Let me first describe a familiar situation. You are seated in a lovely parish church, worshipping according to the Prayer Book, in any of its forms. You come to the moment of the administration of the Lord's Supper. You leave your pew and approach the table. You kneel, in good fashion, at the Communion rail, waiting for the minister to deliver unto you the elements of bread and wine. The priest comes by with a host or piece of bread and you receive the bread into your hands and consume it (ignoring "intinction" for now). Then the chalice bearer or deacon comes by with the wine and "guides" the chalice to your lips and you take a sip of it but you're not "supposed" to take the chalice into your hands, only "guide" the bottom.
This practice of not letting go of the chalice is really irritating to me, for several reasons. I'm not sure if it's done for practical purposes but if it is, there has to be a better way of doing it.
The practice raises superstitious thoughts about the nature of the sacrament. First, it implies that something has happened to the wine, which is not true according to the Articles of Religion and Prayer Book. There is no substantial change in the elements of bread and wine. This is not to mean that they shouldn't be treated with respect as the holy signs that they are but they should not be given superstitious reverence which is denounced in the Black Rubric.
Secondly, handing the cup to the laity is a right of a Christian man and one that the Reformers died for. One of the main points of the Reformation universal was the restoration of the cup to the laity. Even though technically the Reformation principle is being lived out by offering the wine to the laity in our Episcopal parishes, the spirit is not there. In essence, we are implying that regular lay people are not "special" enough to actually hold the chalice.
Thirdly, this practice is in direct opposition to the rubrics of all classical prayer books, including the beloved 1928 BCP. What follows is the rubric before delivering Communion:
Then shall the Minister first receive the Communion in both kinds himself, and then proceed to deliver the same to the Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, in like manner, (if any be present,) and after that to the people also in order, into their hands, all meekly kneeling... (1662)
Then shall the Priest first receive the Holy Communion in both kinds himself, and proceed to deliver the same to the Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, in iike manner, (if any be present,) and, after that, to the People also in order, into their hands, all devoutly kneeling... (1928)My point with this "woe" is that it subverts the true identity of Anglicanism by a simple action, one that most parishioners probably don't even think about on a regular basis but when the laity are "denied" the cup, in this sense meaning to hold it, this action promotes an unscriptural understanding of the real presence and also spits in the face of our Reformers and their martyr deaths.