Thursday, March 12, 2015
What wine is valid for use at Holy Mass?
I was reading something online today where the question came up regarding whether something called "sulfites" in wine render that wine improper for use at Holy Mass, or, worse, mean that the wine is "invalid" for the sacrament--which means it doesn't become the Body and Blood of the Lord.
It's a relatively obscure question, but one that has some importance to me. As a priest, occasionally you'll find yourself without wine and need to get hold of something in a hurry. It's good to know what will suffice.
Someone made a comment on a story I was reading asserting that sulfites render an otherwise valid wine invalid for Mass. I didn't believe this, so I went looking myself.
Since I thought someone else might find this interesting -- and so that I could keep track of this information in case it came up again -- here's what I found. You can follow the links and read the rest at your leisure.
Oh, what's that you ask? What are sulfites? Here's what Wikipedia says.
According to the Archdiocese of Baltimore, sulfites don't render wine invalid or illicit. The Diocese of Davenport says the same, but with more explanation. And this thread at Catholic Answers is interesting, both because of what someone reported a sacramental wine purveyor said (i.e., that sulfites are in pretty much all wine, including sacramental wine), as well as the citation of a 1922 ruling by no less than the Holy Office -- now called the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith -- in Rome.
So the ruling seems to be, any true grape wine, without any other ingredients of note, miniscule amounts of sulfites excepted, is valid for Holy Mass. Not cherry, not elderberry, but grape. Red or white, sweet or dry.
Update (3/13): I found this today from Father McNamara, of Zenit, who is usually careful about these things. Just to add to the file. And if you're wondering why I'm giving so much attention to an obscure subject, two reasons. First, because I know what happens when I run into someone who is on a tear about things like this: you can't back them down unless you really have your facts nailed down. And, second, I'm trying to come up with a homily, but my muse is AWOL. When that happens, I fiddle around with other stuff while I wait. It does seem to work.