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Q: My parish has the chalice back at Mass and it makes me uncomfortable because of COVID-19. I do not think it safe. What can I do about this?
—Let this cup pass from me
A: I have to admit that I was shocked to learn through your question that some parishes have brought the chalice back. I had no idea! I assumed by month six or so of the pandemic (you know, once I had passed the “this will blow over by Easter” phase of thinking) that churchgoers everywhere had said a collective and final goodbye to the communal cup. I guess I was wrong! This is just to say that your discomfort with the return of the chalice is understandable, and I would bet that you aren’t the only person at your parish who has safety concerns.
In regard to your “What can I do about this?” quandary, I would first say that you can simply not drink from the cup. The church teaches that the real presence of Christ exists “whole and entire” in the individual elements of the consecrated bread and the consecrated wine; in other words, you don’t need to receive both elements of Holy Communion to fully participate in the Eucharist.
I sense, however, that you may want to do more than refrain from personal drinking from the cup. You are a part of your parish community, and you potentially have concerns about the safety of others, even as they don’t seem to have concerns for themselves. It could be that you wish for the cup to be removed as an option for everyone. If this is true, you should feel empowered to write a letter to your pastor and parish council, or to schedule a visit to discuss the matter of safety and the common good with them. While I don’t know what the results would be (In a way, this issue is not so different from the question of mandating vaccines—again, an instance in which policy “cares” for the safety of others more than they seemingly care about it for themselves—and that has been complicated, to say the least), I do think that all members of the body of Christ should feel comfortable using their voices to express their considered thoughts and ideas.