The Prayer Book's theology of eucharistic consecration: Why individual cups should be rejected

The common cup may now be shared.

So says the Church of England's most recent Covid-19 guidance, issued on 25th January, repeating the guidance given in December. It is, therefore, a rather odd time to renew the campaign to allow the administration of the Eucharist by means of individual cups: after all, the Covid-19 restrictions are being eased across society, the bishops have judged it appropriate to restore the Chalice to the faithful, and there is now no pressing need to consider alternatives.

Unless, of course, this campaign has never really been about public health concerns but, rather, about altering Anglican eucharistic practice and theology.  The Book of Common Prayer 1662 makes clear, explicit provision for what is to happen with "consecrated Elements" remaining after the faithful receive the Sacrament:

When all have communicated, the Minister shall return to the Lord's Table, and reverently place upon it what remaineth of the consecrated Elements, covering the same with a fair linen cloth.

...if any remain of that which was consecrated, it shall not be carried out of the Church, but the Priest, and such other of the Communicants as he shall then call unto him, shall, immediately after the Blessing, reverently eat and drink the same.

The key words are "consecrated" and "reverently".  The consecrated Elements do not somehow cease to be consecrated after the faithful receive: they remain consecrated.  Thus they are to be "reverently" placed upon the Holy Table.  They are to be "reverently" consumed (this is the same practice as in the Orthodoxy). The "reverently" is an expression of the theology of consecration.

Individual cups undermine this careful, deliberate, and theologically significant provision.  Reverent consumption of the remaining consecrated Wine becomes, if not impossible, very difficult, and certainly difficult to do with reverence.  The use of individual cups thus promotes and encourages a radically different theology of consecration to that embodied in the Book of Common Prayer, suggesting that the consecrated Wine can be simply dispensed with after the administration, rather than reverently consumed.

In the Church of Ireland, our House of Bishops have permitted - on a strictly temporary basis - the use of individual cups during the Covid-19 restrictions.  In parishes where this permission has been used, it is very widely the case that the 1662's careful and theologically significant provisions (repeated in the Church of Ireland's BCP 2004) are entirely disregarded. Consecrated Wine is routinely disposed of with the individual cups: there is no reverent consumption, there are no ablutions (required by BCP 2004).

This is the consecrated Wine over which the Dominical words have been said: "This is my blood".  This is the consecrated Wine which the Church of Ireland's Eucharistic Prayer 1 describes as the "holy gifts".  This is the consecrated Wine which the invitation to the Sacrament describes as, with the consecrated Bread, "the gifts of God".  This is the consecrated Wine administered to the faithful with the words "The Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ which was shed for thee ...", "The Blood of Christ keep you in eternal life". And through the use of individual cups, the consecrated Wine is disposed of as common rubbish.

The experience of many places in the Church of Ireland certainly suggests that use of individual cups does indeed promote and encourage a radically different theology of consecration to that embodied in the Book of Common Prayer.

The suggestion that 1662's mention of a flagon somehow points in the direction of the permissibility of individual cups is, of course, a nonsense.  Consecrated Wine from a flagon can be reverently poured into Chalices: it is much less reverent (and much more likely to spill) when 100 individual cups are involved. Nor does the permissibility of consecrating in a flagon impede reverent consumption of the remaining consecrated Elements.

As for the view that individual cups are more appropriate than intinction, the rejection of intinction on the basis that "Jesus tells us to drink, not dip" leads to the rather obvious response that the Lord did not tell us to "knock back this nice little shot glass".  Hooker's strictures about "some show or dumb resemblance of a spiritual feast" (LEP V.68.3) come to mind.

What is more, intinction - while certainly less appropriate than partaking directly from the Chalice - ensures reverent reception of the Sacrament and maintains the Prayer Book's theology of consecration by allowing for reverent consumption after the administration.

Also overlooked by the attempts to promote the use of individuals cups is the fact that historic Reformed practice was not to use individual cups, as seen in the famous paintings of the Scottish and Hungarian Sacraments. When the suggestion of individual cups emerged in the late 19th century, it was inevitably caught up with wider debates.   The innocuous description of a "very lively Anglican debate about 'chalice hygiene' over 100 years ago, especially between the 1890s and the 1920s" rather conveniently ignores the deeply unpleasant undertones of much late 19th and early 20th century debates over what was euphemistically termed 'public hygiene'.

What, then, should be done regarding reception in both kinds in the current circumstances?

Firstly - as in England - the Chalice should be immediately restored to the faithful. It is highly debatable indeed if there was a public health need to withdraw the Chalice in the first place (as indicated in previous public health scares).  Even if there was a need to do this in the early days of Covid-19, maintaining such a withdrawal for two years has been scandalous.

Secondly, there should be a robust reassertion of the Anglican teaching that partaking in both kinds is the Lord's "ordinance and command" (Article XXX), and that refraining from this should be highly unusual and exceedingly rare.

Thirdly, as a temporary pastoral provision, intinction can be provided for those of the faithful who deem it prudent not receive the Chalice directly at this time, as a means of ensuring Communion in both kinds and maintaining the Prayer Book's theology of eucharistic consecration.

Fourthly, the use of the doctrine of concomitance to justify the withdrawal of the Chalice should cease.  In the words of Browne's commentary on the Articles:

it is surely very hazardous to conclude from certain inductions of reason, that one-half of His ordinance may be withheld from the great body of His Church ...We do not indeed wish to deny, that those who, in faith and ignorance, receive a mutilated Sacrament, may receive the full blessing. We trust  that such is the case, because we believe our gracious Lord will give the food of everlasting life, His own blessed Body and Blood, even through imperfect means.

Or, as the Patriarchs of the East stated in their 1848 encyclical responding to Pius X, the doctrine of concomitance makes "the communion of the Cup void of sacred efficacy", an understanding also suggested in the Prayer of Humble Access.

Fifthly, the use of individual cups should be prohibited as incompatible with the Book of Common Prayer's theology of eucharistic consecration.

This response to the latest attempt to introduce individual cups in the Anglican tradition has focussed exclusively on the Prayer Book's theology of consecration: this is the fundamental, critical reason for rejecting the use of individual cups. References to symbolism have, therefore, been avoided.  Others, however, do routinely invoke symbolism, whether to oppose individual cups because they lose the symbolism of the shared Chalice, or to support individual cups because individual wafers lose the symbolism of one Loaf. 

This is a rather odd defence of individual cups - 'let's lose the symbolism entirely'.  Above all, however, surely the correct response to the issue of symbolism is to examine the use of individual wafers in light of the practice of the Eastern Churches and their use of one Loaf for the Sacrament.  This also seems to be suggested in the Elizabethan Injunctions, when they propose one sacramental Bread as was previously used in private Masses, only "somewhat bigger in compass and thickness".  

A meaningful conversation and debate over this would be welcome; it would show a seriousness about the Sacrament, what the relevant provision in the Injunctions described as the need for "more reverence to be given to these holy mysteries, being the sacraments of the Body and Blood of our Saviour Jesus Christ"; it would conform to the Prayer Book's theology of eucharistic consecration; and it would demonstrate a commitment to historic, unifying Anglican practice.

The fact, however, that this is not being proposed but that the use of individual cups is being advocated - just as the public health crisis ends - is itself revealing.  Campaigning now for the use of individual cups seems not to be about Covid-19.  Instead it points to a desire to reject the Prayer Book's embodiment of historic Anglican eucharistic practice and theology.


For pre-Covid thoughts on the importance of communion in both kinds, see my essay - "The Cup of the Lord": the sign and gift of communion in both kinds (Article XXX) -  in the 39 Articles Project on the Young Peoples' Theology: Theology in the Episcopal Tradition site.


  1. Even if individual cups are used, all the wine can be reverently consumed and none left over in the sense that everyone drinks all of it. It is in any case impossible to consume every last molecule. The Prayer Book says nothing of ritual ablutions and they are not an essential part of historical or classical Anglicanism.

    1. Inevitably consecrated wine is left in individual cups. I have attended a number of celebrations in Ireland at which individual cups have been used and in each case it has been very obvious that this was so. This clearly fails to abide by the rubric requiring reverent consumption of "any" of the remaining consecrated Elements.

      I was also quite clear in the post that ablutions are required by the Church of Ireland BCP 2004: I made no such claim for 1662.

      While not required by 1662, it is a way of ensuring that the rubric regarding reverent consumption is followed.

    2. Sorry but the idea you can't reverently consume excess wine and ablute the individual cups is nonsense.

      In my former parish I introduced individual cups during covid restrictions. The chalice was still used, just with enough wine for the priest.

      At the end of communion any unused consecrated cups were poured into the chalice and consumed - there was generally no more than 3-4 cups left as we ensured we only consecrated enough cups for the number of parishioners present.

      All used cups that had consecrated wine in them were placed into glass receptacles following consumption - after the service the glass containers were filled with water - and the cups had all traces of wine removed. The water was then properly disposed of into the earth.

      Nothing in any of this contravenes prayerbook theology. Receiving Communion in one kind however is a clear breach.

    3. To begin with, I consistently and repeatedly stated in the post my opposition to receiving in one kind.

      The practice of disposing of consecrated Wine in individual cups, filled with water, into the earth is quite simply contrary to the very clear rubric in the BCP: "it shall not be carried out of the Church".

      The Prayer Book's theology of Consecration is stated in its careful rubrics, the consistent use of 'reverent', and the insistence that "any" of the consecrated Elements are reverently consumed.

  2. Perhaps the Irish need to be admonished to drink up! I have not noticed this to be a problem in my parish in which individual cups were introduced in July 2020 because the withdrawal of the cup is scandalous. The president pours into cups brought by the individual worshippers from a flagon, so far without spillage. Communicants holding up a cup to be filled is not massively different from them holding up their hands to receive bread (or a wafer). I have seen more of an issue with communicants walking away with a wafer than not drinking up.

    I am surprised about your latitude towards dipping. Drinking from a shot glass (and, of course, it does not have to be a shot glass, any container suitable for drinking will do) is still drinking. Eating a wet wafer is not.

    Knowing Andrew Atherton and Andrew Goddard and Ian Paul, I can assure you that the campaign for allowing individual cups is not about altering Anglican eucharistic practice and theology. The timing of the new booklet may seem odd to you but (a) careful deliberation takes time, and (b) the vast majority of CofE parishes seem to be still some way from returning to the practice of putting lips to one common cup.

    The practical, pastoral question for returning to drinking directly from a common cup only is: while many will not be confident to do so, is it right to tolerate that a large proportion of the congregation will receive in one kind only? I do not think so.

    You point out that the current guidance allows for return of the common cup, but you fail to note that the House of Bishops has consistently promoted a cautious approach and still allows the scandalous withholding of the cup from the laity.

    I agree with your firstly, secondly, and fourthly, but I do not think that you have shown that the facilitating use of individual cups necessarily marks a departure from BCP doctrine and I contend that intinction is much more obviously a departure from BCP practice and arguably doctrine.

    1. We obviously disagree. Let me seek to respond to some of your points.

      1. Admonishing communicants to 'drink up' is not conducive to a reverent administration and reception of the Sacrament. In every case here in Ireland where I have witnessed the use of individual cups, consecrated wine has been clearly visible remaining in the cups and then - because of supposed health concerns - has been disposed of after the liturgy.

      2. Yes, intinction is not drinking but it is ensuring that communicants receive that which the act of drinking provides: the sight and taste of the consecrated Wine.

      3. I have no doubt whatsoever that those involved in the campaign to promote individual cups are engaging in "careful deliberation". The issue of timing, however, is very significant. This is a moment when churches should be robustly promoting confidence in the common cup. Promoting the use of individual cups entirely undermines this and prevents a return to the common cup.

      4. The reports from those I know ministering in the CofE where the common cup has been restored indicates very significant support from and participation by the laity.

      5. I agree that episcopal guidance remains far too cautious and scandalously promotes communion in one kind. It should confidently and robustly promote the common cup.

      6. As I have indicated above, I think intinction is very much a second best option but it allows for more cautious communicants to see and taste the consecrated Wine, while also ensuring that the BCP's careful rubrics on reverent consumption are followed.

    2. I do not mean that the presiding minister should literally, let alone disrespectfully, say "Drink up!" But I believe that if people are not emptying their glasses, they can be encouraged to do so, and this can be done in a respectful manner. If, however, your concern is with drops that remain after a glass or cup has been fully drunk, then your concerns can only be addressed by ablutions, which, as you acknowledge, are not enjoined in the 1662 BCP.

      Perhaps the problem you see is caused by using the "wrong" glasses - the sort found in Baptist, URC and other churches, often on trays (although I would not go as far as to say that our brothers and sisters in these churches are necessarily showing insufficient respect). In our parish people we use vessels from which one might not need to lick in order to empty them.

    3. To repeat again, no, my primary concern is not with ablutions. Ablutions serve as a way of fulfilling the 1662 rubric: my focus is on reverent consumption of "any" - not 'some' or 'most' - of the remaining consecrated Wine.

      I remain entirely unconvinced that communicants can be encouraged to fully consume all consecrated Wine in individual glasses in a respectful manner, in a manner befitting the dignity of the holy Sacrament. Kneeling to receive a sip of consecrated Wine from the common Chalice is normative for Anglican communicants and is a pattern of reception that embodies reverence. Individual cups move away from this - and undermine confidence in it - by promoting a new practice that involves something quite different to a reverent sip from the common Chalice.

  3. I feel I need to press you further on the ablutions point. It seems that your argument is that, without ablutions, reverent consumption of the remaining wine is impossible. Presumably that is what you meant by the following: "Reverent consumption of the remaining consecrated Wine becomes, if not impossible, very difficult, and certainly difficult to do with reverence." I.e., it is "if not impossible, very difficult" to perform ablutions on individual cups.

    Your argument is also that such "reverent consumption" is required by the (1662) BCP.

    In order for your argument to hold, it seems that you would need to argue that these ablutions were (implicitly) required in 1662, and were practised at that time.

    Is this something you can demonstrate? (Not a rhetorical question: I ask out of ignorance.)

    If ablutions were not practised in 1662, then presumably the argument falls flat?

    (I also note no mention of water at all in any of the biblical accounts of the Supper.)

    1. I mention ablutions once in the post and make abundantly clear I am referring not to 1662 but the CofI BCP 2004. Nowhere do I claim that reverent consumption is impossible without ablutions. Reverent consumption of the remaining consecrated Wine is difficult, if not impossible, to do with reverence regarding individual cups as this requires - at an average Eucharist - seeking to reverently consume the remaining consecrated Wine from 85-100 individual cups.

      So, no, I do not claim ablutions are necessary. I do claim that they aid and serve reverent consumption.

      As for the Biblical accounts of the Last Supper not mentioning water, I think Hooker rather demolished the idea that the Eucharist is meant to be a re-enactment of the Upper Room.

    2. Pardon my ignorance, but could you explain what you mean by "reverent consumption"? You seem to have in mind something between the following:

      (1) Ordinary consumption, done reverently: holding the chalice/cup to the mouth until all the wine has passed into the mouth, except those remaining drops that remain stuck to the inside of the chalice/cup.

      (2) Using water to rinse out all of the (visible) remains of the wine from the chalice/cup into the mouth ("ablutions").

      Clearly (1) is perfectly easy to do with individual cups.

      My imagination fails me to think of something that lies between (1) and (2), without descending into absurdity (licking round the cup, using bread to soak up the wine) - assuming a normal meaning of "consumption".

    3. The problem with (1) is that it is not how the faithful receive from the common Chalice. Receiving from the common Chalice entails receive a sip of the consecrated Wine, then returning the Chalice to the minister. This encourages prayerful, reverence reception. It is the duty of the priest (and those assisting with the administration) to ensure that "any" (the word used by the 1662 rubric) of the remaining consecrated Wine is consumed. This is not the duty of the communicant, so as not to distract them from prayerful, reverent reception.

      Individual cups, because they require the individual communicant to ensure reverent consumption of "any" of the remaining consecrated Wine, adds a duty to the communicant that is unnecessary and which can detract from reverent, prayerful reception, particularly as it has been previously experienced through receiving from the common Chalice.

      A key point of the priest (and those assisting) being responsible for reverently consuming "any" of the remaining consecrated Wine is that the focus of communicants - and the focus of the priest in teaching about receiving the Sacrament - is on prayerful, reverent reception, not being concerned about ensuring that all the consecrated Wine is consumed.

    4. Thank you for explaining. That makes sense, and I hadn't thought about it in that way before.

      I'm glad we are discussing drinking "any" that remains in the ordinary way - without worrying too much about the remaining drops that are stuck to the inside of the cup.

      Speaking from my own experience - of around a decade in free church contexts using individual glasses - I never found that the act of drinking *all* of the wine (or grape juice...) in the glass was a distraction from reverence and prayerfulness. There was no risk of leaving a significant amount in the glass, because the act of drinking everything in a glass is a very normal human activity. (And it is hard to take a sip from a shot glass.) In fact, free from the awkwardness of drinking from a chalice with the "assistance" of the person administering, it can be easier to do so in a prayerful attitude. So it strikes me as debatable, which mode of drinking is more conducive of reverent consumption.

    5. What needs to noted, of course, is that what may be reverent in one context is not in another. So, yes, some Reformed brothers and sisters partake of the Eucharist by means of individual cups, sitting. In that context, it may indeed be reverent. Transfer it, however, to an Anglican context, in which kneeling to receive from the common Chalice has been normative over centuries, and individual cups will strike many as an innovation which interrupts and hinders the normal pattern of reverent reception.

      One final point, the 1662 rubric's reference to "any" of the remaining consecrated Elements is significant. It places a responsibility on the priest to ensure that all of the remaining consecrated Elements are consumed, precisely because they do not cease to be consecrated after all the faithful have received. A practice, such as individual cups, in which it becomes normative for some consecrated Wine to be left and then disposed of, clearly contradicts the rubric and, at the very least, implies a different theology of consecration.

    6. The observation about the wine remaining "consecrated" is helpful. It can point to the way in which the theology which underlies the 1662 BCP differs, on the one hand, from a view that would allow secular use of remaining elements and, on the other hand, from a view that would require ablutions. The point in the BCP seems to be that all consecrated elements are to be consumed and so made unavailable for further use in a different context.

      I have not found any issues with reverent consumption using individual cups whether standing (at first, while physical distancing rules remained in place) or kneeling (now restored) or with wine remaining in individual cups.

      But using individual cups rather than having everyone's lips sipping from the same cup makes it harder to estimate how much wine is needed and I have found it necessary on occasion not to consume all the left over elements before the post communion prayer (as would have been my usual practice) - exactly because it did to seem very reverent to take large gulps of several small cups, while the rest of the congregation awaits the post communion prayer.

    7. Ablutions are a means of abiding by the 1662 rubric - not required, but helpful and practical.

      Certainly within the parish context in which I minister, I am absolutely convinced - and have been told by laity - that a move to individual glasses would be regarded as obscuring the normal practices which facilitate reverent reception. And having participated in a Eucharist yesterday at which individual cups were used, my own views have only been confirmed.

      While an excessive amount of remaining consecrated Wine can pose an issue, my experience has been that this is (a) unusual and (b) on the rare times it does happen, the Eucharistic assistants or wardens can - as per the rubric - assist in its reverent consumption after the celebration.

  4. A superb article. Furthermore, I would suggest that the following passage is helpful:

    “The cup is also important. Jesus took one cup and gave it to all of his disciples to drink. Perhaps it was the cup of Elijah from the Passover ritual as some people say, but it was certainly a single cup. He did not merely pour wine into the disciples’ individual cups and tell them to take a drink. There is a powerful challenge in this one. We are reminded of the agonizing decision that faced Jesus when he was praying before the crucifixion: ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt. (Matthew 26:39). …. We are also reminded by the one cup that we cannot drink it alone. We drink from a common cup as a strong symbol of unity and and our willingness to accept each other. We share our love and lives as we share the cup. The implications for this for fellowship and support in the local church, for relationships between rich an poor in communities and nations, and for justice between North and South and first world and world countries are enormous. The cup of love and unity is unavoidably a cup of sacrifice”.

    The Eucharistic Way. John Baycroft. Toronto: Anglican Book Centre, 1981. p. 33-34.

    1. Many thanks for this and your kind comment. As you know, I avoided discussion of symbolism in the post, but the extract you provide does show its significance. I think this does unavoidably - and rightly - raise the issue of a common loaf.

    2. I believe it is entirely possible that Jesus passed one cup to his disciples to share but this is not nearly as certain as you seem to think and in any case the Eucharist is not a simple re-enactment of the Last Supper.

      I have no quarrel with the symbolism and prefer the use of a single cup myself but the unity is linked in Scripture explicitly to the one bread not to the one cup ('Though we are many we are one body, because we all share in one bread.'), the use of individual wafers therefore seems to be a more serious matter than the use of individual cups.

      As far as symbolism is concerned, individual cups or glasses can actually have an advantage in bringing to mind the shedding of Christ's blood, as the wine is poured from the flagon into the glass or cup.

      Note that a few theologians have insisted on the separation of bread and wine precisely because “whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26) and death is signified in biblical symbolism by blood that is separate from the body. (This is why the Torah can speak both of the life being in the blood and of blood signifying death - blood inside the body is life, outside the body death). Intinction completely obscures this.

    3. If we are going to emphasise the "one bread" I think this necessarily requires us to likewise emphasise "this cup". Considering individual cups did not emerge until the late 19th/early 20th century, it is very difficult indeed to suggest that they somehow better symbolise the meaning of the Eucharist than the common cup.

      Intinction, as I have freely admitted, is a second-best option. We do, however, use it when required in ministering to the sick. It ensures, as I have said, that the consecrated Wine is seen and tasted. It does indeed obscure, as you note, the symbolism of Blood separated from the Body: but individual cups also obscure other aspects of the symbolic nature of the Eucharist. This is precisely why I do not think discussion of symbolism gets us very far in this debate.

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  6. What some have called "safetyism" will be difficult to overcome. After two years of taking every measure to prevent the spread of covid 19, many folk, especially those who have lost friends and family to the disease, will wish to err on the side of caution. Statistically, the scale of our public shock may be disproportionate to the current level of risk. But visceral terror is immune to data, especially now as the pandemic has become so divisely politicized.

    Shot glasses, as we call them here in the USA, are the default mode of administering the sacramental blood in most Evangelical churches. It is less than ideal and in my understanding came into vogue during the Victorian age as a response to squeamishness about partaking from a common cup. Their use does not necessarily mean an irreverent service of the Holy Communion, but there will be less reverence paid to the elements themselves. Anglican sacramental theology rejects the metaphysical transformation of the consecrated elements, but it has always acknowledged a true mutation in them via their union with the whole Christ in heaven, body, soul, blood and divinity: the joining together of the sign and the thing signified by the almighty power of the Word. The consecration gives them a true sanctity which demands a conmensurate reverence in their handling

    1. I entirely agree that Eucharistic consecration gives to the Elements a "true sanctity which demands a commensurate reverence in their handling": this is what the 1662 rubrics insist upon.

      In terms of social responses to Covid-19, here in the UK it is clear that society has moved very far on from "safetyism", with most restrictions now removed and the idea of any future lockdown almost unthinkable. Vaccinations have been the game-changer and it is at that point the churches should have responded with much more confidence and assertiveness.

  7. Don’t get me wrong here, I’m all in favour of the common cup. It was one of many attractive features that I valued when moving over to Anglicanism from my childhood Methodism. (Though I was, and still am, perplexed by the use of individual communion wafers!)

    No one is (I think) suggesting individual cups being used except in extremis. In a pandemic situation where the sharing the common cup is deemed to be too risky there are three possible alternatives:
    1. Intinction
    2. Communion in one kind
    3. Individual cups
    Of course a theological case can be made for each of these, and the C of E bishops have gone for option 2.

    But it seems to me that although none of these is ideal, option 3. is the least bad option, since it is the only one of the three that is obedient to Jesus’s command to ‘drink…in remembrance of me’.
    So I for one could put up with individual cups as the least bad option during a pandemic!

    1. I think our central disagreement here is that I do not think there was an evidence base for removing the common cup for anything but a very short period of time and that that time has now long-since gone. Restoring the common cup should not occur, robustly and confidently. Introducing individual cups at this stage actually works against this, further needlessly undermine confidence in that common cup, and will make the pastoral work of restoring it all the more difficult.

    2. I am inclined to agree that the evidence was not in favour of removing the cup and it would have been better if the House of Bishops (here in England) would not have led us down the path they did but the situation now is that people are in fact by and large unwilling to put their mouths to one cup. This is a pastoral reality that people like the authors of the booklet to which you respond and myself are responding. So also this voice from the USA:

    3. I have a two-fold disagreement with you here. Firstly, I do not at all think that laity are as cautious as you suggest. Anecdotal evidence from friends ministering in the CofE certainly suggests otherwise, while in my own context in the CofI laity are freely stating their desire to return to the common cup. Secondly, I remain entirely unconvinced that the latest push for individual cups is primarily concerned with responding to a pastoral need.

      Regarding the US, I think we can say with some confidence that TEC is not going down the route of individual cups.

    4. Your own context may well be different from mine. I am afraid your confidence in attributing readiness for sipping from a common cup to the majority of CofE laity is misplaced as far as my context is concerned, as is your confidence in attributing anti-BCP motives to the authors of the booklet.

      I do not consider TEC a great example of faithfulness to the theology of the 166s BCP. The point of making reference to Hannah Bowman's article was to underline that at least for some of those promoting the facilitating use of individual cups is all about restoring the chalice, restoring the practice of eating and drinking at Holy Communion.

    5. I was very open in the post about my views being shaped by my CofI context. As for the CofE, I can only go with what I have been told by CofE clergy now using administering via the common cup.

      As to the authors of the booklet, I am afraid, yes, we certainly disagree. I would guess it would also be the same if we were discussing the BCP's teaching on, for example, ministerial priesthood and absolution.

      Needless to say, I do not consider TEC a good example of fidelity to the theology of 1662 but I am encouraged by the emergence of confident, generous orthodoxy amongst younger elements in TEC and I do not detect in them a preference for individual cups.

      I just do not see how the using of individual cups is related to restoring the chalice: it doesn't, it undermines confidence in the common cup and will further delay (perhaps indefinitely) the restoration of the chalice.

    6. Perhaps we would disagree if we were discussing the BCP's teaching on ministerial priesthood and absolution but I cannot think of any reason why. I find myself more often than not in agreement with you.

    7. That was me not expressing myself well at all! I have no doubt that you and I would agree on ministerial priesthood, absolution etc. I was thinking about the authors of the booklet.

      And thank you for your gracious challenge to the original post - despite my responses being at times less than gracious, I have valued the challenge. Brian.

  8. The use of individual cups makes ablutions after the Communion of the faithful almost impossible to accomplish unless each cup is immediately returned to the clergy. Glass cups once properly cleansed are reusable but plastic disposable cups requiring cleansing only to be disposed of later; this is extra work plus not good for the environment. Wine containing at 18% alcohol does not transfer germs or viruses. Remember this is the consecrated bread and wine of the body and blood of Christ. Be sure you rationalist unbelief will find you out.

    1. Many thanks for your comment. I do think that the use of individual cups makes reverent consumption of the remaining consecrated wine incredibly difficult and very likely to encourage abuses. And at this stage all our energy should be focussed on confidently restoring the common cup.

  9. Neil Swinnerton11 March 2022 at 18:54

    My wife is Eastern Orthodox, so I am used to seeing spoons used in the Divine Liturgy to administer Holy Communion I am an Anglican (a GAFCON congregation in Edinburgh now), so I do not agree wholly with the Orthodox, but I do wonder whether there is any way that spoons could be used creatively by Anglicans in way that both maintains good health hygiene (as the general public perceive it) and also maintains faith with our Anglican heritage and practice, i.e. a win-win situation.

    1. Neil, it is an interesting idea. I have used a spoon to administer the Sacrament in medical contexts before. From what I know, the Orthodox have continued administering the Sacrament from the common Cup with a common spoon during the pandemic. I am not sure this would have been acceptable to Anglicans during the past two years!

      But, yes, learning from the East is important. One loaf, as per Orthodox practice, is something I think we in the West should follow. I would, however, be quite interested in seeing the Orthodox form of administering the Sacrament being replicated in an Anglican context. (And I do wonder if this is done by Anglicans in Orthodox cultures.)


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