With the outbreak of a particularly virulent strain of flu this winter, the perennial question has been raised about the Common Cup. The first consideration is a theological one. The Church has taught for centuries that Christ is fully and equally present in both the consecrated Bread and Wine and that nothing is lacking if Holy Communion is received “in one kind only” (called the Doctrine of Concomitance); that is, you do not have to receive both. If you are unsure or uneasy about the Chalice for any reason, then simply do not take the Blood. The rubric in the Book of Common Prayer states only that “Opportuniy is always to be given for every communicant to receive the consecrated Bread and Wine separately” (BCP, p. 407), but there is no requirement to receive both. The same theological concept applies to anyone who is gluten sensitive (concerning the Host/Body), or sulfite sensitive or in recovery from alcohol addiction (concerning the Wine/Blood). You need not take both.
The next consideration is a practical and scientific one. Over the 70 years or so, there have been several rounds of tests concerning the transmission of germs, bacteria, viruses, etc., through the Common Cup. The last such serious series of tests was conducted in the 1980s and early 1990s during the height of AIDS epidemic here in the US. The results were quite surprising. First, precious metals, such as gold and and silver (even ones which are plait) are not conducive to the transmission of germs, and chalices are generally made from gold and silver, as ours are. In fact, scientists have now discovered that gold in particular actually kills germs. You have all noticed, I’m sure, the Chalice Bearer wiping the lip of the Chalice with a white linen cloth (called a purifcator) after each person receives. This practice did not develop because of fear about germs; in fact, it has been in common practice since the Middle Ages. Its purpose is to catch the Blood of Christ if It happens to run down the outside of the Chalice. And, if you think about it, wiping the rim of the chalice with the same cloth over and over, or even rotating the chalice as is done in some churches, really doesn’t acccomplish anything in terms of germ prevention. The gold surface itself is the barrier.
Secondly, the tests in the 1990s also confirmed that alcohol is not a good vehicle for the transmission of germs. There’s no surprise there—alcohol is used as an aneseptic even today. Still, there are indeed some germs in the Wine, but the few germs which do find their way into the Wine do not come from so called “backwash” or from people’s mouths, as is commonly thought; they come from people’s hands! Everyone is aware, I think, in the modern age that a person’s hands are the “germiest” part of the body. So, when someone receives the Host in his/her hands and then the host is dipped in the Wine, either by the person or by the chalice bearer, more germs are passed than if the person just drank from the cup itself—this is especially true if someone’s fingers or fingernails touch the Wine. The germs move from the hand to the Host into the Wine. That might seem counter-intuitive, but many parishes discourage the practice of intinction (dipping the Host in the Wine) for just this reason. It should be re-emphasized here that wine is not a good vehicle for the transmission of germs, but what germs do get passed come ultimately from people’s fingers. I have already stressed to everyone who serves at the Altar that they need to wash their hands quite thoroughly before mass.
A final consideration then is the manner in which a person receives the Host. If you receeve the Host in your hands and then put it in your mouth yourself, you are still potentially trasmitting germs from your hands into your mouth. This can be avoided by receiving the Host on your tongue directly from the priest, which, by the way, is the traditional Anglo-Catholic practice anyway (Traditional and sanitary. Who would have thought?!)
This is a lot to consider—theologically, practically, scientifically—and each of you should make a decision for yourself as to how to receive the Body and Blood. In short, is it possible for you to catch something from receiving the Wine from the Common Cup? Yes. It is probable? No. You are more likley to contract the flu from shaking hands with someone at Coffee Hour than from the Common Cup.
See you on Sunday,
Yours sincerely in Christ,
RETURN YOUR PALMS
It’s that time of year again, time to return your palms so that they can be burned to produce the ashes for Ash Wednesday. Please place them with the other palms in the back table in the church.
COVENANT OF PRAYER
At his Annual Address at the Diocesan Convention last fall, Bishop Provenzano asked every parish to join him in a covenant of prayer. A brochure with information about the Covenant and how you may participate is available on the table in the rear of the church.
STRONG HANDS NEEDED
We are in need of some strong hands this Sunday to help move all the Christmas and Epiphany items back into the basement of the Rectory. If you are willing to help, please make yourself availabe to Rich Wilner or Father Wallace during Coffee Hour. Many hands make light work!
NOTES FROM THE HYMNAL
The Hymnal 1940 (the predecessor of our current hymnal, The Hymnal 1982) was the first mainline denominational hymnal to include Spirituals, and the decision was not without controversy. This was 15 years before beginning of the Civil Rights Movement, and openly hostile racism against African-Americans was common, especially in the South. But many people, both in the North and South, were oppossed to including any text or tune of African-American origin in the Hymnal. One of the bishops on the Joint Commission which compiled The Hymnal 1940, Bishop Robert E. Lee Strider of Virginia, resigned in protest over the decision. We are singing one of these Spirituals-turned-hymns this Sunday: “In Christ there is no east or west.” In this particular case, it is not the text, which is by John Oxenham (1852-1941) but the hymn tune McKee, which is of interest and the reason for the original “controvesy.” It was adapted from an African-American melody by Henry “Harry” Burleigh (1866-1949), a prominent African-American singer, composer, and arranger. Burleigh’s arrangements of Spirituals for solo voice and piano are still considered standard vocal repertoire and every undergraduate voice major has sung them. Burleigh’s arrangement is a purely pentatonic melody on C is flavored with one “blue note” (the B flat in the first phrase). Given the history, how appropriate that Oxenham’s text with its inclusive line: “Join hands, disciples of the faith, whate’er your race may be!” is set to such a melody! The other Spiritual included in The Hymnal 1940, and appropriately retained in The Hymnal 1982, is “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” In this case, both the text and the music are from African-American sources, and we will be singing it during Holy Week.
LENTEN CLASS BEGINNING FEBRUARY 18 (Lent I)
Anglican Identity and Spirituality
Father Wallace will be teaching a five-session class exploring Anglican identity and spirituality, which will meet in the Library each Sunday afternoon in Lent from 1:15 PM to 2:15 PM, beginning February 18 (Lent I) and running through March 18 (Lent V). Please let Father Wallace know if you are interested. Each session will be relatively self-contained, so you may attend any or all of them as your schedule permits. Taking a class makes a great Lenten Discipline (hint, hint).
ASH WEDNESDAY AND THE BEGINNING OF LENT
Ash Wednesday, February 14, and the beginning of Lent is only 10 days away. Now is the time to start thinking and praying about your Lenten Rule. Information about choosing a Lenten Rule is available on the table in the back of the church or speak to Fr. Wallace.
Ash Wednesday Service Schedule—Ashes will be imposed at all three services.
7:30 AM—Low Mass
12:00 PM (noon)—Low Mass
7:00 PM—Low Mass with Hymns
NOT-THE-SUPERBOWL-WEEKEND CONCERT: MUSIC OLD AND NEW
Sunday, February 4, 5:00 PM
St. Paul’s Carroll Street is proud to host the Brooklyn Chapter of the American Guild of Organists’ annual Not-the-Superbowl-Weekend Concert. The program includes an eclectic mix of music for organ, piano, voice, and Llanera harp, performed by members of the Brooklyn AGO and their friends. Enjoy pieces by Bach, Bédard, Goodwin, Martellacci, Morley, Sheppard, Stafford Smith, Vautor, and Walmisley. Tickets available at the door: $20 General Admission, $10 Students/Seniors. Proceeds are tax deductible and exclusively benefit the Brooklyn AGO’s Scholarship Competition Fund.
UPCOMING EVENTS AND NOTICES
Sunday, February 4, 5:00 PM AGO Concert (see announcement above for details)
Ash Wednesday, February 14; Ashes will be imposed at all three services.
7:30 AM, Low Mass
12:00 (noon), Low Mass
7:30 PM, Sung Mass
THIS COMING SUNDAY
The Fifth Sunday After the Epiphany
9:45 AM: 6-12 year-olds
10:15 AM: 3-5 year olds
Solemn High Mass: 11:00 AM
Sunday's Appointed Readings
First Reading: Isaiah 40:21-31
Psalm 147:1-12, 21c
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 9:16-23
Gospel: Mark 1:29-39
Organ Prelude: “Adagio: (from Organ Symphony No. 3)—Louis Vierne
Entrance Hymn: “Praise to the living God, Leoni, #372
Offertory Anthem: “Tu solus qui facis mirabilia”—Josquin des Prez
Communion Hymn: “O Bless the Lord, my soul,” St. Thomas, #411
Dismissal Hymn: “In Christ there is no east or west,” McKee, #529 (see notes above)
Organ Postlude: Postlude: Grand Choeur—Théodore Dubois
St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Clinton & Carroll Streets, Brooklyn.
718-625-4126 • email: email@example.com • Donate
The Rev. Dr. Sean M. Wallace, Interim
Alex Canovas, Music Director
Nathan Taylor, Organist