Germs on the Communion Cup Revisited

by Sue Widemark

The Controversy rages on as we go to church every Sunday. Should we take the Communion Cup or do we endanger ourselves of disease and death?

It isn't that there are not answers to be found. There are answers everywhere - it comes down to what we believe and what we _want_ to believe.

The media will be glad to provide us with a quick answer. Yes, they tell us, you can get horrible germs from the cup (although they admitted some study - they were not real clear which one - only showed three types of germs on tested Communion cups, all of which are routinely found in everyone's mouth anyway.).

Interestingly enough, the CDC considered the situation in the early part of 1998 and decided that it was a rather safe proposition to take the Communion Cup. They wrote:

"In summary, CDC concludes that the risk of infectious disease transmission by the common communion cup is very low and that current safeguards such as wiping the rim between communicants apparently is adequate to keep risk at the undetectable level."
That's a rather impressive admission considering that the Catholic Church and church in general is not one of the CDC's favorite entities.

Any alcoholic beverage seems to be a disinfectant - have you ever seen the way they wash glasses in bars? They dip them in lukewarm soapy water for a second or two and then, rinse them in cool -not so clear- water in another sink and put them to dry. Yuck. And with the clientele in a bar not always being the top echelon of society, I would imagine the hepatitis and other goodies runs rampant among those partaking of the drinks however, bars are not known for being places where disease is freely transmitted and this is probably due to the alcoholic content of most of the drinks served.

By the way, many folks who refuse the Cup of Life at Communion, don't hesitate to have a drink in a bar or restaurant!

Wine contains an additional substance besides the alcohol which has been found to be an excellent disinfectant. Emanuel Kolyvas, M.D. of Canada writes:

"During fermentation these antiseptic substances are split off from the sugars and in this way become active. These molecules are polyphenols, a class of substances used in hospitals to disinfect surfaces and instruments. The polyphenol of wine has been shown to be some thirty-three times more powerful than the phenol used by Lister when he pioneered antiseptic surgery. "
Actually, we are bombarded with some pretty nasty germs on a daily basis. For example, everytime we flush the toilet with the lid up, millions of strep, staph, typhoid and other bacteria and viruses are catapolted into the air, to be inhaled by humans breathing nearby or settle on clothing, skin or things in the bathroom (a good reason to keep toothbrushes in the medicine chest). Closing the lid only helps if you keep it closed for 10 or 15 minutes after the flush (time for the tiny water droplets to settle). And of course in public bathrooms, used by individuals suffering from many and sundry diseases, there IS NO LID to close!

There are germs on doorknobs and other people (shaking hands is supposed to be a good way to gather germs - especially since most people do not wash their hands after toileting). And even if you are a hermit, the minute you go out of your house (assuming you have taken great strides to keep your home disinfected!), you will breathe airborn viruses and bacteria.

The bottom line is that we live in a biological jungle which includes trillions of viruses and bacteria in addition to the flora and fauna we can see.

The Communion Cup is probably one of the cleanest things we can indulge in.

One source of germs which many people don't realize, are these water filters they install in homes. This sounds so attractive - filtered 'clean' water for a fraction of the cost of bottled water.

Well there's a catch, folks - the filters must be changed every two weeks or so to be totally effective - they are osmosis filters using charcoal and charcoal gets saturated within two weeks and totally ineffective within a month (remember what happened to our fish tank if we didn't change the charcoal every two weeks or so?).

Additionally, the most dangerous thing in tap water are GERMS. Besides the usual staph, strep and other bacteria, they have found bacteria for diarreih and some other serious illnesses in most city water supplies. The filters do not remove the germs... hello?

And by the way, all of you who are refusing the Cup of Life because of 'germs' do you refuse to drink tap water? Do you not drink anything in a restaurant? Your dangers are much higher of becoming ill there than from taking the Communion Cup!

Yes, even if you don't believe, it appears that the Communion Cup is one of the most germfree things available to us today!


What if you DO believe? This is Jesus - His own Precious Blood! His Ultimate Gift to us, given through His Sacrifice of Love on the Cross. Do you REALLY think that He would make us sick with His Ultimate Gift? Would YOU give a friend a 'gift' of an HIV virus? That would be a pretty sick gift, don't you think? So why would you think that Jesus would give a sick gift that even a normal human being wouldn't give? Wouldn't Jesus, being God, give the ULTIMATE gift? A gift of healing not sickness?

People have said to me "Oh, it's not Jesus - it's the intermediaries - those who give Communion, those who have taken the Cup before". This is a foolish excuse - are you saying Jesus does not have ABSOLUTE control on WHO receives Communion and HOW that Communion is given? Remember this is ALMIGHTY GOD we are talking about. The Big Kahuna. The One and Only. He who fills the Heavens and the Earth. And we are thinking He doesn't have control over some tiny specs on an infinitessimally small part of His Creation? Hello?

Additionally how much do YOU love Jesus? Do you love Him enough to take a chance (albeit not a very big one) on the Cup?

I would like to share with you a case of human love. My husband had the flu, got extremely sick with it and then, as a complication, got strep throat and pneumonia. Most of the time, I did not kiss him for fear of catching it - this was mostly a warm fuzzie because flu viruses are airborn anyway. A couple of weeks later, I came down with the flu. And like my husband had been, I was very sick. So when he came to kiss me goodnight, I suggested that I was a biohazard and since he wasn't over the pneumonia yet, he might not want to kiss me.

He tenderly leaned down (I was sitting at the computer - where else?) and saying, "Oh I don't care!", gave me a kiss. He explained, "It's been too long since we've kissed!"

It struck me. He loves me enough to NOT CARE even though he KNEW that it was quite a danger, kissing me.

And here are so many Catholics who don't take the Cup even though they have been assured by many medical professionals that it is quite safe!

Do YOU love Jesus enough to NOT CARE whether the Cup is safe or not? (A small act of Love, with the knowledge that the Cup is likely one of the safest bets 'out there'!).