Fr. Kenneth Doyle
Fr. Kenneth Doyle
Q — Recently I read an article in the Catholic press about the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, and it has caused me to worry about something that happened long ago. I am now 45 years old and when I was in the seventh grade, this is what happened. I really liked a boy in my class and I prayed and prayed that he would like me. But it turned out that he liked another girl instead.

I was upset, especially since I had prayed so hard, and I decided (and said) that I didn't need the Holy Spirit. I regretted it right away and went to confession, but I'm not sure that the priest really heard what I was saying and that he understood. (He seemed busy and somewhat rushed.)

Recently I went to confession and brought it up again, but I didn't go into all the details. Now, I'm a huge mess. I do pray to the Holy Spirit, asking him for guidance in tough situations, and I believe that the Spirit does help me. But I'm not sure that I've ever been forgiven for that sin long ago, and I wonder where I really stand with God. (Philadelphia)

A — Please relax and be at peace. First of all, you didn’t “blaspheme against the Holy Spirit.” To do so means to refuse to accept God's forgiveness, leading to final impenitence. (See Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1864). You didn’t do that at all; as a seventh grader, you were just mad at God because the boy you liked turned out not to like you.

Second, you’ve already confessed that sin — twice. (If the priest didn't fully understand, that’s his fault, not yours.) Your question makes me think that you may be prone to the tortures of scrupulosity. You may want to talk to a friendly priest who will assure you both of God’s love and of your own goodness.

Q — I grew up as a Roman Catholic but have since joined the Eastern branch of the Catholic Church. We receive the Eucharist by intinction. Both the body and blood are administered together by a spoon (using now a separate spoon for everyone.) This seems safe to me, and it allows for full reception under both species. Could the Roman Catholic churches try this? (Indianapolis)

A — Since your email arrived in mid-September 2020, I am assuming that your Eastern Catholic parish is continuing to distribute the Eucharist by intinction during the current pandemic. Generally, in the Roman Catholic churches of which I am aware, the practice of parishioners taking Communion from the chalice has been suspended during the coronavirus.

But to answer your question: During normal times, yes, the practice of intinction is allowed in Roman Catholic churches. One of the ways in which Communion can be distributed to the faithful in the Roman rite is “by drinking from the chalice directly, or by intinction, or by means of a tube or a spoon” (General Instruction of the Roman Missal, No. 245). I would note, though, that the use of a tube or spoon is not customary in dioceses in the United States.

As the general instruction goes on to explain, “If Communion from the chalice is carried out by intinction, each communicant, holding a Communion-plate under the chin, approaches the priest who holds a vessel with the sacred particles, a minister standing at his side and holding the chalice. The priest takes a host, dips it partly in the chalice and, showing it, says, ‘The body and blood of Christ.’ The communicant responds, Amen, receives the sacrament in the mouth from the priest, and then withdraws” (No. 287).

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops reminds readers in “Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion under Both Kinds in the Dioceses of the United States of America” that “the communicant, including the extraordinary minister, is never allowed to self-communicate, even by means of intinction. Communion under either form, bread or wine, must always be given by an ordinary or extraordinary minister of holy Communion” (No. 50).