While visiting my parents’ home (they are not Catholic; I am a convert), I was invited up to look at something on Mom’s prayer table.
I forget what it was … but out of the corner of my eye, something white caught my eye. Turning to look, I realized with shock that it was a Host. I asked how It had got there; Mom said she had gone to a Catholic church near her home and they had “handed these out” to everyone as they came up. So she took one too, but, not knowing what to do with it, she placed in on her prayer table near a picture of Jesus. (She’s a bit syncretistic in her religion.) So, what is the right thing for a Catholic to do after discovering such a situation?
What I did was, first knelt down to adore … stopped to explain to Mom that Communion is only meant to be received by Catholics …
adored some more, and finally, consumed the Host.
Did I do right? Should I have called the church or asked for a priest?
Reason #65665 for Summorum Pontificum.
First, allow me to observe that your mother, though not Catholic and not really understanding what the score was, seems to have had a greater sense of respect for the Host she was given than many cradle Catholics who blithely troop up for Communion as if they are getting their parking ticket validated.
You probably did the right thing.
Your mother’s explanation indicates that she brought that Host from Communion time during Mass. Therefore, there was little doubt that It was properly consecrated.
In a case like this, consuming the Host directly or calling the parish priest are both decent options. Another option would be carefully to wrap up the Host and take it to the parish, so that the priest could place it in the ablution cup. The Host can then be dissolved and the liquid poured down the sacrarium.
Communion in the hand has created all sorts of problems. It has decreased reverence for Catholics for the Blessed Sacrament and it has made it easier for people, for whatever reason, to take Hosts from churches. For the most part, people who might walk out with a Host are not doing so out of malice or ill-intent. They just don’t know what to do. Then the Host winds up thrown away or casually tumbled about until it is broken up.
There are other people, however, who take Hosts for nefarious reasons.
Also, I should remind people that there is an automatic excommunication
for throwing away the Blessed Sacrament or selling or giving It for bad purposes. In this case, however, you have to know that what you are doing is a mortal sin and then do it anyway with a free will in order to incur the censure. The censure can only be lifted by a confessor who receives the special faculty to lift it directly from the Holy See’s Sacra Penitenzieria Apostolica. Furthermore, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith treats as graviora delicta, “taking away or retaining the consecrated species for sacrilegious ends, or the throwing them away”.
In any event, we hear these tales of people finding Hosts from papal Masses glued into scrapbooks, Hosts under pews in church, Hosts in the pages of the missalette, Hosts stuck to gum on the bottoms of pews, Hosts on sidewalks outside church after Mass….I add this information here not because I think your mother incurred some kind of penalty (she wouldn’t have) but for the sake of being complete. It may be that there is some parish “minister” out there pouring “extra” Precious Blood down the drain after Mass, maybe even at the direction of some stupid priest or deacon. If so… knock it off!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: let’s get rid of Communion in the hand.
We need more and deeper preaching and teaching about the Eucharist, and we need a revitalization of our celebration of the Eucharist… from clew to earring, as Preserved Killick would say.
Fathers! This is the Year of Faith. How about trying to move people to receive on the tongue while kneeling?