QUAERITUR: Reserving the Precious Blood, confusion during concelebration

From a priest:

I need help from an ossified unreconstructed manualist!
This morning I was a concelebrant at Mass with two other priests.

After the consecration I was astounded to see a chalice with previously consecrated Precious Blood brought from the tabernacle. [?!?]

The Principal Celebrant proceded to effect the commingling with a particle in the chalice consecrated at a previous Mass, [?!?] and both he and the other priest concelebrant communicated from that chalice. I was very careful to ensure I drank from the newly consecrated chalice.

So, Father, was a valid Mass offered? Did it make any difference that one of the concelebrants drank from the newly-consecrated chalice?

It’s a practice the parish priest seems to have adopted when there is a significant over-consecration of the Precious Blood!

In my humble opinion it is a grave delict, but I think it is a matter of simple ignorance.

Ought the Ordinary be informed of this practice?

What a strange question.

Yes, I believe Mass was celebrated.  The elements were consecrated, the elements were consumed.  The co-mingling does not affect the validly.  Consuming the Precious Blood not consecrated at that Mass sure does confuse the issue, though.

Our symbols and signs are important.  They point to a greater reality.  Signa point to the res.  We must be careful not to confuse them.

Second, it is forbidden to reserve the Precious Blood except for an extremely narrow range of circumstances (as when a sick person cannot receive any other way).

Should the diocesan bishop be informed? I would talk first with the parish priest and show him. These references:

John Paul II’s 1980 Inestimabile donum 14:

On the other hand, the consecrated wine is to be consumed immediately after Communion and may not be kept. Care must be taken to consecrate only the amount of wine needed for Communion.

And Redemptionis Sacramentum 107:

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 [cf GIRM 163, 249, 279, 284, 285a], 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.

Surely the reason for this strict prohibition is that a) there is far greater possibility for profanation and b) the accidents of wine can swiftly change and become corrupted, far more quickly and the accidents of bread of the Hosts that are reserved.

Furthermore, in the case of consecrating too much, the Precious Blood must never be simply poured out anywhere, not even the ground or sacrarium.  That skates close to the “throwing away” of the Eucharist which incurs a latae sententiae excommunication, the lifting of which is reserved to the Holy See (not the local bishop).  Priests know this or ought to know this.  Since it is their duty to know this, they cannot easily plead ignorance, for their ignorance would be culpable ignorance.  Lay people, once they know this, must refuse to do it if asked.  Remember, excommunications can only be incurred if a person commits a mortal sin in doing the bad thing.   Therefore, all the requirements for a mortal sin must apply.

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But, back to the point, if the priest insists that there must be Communion under both kinds, the solution here is NOT to consecrate too much.  Better to consecrate to little and then explain the reason for the prudent caution rather than consecrate so much that it cannot be consumed even by proper ministers who are present.

If the parish priest who is reserving the Precious Blood will not stop doing so even after he has been informed, then I would inform the local bishop with a copy to the Congregation for Divine Worship in Rome.

And thanks for mentioning Unreconstructed Ossified Manualists!  Get your ORM swag HERE!

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28 Responses to QUAERITUR: Reserving the Precious Blood, confusion during concelebration

  1. jhayes says:

    The faithful are also entitled to receive hosts consecrated at the Mass they are attending, so the quantity of hosts reserved in the tabernacle is supposed to be only enough for use in visits to the homebound and sick – not for use in case of a shortage at some future Mass.

    As I recall, it’s also permitted to reserve a very small quantity of the Most Precious Blood for that same purpose

    My recollection, from when I was growing up, is seeing priests coming from he sacristy to assist in distributing communion, taking a ciborium of pre-consecrated hosts from the tabernacle, and going directly to the Commnion rail. Also seeing a priest, having run out of hosts at the Communion rail, go to the tabernacle and put more hosts in his ciborium in order to continue.

    As I understand it, neither of those practices is allowed now.

  2. discipulus says:

    In the sermon at mass this morning (EF), the priest told us how allowing the lay faithful to communicate from the chalice could easily lead to sacralige.

  3. Quanah says:

    About 12 years ago I was an altar server for Mass at a Knights of Columbus event. Mass was celebrated in a convention hall at a hotel and there were thousands in attendance. Regrettably, they (whoever “they” are) decided that the Precious Blood should be distributed too. There was a lot that was not consumed by the congregation so it fell upon me to finish it. I was a “happy” altar server.

  4. lawoski says:

    Father-

    Your post quotes Redemptionis Sacramentum 107 which instructs that any remaining Blood of Christ be consumed “by the Priest or by another minister”. Is it proper for someone who is not a priest or EMHC to consume the remaining Blood of Christ after the last parishioner has received?

    I am an (adult) altar server but not an EMHC. As an altar server, I receive communion at the same time the EMHCs do (i.e., before the congregation does). After I receive communion, I stand to the side of the altar until communion is over. When communion ends, I assist the Priest by removing from the altar items used during communion after he has cleaned them.

    On two recent occasions, an EMHC who had finished distributing the Blood of Christ to the congregants approached me as I stood next to the altar and asked if I would consume the Precious Blood that remained in the EMHC’s chalice. On both occasions, I had already received communion (both species). Trying to be helpful, I consumed the remaining Blood of Christ. Did I commit a sin or error by doing so? How should I respond if the EMHC makes the same request in the future?

  5. acardnal says:

    Only the ordained clergy, a “duly instituted acolyte” (seminarian), or EMHCs (with the bishop’s permission) are to consume any remaining Precious Blood; see GIRM, dated June 2011, #284 and the appendix entitled “Norms for Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion Under Both Kinds in the Dioceses of the United States of America” #52. Personally, if an EMHC is not willing to do so then perhaps he should not be one.

  6. heway says:

    Our priest consecrates 30 hosts at the Sunday Mass…many of them are consumed at the one weekday Mass. Sometimes he is unable to come on Sunday and the deacon comes and he uses the consecrated hosts that are reserved at the SCAP.

  7. jhayes says:

    If I recall correctly, an EMHC who has distributed the Precious Blood can consume any remaining Precious Blood from his/her own chalice but not from other chalices.

  8. acardnal says:

    @jhayes: you are correct. That is what #52 from the GIRM states that I referred to above.

  9. lawoski says:

    @acardnal-

    I serve at the 7:30 a.m. Sunday mass. The EMHC in question is a very petite woman. I am a husky man. Both times there was a lot of Precious Blood remaining. One of the times, she phrased her request as “would you be able to finish the rest” from which I inferred that she would not be able to consume the rest. This supports Father Z’s advice “NOT to consecrate too much”.

  10. acardnal says:

    @lawoski: Yes! Too much wine was consecrated. Just another example of the problems associated with communion under both species. I am sensitive to this issue because I have observed abuses in my travels and it bothers me.

    Perhaps you can respectively bring this to the Rev. Father’s attention in light of the GIRM of 2011 and your own experiences. Good luck!

  11. frjim4321 says:

    I am aware of an instance (one time over the past 15 years) when due to a sacristan error a ridiculously large amount of wine was consecrated at a 9 AM Sunday morning mass. In this situation a flagon of consecrated wine was reserved in the tabernacle for a couple hours since the next mass was at 11 AM. This was an extreme circumstance and not an ordinary procedure. To me it seemed a matter of common sense compared to (1) discarding the elements in the sacrarium or (2) consuming the remainder to the point of intoxication. Again, this was a rare emergency, just once over about 15 years, no harm, no foul. As I recall that sacristan was “retired” shortly thereafter.

    I was at a parish many years ago (when I had enough hair to comb and a 32-inch waist) when the Mass of the Lord’s Supper ended with a crystal flagon of consecrated wine and a crystal bowl of consecrated hosts on the altar. These elements remained there in adoration until around midnight, then reserved in the sacristy and were utilized at communion during the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion.

    It was moving . . . but again it was a long, long time ago and we don’t do anything like that here. For one thing, it seemed like to much of a departure from the rite, and a lot of documentation since that time makes it clear that it’s not a recommended practice.

    The practice described above sounds like the ancient practice of the fermentum but in a sort of corrupt way. I’d love to know more about the rationale of the priests in question. It does not seem like a defensible practice.

  12. Melody says:

    In charity, one should first omit the possibility of the Precious Blood being reserved for some patient, possibly even with dispensation. If there was some mix-up and the EMHC did not take it to the hospital, consuming the consecrated wine at the next available mass seems an appropriate and respectful approach.

  13. asperges says:

    The word “particle” confused me. It implies something solid (the Host – as in the Mass of the Presanctified?) but I think the writer just means “contents” of the chalice.

    I never fail to be astounded at the abuses asked about in good faith in these columns. Although the GIRM exists, no-one reads it and the ethos of the new rite remains to do whatever you like. Genuine co-existence of the Old Rite and its opposite and prescriptive order and dignity would rub off on the OF if only because it would once again discipline celebrants to behave properly and obediently.

    Communion under two kinds is unnecessary. It undermines understanding of the Real Presence under either kind alone. It smacks of Protestantism (“The Cup of the Lord is not to be denied to the lay people” – Cranmer) and should never have been introduced. But it’s too late now.

  14. Kaneohe says:

    Our sacristan always provide different amounts of wine to be consecrated at the vigil and the three Sunday Masses, yet our priest never looks up to see if perhaps there are much fewer attending that particular Mass – he always pours out ALL the wine -meaning that if there are half the regular communicants there is twice the wine = twice the Precious Blood. We have asked him to make a judgement based on the crowd (we have a very small church it seats less than 100). He says it’s not his problem and he can’t be bothered to figure this out and we should just “dump it down the drain” . You can imagine what the Masses are like – hurry hurry hurry – as he tells us “We can’t keep people here longer than 40 minutes since they have important things to do”. We have repeatedly told him these past 3 years that people have continuously complained he is rushing through Mass. He only used EP II since all the others are “too long and complicated”. We can barely keep up with him as he speeds through the common prayers – the Confiteor, Gloria etc… He is often most happy to tell us how he’d rather be in bed watching TV than “with you people” and how he “composes” his “homilies” on ” the throne” usually that very morning. You can image the ” c**p” we hear. Oh, and we are always reminded how he likes to receive electronic toys and money. Please pray for this priest and for our parish. While are are in the USA most of our diocesan churches have “missionary priests” from abroad. Our bishops says we are lucky to have a priest … maybe we are, but we pray that we may be even luckier – or rather “blessed” to have a dedicated priest. Well, at least that most of us see it. Almighty God, please forgive me if I am being judgmental – our parishioners just want to attended a holy Mass and be instructed how to live a holy life.

  15. Philangelus says:

    You’re making me very glad I’m no longer an EMHC. *sigh*

  16. AnnAsher says:

    Simple solution : don’t consecrate wine for distribution :)

  17. Volanges says:

    @jhayes
    Communion from previously consecrated Hosts is allowed even if, ideally, everyone would receive from the Hosts consecrated at the Mass they are attending.

    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 cases where this
    is foreseen, they partake of the chalice (cf. no. 283), so that even by means of the signs
    Communion may stand out more clearly as a participation in the sacrifice actually being
    celebrated.

    In our parish the priest administrator insists on a full ciborium in the Tabernacle at all times and refuses to conform to the Bishop’s mandate to only have a few Hosts for Viaticum. That’s about 300 consecrated Hosts when we have about 100 people at Sunday Mass. That Ciborium is retreived from the Tabernacle at every Sunday Mass and distribution is from both the reserved Hosts and those consecrate at that Mass.

  18. Volanges says:

    @asperges
    When the writer referred to ‘particle’ he/she was referring to a piece of the Host placed in the Chalice. In this case it was placed in the Chalice containing the reserved Precious Blood rather than the one containing the Precious Blood consecrated at that Mass.

  19. frjim4321 says:

    In better than 25 years I have virtually never celebrated the Eucharist without a shared cup, with the exception of the nursing home masses, and the lector/server always shares the cup there.

    I’ve never seen a case of so-called “profanation” with regard to the consecrated wine, but a few instances with regard to a consecrated host.

    You can’t walk away from communion with consecrated wine in your hand and put it in your pocket.

  20. Genna says:

    I think one of the problems with distributing the Precious Blood to the laity is that is raises confusion in some communicants’ minds. I was in conversation recently with a cradle Catholic in her mid-60s, a product of the old catechism and the teaching of the Host being Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ. Yet she truly believed that the Host was the Body only and the chalice held the Blood only. She was adamant that to receive the Host alone was to make an incomplete communion.

  21. uptoncp says:

    I know a church that did this once, after the celebrant miscalculated considerably, and there was nobody available to consume who didn’t have to drive immediately. Unfortunately, that was how the hairline crack in the chalice was discovered…

  22. timelord says:

    The ONLY situation I can envision where a priest would warrant saving ‘some’ of the Precious Blood in the Tabernacle would be to give Viacticum do a person IN PERICULO MORTIS who is unable to consume even a small fragment of the Host. If a person is unable to swallow a particle, they are most likely unable to swallow an ounce or less of consecrated wine. However, there could be a case where someone cannot have any solid substance but is able to drink a sip of liquid. If they were on their deathbed, then giving them some Precious Blood would be acceptable, in my opinion. Problem is that there are no specifically manufactured containers for this. Pyxes are for Hosts, not Precious Blood. Glass is not appropriate anymore (Deo gratis), so finding a silver or gold plated bottle with a spill-proof lid is problematic if not impossible.

    While it is encouraged to consecrate enough hosts at every Mass for the faithful to receive Holy Communion, it is not NECESSARY nor OBLIGATORY. Tabernacles containing Hosts from previous Masses can be used EXCEPT for concelebrating priests who MUST consume a newly consecrated Host and drink newly consecrated wine. The Blessed Sacrament does not reach critical mass (pardon the pun) if too many Hosts are reserved and then a Eucharistic meltdown, contrary to liturgists’ opinion. Since the Latin church does not use leavened wheat bread, the Hosts stay longer in a Tabernacle than does the Consecrated Leavened Bread used in the Divine Liturgy of the Eastern church. Still, I rotate the ciboria every month so the Hosts never stay more than 30 days or less.

  23. eulogos says:

    timelord-You might want to ask an Episcopalian priest about what container they use as they reserve the wine and always bring both species to the homebound. They use sherry for their communion wine, which has a higher alcoholic content and therefore keeps longer without spoiling. Anyway, they must have some kind of vessel they use to bring the wine to the sick.

    Please lets not make this an occasion to talk about the invalidity of Anglican orders and the consequences thereof. Anglicans believe they have valid orders and sacraments, and those of a more Catholic bent are very reverent. That is why I know they must have a reverent solution to the question of how to bring the Precious Blood to the sick when necessary.

    Susan Peterson

  24. eulogos says:

    Kaneohe, Perhaps your whole parish, or some group of you, could get together to pray for your priest. Something made him want to be a priest in the first place. Ask God to awaken that in him.

    Perhaps it would also work to thank him for being there. Perhaps he is struggling with depression and all activity requires great effort for him. If there is anything to praise, if he makes any good points in his homily, praise him.

    But more than anything, pray for him.
    Susan Peterson

  25. jhayes says:

    timelord, in the US, the Precious Blood may be taken to people who are sick, not necessarily dying, if they cannot consume the host (for instance people with celiac disease, who are allergic to gluten). The USCCB “Norms for the Distribution and Reception…” say

    “54. The Precious Blood may not be reserved, except for giving Communion to someone who is sick. Only sick people who are unable to receive Communion under the form of bread may receive it under the form of wine alone at the discretion of the priest. If not consecrated at a Mass in the presence of the sick person, the Blood of the Lord is kept in a properly covered vessel and is placed in the tabernacle after Communion. The Precious Blood should be carried to the sick in a vessel that is closed in such a way as to eliminate all danger of spilling. If some of the Precious Blood remains after the sick person has received Communion, it should be consumed by the minister, who should also see to it that the vessel is properly purified.”

    The vessel must be spillproof but it isn’t described as being specifically gold or silver plated.

    Regarding hosts, the same document says, in 30.

    “enough bread and wine are made ready for the communication of the faithful at each Mass. (45) As a general rule, Holy Communion is given from hosts consecrated at the same Mass and not from those reserved in the tabernacle.”

  26. jhayes says:

    Kaneohe, regarding “dump it down the drain”, the USCCB “Norms…” documnt i mentioned in my last post says:

    “55. The reverence due to the Precious Blood of the Lord demands that it be fully consumed after Communion is completed and never be poured into the ground or the sacrarium.”

  27. acardnal says:

    @Kaneohe: you have a terrible situation! I believe you have grounds to write the bishop and the Apostolic Nuncio a letter regarding the abuses. Use Fr. Z’s guidelines. I would ask the bishop for permission of the EMHC’s to consume the remainder of the Precious Blood since the priest doesn’t seem to care. It is a sacrilege to pour it “down the drain” or the sacrarium.

  28. jhayes says:

    Timelord, regarding vessels for taking communion to the sick, here is a dignified set:

    http://www.almy.com/Product2/zc0005502/category/PortableCommunionSets/parent/ChalicesAndCommunionVessels