Ablutions

These are of two types: first and most common, the washing of the fingers and chalice by the celebrant after the Communion in the Mass. The custom became part of the Eucharist by the eleventh century, but was regulated by the Missal of Pius V, which prescribed a double ablution: the chalice with wine, then the chalice and fingers with wine and water. Most Eastern rites have a similar procedure, but in the Greek rite ablutions are made privately by the celebrating priest after the Mass. The need for such ablutions is necessarily connected with the belief that the bread and wine are truly the body and blood of Christ. The second type of ablution is the rinsing of the mouth with wine after the reception of the sacrament by newly ordained priests and the rinsing of the mouth with water after the communion of the sick. Both these customs probably originated in the medieval custom of giving communicants unconsecrated wine after the actual Communion; but they may go back to the time when the Lord's Supper was part of a larger Christian meal (1 Cor. 11).