The Sacred That Surrounds Us: The Absolutions Bowl/Cup
September 26, 2021, 12:00 PM

This sacred vessel usually stands near the tabernacle. It is also used by the priest and deacon to purify their hands after Holy Communion or for the Extraordinary Ministers of Communion to purify their hands after distributing Holy Communion. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal states in paragraph 278, “Whenever a fragment of the host adheres to his fingers, especially after the fraction or the Communion of the faithful, the priest is to wipe his fingers over the paten or, if necessary, wash them.” Since the water in the lavabo bowl is used for a different purpose and not treated in the same reverential way, there is a need for a separate vessel for the washing of fingers when needed. The custom of washing fingers after Holy Communion in the past is mentioned in AD 709 as well as in the first Roman Ordo. Today, the ablutions bowl or cup can be used.

Any minute fragments of the consecrated Host inside the ablutions bowl or cup will dissolve over a period of time and then be disposed of in a respectful manner (in the Sacrarium). We must always remember to treat Jesus, fully present in each consecrated Host, in a reverent and holy way. The purpose of purifying the hands in water is to clean the fingers of any holy particles that remain to be disposed of respectfully.

“Have the utmost care that no part of the Eucharistic species be lost. For, tell me, if anyone gave you grains of gold, would you not guard them with the greatest circumspection and be most solicitous that none of them be lost and that you thereby suffered no loss?” – St. Cyril of Jerusalem