From a reader:
Father – Is it OK for a priest to “break the bread” during the Eucharistic Prayer, when he says “On the night He was betrayed, …Jesus broke the bread…” The priest in question makes an audible snap right there, and it’s shocking. Should I be shocked?? I think this should happen during the Agnus Dei, but I’m not a priest.
No. It is not okay. There is not rubric during the consecration that directs the priest to do this. Furthermore, there is a precise moment in the Mass called the “fraction rite”, during which the priest is to break the Host. You don’t have to be a priest to know when the right moment for the fraction rite is. All you need to be is: able to read.
Some priests think, wrongly, they can make the gestures and words of Mass “more meaningful”. However, by acting our the words at that moment they are doing something rather shallow. They are also violating the rubrics on their own authority at a most important moment, and they are causing confusion.
No. It is not okay.
Should you be shocked? Well, that is something I can’t answer for you. It is pretty hard to shock me, after all these years. I think most people in the pews who are even partially aware of liturgical decorum are rather battle scarred by now and probably will not be shocked as such antics.
As per a comment below:
Redemptionis Sacramentum says:
[55.] In some places there has existed an abuse by which the Priest breaks the host at the time of the consecration in the Holy Mass. This abuse is contrary to the tradition of the Church. It is reprobated and is to be corrected with haste.
In the Church’s legal language to “reprobate” means to abolish or put an end to a practice in such a way that no one can claim that they can continued to do what they are doing because of long-standing custom. In other words, it really intends to put an end to something completely and for good.
That is how the Church views this host-breaking thing during the consecration.