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The Eucharist //, also called Holy Communion, the Lord's Supper, and other names, is a sacrament accepted by almost all Christians. It is reenacted in accordance with Jesus' instruction at the Last Supper, as recorded in several books of the New Testament, that his followers do in remembrance of him as when he gave his disciples bread, saying, "This is my body", and gave them wine saying, "This is my blood."
Christians generally recognize a special presence of Christ in this rite, though they differ about exactly how, where, and when Christ is present. While all agree that there is no perceptible change in the elements, some believe that they actually become the body and blood of Christ, others believe in a "real" but merely spiritual presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and still others take the act to be only a symbolic reenactment of the Last Supper. A minority of Protestants view the Eucharist as an ordinance in which the ceremony is seen not as a specific channel of divine grace, but as an expression of faith and of obedience to Christ.
In spite of differences between Christians about various aspects of the Eucharist, there is, according to the Encyclopædia Britannica, "more of a consensus among Christians about the meaning of the Eucharist than would appear from the confessional debates over the sacramental presence, the effects of the Eucharist, and the proper auspices under which it may be celebrated."
The word Eucharist may refer not only to the rite but also to the consecrated bread (leavened or unleavened) and wine (or grape juice) used in the rite. In this sense, communicants (that is, those who partake of the communion elements) may speak of "receiving the Eucharist", as well as "celebrating the Eucharist".
For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, "This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me". (1 Corinthians 11:23-24)
Those mentioned above in relation to the term "Eucharist" rarely use the expression "the Lord's Supper", but it is the predominant term among Baptist groups, who generally avoid using the term "Communion", and is preferred also by some evangelical Anglicans.
When you come together, it is not the Lord's Supper you eat, for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk.
The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?.
The Last Supper appears in all three Synoptic Gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke. It also is found in the First Epistle to the Corinthians, which suggests how early Christians celebrated what Paul the Apostle called the Lord's Supper.
In his First Epistle to the Corinthians (c 54-55), Paul the Apostle gives the earliest recorded description of Jesus' Last Supper: "The Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, 'This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me. ' In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me'".[1 Cor. 11:23-25]
The synoptic gospels, Mark 14:22-25, Matthew 26:26-29, Luke 22:13-20, depict Jesus as presiding over the Last Supper. References to Jesus' body and blood foreshadow his crucifixion, and he identifies them as a new covenant. In the gospel of John, the account of the Last Supper has no mention of Jesus taking bread and "the cup" and speaking of them as his body and blood; instead it recounts his humble act of washing the disciples' feet, the prophecy of the betrayal, which set in motion the events that would lead to the cross, and his long discourse in response to some questions posed by his followers, in which he went on to speak of the importance of the unity of the disciples with him and each other.
In John 6:26-65, the evangelist attributes a long discourse to Jesus which deals with the subject of the living bread and in verses 52-59 contains echoes of Eucharistic language. The interpretation of the whole passage has been extensively debated. Hoskyns notes three main schools of thought: (a) the language is metaphorical and verse 63: "The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit" and life" gives the author's precise meaning; (b) vv 51-58 are a later interpolation which cannot be harmonized with the context; (c) the discourse is homogeneous, sacrificial and sacramental and can be harmonized though not all attempts are satisfactory.
The expression The Lord's Supper, derived from St. Paul's usage in 1 Cor. 11:17-34, may have originally referred to the Agape feast (or love feast), the shared communal meal with which the Eucharist was originally associated. The Agape feast is mentioned in Jude 12. But The Lord's Supper is now commonly used in reference to a celebration involving no food other than the sacramental bread and wine.
The Didache (Greek: teaching) is an early Church treatise that includes instructions for Baptism and the Eucharist. Most scholars date it to the early 2nd century, and distinguish in it two separate Eucharistic traditions, the earlier tradition in chapter 10 and the later one preceding it in chapter 9.[note 2] The Eucharist is mentioned again in chapter 14.[note 3]
Ignatius of Antioch (c. 35 or 50-between 98 and 117), one of the Apostolic Fathers,[note 4] mentions the Eucharist as "the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ",[note 5] and Justin Martyr speaks of it as more than a meal: "the food over which the prayer of thanksgiving, the word received from Christ, has been said ... is the flesh and blood of this Jesus who became flesh ... and the deacons carry some to those who are absent."
Many Christian denominations classify the Eucharist as a sacrament. Some Protestants prefer to call it an ordinance, viewing it not as a specific channel of divine grace but as an expression of faith and of obedience to Christ.
Most Christians, even those who deny that there is any real change in the elements used, recognize a special presence of Christ in this rite. But Christians differ about exactly how, where and how long Christ is present in it. Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, and the Church of the East teach that the reality (the "substance") of the elements of bread and wine is wholly changed into the body and blood of Jesus Christ, while the appearances (the "species") remain. Transubstantiation is the term used by Catholics to denote what is changed, not to explain how the transformation occurs, since the Catholic Church teaches that "the signs of bread and wine become, in a way surpassing understanding, the Body and Blood of Christ". Lutherans believe that the body and blood of Jesus are present "in, with and under" the forms of bread and wine, a concept known as the sacramental union. The Reformed churches, following the teachings of John Calvin, believe in an immaterial, spiritual (or "pneumatic") presence of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit and received by faith. Anglicans adhere to a range of views although the teaching on the matter in the Articles of Religion holds that the presence is real only in a heavenly and spiritual sense. Some Christians reject the concept of the real presence, believing that the Eucharist is only a ceremonial remembrance or memorial of the death of Christ.
The Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry document of the World Council of Churches, attempting to present the common understanding of the Eucharist on the part of the generality of Christians, describes it as "essentially the sacrament of the gift which God makes to us in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit", "Thanksgiving to the Father", "Anamnesis or Memorial of Christ", "the sacrament of the unique sacrifice of Christ, who ever lives to make intercession for us", "the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, the sacrament of his real presence", "Invocation of the Spirit", "Communion of the Faithful", and "Meal of the Kingdom".
The Catholic Church teaches that once consecrated in the Eucharist, the elements cease to be bread and wine and actually become the body and blood of Christ, each of which is accompanied by the other and by Christ's soul and divinity. The empirical appearance and physical properties are not changed, but for Catholics, the reality is. The consecration of the bread (known as the host) and wine represents the separation of Jesus' body from his blood at Calvary. However, since he has risen, the Church teaches that his body and blood can no longer be truly separated. Where one is, the other must be. Therefore, although the priest (or extraordinary minister of Holy Communion) says, "The body of Christ", when administering the host, and, "The blood of Christ", when presenting the chalice, the communicant who receives either one receives Christ, whole and entire.
The Catholic Church sees as the main basis for this belief the words of Jesus himself at his Last Supper: the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20) and Saint Paul's 1 Cor. 11:23-25) recount that in that context Jesus said of what to all appearances were bread and wine: "This is my body … this is my blood." The Catholic understanding of these words, from the Patristic authors onward, has emphasized their roots in the covenantal history of the Old Testament. The interpretation of Christ's words against this Old Testament background coheres with and supports belief in the Real Presence.
In 1551, the Council of Trent definitively declared: "Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread,[Jn. 6:51] it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation." The Fourth Council of the Lateran in 1215 had spoken of "Jesus Christ, whose body and blood are truly contained in the sacrament of the altar under the forms of bread and wine; the bread being changed (transsubstantiatis) by divine power into the body, and the wine into the blood."[note 6] The attempt by some twentieth-century Catholic theologians to present the Eucharistic change as an alteration of significance (transignification rather than transubstantiation) was rejected by Pope Paul VI in his 1965 encyclical letter Mysterium fidei In his 1968 Credo of the People of God, he reiterated that any theological explanation of the doctrine must hold to the twofold claim that, after the consecration, 1) Christ's body and blood are really present; and 2) bread and wine are really absent; and this presence and absence is real and not merely something in the mind of the believer.
On entering a church, Latin Church Catholics genuflect to the consecrated host in the tabernacle that holds the consecrated host, in order to acknowledge respectfully the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, a presence to which a votive candle or sanctuary lamp kept burning close to such a tabernacle draws attention.
Among Eastern Christians, the Eucharistic service is called the Divine Liturgy (Eastern Orthodox) or similar names (Oriental Orthodox). It comprises two main divisions: the first is the Liturgy of the Catechumens which consists of introductory litanies, antiphons and scripture readings, culminating in a reading from one of the Gospels and, often, a homily; the second is the Liturgy of the Faithful in which the Eucharist is offered, consecrated, and received as Holy Communion. Within the latter, the actual Eucharistic prayer is called the anaphora, literally: "offering" or "carrying up" (ἀνα- + φέρω). In the Rite of Constantinople, two different anaphoras are currently used: one is attributed to Saint John Chrysostom, the other to Saint Basil the Great. Among the Oriental Orthodox, a variety of anaphoras are used, but all are similar in structure to those of the Constantinopolitan Rite, in which the Anaphora of Saint John Chrysostom is used most days of the year; Saint Basil's is offered on the Sundays of Great Lent, the eves of Christmas and Theophany, Holy Thursday, Holy Saturday, and upon his feast day (1 January). At the conclusion of the Anaphora the bread and wine are held to be the Body and Blood of Christ. Unlike the Church of Rome, the Eastern Orthodox Church uses leavened bread, with the leaven symbolizing the presence of the Holy Spirit. The Armenian Apostolic Church, like the Catholic Church, uses unleavened bread.
Conventionally this change in the elements is understood to be accomplished at the Epiclesis (Greek: "invocation") by which the Holy Spirit is invoked and the consecration of the bread and wine as the true and genuine Body and Blood of Christ is specifically requested, but since the anaphora as a whole is considered a unitary (albeit lengthy) prayer, no one moment within it can be readily singled out.
Holy Qurbana or Qurbana Qadisha, the "Holy Offering" or "Holy Sacrifice", refers to the Eucharist as celebrated according to the East Syrian and West Syrian traditions of Syriac Christianity. The main Anaphora of the East Syrian tradition is the Holy Qurbana of Addai and Mari, while that of the West Syrian tradition is the Liturgy of Saint James. Both are extremely old, going back at least to the third century, and are the oldest extant liturgies continually in use.
In most churches of the Anglican Communion, the Eucharist is celebrated every Sunday, having replaced Morning Prayer as the principal service. The rites for the Eucharist are found in the various prayer books of Anglican churches. Wine and unleavened wafers or leavened bread is used. Daily celebrations are the norm in many cathedrals and parish churches typically offer one or more Eucharists during the week. Only a small minority of parishes with a priest do not celebrate the Eucharist at least once each Sunday. The nature of the ceremony, however, varies according to the theological orientation of the priest, parish, diocese or regional church.
The bread and "fruit of the vine" indicated in Matthew, Mark and Luke as the elements of the Lord's Supper are interpreted by many Baptists as unleavened bread (although leavened bread is often used) and, in line with the historical stance of some Baptist groups (since the mid-19th century) against partaking of alcoholic beverages, grape juice, which they commonly refer to simply as "the Cup". The unleavened bread also underscores the symbolic belief attributed to Christ's breaking the bread and saying that it was his body. A soda cracker is often used.
Most Baptists do not consider the Communion or its elements to be sacramental; rather, it is considered to be an act of remembrance of Christ's atonement, and a time of renewal of personal commitment. However, with the rise of confessionalism, many Baptists have denied memorialism as a 19th-century doctrinal novelty, and have taken up a Reformed view of Communion. Confessional Baptists believe in pneumatic presence, which is expressed in the Second London Baptist Confession, specifically in Chapter 30, Articles 3 and 7:
Art. 3. The Lord Jesus hath, in this ordinance, appointed his ministers to pray, and bless the elements of bread and wine, and thereby to set them apart from a common to a holy use, and to take and break the bread; to take the cup, and, they communicating also themselves, to give both to the communicants.
Art. 7. Worthy receivers, outwardly partaking of the visible elements in this ordinance, do then also inwardly by faith, really and indeed, yet not carnally and corporally, but spiritually receive, and feed upon Christ crucified, and all the benefits of his death; the body and blood of Christ being then not corporally or carnally, but spiritually present to the faith of believers in that ordinance, as the elements themselves are to their outward senses.
This view is prevalent among Southern Baptists, those in the Founders movement (a Calvinistic movement within the some Independent Baptists, Freewill Baptists, and several individuals in other Baptist associations.
As in many churches, Communion practices and frequency vary among congregations. A typical practice is to have small cups of juice and plates of broken bread distributed to the seated congregation by a group of deacons, elders, or ushers. In others congregations, communicants may proceed to the altar to receive the elements, then return to their seats. A widely accepted practice is for all to receive and hold the elements until everyone is served, then consume the bread and cup in unison. Usually, music is performed and Scripture is read during the receiving of the elements.
Some Baptist churches are closed-Communionists (even requiring full membership in the church before partaking), with others being partially or fully open-Communionists. It is rare to find a Baptist church where The Lord's Supper is observed every Sunday; most observe monthly or quarterly, with some holding Communion only during a designated Communion service or following a worship service.
Lutherans believe that the body and blood of Christ are "truly and substantially present in, with, and under the forms" of the consecrated bread and wine (the elements), so that communicants eat and drink the body and blood of Christ himself as well as the bread and wine in this sacrament. The Lutheran doctrine of the Real Presence is more accurately and formally known as the "sacramental union". It has been inaccurately called "consubstantiation". This term is specifically rejected by Lutheran churches and theologians since it creates confusion about the actual doctrine and subjects the doctrine to the control of a non-biblical philosophical concept in the same manner as, in their view, does the term "transubstantiation".
While an official movement exists in Lutheran congregations celebrate Eucharist weekly, using formal rites very similar to the Catholic and "high" Anglican services, it was historically common for congregations to celebrate monthly or even quarterly. Even in congregations where Eucharist is offered weekly, there is not a requirement that every church service be a Eucharistic service, nor that all members of a congregation must receive it weekly.
Traditional Mennonite and German Baptist Brethren Churches such as the Church of the Brethren churches and congregations have the Agape Meal, footwashing and the serving of the bread and wine two parts to the Communion service in the Lovefeast. In the more modern groups, Communion is only the serving of the Lord’s Supper. In the communion meal, the members of the Mennonite churches renew their covenant with God and with each other.
Among Open assemblies, also termed Plymouth Brethren, the Eucharist is more commonly called the Breaking of Bread or the Lord's Supper. It is seen as a symbolic memorial and entirely non-sacramental, and central to the worship of both individual and assembly. In principle the service is open to all baptised Christians, however an individual's eligibility to participate depends on the views of each particular assembly. The service takes the form of non-liturgical, open worship with all male participants allowed to pray audibly and select hymns or readings. The breaking of bread itself typically consists of one leavened loaf which is prayed over and broken by a participant in the meeting, and then shared around. The wine is poured from a single container into one or several vessels, and these are again shared around.
In the Reformed Churches the Eucharist is variously administered. The Calvinist view of the Sacrament sees a real presence of Christ in the supper which differs both from the objective ontological presence of the Catholic view, and from the real absence of Christ and the mental recollection of the memorialism of the Zwinglians and their successors.
The bread and wine become the means by which the believer has real communion with Christ in his death and Christ's body and blood are present to the faith of the believer as really as the bread and wine are present to their senses but this presence is "spiritual", that is the work of the Holy Spirit. There is no standard frequency; John Calvin desired weekly communion, but the city council only approved monthly, and monthly celebration has become the most common practice in Reformed churches today.
Many, on the other hand, follow John Knox in celebration of the Lord's supper on a quarterly basis, to give proper time for reflection and inward consideration of one's own state and sin. Recently, Presbyterian and Reformed Churches have been considering whether to restore more frequent communion, including weekly communion in more churches, considering that infrequent communion was derived from a memorialist view of the Lord's Supper, rather than Calvin's view of the sacrament as a means of grace. Some churches use bread without any raising agent (whether leaven or yeast), in view of the use of unleavened bread at Jewish Passover meals, while others use any bread available.
The Presbyterian Church (USA), for instance, prescribes "bread common to the culture". Harking back to the regulative principle of worship, the Reformed tradition had long eschewed coming forward to receive communion, preferring to have the elements distributed throughout the congregation by the presbyters (elders) more in the style of a shared meal. Wine and grape juice are both used, depending on the congregation.
Openness ranges between open communion (any believer may participate, e.g. the PCUSA) to closed (only members of the denomination may partake). Most Reformed churches would practice a balance between these, i.e., all believers who are united to a church of like faith and practice, and who are not living in sin, would be allowed to join in the Sacrament, sometimes with a requirement of pastoral or elder approval.
United Methodists in the United States are encouraged to celebrate the Eucharist every Sunday, though it is typically celebrated on the first Sunday of each month, while a few go as long as celebrating quarterly (a tradition dating back to the days of circuit riders that served multiple churches). In the United Methodist church grape juice is used instead of wine to include those who do not take alcohol for any reason. The current Book of Worship of the United Methodist church says that "the pure unfermented juice of the grape, or an equivalent, shall be used during the service of Holy Communion." The elements may be distributed in various ways. Communicants may receive standing, kneeling, or while seated. Gaining more wide acceptance is the practice of receiving by intinction (receiving a piece of consecrated bread or wafer, dipping it in the blessed wine, and consuming it). The most common alternative to intinction is for the communicants to receive the consecrated juice using small, individual, specially made glass or plastic cups known as communion cups. United Methodists practice open communion, inviting "all who intend a Christian life, together with their children" to receive Communion. Undergoing Baptism is not a prerequisite for receiving Communion, but if unbaptized people "regularly participate in Holy Communion, it is appropriate for pastors to talk with these people" about the possibility of them being baptized.
Variations of the Eucharistic Prayer are provided for various occasions, including communion of the sick and brief forms for occasions that call for greater brevity. Though the ritual is standardized, there is great variation amongst United Methodist churches, from typically high-church to low-church, in the enactment and style of celebration. United Methodist clergy are not required to be vested when celebrating the Eucharist, though it is most often the case that they are vested either in a Geneva gown and stole or an alb and stole.
In the Seventh-day Adventist Church the Holy Communion service customarily is celebrated once per quarter. The service includes the ordinance of footwashing and the Lord’s Supper. Unleavened bread and unfermented (non-alcoholic) grape juice is used. Open communion is practised: all who have committed their lives to the Saviour may participate. The communion service must be conducted by an ordained pastor, minister or church elder.
Many nondenominational Christians including the Churches of Christ receive communion every Sunday. Others including Evangelical churches, the Church of God, and the Calvary Chapel typically receive communion on a monthly or more periodic basis.
The Churches of Christ use grape juice and unleavened wafers or unleavened bread and practice open communion.
Jehovah's Witnesses commemorate Christ's death as a ransom or propitiatory sacrifice by observing the Lord's Evening Meal, or Memorial, each year on the evening that corresponds to the Passover, Nisan 14, according to the ancient Jewish calendar. They believe that this is the only annual religious observance commanded for Christians in the Bible.
Of those who attend the Memorial a small minority worldwide partake of the wine and unleavened bread. Jehovah's Witnesses believe that only 144,000 people will receive heavenly salvation and thus spend eternity with God in heaven, as underpriests and co-rulers under Christ. Paralleling the anointing of kings and priests, they are referred to as the "anointed" class and are the only ones who should partake of the bread and wine.
The Memorial, held after sunset, includes a talk on the meaning of the celebration and the circulation among the audience of unadulterated red wine and unleavened bread. Jehovah's Witnesses believe the bread represents Jesus Christ's body which he gave on behalf of mankind, and that the wine represents his blood which redeems from sin. The wine and the bread (sometimes referred to as "emblems") are viewed as symbolic; they do not believe in transubstantiation or consubstantiation.
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS church), the "Holy Sacrament of the Lord's Supper", more simply referred to as the Sacrament, is administered every Sunday (except General Conference or other special Sunday meeting) in each LDS Ward or branch worldwide at the beginning of Sacrament meeting. The Sacrament, which consists of both ordinary bread and water (rather than wine or grape juice), is prepared by priesthood holders prior to the beginning of the meeting. At the beginning of the Sacrament, priests say specific prayers to bless the bread and water. The Sacrament is passed row-by-row to the congregation by priesthood holders (typically deacons).
Other Christian denominations who practice communion are the United Churches of Christ, Assembly of God, and Disciples of Christ.
Christian denominations differ in their understanding of whether they may receive the Eucharist with those with whom they are not in full communion. The famed apologist St. Justin Martyr (c. 150) wrote: "No one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true...." For the first several hundred years, non-members were forbidden even to be present at the sacramental ritual; visitors and catechumens (those still undergoing instruction) were dismissed halfway through the Liturgy, after the Bible readings and sermon but before the Eucharistic rite. The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, used in the Byzantine Rite, still has a formula of dismissal of catechumens (not usually followed by any action) at this point.
Churches such as the Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox Churches practice closed communion under normal circumstances. However, the Catholic Church allows administration of the Eucharist, at their spontaneous request, to properly disposed members of the eastern churches (Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Church of the East) not in full communion with it and of other churches that the Holy See judges to be sacramentally in the same position as these churches; and in grave and pressing need, such as danger of death, it allows the Eucharist to be administered also to individuals who do not belong to these churches but who share the Catholic Church's faith in the reality of the Eucharist and have no access to a minister of their own community. Some Protestant communities exclude non-members from Communion. Most Lutheran churches not only exclude non-members but also require communicants to have been given catechetical instruction. However, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) practices open communion, provided those who receive are baptized.
Some use the term "close communion" for restriction to members of the same denomination, and "closed communion" for restriction to members of the local congregation alone.
Most Protestant communities, including, Congregational churches, the Church of the Nazarene, Assembly of God, Methodists, the Church of Sweden, Presbyterians, Nondenominational Christianity (including the Churches of Christ), and Anglicans practice open communion in the sense of not limiting it to members of their own Church alone, but some of them require that the communicant be a baptized person or a member of a partner church. Some Progressive Christian congregations offer communion to any individual who wishes to commemorate the life and teachings of Christ, regardless of religious affiliation.
In the Episcopal Church (United States), those who do not receive Holy Communion may enter the communion line with their arms crossed over their chest, in order to receive a blessing from the priest, instead of receiving Holy Communion.
The Catholic Church requires its members to receive the sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation before taking Communion, if they are aware of having committed a grave sin, and to prepare by fasting, prayer and other works of piety.
Traditionally, the Eastern Orthodox church has required its members to have observed all church-appointed fasts (most weeks, this will be at least Wednesday and Friday) for the week prior to partaking of communion, and to fast from all food and water from midnight the night before. In addition, Orthodox Christians are to have made a recent confession to their priest (the frequency varying with one's particular priest), and they must be at peace with all others, meaning that they hold no grudges or anger against anyone. In addition, one is expected to attend Vespers or the All-Night Vigil, if offered, on the night before receiving communion. Furthermore, various pre-communion prayers have been composed, which many (but not all) Orthodox churches require or at least strongly encourage members to say privately before coming to the Eucharist.
Many Protestant congregations generally reserve a period of time for self-examination and private, silent confession just before partaking in the Lord's Supper.
Seventh Day Adventists, Mennonites, and some other groups participate in "foot washing" (cf. John 13:3-17) as a preparation for partaking in the Lord's Supper. At that time they are to individually examine themselves, and confess any sins they may have between one and another.
The gluten in wheat bread may be dangerous to people with celiac disease. For the Catholic Church, this issue was addressed in the 24 July 2003 letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which summarized and clarified earlier declarations. The Catholic Church believes that the matter for the Eucharist must be wheaten bread and fermented wine from grapes: it holds that, if the gluten has been entirely removed, the result is not true wheaten bread, For celiacs, but not generally, it allows low-gluten bread. It also permits Holy Communion to be received under the form of either bread or wine alone, except by a priest who is celebrating Mass without other priests or as principal celebrant. Many mainline Protestant churches offer communicants gluten-free alternatives to wheaten bread, usually in the form of a rice-based cracker or gluten-free bread.
The Catholic Church believes that grape juice that has not begun even minimally to ferment cannot be accepted as wine, which it sees as essential for celebration of the Eucharist. For alcoholics, but not generally, it allows the use of mustum (grape juice in which fermentation has begun but has been suspended without altering the nature of the juice), and it holds that, "since Christ is sacramentally present under each of the species, communion under the species of bread alone makes it possible to receive all the fruit of Eucharistic grace. For pastoral reasons this manner of receiving communion has been legitimately established as the most common form in the Latin rite. "
As already indicated, the one exception is in the case of a priest celebrating Mass without other priests or as principal celebrant. The water that in the Latin Church is prescribed to be mixed with the wine must be only a relatively small quantity. The practice of the Coptic Church is that the mixture should be two parts wine to one part water.
Many Protestant churches allow clergy and communicants to take mustum instead of wine. In addition to, or in replacement of wine, some churches offer grape juice which has been pasteurized to stop the fermentation process the juice naturally undergoes; de-alcoholized wine from which most of the alcohol has been removed (between 0.5% and 2% remains); or water. Exclusive use of unfermented grape juice is common in Baptist, Presbyterian churches, the United Methodist Church, Seventh-day Adventists, Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, Churches of Christ, some Lutherans, Assemblies of God, Pentecostals, Evangelicals, the Christian Missionary Alliance, and other American independent Protestant churches.,
Risk of infectious disease transmission related to use of a common communion cup is low, to the point of being undetectable. No case of transmission of an infectious disease related to a common communion cup has ever been documented. The most likely diseases to be transmitted would be common viral illnesses such as the common cold, but a study of 681 individuals found that taking communion up to daily from a common cup did not increase the risk of infection beyond that of those who did not attend services at all.
In influenza epidemics, some churches suspend the giving of communion under the form of wine, for fear of spreading the disease. This is in full accord with Catholic Church belief that communion under the form of bread alone makes it possible to receive all the fruit of Eucharistic grace. However, the same measure has been taken also by churches that normally insist on the importance of receiving communion under both forms. This was done in 2009 by the Church of England.
Some fear contagion through the handling involved in distributing the hosts to the communicants, even if they are placed on the hand rather than on the tongue. Accordingly, some churches use mechanical wafer dispensers or "pillow packs" (communion wafers with wine inside them). While these methods of distributing communion are not accepted in Catholic Church parishes, one such church provides a mechanical dispenser to allow those intending to communicate to place in a bowl, without touching them by hand, the hosts for use in the celebration.
|Denominations||Wine, grape juice, water||How often celebrated||Open or closed communion|
|Catholic Church||wine, unleavened bread in the Latin Church, leavened in some Eastern Catholic Churches||daily, except on Good Friday and Holy Saturday (the Easter Vigil Mass, even if celebrated on what on the civil calendar is Saturday evening, is liturgically the Sunday of the resurrection of Jesus) but Communion may be given to the dying||closed communion: the Catholic Church holds that reception of Communion is reserved for the baptized and, normally, for those in communion with the Holy See. Members of Eastern Orthodox and other churches with Orders recognized by Rome may partake upon their own request; other non-Catholics may only partake under extremely restrictive circumstances with the approval of a bishop.|
|Eastern Orthodox Church||wine and leavened bread||daily outside of Lent, when the Presanctified Liturgy is celebrated||closed communion: the Eastern Orthodox Church does not exclude Protestants and Catholics from attending the Divine Liturgy, but does not give them Communion.|
|Anglican Communion||wine with unleavened wafers or leavened bread||Most churches in the Anglican Communion celebrate communion weekly, replacing Morning Prayer||Most Anglicans, including the United States Episcopal Church, practice open communion, others practice closed communion.|
|Baptists||grape juice with soda crackers, unleavened bread, or leavened bread||very few Baptist churches celebrate communion weekly; most celebrate monthly or quarterly with some holding designated services.||both open and closed communion; some Baptist churches restrict communion to their own members and require part membership or even full membership and thus members from other Baptist churches will be excluded from participating. Even members from other different churches, especially Catholics will also be excluded. The Strict Baptists in the United Kingdom derive their name from this practice. However, some Baptist churches fully practice open communion allowing members from other churches, including other Baptist churches, to receive communion.|
|Lutherans||wine or grape juice with leavened or unleavened bread or gluten-free wafers.||weekly, every other week, or monthly||Most Lutherans, including the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, and other Confessional Lutheran churches, practice closed communion, excluding non-members, especially Catholics (like Baptists), and requiring catechetical instruction before receiving the Eucharist; However, most churches in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America practice their own form of open communion, giving the Eucharist to adults without requiring catechetical instruction, provided they are baptized and believe in the real presence.|
|United Methodist Church||grape juice with leavened, unleavened, or gluten-free bread, though leavened bread is the most common||weekly, every other week, or monthly||open communion although it is referred to as Open Table|
|Presbyterians||grape juice or wine with unleavened bread||weekly or monthly||open and closed communion|
|Calvinists and Reformed Christians||wine with leavened bread||monthly||closed communion|
|Seventh-day Adventists||grape juice with unleavened bread||quarterly||open communion, but Reformed Seventh-day Adventists practice closed communion.|
|Churches of Christ||grape juice with wafers||weekly||open communion|
|Calvary Chapel||wine||monthly||open communion|
|Jehovah's Witnesses||wine with unleavened bread||annually||closed communion; only Witnesses claiming to be among the 144,000 (called to receive eternal salvation and spend eternity with God in heaven) may receive; others who are present pass the emblems but do not partake.|
|Latter Day Saints ||water with any bread (LDS); wine or grape juice with any bread (CoC and other factions)||weekly (LDS); monthly or quarterly (CoC and other factions)||The LDS church and Community of Christ practice open communion (though the LDS indicate it is intended for members only, they do not forbid non-members to partake); most smaller Latter Day Saint factions practice closed communion|
|United Church of Christ||wine or grape juice with gluten free wafers||monthly||open communion|
|Assemblies of God, Pentecostals, and Christian and Missionary Alliance||grape juice with leavened bread||monthly||open communion|
|Evangelical Free Church||grape juice with crackers or wafers||monthly||open communion|
|Church of the Nazarene||wine with leavened bread||weekly or monthly||open communion|
|Community Churches||grape juice with wafers||monthly||open communion|
|Moravian Church||alcohol with leavened bread||several times per year||open communion|