacred vessels that held the Precious Blood are purified in the same way as chalices. Provided the remaining consecrated bread has been consumed or reserved and the remaining Precious Blood has been consumed, ‘it is also permitted to leave vessels needing to be purified on a corporal, suitably covered, on the credence table, and to purify them immediately after Mass, following the Dismissal of the people.’
“54. The Precious Blood may not be reserved, except for giving Communion to someone who is sick. Only sick people who are unable to receive Communion under the form of bread may receive it under the form of wine alone at the discretion of the Priest. If not consecrated at a Mass in the presence of the sick person, the Blood of the Lord is kept in a properly covered vessel and is placed in the tabernacle after Communion. The Precious Blood should be carried to the sick in a vessel that is closed in such a way as to eliminate all danger of spilling. If some of the Precious Blood remains after the sick person has received Communion, it should be consumed by the minister, who should also see to it that the vessel is properly purified.
“55. The reverence due to the Precious Blood of the Lord demands that it be fully consumed after Communion is completed and never be poured into the ground or the sacrarium.”
It is true that the deacon is normally designated as the minister of the chalice.
However, the context of this norm is a celebration in which there are sufficient ordained ministers for the distribution of communion to the whole assembly. In such cases the deacon will accompany the bishop or priest who holds the ciborium.
In most situations which require the assistance of extraordinary ministers, the deacon (as an ordinary minister of communion) would usually administer the sacred hosts.
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