Previously we considered the carrying of fragments of consecrated bread from the consecrated loaf used at the papal Mass to the celebrations about to occur in parish churches. That was a second example of mixing. There is yet another example of mixing: at the fraction rite in both the papal Mass as well as those in the parishes, deacons would bring forth large cups of unconsecrated wine from the sacristy. Other deacons would take pieces from the newly consecrated loaf on the altar and drop a piece into each of these chalices which were then consecrated by immixtio and not by special words of consecration spoken over a cup of wine. The Blood of Christ was now in those cups as much as in the ONE cup on the altar.

How can this be? It can be because the Church can decide how the sacraments are affected as long as the core reality of the sacrament –the communion of the assembly in Christ through the reception of his Body and Blood effected through consecration –is not changed. All four accounts of the Last Supper recount ONE cup (Matt. 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:15-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-25). St. Paul writes, “The [ONE] cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion in the Blood of Christ? The [ONE] bread (loaf) which we break, is it not the communion in the Body of Christ?” (I Cor. 10:16).

Christ Jesus comes to US, the assembly, in and through the sharing of bread and cup. Ancient usage changed but little rites like the immixtio/commixtio (mixing) communicated such a core belief that they remain for our reflection. Little things mean a lot. The meaning expresses and shapes our belief and the decisions we make in the face of individualism and the privatization of morals and contemporary life.

 -Rev. Andrew D. Ciferni, O. Praem.