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Taking Communion as a Recovering Alcoholic

Taking Communion as a Recovering AlcoholicThe Christian rite of communion can present a problem for recovering alcoholics. Many churches use grape juice in their services, but other churches exclusively use wine, which may trouble some Des Moines residents. Believers are left with the difficult choice of abstaining from communion or facing the potential for relapse.

Religion and Alcohol Recovery

There is no clear consensus on how to solve this dilemma. Some Christians argue that the small amount of alcohol in communion wine is not enough to trigger relapse, and that the blood of Christ can do no harm. However, these responses typically come from people who have not struggled with alcoholism. Recovering alcoholics understandably have concerns about using any amount of alcohol due to their fear for relapse.

To reconcile these views, Des Moines alcoholics can eat the Eucharist but not the wine. This is possible in the Roman Rite of Catholicism wherein the body and the blood of Christ are consumed separately, but in the Eastern Rite the Eucharist and the blood are combined. However, even when it is possible to take only the Eucharist many believers feel that they are not participating in the entire service, therefore they do not receive its full blessings.

Some advocate substituting grape juice for wine, but liturgical purists maintain that the wine must be taken as Jesus did. However, the Vatican weighed in recently by declaring that priests who are recovering alcoholics may receive special dispensation to take only the bread and not the wine, or to substitute grape juice. In this way, Des Moines residents could take their own, unfermented liquid, or they could even kiss the cup to show their devotion to the religious service.

How Recovering Alcoholics Can Take Communion

An interesting point with this topic recalls the popular slogan, “what would Jesus do?” Many believers contend that Jesus would understand the needs of alcoholics and would not deny them communion or force them to tempt relapse with alcohol. Some also question the liturgical inconsistency of insisting on wine but not on unleavened bread. In other words, if leavened bread is alright, then why not grape juice? After all, communion is symbolic and meant to remind believers of Jesus’ sacrifice. However, once again this response does not satisfy liturgical purists.

Help for Des Moines Alcoholics

Ultimately the question of whether or not to drink wine in communion is a personal decision you must make for yourself. Do a fair amount of soul searching to decide if your recovery is secure enough to have wine, or if this is an unacceptable risk to your recovery. Pray for divine guidance. You may also wish to consult your priest. However, remember that the cornerstone of Christianity is the concept of forgiveness: if you cannot drink communion wine without undoing all your hard work from recovery, your savior will understand and forgive you.

If you live in Des Moines and have any other questions, or if you would like to discuss the subject with a counselor, please call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline today.