I was reminded recently of the prevailing ignorance of liturgical symbolism, and the relation of the liturgical rubrics to this symbolism, by an argument I had recently with a priest, who was defending the practice of those who receive communion coming up and taking the chalice from the altar, after having received the Sacred Body from the priest, as well as the practice of handing the chalice from one person to another.
Both of these practices are explicitly forbidden by the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, as well as by the document on practices and abuses in the Liturgy, Redemptionis Sacramentum.
“The faithful are not permitted to take the consecrated bread or the sacred chalice by themselves, and, still less, to hand them from one to another” (General Instruction of the Roman Missal, n. 160; Cf. Redemptionis Sacramentum, n. 94).
The reason for the practice is a simple one. The priest represents Christ giving his Body and Blood to his Mystical Body, the Church, to the faithful who receive it. The faithful are in the position of recipients: they receive Christ’s Body and Blood from Christ, and this should be represented also in the form by which they receive.