Offertory Rite: Mixing Water and Wine

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Rubric: "The Deacon, or the Priest, pours wine and a little water into the chalice, saying quietly: 'By the mystery of this water and wine, may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, Who humbled Himself to share in our humanity.'

Origin and Symbolism

Father Edward McNamara, "Why Water with Wine," 29 June 2004
The brief rite of pouring water into the wine used for consecration is very ancient. Indeed, it is believed that Our Lord himself used wine tempered with water at the Last Supper as this was the common practice among the Jews and in Mediterranean culture in general.
Some form of this is found in practically every rite of the Church both Western and Eastern, except for a group of Armenian Monophysites.
Although the water is not essential for the validity of the sacrament, the Church holds it in great importance and it must never be omitted. The Council of Trent even went so far as to excommunicate whoever denied the need for this mixture (see Canon 9, Session XXII).
The norms are not very precise on [the question of whether water should be placed in all of the chalices when more than one is used for Eucharist celebration]. It appears that this is the preferred option and the one that best corresponds to the tradition that water be added to the wine used for consecration. Yet, this is not specifically mandated.
Several liturgists suggest that adding water to the principal chalice alone sufficiently fulfills the symbolic meaning of the rite and the liturgical norms. They argue that the several chalices are in an analogous situation to that of the small hosts present in additional ciboria and adding water to one is symbolically adding it to all.
Both options are probably legitimate unless the Holy See states otherwise.

Eastern tradition

"In the Byzantine [tradition] it is common to add more water to the Blood of Christ right before Communion. Its called "Zeon", and the hot (or boiling) water represents the fervor of faith full of the Holy Spirit. The intention is to warm the chalice, because Christ is alive therefore his body and blood should be warm like that of the body of one who is alive. In Slavic traditions, a lot more water is added compared to Greek traditions."[1]

Legitimate variety in the liturgy

Another example of licit variety: "Penitential Act."

"The Priest, or a Deacon or another minister, then says the following or other invocations[2] with Kyrie, eleison (Lord, have mercy)."


  1. Constantine, a poster on Forum.
  2. "Sample invocations are found in Appendix VI, pp. 1316-1322."