Nun wanting to give NPO patient wafer - page 2

by Are-En-Fla

3,569 Views | 12 Comments

I was approached yesterday by a nun wanting to give my NPO patient a wafer (or whatever you call it...sorry). The patient was NPO for a surgery scheduled that morning so I politely said no and apologized. What would you do? ... Read More


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    Thank you, elkpark. Your post is very informative! I didn't know how the different liturgical churches view the sacrament; all I know is the Catholic tradition, and I'm always surprised when I see communicants chewing the Host because we believe in transubstantiation. It makes sense to do it differently if your belief system is that the Host represents Christ's Body.

    I did know that about Biblical churches using bits of unflavored bread and grape juice to commemorate the Last Supper, and in fact used to participate before I converted to Catholicism some 25 years ago.
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    This is partially correct. Transub is held by Rome as the teaching of Aquinas. It holds that though the bread and wine hold the outward appearance of bread and wine they are in reality the physical body and blood of Christ. It's more complex than that, but that's the basic jist.

    However, the word consubstantiation is typically used to describe the Lutheran position (though they prefer the term "sacramental union"). In this view the body and blood of Christ are also physically present, though through a mystery of being hidden with, in, and under the material elements. EOs hold a somewhat similar view, in that the bread and wine are both bread and wine as well as the physical body and blood of Christ through a mysterious operation of the Spirit. Some Anglicans hold to this also.

    The view you are describing as consub is the view of Calvin and many Reformed, and is known as pneumatic presence. That is Christ is present by the power of the Holy Spirit rather than physically. The Reformed would say they do believe in real presence, but not in physical presence. Many of the more reformed Anglicans held to some type of pneumatic presence, but Anglicanism has on the whole tried to kind of pretend they're not there being embarrassing.

    Memorialism is the most common protestant view (especially since the term "protestant" is distasteful to modern Lutherans and Anglicans). This view is more along the lines of what we would today understand as "representational", though it isn't necessarily wrong to say the other views are also representational by medieaval standards.

    Yeah yeah I know: old thread and not to the point. But I'm a nerd. I would say to the op that like all things, this is really dependent on the way the patient perceives what he or she believes. And the only way to know that is to ask. Some would have a problem with chewing but wouldn't have a problem with the officiant breaking the wafer. There are a few ways to get around it, as have been mentioned.

    Quote from elkpark
    Different denominations have different positions on this. The two theological principles are transubstantiation and consubstantiation. Transubstantiation (Roman Catholic doctrine (and maybe some other churches, I don't know) holds that consecration turns the wafer into the actual, physical body of Christ and they don't chew (some of the really hard core folks say that the reason you don't chew is because the wafer would bleed if you bit down on it -- they are that literal about it). Consubstantiation (the doctrine of most of the mainline Protestant denominations, AFAIK) holds that the wafer represents the body of Christ -- He is present spiritually in the Host and wine, but not physically. Those groups chew, and sometimes use "regular" bread (that you would have to chew) for the Eucharist. I grew up Lutheran and have been an Episcopalian most of my adult life, and chewing is acceptable/standard in both denominations.

    Also, some of the nonliturgical denominations (Baptist, maybe Methodists (not sure about that), etc.) don't buy either concept and see the Eucharist as simply a memorial or reminder of the Last Supper, but don't consider either the bread or wine (juice) to have any special spiritual properties.
    Last edit by lemur00 on Nov 6, '12 : Reason: correction
  3. 0
    Quote from VivaLasViejas
    I'd hate to see anyone denied the Eucharist because of being NPO.

    One of my friends who is an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist visits the hospital every few days to take Communion to patients. Those who are NPO are given a tiny piece of the Host on the tongue, where it melts quickly. They are considered to have received, because Jesus is present in both the bread and wine---you can take either the Body or the Blood and still be in full communion with the Church.

    Which brings to mind the subject of chewing the Host---I see people do it all the time, and it bothers me because I was taught NEVER to do this because it's disrespectful. Has that teaching changed, I wonder? Does anyone know?
    I haven't accepted communion in probably ten years because I do not believe that the Host is the body of Jesus. I was, however, raised Catholic and took communion (because I was forced to) every Sunday for ten years. I was never taught not to chew it and probably always did.


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