Communion question

Communion question

A reader writes about the following situation:

An acquaintance of mine is an EM at our parish.  We just got a new pastor.  She mentioned that the new pastor requires EM’s to consume all the leftover, consecrated HOSTS after each Mass.

Now, I fully understand the need to consume the remaining Precious Blood, but I will admit I have never heard of consuming the remaining Hosts.  I thought they were to be reserved in the Tabernacle for, whatever, taking to the homebound, etc.  My acquaintance stated that at the last Mass she served at, the EMs had to consume 75 Hosts!  And the pastor wants the choir to continue with music until they are finished!

I’m not exactly an expert on liturgical law, but if any of my readers, especially the priests, have anything to say please jump in. To me this sounds bizarre and outside the bounds of the rubrics.

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
72 comments
  • Well, I don’t know about the EM’s specifically doing it. However, liturgically only a few hosts are to be reserved in the tabernacle. Generally, like the Blood of Christ (we do not serve wine at a Catholic Mass) the hosts should also be consumed leaving just a few hosts for emergencies. This means that all those who receive communion receive that which was consecrated at that mass.

    It is a rubric that is generally only followed in religious communities. However, it is a rubric that is supposed to apply to the whole church.

    So the priest is not out of line.

  • I must respectfully disagree with Fr. Carr.

    He is correct that generally only the requisite amount of hosts necessary for communion to the sick should be reserved in the tabernacle and that it is “most desirable that the faithful, just as the priest himself is bound to do, receive the Lord’s Body from hosts consecrated at the same Mass” (GIRM, 85). However, the appropriate way to facilitate this to consecrating less hosts and not forcing the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion to engage in an extra para-ritual of consuming 70 hosts.

    In fact, both the General Instruction and the USCCB Norms for Distributing Holy Communion Under Both Kinds indicate that ONLY the priest is to consume the hosts.

    GIRM 163:

    “When the distribution of Communion is finished, the priest himself immediately and completely consumes at the altar any consecrated wine that happens to remain; as for the consecrated hosts that are left, he either consumes them at the altar or carries them to the place designated for the reservation of the Eucharist.”

    This has to be read in light of the particular norms established by the USCCB and which have received recognition from the Congregation for Divine Worship. The USCCB received an indult in 2002 that would allow Extraordinary Ministers to assist the priest in the purification of the sacred vessels. The indult was originally granted for a period of 3 years. However, when that period expired last year, the Congregation did not notify the USCCB that it would rescind the indult and a basic principle of canonical interpretation is to continue a legitimatley approved practice until the particular Congregation definitively establishes otherwise.

    This indult is reflected in the USCCB Norms for the Distribution of Holy Communion Under Both Kinds.

    The governing paragraphs are as follows:

    51. After Communion the consecrated bread that remains is to be reserved in the tabernacle. Care should be taken with any fragments remaining on the corporal or in the sacred vessels. The deacon returns to the altar with the priest and collects and consumes any remaining fragments.

    52. When more of the Precious Blood remains than was necessary for Communion, and if not consumed by the bishop or priest celebrant, “the deacon immediately and reverently consumes at the altar all of the Blood of Christ which remains; he may be assisted, if needs dictate, by other deacons and priests” (GIRM, 287). When there are extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, they may consume what remains of the Precious Blood from their chalice of distribution with permission of the diocesan bishop.

    You will notice then that Paragraph 51 specifically mentions the deacon or priest consumes the remaining hosts while, in Par. 52, an Extraordinary Minister can consume the remains of the Precious Blood in their own chalices. There is no allowance whatsoever for Extraordinary Ministers consuming the remains of the hosts.

  • Well Dominican Friar, you are actually not disagreeing with me at all. Remember I began with this: “Well, I don’t know about the EM’s specifically doing it.” So you answered that part. I really did not think it was the role of the EM’s, but I did not have that info in front of me. Also being diocesan, we actually keep plenty of the hosts in the tabernacle. We also do not have a lot of EM’s in my parish

  • I’m not gonna dispute Fr. Carr’s facts.

    But lets face it: rubric or not in the new missal, the priest should have a sense of how many are communicating and should not “over-consecrate”. (Which is also mentioned at least in Redemptionis Sacramentum) Consuming “left-overs” takes a back seat to reserving the sacrament I think. I understand in the convent setting a few extra hosts. But consuming 75! That’s like eating a bag of chips.

    So I wonder if there’s not another motive here. Because as a Latin Catholic I’m always automatically suspicious of any practice I see in the Mass that I’ve never seen before. And boo hiss to the over-used-not-so-extraordinary ministers.

    Here’s a new one: putting half a large host in the monstrance. (Because the other half is consumed by the priest and we want to emphasize that adoration is connected to the Mass and we really didn’t understand this 300 years ago because I guess the laity are morons.)

    I’m really tired of priests tinkering w/ the Mass and the Blessed Sacrament. Enough already!

  • With all due respect to everyone who’s posted—the pastor in that EM’s parish is out of touch with reality.  I’ll bet that he was a liturgist in a prior life.

    Fact is, we Catholics have a long tradition of reservation of the consecrated Host in the tabernacle.  Modern liturgists, who have a problem with those of us who are devotional, have an issue with reverencing the reserved Eucharist.  In order to re-educate us, they’ve pedantically insisted on telling the good folk in the pew that only hosts consecrated at the Mass they’re attending are “good enough” for them at Communion.

    It’s an attempt at dislodging two millenia of Tradition, and I resent it.

    The pastor in your average parish can not know with any reasonable degree of certainty how many will attend any given Mass on Sunday.  Too many factors weigh into the decision of good folks as to which of the parish Masses they’ll attend:  weather, celebrant, the Flower Show, the Patriots’ game . . . the reasons are multiple.  No one could be expected to know—within 75 people—how many will be coming to the 9:00 this week.

    Why, then, this insistence on consuming left over Hosts?  It’s the intransigence of a liturgist.

    Liturgists adhere to the newest fad of fellow liturgists—until something new comes along.  Then they adhere to that with the same stubbornness, leaving the former behind like yesterday’s pot roast.

    What’s the difference between a liturgist and a terrorist?  You can negotiate with terrorists.

  • Fr. Carr:

    Good to know we are not in disagreement on this essential point.

    Fr. Clark:

    I think the question is a matter of extremes. I think multiple ciboria in a the tabernacle is not really the mind of the Church. On the other hand, a
    “few hosts” clearly means more than just 3.

    Similarly, there shouldn’t be a problem on the other side with a priest consuming a few remaining hosts in his paten.

  • Is it just me, or do there seem to be so many “exceptions” to every rule that it doesn’t make sense to call much a “rule” anymore?  Everything seems fair game for the “permission of the Bishop,” or to be granted an exception for “a period of XXX years.”  What’s wrong with there being one main way of doing something, especially something as sacred as Holy Communion, with true exceptions being just that—exceptions.

    I especially am frustrated with not having, or knowing I have, one place to go for answers.  I’m not saying the Church should be run like a machine…it’s a living Church…but God is the God of order, not chaos, KWIM?

  • If you don’t have anything constructive to add, then resist the temptation to post. Otherwise, it’s just rude.

    The discussion of how we should treat Our Lord in the Eucharist should be of more than passing interest to Catholics.

  • If the EM’s are consuming the consecrated hosts at the pastor’s directive, do they really have any other option but to follow his direction? Unless it is a serious violation of liturgical norms, I am not sure it would be wise to make it an issue.

    More so, we should trust the decision of the pastor since in this case, he really does know how many hosts should be left in the tabernacle. And Dom, unless you know how many hosts were in the tabernacle to begin with, and unless you know how many times they remove the consecrated hosts from the tabernacle during the week for the sick, etc., aren’t we pre-supposing decisions without having all of the facts?

    However, consuming 75 hosts does seem to be a bit much and if she had a new pastor, maybe he wasn’t clear on the number of communicants. If it happens regularly,then maybe something should be said.

    It sounds to me that the pastor just didn’t have a clue on how many people actually received communion.

  • Father Carr,

    I think the priest is way out of line. It’s bad enough that lay people are charged with self-communication of the Precious Blood of Christ.

    (And I’m not saying that the Precious Blood should be reserved…I’m saying that if it happens too often that lay people are self-communicating, than the pastor should get it through his skull that he’s consecrating an inordinate quantity. And I’ll spare you all from my constant objection to the apparent “need” to commune under both species in the first place.)

    What bugs the living hell out of me in this letter has little to do with the rubrics of reserving the Body of Christ but rather the “custom” of having lay people do the self-communication.

    Maybe we aren’t in disagreement Father Carr, but the priest, in my opinion, is out of line because HE should consume the remaining Hosts, if he feels this is necessary.

  • I suspect the extraordinary ministers feel awkward about it; that’s one reason I wouldn’t do it.

    I echo Fr Clark above pointing out all the practical, real-world difficulties in trying to gauge the number of hosts “just right”; running short on hosts at Mass is no fun, let me tell you.

    I agree with the goal, expressed by Church teaching, that people hosts consecrated at that Mass; it’s just hard to do in many circumstances.

    There can be circumstances when one needs to consume a lot of hosts; if one has a special Mass in a chapel, where normally only a small number come to Mass, and therefore it would take quite a while to “draw down” the reserve in the tabernacle. This would happen in the seminary periodically, when we’d have a big Mass. If other priests are present, then they can help consume the hosts; but if not?

    It might be a little awkward to do what was described, however.

  • Kelly, please see my note to Dominic Friar. I do not remember this ever being an issue at the Cathedral. I never asked you or anyone else to consume hosts.

    I also did not pick up in the example the EMs were self communicating, but as you point out logically that is what was happening.

    In any case, I was pointing out Liturgically that the rule is communion is to consist of what is consecrated at mass, but we diocesan priests rarely can follow that rule.

    I do know the trappists in Spencer follow it, but that is a closed community and easier to do.

  • Father Clark, I totally agree.  Great point.  Any thing to disrupt the faithful is fair game for modern litugists.  They have sent the faithful “into a corner” to escape.  That is why these litugists have come up with church in the round, so no one may hide.

    Dom,  great comment.  I guess when it comes to the Eucharistic Christ, some are just bored.  Maybe Our Lord will be a little bored with them on their day of Particular Judgement.

  • OK.  I was silently taking my chastisement. Much out of character for me, just to shut up and go away.  But the gentleman from the 10:32 PM post has just gone too far..

    Firstly, I guess I am a little bored with long, long discussions of whether to consume all but a small reserve of the Body of Our Lord, especially when we get overly academic.  My sincerest apologies Fathers Fox, Carr, Clark, and Faithful Friar of T.O.P… and of course, my sweet Irish lass, Kelly.

    It does bore me, especially when all the time I see most EM’s (which is where this discussion started) showing no reverence for Our Lord, whom they have the great honor of presenting to their fellow laity.  Boy, I remember our EM’s pouring the Precious Blood of Our Lord down a “special sink” which just went into the septic system.

    When I see the entire congregation go to Holy Communion, yet see 3 people go to Reconciliation during Choir practice (and I do live near a “Reconciliation Factory” run by a community where people can go “under cover”).  More people go to Holy Communion in one weekend at any given parish than go to reconciliation in a two year period.

    So, Dom, sorry for my rant, but since I received said Sacrement of Reconciliation today, I do take offense to said 10:32 PM POSTER’s comment:

    <u>Maybe Our Lord will be a little bored with them on their day of Particular Judgement.</u>

    Re.e.e.e.e.a.a.a.a.l.l.l.y.y.y.y.y.!

    P.S.  I think my comment was referred to as “Brilliant” on the planned parenthood post on this same page.

    P.P.S.  I hope I didn’t bore anyone else.

  • Wow — Fr Jim Clark sure has it in for liturgists today!

    Nothing about the original question suggests to me that it’s a devoted student of the liturgy who is asking his EMOE’s to consume as many as 75 hosts after Communion. 

    Fr Clark writes:  “Modern liturgists… (have) pedantically insisted on telling the good folk in the pew that only hosts consecrated at the Mass they’re attending are “good enough” for them at Communion.”

    If any priest is using the term “good enough” in this regard then he should be run out of town.  But perhaps the priest is simply referring to and working to implement the following from the GIRM:

    85. It is most desirable that the faithful, just as the priest himself is bound to do, receive the Lord’s Body from hosts consecrated at the same Mass and that, in the instances when it is permitted, they partake of the chalice, so that even by means of the signs Communion will stand out more clearly as a participation in the sacrifice actually being celebrated.

    May I trust that none of us objects to this paragraph or the regular implementation of what it describes as most desirable?

  • One thing that has always bothered me about the emphasis on the requirement to consecrate all the hosts that will be distributed at a given Mass, is that the argument implies that there are two gods, the god in the tabernacle and the god being consecrated at Mass, when we know that all hosts that have been consecrated are one and the same God, Jesus Christ, no matter where they may be residing.

  • Carrie,  I think it depends on whether you are thinking of Eucharist as a verb or as a noun.  As a noun, and always, the Eucharist in the tabernacle is the same as the Eucharist consecrated at Mass being celebrated just a few yards away.  However, to celebrate the Eucharist (verb) is to do that ritual action enjoined on us by Christ at the Last Supper.  Though the consecrated element in the tabernacle is the exact equivalent of what we receive from altar, receiving from those gifts we have offered “stands out more clearly as a participation in the sacrifice actually being celebrated.”  Here are the bread and wine we have presented, offered, prayed over, invited the Holy Spirit to come upon…  Here are the gifts with which we have given thanks and praise,the gifts with which we have remembered and carried out the Lord’s command to bless, break, share, eat and drink in his memory…  To place emphasis on the signs in this way, as the GIRM does, is not to denigrate in any way the Eucharist reserved in the tabernacle nor to suggest that somehow the Eucharist consecrated at a given Mass is “better” than the reserved sacrament.

  • Aplman – the only reason for a priest requiring extraordinary ministers to consume 75 Hosts after Holy Communion is that he doesn’t want them in the tabernacle.

    Why not?

    A prudent priest coming to a new parish would take his time to get a sense of how many attend various Masses before enforcing an edict like this.  At that point, when he knows his parish better, the chances of being “over” by 75 is decreased.

    But further, what if the 11:00 Mass that immediately followed the one described was “invaded” by two tour buses on a foliage tour?  Don’t say it can’t happen—it did in a parish I was assigned to, and not once but several times.  Does he then insist that the EMs break all their hosts in two (or three, or four) because he’s trying to arrange an optimal experience for everybody according to GIRM 85?

    No, I’m afraid there’s the real world we’re called to live in.

    Do we strive to consecrate enough Hosts for the people at each Mass?  Yes, of course.  Do we get frantic if there are Hosts left over?  Of course not!  Prudent pastors take prudent measures; liturgists tend to be absolutists.

    And as to that last, I’ve known far too many people with advanced degrees in liturgy from CUA or Notre Dame (or other places) not to know of what I speak.  Pray tell, are you also one of them?

  • Here are the bread and wine we have presented, offered, prayed over, invited the Holy Spirit to come upon… Here are the gifts with which we have given thanks and praise,the gifts with which we have remembered and carried out the Lord’s command to bless, break, share, eat and drink in his memory… To place emphasis on the signs in this way, as the GIRM does, is not to denigrate in any way the Eucharist reserved in the tabernacle nor to suggest that somehow the Eucharist consecrated at a given Mass is “better” than the reserved sacrament.

    Did you notice something, though, in your statement, Alpman?  Did you notice the “we’s” in there?

    I tend to view the Mass as being about God, and about what He has done, and our involvement as being secondary to what God has done.  But to embrace what you have written, I have to view the Mass as being primarily about us and what we do.

    From my perspective, making a distinction between the reserved Sacrament and the consecrated Sacrament is to set up a dichotomy.

  • #85 isn’t a requirement, Carrie; it’s just stating an ideal, a recommendation, something that “is most desirable”.  (For practical reasons, it probably can’t be achieved consistently.)

    Perhaps the pastor hasn’t actually read this paragraph himself, and he thinks it’s a mandate.
    How can the EMHCs bring him around to a correct understanding? 

    Fr.‘s current practice, ordering the EMHCs to engage in an eating binge on the Sacred Hosts, is definitely not ideal.  Nobody should consume dozens of Hosts unless there’s a mob at the door threatening to profane them.

  • Thanks RC for properly referring to EM as EMHC, as THS has HC the term EM stating that EMHC is the SN for this practice.

    Translating from the OL to MP vulagte, with a quick trip to PIT, gives us the CM that EMHC is the definitive reference to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

    CYIC,
    JBP

  • Another reason I attend the Indult. Less exception, tighter rubrics, Communion on the tongue while kneeling, no EM’s and less monkey business. Period.

  • I am learning quite a bit from reading this but one thing confuses me. Should not all practices involving the Mass and the Eucharist be the same universally? Do all Priests know the “rules” when it comes to this subject?
    Recently I was on team at a Cursillo. The Priest at Cursillo gave the talk on the Sacraments. I was anxious for the women to hear what the Church teaches. These women were like sponges waiting to soak up the truth. What they got was far from that. After the Priest spoke about the need for the Bishops to change their ideas in the United States, he spoke about the Eucharist. I believe his exact worde were- Christ is truely present in the Bible, truely present in all of us, and present in the bread and wine. Wow, I felt ill. The sad thing was no one, even team members though this was wrong. I won’t tell you what he said about Reconciliation- I will just say the a women at my table said to us how refreshing it is to hear a Priest say we can confess to each other and do not have to go to Confession.
    It was like he thought these beautiful women could not take the truth, or he was unable to accept the truth himself. The Eucharist did not seem special is anyway to him.
    In any case, I am just starting to realize that not only do some Catholic laity not think as catholics, but that some Catholic Priests do not think as Catholics.

  • kathyann:

    Christ is present in and through the Bible, and where 2 or more are gathered. But His sacramental presense is of a different kind, because it is a physical sacramental presence. If Father watered down the last meaning, he’s monkeying w/ Catholic doctrine, or is misinformed.

  • Carrie:

    As Aplman is a priest he could also have meant the “we”s as referring to himself and his fellow priests. That is what I inferred from his statement anyway.

    Even so, as the faithful, “We” do (at the Holy Masses I attend):
    -present the gifts
    -give thanks and praise
    -ask The Lord to accept these gifts for our good and the good of all His Church(which should include what we too lay upon the Altar of Sacrifice)

    Peace.

  • Never seen this done, anywhere and it seems gross. Something not right about it and something not right in the relationship between the Priest and the EME’s?

    Our Father has been with us 13 years and you could say that he ‘just knows’ how many hosts. But we have a system whereby, as you enter the church, if you want the Eucharist you place a host into the vessel(with tongs). Most people know to do this. But Hospitality do a count and a guestimate of numbers of host in said bowl. Sometimes they add a few more but this system is seldom wrong.I thought that was fairly standard practice in parishes? How then, can they have so many left-over, consecrated hosts? Do they not have the nous to instigate this system?

  • Very interesting discussion.  What’s the recommended action if one finds that the Eucharistic Ministers at a Boston-area Catholic church pour the leftover precious Blood of Christ down the drain of a sink in the sacristy after Communion?  (Yes, it’s been discussed with the pastor already, who seems to be equally appalled by the practice).

  • Mary Jane,

    The Precious Blood is, of course, never to be poured down the sacrarium!

    The reason the sacrarium exists is in the case of mishaps…for example, if the Precious Blood is accidentally spilled, the area is to be cleaned thoroughly with linen and these cloths are then washed in it.

    But you know that and evidently the pastor knows that. Maybe I’m missing something but isn’t the pastor relieving the offenders of their duties the recommended action? (I’m assuming, of course, that the offenders have been instructed not to do this in the first place.)

    Father Carr,

    No, lay consumption of the Hosts has never been an issue at the Cathedral. I never meant to imply that you or any other priest or bishop made it so.

  • “I think it depends on whether you are thinking of Eucharist as a verb or as a noun.  As a noun, and always, the Eucharist in the tabernacle is the same as the Eucharist consecrated at Mass being celebrated just a few yards away.  However, to celebrate the Eucharist (verb) is to do that ritual action enjoined on us by Christ at the Last Supper.” (aplman)

    Either way, “Eucharist” is a noun.  It is never a verb.

    The understood verb in the first case is “reserve” (as in “reserve the Eucharist in the tabernacle”). 
    The explicit verb in the second case is “celebrate” (“celebrate the Eucharist”).

    However, the noun, “Eucharist,” means different things in the two phrases:

    1. In “reserve the Eucharist,” the noun is synonymous with “the Holy Eucharist” or “the Blessed Sacrament,” i.e., the sacramental Species under which Jesus is truly and substantially present.

    2. In “celebrate the Eucharist,” the noun is shorthand for “the Eucharistic liturgy.” 

    The phrase, “celebrate (or attend) the Eucharist,” was in vogue in some places for a decade or two—and is apparently still used in some places.  But, for the most part, people have returned to the older, simpler, more easily understood, non-ambiguous phrases:  “celebrate the Mass” or “attend Mass.” 

    Some older folks use the very reverent phrases that they learned as kids—e.g.,  “attend Holy Mass” or “assist at Mass” or “celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.” 

    “Joe Layman” would typically say, “When I attend Mass on a weekday, if I’ve fasted for an hour, I receive Holy Communion” or “… I receive the Eucharist.”

  • AnUnSi—

    You’re strictly correct, grammatically, “Eucharist” is a noun. But as to the larger point originally being made, with all respect, your comment strikes me as a little severe, as if saying, “celebrate the Eucharist” is something wrong to say.

    There is nothing irreverent, disrespectful or incorrect about referring to “celebrating the Eucharist,” even if that happens not to be your cup of tea.

    There are many terms to describe this awesome event; it is useful to recall and emphasize that “Eucharist” not only describes that which is received at a specific moment in the liturgy, but also emcompasses the larger reality.

    That is how I took the earlier comment about Eucharist being a verb; while grammatically, that’s not precisely right, the larger point is valid.

    (The same is true of “communion,” by the way; it’s a little concerning to me that “communion” has come so exclusively to mean, for many Catholics, the action of receiving the Eucharist, that the larger sense of the word seems lost: the sense of being in communion, which must be the case in order to receive communion.)

  • Fr. Fox,

    I never thought of it that way- “You must be in communion in order to receive Communion.”
    I like that.
    What do you say to a non Catholic person who is heading for the altar to receive Communion? Do you say anything? Would there be any sin on you if you did not tell the person that is not Catholic, not to receive?

  • Kathyann:

    If you’re asking what I, as celebrant at Mass, say . . . well, it depends.

    I really don’t know that someone coming forward isn’t Catholic, even if I suspect; just because someone acts kind of odd, doesn’t mean that person isn’t Catholic. I try to give the benefit of the doubt.

    But if I knew someone wasn’t Catholic, I’d give that person a blessing. If possible, I’d try to discuss it ahead of time to avoid an awkward situation.

    If you mean, what should you do?

    I think if you bring someone to Mass, you definitely should explain our ways. If you didn’t bring the person, and if you have no real opportunity to talk quietly about it, it can be awkward to try to stop someone. If there were some discreet way to do it, fine; but I’m not sure what that would be.

    As to a question of sin, I would discuss that with your confessor.

  • Joe,

    I regret that you felt so offended by my comments.
    My comments were not intended to be a personal attack. They were ment to be general in nature.

    The point that I was trying to make was, how can we as Catholics treat the Blessed Sacrament with such indifference, and sometimes irreverently,  still all the while, presume that there will not be consequences for “our luke warmness” towards Christ Our King on our day of Particular Judgement.

    As your comments implied some breast beating of sorts, I might recommend that you read the Gospel of the Tenth Sunday after Pentecost.  Luke 18, 9-14.

  • What’s the recommended action if one finds that the Eucharistic Ministers at a Boston-area Catholic church pour the leftover precious Blood of Christ down the drain of a sink in the sacristy after Communion?

    Stop it immediately! Whatever it takes!

    A conversation, a word to the pastor, a letter to the bishop, a punch in the face, posting a guard in the sacristy at all Masses. Whatever it takes. Maybe all of the above.

  • I am an EM. Were I asked to consume 75 hosts after Holy Communion, except in some case of unusual necessity, I would be deeply offended. Perhaps I am being too sensitive, but such an action without real warrant seems to me to border, at the least, on the sacrilegious.

  • It strikes me that if I receive one consecrated Host in communion at the 9 a.m. Mass on Sunday, I am not then permitted to receive the second consecrated Host at the 10:30 a.m. Mass on that same Sunday even if I attend both.

    Apparently two consecrated Hosts go above and beyond the number allowed to a member of the laity on any given day.

    Unless that member of the laity happens to be an EM, I guess.

    I’m glad I don’t have to make this sound logical.

  • MaryJane D:

    Whether the drain is a sacrium (a special sink leading straight into the ground) or an ordinary sink, it doesn’t matter. It is a grave abuse and it seems to me that the Holy See has established that this sort of abuse would incur an automatic excommunication.

    Note Canon 1367: A person who throws away the consecrated species or takes or retains them for a sacrilegious purpose incurs a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See; moreover, a cleric can be punished with another penalty, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state.

    The English here “throws away” is “abicit.” The Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts in 1999 offered this authoritive response to the proper notion of this word:

    “The verb abicit should not be understood only in the strict sense of throwing away, nor in the generic sense of profaning, but with the broader meaning of to scorn, disdain, demean. Therefore, a grave offense of sacrilege against the Body and Blood of Christ is committed by anyone who takes away and/or keeps the Sacred Species for a sacrilegious (obscene, superstitious, irreligious) purpose, and by anyone who, even without removing them from the tabernacle, monstrance or altar, makes them the object of any external, voluntary and serious act of contempt.”

    The 2004 Instruction from the Congregation of Divine Worship, Redemptionis Sacramentum, included in this defintion the pouring of the sacred species into a sacrium:

    “No. 107: In accordance with what is laid down by the canons, ‘one who throws away the consecrated species or takes them away or keeps them for a sacrilegious purpose, incurs a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See; a cleric, moreover, may be punished by another penalty, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state’ [Canon 1367]  To be regarded as pertaining to this case is any action that is voluntarily and gravely disrespectful of the sacred species. Anyone, therefore, who acts contrary to these norms, for example casting the sacred species into the sacrarium or in an unworthy place or on the ground, incurs the penalties laid down [cf. Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts, Response to dubium, July 3, 1999]. Furthermore all will remember that once the distribution of Holy Communion during the celebration of Mass has been completed, the prescriptions of the Roman Missal are to be observed, and in particular, whatever may remain of the Blood of Christ must be entirely and immediately consumed by the Priest or by another minister, according to the norms, while the consecrated hosts that are left are to be consumed by the Priest at the altar or carried to the place for the reservation of the Eucharist [Cf. GIRM, nn. 163, 284].”

  • Carrie—you’re mistaken.  Any time you attend Mass and fully participate you are earnestly encouraged to approach Holy Communion, presuming that you are in a state of grace.

    The prohibition against receiving Communion more than once a day refers to reception outside of Mass.

    That is, a person who attends Mass and receives Communion could not then take part in a Communion service, nor should Communion be brought to him at home.

    This is a common error.  When you assist at Mass and are in a state of grace, you are always encouraged to receive Holy Communion.  Always.

  • Continued from 9:51 Post (Sorry Dom)…

    Now it’s important to remember that excommunications do not presume sin. A latae sententiae punishment results from an act contrary to ecclesial law (whose intent may is to protect divine goods, nonetheless).  So it is not necessary to presume sin on a person’s part.

    An act that incurs a latae sententitae punishment (i.e. excommunication in this case) is an act that incurs the punishment the moment it is committed. It binds automatically and does not wait until after the person is informed.

    Can. 1314: “Generally, a penalty is ferendae sententiae, so that it does not bind the guilty party until after it has been imposed; if the law or precept expressly establishes it, however, a penalty is latae sententiae, so that it is incurred ipso facto when the delict is committed.”

    However, no one is punished unless the external act (here pouring the precious blood down the sink) is down with malice or negligence and the negligence is imputable (i.e. the person has saw fit not to educate him or herself). See Canon 1321 on this.

    It is difficult to say, then, whether the EMHC’s have contracted an excommunication but one can certainly suspect those in charge of their formation should be held responsible.

    Redemptionis Sacramentum goes on to list this among the most grave abuses with which it is concerned:

    No. 173: “Although the gravity of a matter is to be judged in accordance with the common teaching of the Church and the norms established by her, objectively to be considered among grave matters is anything that puts at risk the validity and dignity of the Most Holy Eucharist: namely, anything that contravenes what is set out above in nn. 48-52, 56, 76-77, 79, 91-92, 94, 96, 101-102, 104, 106, 109, 111, 115, 117, 126, 131-133, 138, 153 and 168. Moreover, attention should be given to the other prescriptions of the Code of Canon Law, and especially what is laid down by canons 1364, 1369, 1373, 1376, 1380, 1384, 1385, 1386, and 1398.”

    And concludes that all the faithful have the right lodge complaints with their local ordinaries (and encourage them to do so):

    No. 183 “In an altogether particular manner, let everyone do all that is in their power to ensure that the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist will be protected from any and every irreverence or distortion and that all abuses be thoroughly corrected. This is a most serious duty incumbent upon each and every one, and all are bound to carry it out without any favouritism.”

    No. 184: “Any Catholic, whether Priest or Deacon or lay member of Christ’s faithful, has the right to lodge a complaint regarding a liturgical abuse to the diocesan Bishop or the competent Ordinary equivalent to him in law, or to the Apostolic See on account of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff. It is fitting, however, insofar as possible, that the report or complaint be submitted first to the diocesan Bishop. This is naturally to be done in truth and charity.”

    I would say, that’s what you should do.

  • Just to be clear…

    The Church attaches latae sententiae excommunications to those acts that are inherently grievous. However, it must also be kept in mind that the EMHC are most likely unaware that they are violating law (or are in error about the law) and this itself prevents them from being excommunicated (See Canons 1321; 1323,2; 1324.1,9).

    I don’t want anyone here thinking that I am suggesting said EMHC’s are excommunicated. But it is certainly among the top echelon of grave abuses and should be addressed.

  • For the record:  I have studied liturgy.  (Duck!  Someone here may start throwing things at me! grin

    For the record:  While I strive towards the ideal in no. 85, I find I have recourse to the tabernacle during Communion once or twice a weekend.

    For the record:  In the tabernacle in my church there are two ciboria.  One contains about 100-150 pieces of consecrated bread reserved from earlier Masses and contains 50-100 small hosts for Communion of the sick and homebound.

    For the record:  I understand that Eucharist is a noun. I know my parts of speech.  My thanks to Fr. Martin for his understanding of the point I was trying to make.

    Carrie:  The liturgy is for God AND for us.  Always. Any community which worships in the Roman Rite from the Roman Missal offers a God-directed liturgy – but also a liturgy offered by human beings for human beings.  My post, Carrie, also contained references to Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Lord, his command.  It wasn’t all about us.  The Sabbath was made for us, we were not made for the Sabbath.

  • Aplman said,

    “the liturgy is for God and for us.”

    Indeed, God doesn’t need the liturgy at all. God needs nothing from us. The God-ward direction of the liturgy is also “for us”—because it’s we who need to be “God-ward.” But the liturgy is NOT “for God.”

  • Dominican Friar, Kelly, et al,
    Thanks very much for the advice and Canon Law passages with respect to the situation of the Blood of Christ.  I will defintely pass along and try to get the practice halted. 

    It was suggested that I consider alerting the bishop.  These days here in Boston, won’t Friar Sean and Bishop Lennon only respond if its a concern about money?!  rolleyes (Sorry, I know that was probably unfair).

  • Could it be that the priest in this case is trying to be difficult so that the EMs will quit? If so, I salute his intention but not his method. It is totally wrong to get “cute” with the body of our Lord.

  • DJP, I wouldn’t.  Even if he told me point blank.  That’s a bizarre directive which cues me into:
    a) extremely poor planning, ie. doesn’t he know how many after all this time (?!?) and/or
    b) not wanting consecrated hosts in the tabernacle for some ideological reason.

    This is probably why this was reported out in the first place.  It’s clearly outside the norm enough to raise eyebrows.

  • Aplman,
    You are out of line theologically.  Christ is one.  The hosts consecrated 1 hour ago are every bit as much Christ as the ones consecrated one minute ago.  See the Council of Trent.  This is and has always been the teaching of the church.  God doesn’t have an expiration date.  Sorry.

  • Michigancatholic:

    Back on page one of these responses I wrote:

    “Though the consecrated element in the tabernacle is the exact equivalent of what we receive from altar, receiving from those gifts we have offered ‘stands out more clearly as a participation in the sacrifice actually being celebrated.’”

    I am not only in accord here with what the Church has always taught, I have used the current GIRM to reinforce my understanding of this.

    I am not out of line theologically. I did not at any point suggest that “God has an expiration date.”

  • “Though the consecrated element in the tabernacle is the exact equivalent of what we receive from altar, receiving from those gifts we have offered ‘stands out more clearly as a participation in the sacrifice actually being celebrated.’”

    Whether it’s in the GIRM or not, there is still the matter of which takes precedence:  Our conception that all consecrated Hosts are the Body and Blood of the same Jesus Christ, or our conception that what we have offered is contributing to what we are receiving?  I trust there would be no argument that the understanding of what the Eucharist is in relation to Jesus Christ is far more important than what we think about our own contribution to it!

  • I don’t understand Fr. Fox’s and Carrie’s objections, along the lines that God “doesn’t need” us or our worship.  I didn’t notice fr. aplman suggesting such a need: did I miss something?

    Saying that the liturgy is “for God” doesn’t imply that God needs it.  At the level of nature: a child can bring his father a gift, but that doesn’t require us to believe that the father is somehow dependent! 

    Fr. Fox understands that the liturgy is “God-directed”, and moreover the liturgy (at least in the Roman understanding) is specifically directed to God the Father.  It is Jesus’ worship of the Father, and (especially in the case of the Mass) it is His self-rendering to the Father. 

    From the Son’s point of view, which must be *our* point of view, the liturgy is unequivocally _for the Father_.  Because of this, it hardly seems wrong to say that the liturgy is “for God”.

    The liturgy benefits us as well, and in a sense can be called “for us”—it is a gift that God makes us participants in Christ’s worship.

    Yet I think we must keep the Father-directedness of the liturgy foremost in our thoughts, lest we think of worship as a means to an end; lest we put the focus on ourselves.

  • I think what Fr. Fox and/or at least I am trying to say is that God is not contingent while we are.  God needs nothing to be complete.  We need worship to be complete, among other things. 

    We can certainly say that we offer worship “for God” because our human nature requires us to do that.  From God’s point of view, the worship we offer is not necessary and does not add anything to Him Who is already complete in Himself.  He requests worship from us because in His wisdom He knows that it contributes to our well being and happiness.

    When we stop making God the focus of our worship and start looking toward our fellow man as an object of our worship, we destroy the plan God has put in place.  That is why Mass must be about God and not about us.

  • I think perhaps what you are trying to say deals with pedagogical issues or something of that sort (in that it makes it “stand out”), however it cannot have anything to say to the genuineness or reality of Christ in the Eucharist. Otherwise, you do have a hefty contradiction there which you should attend to.  Contradictions are serious epistemological offenses.

    The factual matter of Christ present in the Eucharist, (regardless of time past since confection) can also be supported with quotes from Ecumenical Councils.  I think that pedagogical concerns can hardly suspend that—a truth as it is.

  • He requests worship from us because in His wisdom He knows that it contributes to our well being and happiness.

    That still sounds like it’s a means to an end, but worshipping God is good for a simpler reason: it is “fitting and right”.  It is what God deserves from us.  God’s goodness evokes worship from us: to steal a term from von Hildebrand, worship is the proper “response to value” when a creature is faced with God, the ultimate good.

  • RC:

    I wasn’t objecting, in my earlier comments; I was giving emphasis.

    michigan: your argument isn’t with aplman, who is simply presenting what the Church emphasizes: namely, that it’s desirable to have people receive from the Eucharist confected at that Mass. If you don’t care for the Church emphasizing this, that’s your prerogative.

  • Carrie, I don’t believe anyone here is trying to put “us” ahead of “God” in our understanding of the Eucharist. But it seems increasingly clear that you find it difficult to acknowledge that “we” have any important role in the celebration of the Eucharist at all.  All worship is offered to the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit through, with and in Christ whose body, the church, “we” are.

    The Sabbath and its sacrament were made for (how else shall I put this) – us!

    St. Augustine sums this up well.  I wonder if you think Augustine is also putting “us” ahead of God in these words?

    “What you see is the bread and the chalice; that is what your own eyes report to you. But what your faith obliges you to accept is that the bread is the Body of Christ and the chalice the Blood of Christ. … How is the bread His Body? And the chalice, or what is in the chalice, how is it His Blood? Those elements, brethren, are called Sacraments, because in them one thing is seen, but another is understood. What is seen is the corporeal species, but what is understood is the spiritual fruit. … `You, however, are the Body of Christ and His members.’ If, therefore, you are the Body of Christ and His members, your mystery is presented at the table of the Lord, you receive your mystery. To that which you are, you answer: `Amen’; and by answering, you subscribe to it. For you hear: `The Body of Christ!’ and you answer: `Amen!’ Be a member of Christ’s Body, so that your `Amen’ may be the truth.”

    St. Augustine, Sermons, [272] A.D. 391-430

  • Michigancatholic:  What part of “exact equivalent” in my post did you not understand?  What part of “exact equivalent” leads you to suggest that I question the “genuineness or reality” of Christ’s presence in the reserved Eucharist?  What part of “exact equivalent” leads you to suggest that I’m attempting to “suspend” the truth of the church’s teaching on the Eucharist?

    As Fr. Martin says, if you don’t like what the Church teaches in the GIRM, your quarrel is with the GIRM and not with those who quote it.

  • That still sounds like it’s a means to an end, but worshipping God is good for a simpler reason: it is “fitting and right”.  It is what God deserves from us.  God’s goodness evokes worship from us: to steal a term from von Hildebrand, worship is the proper “response to value” when a creature is faced with God, the ultimate good.

    Ok, that sounds good to me.

    The end for which Mass is the means is eternal happiness with God in heaven, of course.

  • I can understand the Church’s interest in both pedagogy and doctrine, which are both treated in the CCC. I’m assuming you do have the acumen to be able to tell the difference between pedagogy and doctrine, and the relationship between the two in the Church’s practical teaching in the CCC.  Otherwise, you might not get much out of the rest of this post.

    Now, the interesting thing, vis a vis this topic of the priest who insists laypeople comsume 70 hosts on at least one occasion, is which is he serving and why? 

    I think we’re all speculating on the possible motivations he might have.  This, because there are only a certain number which might be logical &/or common enough to be often seen. 

    In fact, you seem to be defending a possible common motivation—ie that hosts confected on the spot are more pedagogically useful than hosts from a previous mass.  I’m not sure we’ve established he’s thinking that way, but it’s a definite possibility, in which case you’ve been duly heard. 

    However, it would be interesting to actually hear his reasoning, which may or may not be messed up. I certainly hope that there is not a doctrinal problem.

    My guess is that his reasoning &/or competence is messed up, based on the oddness of the request—which, by the way, is probably why this has been reported out in the first place.

  • I just looked—your original quote, Aplman—was from the GIRM—all the more devoted to practical teaching and pedagogical effects.  The GIRM is the manual of “how to conduct Mass,” basically.

    I only wish more priests would play closer attention to it and perhaps we wouldn’t have so many mass abuses.  Kudos to you.  You know what it says.

  • Carrie,
    The person who posted before you (“A. No” ???) made an HTML mistake that caused his/her sign-off and your post to be underlined.

    I couldn’t help smiling about the triple misunderstanding about multiple reception of Holy Communion on the same day (by which is meant, from midnight to midnight).

    1. You thought that only once was OK.  That used to be true, but as you can see in Canon 917, it is no longer true.

    2.  Fr. Jim Clark was very wrong to tell you that “Any time you attend Mass and fully participate you are earnestly encouraged to approach Holy Communion, presuming that you are in a state of grace. … When you assist at Mass and are in a state of grace, you are always encouraged to receive Holy Communion.  Always.”
    Father must have been unaware of the limit placed by Canon 917.

    3.  Finally, the person who first posted Canon 917 (“A. No” ???) was wrong to tell you that, “The … law has been changed, … to allow twice per day, each time at the eucharistic celebration …”.  As a careful reading of Canon 917 shows, only the second reception needs to be at Mass, while the first reception could have been outside of Mass.  For example, a person may attend a very early morning Communion service—and then a funeral Mass near noon.  She may receive on both occasions.

  • Dear Fr. Martin Fox,
    I was disappointed by your reply to my corrections and comments.  I wasn’t expecting such an extreme defensiveness on your part.

    Last time, I mentioned that, contrary to what you originally wrote, “Eucharist” is always a noun and never a verb.

    You responded, “You’re strictly correct, grammatically, ‘Eucharist’ is a noun. … That is how I took the earlier comment about Eucharist being a verb; while grammatically, that’s not precisely right, the larger point is valid.”

    But I wasn’t “strictly correct.”  I was simply “correct,” and you were simply wrong.
    And calling “Eucharist” a verb was not just “not precisely right.”  It was precisely wrong.
    It would have made a much better impression if you could have eaten a bit of “humble pie” and simply said, “AnUnSi, you are right, and I was mistaken”—instead of trying to “save face.”

    Unfortunately, you went on to add a second showing of defensiveness.  You said to me:
    “with all respect, your comment strikes me as a little severe, as if saying, ‘celebrate the Eucharist’ is something wrong to say.”

    Not at all, Father!  If you had more carefully read what I wrote, you would have seen that I made no value judgment about the goodness/badness of the expression you used.  Instead, my words were about popularity and commonness of your expression and another one. 

    I spoke of (1) what was once temporarily in vogue (i.e., saying, “celebrate the Eucharist,” as you do), and I spoke of (2) what was in vogue prior to Vatican II and has now returned to favor with most people (i.e., “celebrate Mass”).  You certainly have the right to continue using the phrase that is no longer the one preferred by the majority of English-speaking Catholics.  It is not “bad” or “wrong” for you to use it.

    Please try to relax.  I am not “out to get you.”

  • Acknowledging that Fr.Fox was offering support of my noun-verb comments about Eucharist, I want to submit that I don’t think he was being at all defensive, let alone extremely defensive.  Another commentor advised Fr. Fox to try to relax.  I think Fr. Fox is one of the refreshingly more relaxed contributors here.  I hope some of his attitude rubs off on me – I know there are times when I benefit from that!

    Say, Carrie: what did you think of Augustine’s words on the Eucharist?

  • Is anyone besides me regretting checking the block:  “Notify me of follow-up comments?

    AND NO, I’M NOT BORED!!!

    A little ashamed perhaps, a little tired of seeing 50 some-odd emails from Domenico Bettinelli, Jr. in my mailbox (no offense Bid D)…. but NOT BORED!

  • I didn’t develop an opinion one way or the other actually, and at the moment I don’t remember what he said.

    I guess I’ve finally reached the point of laughing at the conversations in St. Blogs today—a welcome improvement over earlier sentiments.  It’s been one of the more memorable days!  Once this point arrives, pursuit of anything serious before a good night of sleep is fruitless.

  • Just think of how I feel seeing all those emails from myself from every thread! I must be stalking myself.

    Joe, it is very easy to stop the flow of emails. There is a link in every email to stop notifications. Click it and you will have peace.

  • Thanks for the tip, Dom!

    Carrie, Dom and the beautiful Melanie are expecting Bambino Numero Uno this year!  I know he likes girls.

    Fr. Fox:  Your the best!

    INFO POSTING:  Boston Catholic Men’s Conference…

    There will be a Women’s Conference with Fr. Corapi the evening of March 3.

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