Martin Luther on the Careful and Reverent
Administration of the Blood of Christ

Someone from Freiburg told Luther and Philip [Melanchthon] about an accident that had happened in distributing the Sacrament. Luther answered: “The distribution [of the sacrament] should be done very cautiously. If anything happens, the matter should be commended to God. The substance of the ordinance is more to be considered than [any] accident, otherwise Christ also would have thought of that.” (Table Talk #221, quoted in Edward Frederick Peters, The Origin and Meaning of the Axiom: “Nothing Has the Character of a Sacrament Outside of the Use” [Fort Wayne, Indiana: Concordia Theological Seminary Press, 1993], p. 195)

When the Blood was spilled from the chalice on someone’s clothing in a church, the priest immediately wiped off the spots with a small linen cloth [purificator]. Then the Doctor [Luther] said: “One must handle [the chalice] prudently, on account of the laity and common people...” (Table Talk #5984, quoted in Peters, p. 195)

[In 1542, in Wittenberg] a woman wanted to go to the Lord’s Supper, and then as she was about to kneel on the bench before the altar and drink, she made a misstep and jostled the chalice of the Lord violently with her mouth, so that some of the Blood of Christ was spilled from it onto her lined jacket and coat and onto the rail of the bench on which she was kneeling. So then when the reverend Doctor Luther, who was standing at a bench opposite, saw this, he quickly ran to the altar (as did also the reverend Doctor Bugenhagen), and together with the curate, with all reverence licked up [the Blood of Christ from the rail] and helped wipe off this spilled Blood of Christ from the woman’s coat, and so on, as well as they could. And Doctor Luther took this catastrophe so seriously that he groaned over it and said, “O, God, help!” and his eyes were full of water. (Johann Hachenburg, quoted in Peters, p. 191)

The Doctor [Luther] said: “Why is that [taking hold of the chalice] so terrible? I also grasp the chalice myself when I receive, and I do it so that the priest does not miss my mouth, for I am always afraid that he is going to miss it.” (Table Talk #5390, quoted in Peters, p. 195)

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