In 1996, the liturgy commission of the Canadian Conference of Bishops published a document dealing with various aspects of Communion, especially from the cup. In this, it reflected on the meaning of receiving from the cup and various potential problems.
My response comes from this document.
At the Last Supper Jesus took bread and wine, blessed it and gave it to his disciples to eat and drink. Early Christians partook of both each time they celebrated the “breaking of the bread.” They knew that they needed the nourishment of the Eucharist to strengthen them in living Christ.
In the Middle Ages, Latin became less understood by ordinary people. In huge churches, they were also far from the altar. An exaggerated respect for the Eucharist and feeling of unworthiness stopped people from receiving Communion. At the same time, Communion from the cup for the laity disappeared.
Vatican II recognized the symbolic importance of receiving from the cup and called for Communion under both forms.
As Jesus’ blood was poured out for us, we share in Jesus’ death and resurrection through this sacred ritual.
Although taking Communion from the cup is strongly recommended, the Church has made it as voluntary as receiving the host in the hand or the tongue.
The Church stresses that the body and blood of Christ are fully received with either one. Therefore, those who cannot receive the host may receive the cup alone in the same way as others can receive the host alone.
Those “with a strong tendency toward alcoholism would be wise to avoid receiving Communion from the cup” (CCCB p. 7).
This document also mentions the respect that should accompany the choice of receiving or not receiving from the cup, as well as receiving from the cup only. Therefore, there is no problem if alcoholics do not receive the cup.
Jesus used wine at the Last Supper and wine is alcoholic. The priest may use mustum (a non-alcoholic form of grape juice) because the presiding priest must receive from the cup. But this form is not permitted to the laity who are not obliged to the cup.
In Jesus’ time and in many cultures, wine continues to be a common drink with meals. Wine is a gift from God, as well as a sign and reminder of the heavenly banquet. Jesus provided a supply of the best wine at the wedding in Cana (John 2.1-11). There is nothing wrong with wine.
Communion from one shared cup is a dynamic symbol of being the one body of Christ, sharing in his suffering and death. There has been no evidence of diseases being transmitted.
However, those with colds, cold sores or other easily transmittable conditions should refrain from taking the cup.
The bishops’ document stresses the importance of wiping the cup carefully, including the inside rim. The purificator should be unfolded so that a different part is used after each communicant, using several purificators for large groups.
Introducing children to receiving the sacramental blood of Christ with reverence is important.
DO NOT INSIST
However, there should be no coercion in this matter. If the parents deem it prudent for the child to refrain from the cup and the child understands that he or she is not being singled out, then it is important not to insist they receive from the cup.
I cannot emphasize enough that Christ did not intend that we receive him in fear and trembling.
Christ gave himself as nourishment to strengthen us on our journey to eternal happiness.
We gratefully receive in reverence and love, knowing that we have been redeemed and blessed by Christ’s great love for us. The Church has wisely allowed us freedom in receiving this great gift.