Sacramental wine

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Sacramental wine, Communion wine or altar wine is wine obtained from grapes and intended for use in celebration of the Eucharist (referred to also as the Lord's Supper or Holy Communion, among other names). The same wine, if intended for use in ceremonies of non-Christian religions or for ordinary use, would not normally be described by these terms.

Wine was used in the earliest celebrations of the Lord's Supper. Paul the Apostle writes in 1 Corinthians 10:16:

"The chalice of benediction, which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? And the bread, which we break, is it not the partaking of the body of the Lord? For we, being many, are one bread, one body, all that partake of one bread."

In the Early Church both clergy and laity received the consecrated wine by drinking from the chalice, after receiving a portion of the consecrated bread. Due to many factors, including the difficulty of obtaining wine in Northern European countries (where the climate was unsuitable for viniculture), drinking from the chalice became largely restricted in the West to the celebrating priest, while others received communion only in the form of bread. This also reduced the symbolic importance of choosing wine of red colour.

Groups which arose from the Protestant Reformation, such as the Lutheran Church, insisted on use of wine in celebrating the Lord's Supper. As a reaction to this, even in Western European countries that, while remaining Roman Catholic, had continued to give the chalice to the laity, this practice disappeared in order to emphasise the Catholic belief that Christ is wholly present under either form.

Eastern Churches in full communion with the Holy See continued to give the Eucharist to the faithful under both forms. The twentieth century, especially after the Second Vatican Council, saw a return to more widespread sharing in the Eucharist under the forms of both bread and wine. In the Anglican Communion (of which the Church of England and the Episcopal Church of the United States of America are members), the use of wine is obligatory in the celebration of Holy Communion; however, a person receiving communion makes a valid communion even if they receive only in one kind i.e. either just the bread or just the wine. For example, a sick person who can only take liquids makes a valid communion by receiving the wine.

This page was last edited on 1 May 2018, at 04:56.
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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