From a reader:
This morning I attended a Mass that was celebrated by a VERY old priest; just a simple daily Mass, nothing fancy, no smells or bells.
When it came time for the prayers of consecration, it seemed as if the priest could not find the “larger” host, so he used one the smaller
ones. All is well.
BUT after Mass when the sacristan was bringing everything back to the sacristy, I watched him pick up a host from the very end of the altar and bring it back to the sacristy. My first thought was, “wait a
second, I think that host is consecrated!”
So my question is, do all hosts that are present on the altar, whether they are directly involved in the prayers of consecration or not, become the Body and Blood?
Thank you, this has been buggin’ me all day. Just say the word and
I’ll break into that sacristy to save the True Presence from the pile
of non-Jesus wafers.
In general, the well-trained priest intends to consecrate what is placed within the confines of the corporal spread on the altar. He makes a moral intention to consecrate what stands on the corporal. He could intend to consecrate other elements as well, but usually the corporal provides a standard “consecration zone”, as it were.
However, it may that a consecrated Host got away during the consolidation of two partially filled ciboria. I can’t say anything more about that possibility. Who knows?
Where there is doubt in cases like this, the finder could consume the host in question or, taking it to the priest or, in the case of a sacristan, he himself could place it in a cup of water. When entirely dissolved, the liquid is poured down the sacrarium.
When you find a host somewhere other than on the altar itself or in the sacristy, it might be a good idea to assume that it was consecrated and carried away by some person and thrown away.
Finally, if you know that throwing away the Eucharist, or giving or selling it to someone else is the gravest of sins and one that incurs an excommunication, you in fact incur latae sententiae – by the very fact of doing it – an excommunication, the lifting of which is reserved to the Holy See or a confessor to whom the Holy See has given the faculty. The Holy See, not the local bishop.