Why the variety?

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Question: Why do some parishes use red wine for the precious blood and others use white?

Much like how the hosts used for holy communion will vary slightly in size or thickness depending on which distributor a particular parish orders from, so too it is very common to see different parishes using different kinds of wine for the precious blood.

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal gives us the only requirement for wine that is to be used for celebrating the Eucharist, namely that it is to be from the fruit of the vine, natural, and unadulterated (without other substances added). This requirement echoes canon 924 in the Code of Canon Law. Beyond this, no other specification is given as to which wine a parish is to use.

For some parishes, red wine is used so that the appearance of wine that remains after the consecration helps our understanding of the true change of substance that has occurred. Red wine simply has a closer resemblance to blood. However, some have shared with me in the past that the use of white wine is preferred as it demands an even greater act of faith to believe that what was once simple wine is now the body, blood, soul, and divinity of our blessed Lord.

Another major consideration for the choice of wine is of a more practical nature. Some parishes opt for white wine because they do not stain the linens used at Mass in the same way that red wine does. It may seem like an inconsequential thing, but those parishioners that spend countless hours of their time going through the proper steps to purify the linens will tell you that it can be a huge help.

The most important thing is to try not to dwell on the slight variations that one might find from parish to parish. Instead, it is best to reflect on the true change that occurs at the hand of the priest, and just how great a gift the Eucharist is which we are so thankful to have the opportunity to receive!

“Ask the Newly Ordained” features Fathers Brian Morris, Joseph Brice and Stephen Battey — who respond to questions about the faith from Rhode Island Catholic readers.

Have a question? Ask the Newly Ordained! Readers may submit questions by sending them to Editor@thericatholic.com.