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This question deals with pouring the wine into one chalice instead of many individual small cups for the congregants to consume. In my experience, I've observed that the wine is always poured into a single chalice, never into individual cups. Is it to conserve resources, or is there a theological reason behind this practice?

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When I was visiting a Ukrainian Orthodox Catholic Church they actually distributed the blood from a single chalice using a ladle. Certainly provides substantially less risk of spillage. –  user10763 Apr 11 at 4:28
    
So, they aren't putting their lips to the cup but sipping from a ladle? How is that different, in the end, from using another cup? –  david brainerd Apr 11 at 8:32
    
Just that you know, if there are more number of priests participating, then multiple chalices could be used. (see here and here) There is no theological prohibition in using multiple chalices. But you can't pour species of wine into a different chalice after consecration. –  Jayarathina Madharasan Jun 24 at 9:04

1 Answer 1

The practice is entirely biblical. At the Last Supper, Christ took a single cup at the end of the meal and handed it round the apostles:

Mt 26:27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal has this:

  • Through the fraction and through Communion, the faithful, though they are many, receive from the one bread the Lord’s Body and from the one chalice the Lord’s Blood in the same way the Apostles received them from Christ’s own hands.

A related question is why there tend to be individual wafers rather than a single large bread roll or loaf which is divided amongst the congregation. This is because of its change of substance: “This is my body,” which means that any crumbs must be dealt with. Tearing or cutting a loaf, while a valid symbol of the distribution, would create so many crumbs that it would be impossible to deal with. A wafer with sealed edges produces far fewer problems. Generally the wafers are consecrated in and distributed from a single vessel [ciborium].

It’s a related question because of the risk of spillage in distributing the sacrament in — and between — small individual cups. A large chalice has to be carefully handled, and the risk of spilling the sacrament is likely to be reduced. However this is incidental to the primary reason: Jesus used a single cup.

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Perhaps I might ask a related question about why some Protestant denominations use little glasses for the wine... –  Andrew Leach Apr 10 at 14:46
    
Sure, go ahead and ask. It's an interesting question. –  Anonymous Apr 10 at 14:51
    
It may be also related to the Protestant conception of the Eucharist. –  Anonymous Apr 10 at 14:53

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