A young priest writes:
Last weekend after a somewhat fiery homily of exposition of evil and the devil I had a run in with a menacing fly (assuming not Beelzebub himself). At the epiclesis a very large fly dive bombed into the chalice (it may be helpful to mention I NOW use a pall, and it’s the middle of winter where I preside, flies aren’t common.. just sayin’.) The question then is what is the “completion”, if you will, of transubstantiation, and what is the proper course of action to take if interrupted (by a menacing insect) during the epiclesis and before the words of institution?? I have my own thoughts (ie. theology between East and West) and input from fellow priests (which vary) so will let the expert reply to clarify confusion.. Thank you!!
A baby priest (7 mos.) seeking nothing but the Truth
There is a lot of blather out there about the whole of the Eucharistic Prayer being consecratory. But we have been taught for years that the decisive words are “Hoc est corpus meum… Hic est sanguinis mei…”. So, I would go with that.
Your question with the fly was handled deftly in the past in the section of the pre-Conciliar Roman Missal called De defectibus. There were instructions about what to do if a fly or spider or other uninvited critter made its way into the chalice either before or after the consecration of the Precious Blood. I have written in more detail about that HERE, but here are a few pointers.
If a fly, or a spider, perhaps chatting with the aggressive fly, should with devilish cunning – as you suggest – jump into the chalice after the consecration, and you can’t bring yourself to drink it down, the intruder is to be fished out with a pin, set aside for the moment, burned, and put down the sacrarium.
I used to think all the directions in De defectibus were rather amusing until in my little 700-year old church in Velletri one day I had the very same scenario. I uncovered the chalice just as Itsybitsy lowered itself into the chalice from on high. I used the pin holding my maniple on to spear it and, the rest is flaming history.
Yet another reason to use a maniple!
Solutions to many scenarios are spelled out in the front part of the pre-Conciliar Missale Romanum.
Once you get the basic principles (with just about everything wound up burned and going down the sacrarium), you can extrapolate all sorts of solutions to scenarios not covered in the Missal. At a very clerical supper one night we mused about the possibility of a mouse dashing across the altar after the consecration and making off with a Host. Our solution was to bless a cat, put a white stole on it, send it after the mouse, and when the cat came back, burn the cat and put the ashes down the sacrarium.
In any event, you know understand the wisdom of the pall over the cup of the chalice.