So I’m sure you can imagine what I have been up to for the past week. How could anyone in their right mind imagine a single 20kg case would be sufficient for any self-respecting intercontinental traveller? Not to worry. It’ll hearten many to know that this is not the final design for the blog. I have been working on a new header image to replace the current one which does not exist. This has been assisted by the gift of a Wacom Bamboo Fun by my friends here in Sydney.

This was given to me at a barbecue I hosted at the weekend in order to farewell my friends. At the barbecue I was able to speak to my friend Miki, who was born and raised in Sydney but still maintains strong ongoing connections with her Japanese Catholic heritage. Miki had just come back from the motherland actually, and her first words about Mass were “ooh you won’t like it, you’d get angry”.

Apparently self-intinction is universally practiced in Japan. Self-intinction is where the communicant receives the Blessed Sacrament in the hand, but before consuming It dips the consecrated host into the chalice of the Precious Blood, absorbing the second species into the first, and then consuming both. The practice of self-intinction was declared reprobate by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the 2004 instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum, and therefore is universally illicit. This in plain language means that no matter where you are in the world, or what any priest, bishop, cardinal says or does, unless the CDW or the Pope say otherwise no lay person may intinct the Blessed Sacrament in the Precious Blood.

When I heard about the practice from Miki, I was saddened but not surprised. I already knew that the practice was widespread in Asia from Singaporean, Malaysian and Indonesian friends. What it did drive me to consider however is why the Japanese in particular would adopt it, since in all other things the Japanese seem to have an utmost respect for traditions. Surely Japanese Catholics would have the greatest affinity for the traditional treatment of the Sacred Species?

I think I’ll have to look at this again in a few months, after attending masses around Japan. At the moment my thoughts are on the appeal to “hygiene” (as a defence of self-intinction), the possible comparison with the Shinto ceremony for marriage (where the groom and bride drink sak√© from the same cup) and perhaps even a parallel of this “marriage ceremony” with the “Marriage of the Lamb”, whereby in drinking of the Lord’s most precious body and blood we truly enter the eternal marriage with him foretold by John in the book of Revelation.