American Catholics may officially receive the wine as well as the bread of holy communion at Sunday masses as the result of a mail ballot of all American bishops.

Proposed authorization of communion with both elements came before the semiannual meeting of the bishops last month, but failed to gain support from two-thirds of the prelates present.

It was the Second Vatican Council that restored the practice of administering the chalice to worshippers as well as the communion wafer on certain specified occasions, such as weddings or weekday parish rites.

In recent years, however, countless numbers of priests have ignored the church regulation barring communion in both species at Sunday masses. One of the arguments put forward last month by bishops favoring the change in regulations was that the practice was already so widespread that the bishops should legitimize it.

Virtually all other Christian bodies use both the bread and the wine in holy communion celebrations. Catholics believe that through the act of consecration by the priest, the bread and wine are changed into the body and blood of Christ.

In another mail vote, the bishops authorized taking an annaul national collection in every Catholic church throughout the nation to underwrite both local and national use of the media in behalf of evangelization.

The first collection is to be taken next spring. Church leaders hope to raise $7 million from the collection, half of which will remain in the local diocese and half will go into a national fund.

In a recent address to a national gathering of Catholic communications experts, Msgr. Alvin Illig, the bishops' evangelism director, took his church to task for its current failure to use the electronic media.

He cited figures from a recent Gallup study of unchurched Americans, which indicated that while persons who do not attend church regularly form a substantial part of the audience of some Protestant TV offerings, not a single Catholic-sponsored program engages their interest.

In another development, Bishop John L. May of Mobile has been named chairman of a new committee of the U.S. Catholic bishops' conference to monitor problems of church-state relations, particularly what the bishops view as "government incursions" into religious affairs.

The committee grew out of discussions in the November bishops' meeting, which culminated in a visit of top church leaders to the White House to discuss this and other problems.

After that meeting, and at President Carter's request, Archbishop John R. Quinn of San Francisco, president of the hierarchy, submitted a memo to the White House detailing the "incursions" church leaders complained about. They included:

A Department of Labor ruling that church-related schools must pay federal unemployment insurance tax for lay employes.

A 1977 Treasury Department ruling sharply limiting tax exemption to "integrated auxiliaries of a church," which are defined as those organizations that are "exclusively religious."

An Internal Revenue Service ruling earlier this year that would lift tax-exempt status from an organization publishing political candidates' answers to a questionnaire "where some of the questions evidenced bias on certain issues or where a single-issue group publishes responses even if there is no disclosed bias."

A proposed IRS procedure that would require nonpublic schools,, under some circumstances, to prove they are not practicing racial discrimination.

In another follow-up to issues raised at the bishops' November meeting, Quinn designated a committee "to assume responsibility for dialogue with the advocates of ordination for women."

Quinn assigned the task to the already existing Ad Hoc Committee on Women in Society and the Church. He reminded the committee that "the purpose of this dialogue will not be to call into question the teaching of the church but to examine the broader question of women in ministry."

Quinn has also named Archbishop William D. Borders of Baltimore as chairman of a newly created watchdog committee to oversee budget and program plans relating to the bishops' conference. The watchdog group was ordered by the bishops at their November meeting. It grew out of sharp dissatisfaction with personnel cu It grew out of sharp dissatisfaction with personnel cuts ordered by conference officers. CAPTION: Picture 1, ARCHBISHOP WILLIAM D. BORDERS. . . heads watchdog committee; Picture 2, BISHOP JOHN R. QUINN. . . cities "government incursions"