A reflection on communion cups. . .
Being from the Methodist tradition, with relatives in the Lutheran tradition, I'm very familiar with the practice of using the small individual cups in the serving of the Communion elements. Also, when celebrating a Sunday Eucharist at a nursing home I was requested to use individual cups in delivering the elements; I complied (using my chalice and paten for the consecration and laying my hand on the tray with the individual cups per the rubrics where it states the the priest is to lay his hand on every vessel to be consecrated), while I know this is not the preferred method for most in the Anglican tradition. Indeed, one priest just out of seminary informed me that anyone who would allow this practice, the use of the small individual cups, is obviously un-Christian--his exact words were "anti-Christ."
I inquired as to why he thought this was so. His response was clear: such a practice destroys the symbolism of sharing the one Cup of the Blood of Christ, per the First Epistle of Saint Paul to the Church at Corinth. Where is the unity in Christ symbolized if each person has their own tiny cup? Also, the rubrics mention that the priest is to take the cup (not cups) into his hands during the consecration. I agreed with him, this is true. But I also asked if he had seen celebrations of the Eucharist where more than one chalice was used. He said yes, he had. I asked what the essential difference was between using one chalice, two chalices, or let's say one small chalice for each person. All destroy the symbolism he seeks. He didn't have an answer. I agreed that the use of the small cups is not ideal, but in some circumstances where it is employed (such as where it is requested in a nursing home) it does not render the sacrament in any way invalid.
Also, it must be noted that the same manner of argument used for the individual cups is used by most who desire to use wafers as the bread in the Eucharist. While the priest mentioned above had an obvious dislike of the small cups for destroying the symbolism of the one Cup, he was blind to the fact that the use of individual pieces of bread destroys the symbolism of the one Bread in the exact same manner. The loaf is not broken with each person receiving a piece; each is separate, just as the small glasses of wine are separate. The logic of protesting against one can be employed just as quickly and validly against the other. Ideally, for each celebration of the Holy Eucharist there should be one Bread and one Cup: the great Anglo-Catholic theologian Bishop Gore argued similarly. Of course, convenience has long been an argument for the use of wafer bread; it is easy to distribute and store as the reserved sacrament. If convenience is the most pressing argument for wafer bread, I can't see how this argument cannot also be used in favor of individual cups. Some things are far from the ideal, such as the use of the little cups and the tiny pieces of bread (also, there is nothing more "Catholic" in using a round wafer and somehow more "Protestant" in using square pieces of bread), but neither invalidates the sacrament. They just take away from the outward symbolism. . .