Receiving Holy Communion in the Age of the "Corona Virus" and During the Flu Season
(February 7, 2020)
Receiving Holy Communion by intinction is a common practice in the Diocese of Hawaiʻi. The following is from the Diocesan Customary on receiving Holy Communion in this Diocese:
"Likewise, a person may choose to receive by intinction. This is particularly true when one is sick and chooses not to take the host alone. Please note that it is preferable to receive in this manner when a wafer host is used rather than loaf bread to prevent crumbs from accumulating in the bottom of the chalice. There are two practices of intinction: (A) In some congregations, intinction is when one dips a small corner of the host in the wine and then places the slightly moistened host into one's own mouth. Please note that if this is practiced, the person needs to be careful not to put fingers into the wine or touch the inside of the chalice, and to only dip a very small portion of the host in the wine. One should avoid placing the whole host into the wine or allowing the wine to soak the host. (B) It should be noted that some congregations practice a form of intinction in which the communicant holds the host in the palm of the hand and the Eucharistic Minister takes the host, dips it slightly in the wine and then places it on the person's tongue. Either (A) or (B) is acceptable in this Diocese and should be determined by the congregation's priest with appropriate direction and teaching. When young children (under the age of five) receive by intinction, they should have the assistance of an adult and form (B) is often preferable. For the Bishop and many in the Episcopal Church, intinction is considered to be an exceptional practice and not normative.
While the normative practice in the Episcopal Church is to consume the bread and then to share the wine from a common cup, a person may receive the sacrament in one kind (just the bread or, more rarely, just the wine) when necessary for reasons of personal health or wellbeing, or because of personal piety and practice. Typically, this is practiced by taking the bread alone and then crossing one's arms over the chest when the wine is offered.
Those who are not baptized, or who though baptized decide not to receive the sacrament for personal or spiritual reasons, are invited and encouraged to come for a blessing, indicated by placing crossed hands over the chest.”
As Bishop, I am increasingly concerned that receiving the Sacrament by intinction when the communicant dips the bread themselves into the cup of wine, is the least sanitary means of receiving Holy Communion. I think we should begin stopping the practice of option (A) for sanitary reasons. In the age of the “Coronavirus” and the flu season, I urge clergy and parishioners to rethink intinction by parishioners themselves. Our hands are often very unclean and many hands dipping into a common cup is less sanitary than a simple sip from a common cup.
What do I suggest?
Again, as often noted in the news, our hands are the likely means of sharing most contagions. Watching multiple fingers dipping into the Chalice (sometimes up to the knuckle) has convinced me that intinction by the congregants themselves is unsanitary. I will continue to drink from the Chalice. If I am ill, I will forgo the cup altogether. Likewise, if I am in a congregation where everyone practices intinction for themselves, I will likely just start taking the bread alone. It is up to the Clergy-in-charge of each congregation to set and publicly state the standard in that church.
Your servant in Christ Jesus,
The Right Reverend Robert L. Fitzpatrick
The Episcopal Diocese of Hawai'i
Prayers After the Diamond Head Tragedy
(January 20, 2020)
I write this day with a heavy heart. The tragic death of two police officers -- Officer Tiffany Enriquez and Officer Kaulike Kalama – yesterday in the line of duty and the fire during the incident that have left families homeless (in the Diamond Head neighborhood of Honolulu), are shocking and raise the specter of violence we do not know in these Islands. We are reminded that police officers and other first responders often have to push into unknown and unsafe places on our behalf as a community. Likewise, we together must face up to the reality of mental illness and increased violence in our communities. In the days ahead, we will pray for the two murdered Officers, grieve with their families and co-workers, care for our broken community, and ruminate on the causes of this tragedy. We must also continue to seek a community of peace, care and justice. Today, we mourn.
Father of all, we pray to you for those we love, but see no longer, especially Tiffany and Kaulike: Grant them your peace; let light perpetual shine upon them; and, in your loving wisdom and almighty power, work in them the good purpose of your perfect will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Grant, O Lord, to all who are bereaved the spirit of faith and courage, that they may have strength to meet the days to come with steadfastness and patience; not sorrowing as those without hope, but in thankful remembrance of your great goodness, and in the joyful expectation of eternal life with those they love. And this we ask in the Name of Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.
O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Right Reverend Robert L. Fitzpatrick, Bishop
The Episcopal Diocese of Hawai'i
The Episcopal Church in Micronesia
Earlier messages can be found on the archive page HERE.
ASK THE BISHOP