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Author Topic: What's with the white wine?  (Read 2384 times) Average Rating: 0
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Ian Lazarus
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« on: May 23, 2005, 08:00:29 PM »

My friends

I have a question in the usage of Communion Wine in the Roman Church.  I was at a Roman Mass about six months ago, seeing a frineds confirmation therein.  As I was looking on, I noticed that on the alter table, there were several glass chalices filled with white wine.  This was consecrated and given to the people as the Blood of Christ.  It seemed strange to me, because I remember reading an Orthodox cannon that stated that the wine should be red in colour to better represent blood in the consecration.  Also, it stated that the chalice was to be made of incoruptable material, and forbade glass.  When did Rome veer from this?  I know that for a long time (and it still occurs) that the laity were only given the host and not the blood, bacause the bread itself was seen as the entire sacrament.  What is the Roman veiw on the Consecration of the blood?     

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yBeayf
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« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2005, 08:10:25 PM »

It doesn't matter if the wine is red or white, as long as it's pure wine made from grapes (Canon 924 -º3 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law).

As for why white wine is used, likely it is because it's less astringent, and so more palatable to more people.

The use of glass chalices is not allowed; for a while this was in dispute, but recent norms have confirmed that glass and ceramic are unacceptable for use as a chalice, so any usage you see now is a liturgical abuse.
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SeanMc
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« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2005, 09:33:41 PM »

It's good to use white wine because it won't stain the cloths during the ablutions. That's the only reason, much care is taken in washing sacred linens so they want to do it as little as possible.
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yBeayf
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« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2005, 10:22:46 PM »

Why do they wash the linens? It's not the end of the world if the linens happen to be slightly stained with the Blood -- far better that than washing them and risking losing any of it. The antimens at my church is fairly old, and at one point a chalice was knocked over onto it. It served its purpose and caught the Blood, but to this day has a large stain on it (pic). The linens are either going to be laying flat on the altar or kept in the sacristry anyways, so it's not like anybody's going to see them.
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SeanMc
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« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2005, 12:13:42 AM »

Quote
Why do they wash the linens? It's not the end of the world if the linens happen to be slightly stained with the Blood -- far better that than washing them and risking losing any of it.

They wash it in the sacristy sink, which drains into the garden, but after that (I don't know if this is universal, or just at my old parish; old being the last Catholic one I've been to) they put it in a washing machine in some sort of mesh bag. It's more complicated than that though, a few more steps perhaps.
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Tikhon29605
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« Reply #5 on: May 24, 2005, 05:52:18 AM »

Concerning the white wine, for what its worth I had a Roman Catholic Church supply catalog years ago, which included a list of communion wines that parishes could order. They had ever shade of wine imaginable, but they insisted that this white wine called "Angelica" was the traditional "Mass wine." It kind of surprised me too. And I don't know why this is the case.
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Michael
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« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2005, 06:06:27 PM »

Firstly, regarding the question of laundering the linens, it is fitting that the linens used in offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass should be clean.  It is a grave dishonour to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament if the altar cloth is covered in dust, dirt, bat droppings and other such like.  The process of washing the altar cloth, as with any of the linens used, would be to soak them first, and then to pour this water directly onto clean ground, preferably consecrated.  The linens are then laundered as usual.

Regarding the use of white/amber wine, yes there is the benefit of it leaving less of a stain, but this is not the main reason.  The reason is primarily doctrinal.  Protetants believe that the wine merely represents the blood of Christ.  They see their communion as sort of a commemorative re-enactment, and as, for them, the wine represents Christ's blood, then it is helpful for them if the wine is red, to help with this symbolism.  You will be hard-pressed to find a protestant group using any other colour.  Even those groups that object to alcohol will usually use another liquid of similar colour to red wine: grape juice, Ribena or something similar.

By way of contrast, Catholics believe in the Real Presence - that the Blood of Christ is really and truly present (and this is the important part) but having the physical characteristics of wine.  Therefore, it doesn't matter what colour the wine is, because it's supposed to look like wine.  It is the Blood of Christ, regardless of what it looks like, because the Real Presence of the Body and Blood of Christ is on a level beyond our human senses and scientific means.  The Mass is not a play, with special props that must be used, and therefore the wine need not be red.
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yBeayf
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« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2005, 07:36:02 PM »

Quote
Therefore, it doesn't matter what colour the wine is, because it's supposed to look like wine.

It is true that, strictly, the color of the wine has no bearing on the efficacy of the sacrament, but would it not nevertheless be beneficial to have it look like blood, if only for the edification of the faithful?

Quote
The Mass is not a play, with special props that must be used, and therefore the wine need not be red.

Actually, if you examine both Latin and Byzantine commentaries on the liturgy, it is indeed a sort of play, with each part symbolizing a part of the life of Christ. It wasn't originally so, but in the middle ages it was interpreted that way, and various accretions and modifications to the liturgy have been predicated on that assumption.
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Michael
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« Reply #8 on: June 12, 2005, 03:37:14 AM »

It is true that, strictly, the color of the wine has no bearing on the efficacy of the sacrament, but would it not nevertheless be beneficial to have it look like blood, if only for the edification of the faithful?

No.  Because if the Church or a priest were to insist that the wine be a similar colour to blood, there is the danger that, in the minds of the faithful, it will come to be seen as something that is a mere representation - (it only has to resemble blood if it merely represents blood.  Otherwise, it doesn't matter what it looks like).  Granted, with proper catechesis, this shouldn't happen, but it is a very real danger.  However, if the faithful see that it is treated and revered as the Blood of Christ, regardless of what it looks like, then it becomes clear to them that it isn't merely a bit of symbolism, (which is the protestant view), but rather it is the Sacramental reality that the Church teaches that it is - the Body and Blood of Christ under the physical appearances of bread and wine.

If the wine must somehow resemble blood, then the logical conclusion to that argument is that the bread must somehow resemble human flesh, which brings me back to the original point that because it isn't a mere piece of symbolism, it doesn't have to look like what it is.  (and for that I'm very grateful Smiley)

Quote
Actually, if you examine both Latin and Byzantine commentaries on the liturgy, it is indeed a sort of play, with each part symbolizing a part of the life of Christ. It wasn't originally so, but in the middle ages it was interpreted that way, and various accretions and modifications to the liturgy have been predicated on that assumption.

I have come acros such ideas, partly in The Stripping of the Altars, and although I agree that yes, some accretions are helpful in showing what part of the Mass is about, the Mass itself is not a play.  Parts of it, or indeed the whole thing, may be allegorised, but that doesn't mean that the heart of it, the re-presentation (as opposed to representation), the anamnesis, the making truly present of the Sacrifice of Calvary and the entire saving work of God, is reduced to a symbolic meal where we drink red fluid and think of Jesus's blood.  Therefore analogy of the play may be helpful, but that doesn't mean that the Mass itself actually is a play.  Do you see what I mean?

Happy Sunday, BTW!

In Christ,

M
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