Roma locuta est...
What does this mean? It means that the permission that Rome did grant for a short period for sacristans, EMHC ("eucharistic ministers" to most parish communities), and other laity to purify the vessels that contain the Body & Blood after Communion has quite explicitly not been renewed after the end of the indult period (permission period). It therefore means that, starting immediately, the priests, deacons, and instituted acolytes (typically seminarians) are the only ones who can take the vessels and purify them of the sacred particles.
It is funny, I remember noticing when the indult expired a while ago (two years ago?) thanks to a Zenit post - and asked my pastor at the time about it. Neither he nor anybody else seemed to know anything about it, and I never heard anything about it again until now. It seems now that the US bishops have been appealing for the indult's renewal for a while now - thus requiring, apparently, no notification of pastors on their part to anyone else that it has lapsed and is no longer in effect. Until now, when Rome finally says flat out, "NO."
So I guess the policy of the American bishops regarding indults they like is to ignore any kind of "expiration date" as being meaningless until the indult is specifically rescinded. In other words, it's renewed until we're told otherwise. Of course, I doubt that rule would apply if the indult was one they don't like - such as the one we currently enjoy that tells us we can kneel after the Lamb of God (yes, that's a permission - they don't do that many other places of the world!). If that one were to drift past its expiration date, I can imagine a lot of bishops moving swiftly to implement standing, citing the "lapse" of the indult as their go-ahead light! (Out of curiousity, does anyone know whether that one ever has lapsed?)
Note bene, I'm not saying the bishops shouldn't move to do that if such a lapse were to happen, I'm just observing that there seems to be a bit of selective action going on in our American episcopate. Now, if they all move to tell their priests about this new word from Rome about the purification of vessels, they just might prove me wrong.
But I betcha if you ask your parish priest 6 months from now if the bishop has told them to stop allowing laity to purify the vessels, the majority will look at you blankly.
I'm just saying...
As a side note, it will be interesting to see if there's any change now in the hordes of EMHC and the regular distribution of both species - Body & Blood - at so many of our parishes. As the CNS article notes:
Although receiving Communion under both kinds is a "more complete" sign of the sacrament's meaning, Cardinal Arinze said, "Christ is fully present under each of the species."
"Communion under the species of the bread alone, as a consequence, makes it possible to receive all the fruit of eucharistic grace," he added.
Another "legitimate option" when "the high number of communicants may render it inadvisable for everyone to drink from the chalice" is intinction -- the practice of dipping the consecrated host into the consecrated wine -- "with reception on the tongue always and everywhere," the cardinal's letter said.
After hearing people wonder why they are not offered the cup, thinking that by only receiving the Host they not receiving "all" of Jesus, I have often reflected that it would be better for catechetical reasons to return to primarily distributing only the Body to the congregation, except under special circumstances (which is, by the way, precisely how the norms of Communion under both Species were supposed to be implemented anyway). So if this document also "helps" parishes to do that, then I say AMEN to that too!
Read the CNS story here.