This section is to address our Frequently Asked Questions. If you have a question about St. Agnes, feel free to email is to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Should you drink from the cup?
The issue of the common cup and its safety arises every time a disease threatens to become an epidemic. However, a worse epidemic would be spread of unwarranted fears about imagined risks. The common cup reminds us that we share a common life in Christian community, and that the benefits of that common life far outweigh any risks.
The common cup has been studied for over a century and has never been identified as responsible for the communication of disease. One of the latest studies completed in 1998 by the Centers for Disease Control stated, “the risk is so small that it is undetectable.”
There are a number of general principles that govern the transmission of infection. Exposure to a single virus or bacterium absolutely cannot result in infection. For each disease there is a minimum number of the agent (generally in the millions). Moreover, this risk, the CDC says, is even further diminished if the community practices certain safeguards, such as wiping the chalice after each communicant. Experimental evidence shows that wiping the chalice with the purificator reduces the bacterial count by 90%.
Eucharistic ministers follow other procedures that further decrease the risk of transmission. Such as, 1) wiping the chalice on the inside of the rim as well as on the outside, 2) opening the purificator to its full size so that a clean part of the purificator is used for each communicant, and 3) after wiping turn the cup so that the next communicant does not drink out of the same place on the cup. Further, the chalices are washed with soap and water after each mass.
Another concern is the practice of intinction. Intinction is the dipping of the bread into the wine in the cup. Hands are a primary source of infectious agents. Pathogens can be easily place into the precious wine when fingers dip into the cup. Therefore, it is not a recommended practice. As a matter of fact The liturgical guidelines of the Church forbid the practice of intinction.
Life in society is a risk. We risk airborne infection whenever we gather with a group of people. We risk infection whenever we shake hands, touch a doorknob, or hymnal. We risk infection when we go to a restaurant or shopping. The drinking cup is less risky than some of the day to day things we do and accept as an every day occurrence in our life. Yes, it is possible, no matter how unlikely, that one might catch a cold from the cup but you could just as easily catch a cold standing in line at the movie theater.
Lastly, Jesus commands us to drink his precious blood. Faith is trusting that the Lord wills our good; faith is overcoming those fears and apprehensions that would alienate us from the blessings of his holy chalice. We need not fear the cup our Physician sends us.
A message from the Parish Nurses: Lynn Dunlevy and Barbara Mueller