Friday, 24 July 2009

Strange advice indeed!

There has been some very confused and completely impractical advice about the reception of Holy Communion during the current swine flu epidemic from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and also the Diocesan in this neck of the woods (although do I detect a certain reservation and irony in what he says about communicants taking the intincted host between thumb and forefinger?)

I can do no better than reproduce the comments of Fr Giles Pinnock at onetimothyfour on the subject:

“The other part of this advice – perhaps trying to retain the Anglican practice of communion in both kinds as a sine qua non – is that the priest should ‘intinct’ – ie, dip the host into the wine in the manner of a ginger biscuit in one’s tea (so infra dig) – and place it in the communicant’s hand.

God in heaven! Have the ABs of C & Y never administered Holy Communion? Or is it simply, as I guess, that they have absolutely no problem with the blood of Christ dripping on the church floor or being left on people’s hands? Intinction is a bad and atheological practice of the first water – Christ is wholly present in both species of the Eucharist – you do not get half-measures by receiving the Host only and intinction is just asking for the Precious Blood to end up where it shouldn’t.”

Fr Pinnock also has some incisive things to say about the possibility of a priest ministering alone being able to juggle ciborium and chalice while attempting to administer Holy Communion by intinction even if such a thing were desirable. Pas possible, mon pere!
It would help us all considerably if we had bishops (the PEVs and some others excepted, of course) who gave the impression of actually having been to Church once in a while, but that is a perennial Anglican problem.

As to Holy Water stoups, the Bishop of Ebbsfleet’s tentative suggestion about the admixture of blessed salt certainly meets with favour here where we revived the practice a few years ago.

Reasonable, practical and sensible precautions are what we need to implement and nothing in the way of either confused theology, low church prelatical opportunism (the Bishop of Chelmsford?) or restrictions which smack of panic. Ultimately if things really are that bad we should be encouraging folk to stay at home and make a spiritual communion instead.
But are things that bad? Current advice seems to indicate that for those without serious underlying medical conditions this strain of influenza is rather mild; what is unusual is the rate of its spread.

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