No, this title is not some kind of reference to Dr. Strangelove. It is rather the name of a company which makes equally comical and profoundly insidious products. What are these products? Well, my friends, they are the latest expressions of our culture’s obsession with fear. This company wants you to be afraid when you receive Holy Communion. In fact, they’d probably like the “touchless Eucharist” except that it eliminates the need for their products.
First, and I’m serious at this instant, you should read this paper about the risks of communion. As you’ll see, there aren’t many. Now back to my usual discourse. If you liked my earlier recommendations (made long before the current wave of hype, I might add), you’ll want to buy things from Purity Solutions. Make sure you watch the video on their home page.
What do they offer? First, there’s the hygienic communion dispenser, pictured above. It takes a roll of hosts, and then deposits one host onto each communicant’s hand at the push of a button. No doubt, this is just what Jesus had in mind, if only technology had allowed him to realize his vision.
Then there is the Purity Body + Blood Communion Host. This is a host with wine already part of the host, so you can eliminate pesky chalices and wine. It’s touted as a cost-saving measure. Plus there’s no debate over sipping or intincting.
Now, I happen to believe — or at least I hope — that this company is a well-done hoax. But one of my colleagues was asked to consider using these products, which leads me to say this: “Do not be afraid.” Actually, I’m quoting Jesus there, for the biblically impaired. Any number of reasoned studies have concluded that it’s perfectly safe to receive communion in both kinds. Well, it’s considerably safer than your journey to church. So if you’re too afraid to sip from a common cup, perhaps it’s best to just cower under the bed. That would make the most sense, really.
Clergy friends, don’t buy into the fear! I went to an Episcopal parish not long ago and was offered communion in one kind only, due to “risk of infection” but the Peace went on as usual. Setting aside 2,000 years of tradition and the rubrics of our prayer book, this made no sense. And of course, the rector had no right to unilaterally offer communion in one kind only. The prayer book is clear on this point. The chalice must always be offered to the congregation, but there’s no command for anyone to receive in both kinds.
At the church I serve, we’ve eliminated the (questionable anyway) practice of individual intinction. Communion is offered in both kinds, though I regularly remind people they may choose to receive in one kind only. The clergy, eucharistic ministers, and altar servers sanitize our hands immediately prior to the eucharistic prayer. So we’ve taken some sensible precautions, and we’ve improved our liturgy at the same time (by ending the practice of individual intinction). I encourage you to do the same.
But in case you want to go all the way for safety, I’ve given you the link to Purity Solutions. If it’s a real company, go ahead and become a customer. And then call me. I can finish up your safety kit. I know how to make tin foil mitres, useful to prevent the bishop’s mind rays from controlling you during the next visitation.