ASK FATHER: “Blood” omitted from the consecration

From a reader…

QUAERITUR:

Recently at my parish, we had a retired priest say masses while our priest was away. In addition to improvising prayers during the Collect, he changed the wording of the Words of Institution. During the consecration of wine, he said something along the lines of, “This is the cup of the new covenant,” without ever mentioning the word “blood.” Did this invalidate the consecration? Furthermore, if it did, am I under moral obligation as a layperson to warn fellow parishioners that what they hope to receive as the Precious Blood of the Lord remains unconsecrated wine?

There are several issues here.

 

First, when I see descriptions including “along the lines of” instead of exact wording, my antennas wave.

However, you say that he did NOT say the word “Blood”.

It is possible to screw up or change some elements of the form and still validly consecrate, but if you don’t include the word “Blood” at all… then I say that isn’t a valid consecration.  The Precious Blood was not consecrated.

That means that Mass was not celebrated.

If people receive a Host for Communion, they received the Eucharist.  If they drank from an offered chalice… nope.

There are ramifications for the intention and the stipend for the Mass.

What to do about this?

Doing this once might be a mistake.  Doing this regularly is another matter entirely.  That would mean he means to do it.

I suppose the first thing would be to bring it up to a priest a the parish.  If there isn’t one at all, ask the priest who is doing this about it.  If he blows you off and keeps doing it, then he should be reported IMMEDIATELY to the local bishop and/or the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.    This is grave matter.

Fathers… STICK TO THE BOOK!

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33 Responses to ASK FATHER: “Blood” omitted from the consecration

  1. Legisperitus says:

    This happened once in my experience in the EF when an elderly priest said “Hic est enim calix mei,” omitting “sanguinis.” But I was the only one close enough to hear him. Guess it was a valid sacrament, but not a valid sacrifice. [Not quite.]

  2. AM says:

    From this, it seems that it is possible to consecrate bread [the Body of the Lord] without consecrating wine [the Blood of the Lord]. Is that right? [Yes, but it is absolutely forbidden to do so.]

  3. Luvadoxi says:

    Shortly after my conversion several years ago, we had a visiting priest–the director of vocations for our diocese!–make a similar mistake–and I’m sure it was a mistake in his case–I believe he said the words for the Precious Blood twice and omitted This is my body. I was so shocked I didn’t know what to do, so I went forward. I wrote a note to him later, very polite, in the third person hypothetical, and I don’t quite remember his response–I think along the lines of ecclesia supplet. Anyway, hopefully he got the point and offered the Mass again for the intention.

  4. Aquinas Gal says:

    Once I was at Mass of an older priest–who is excellent–but he had some memory lapse and did not say the proper words for the consecration of the host, so I thought it probably wasn’t valid. A couple other times at the Masses of older priests they messed it up a little but said the essential words–This is my body… etc. so I think it was valid.
    But my point is that with the priest shortage and older priests heroically serving in parishes even when they probably should retire, this will be more of a problem. Dementia can hit anyone, priests included.

  5. Gerard Plourde says:

    The comments of Legisperitus, Luvadoxi and Aquinas Girl regarding unintentional omissions underscore an important point – In the vernacular, in Latin, in the Ordinary Form or the Extraordinary Form READ the Black! Missals, Sacramentaries, and Altar Cards are printed and placed on the Altar for a reason. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is not an ad hoc exercise. The temptation to recite from memory can lull a celebrant into “autopilot mode” where he is not fully present and attentive to the Mystery at the most critical time.

  6. Pax--tecum says:

    Did anyone else notice that the fonts used nowadays in altar missals are much smaller than they used to be before the Council? I have an altar missal from the 1930’s, where the words of the Canon of the Mass are printed so large, that you could read them even if you were standing at a distance of a few meters from the book and had forgotten to put on your glasses.

    Perhaps if they made missals as they made them back then, priests wouldn’t mess up the words of Consecration? Or perhaps they could use an altar card, as in the Tridentine Rite? Just my two pennies worth…

  7. frjim4321 says:

    That is a major excursion from the text. I can see where this could raise questions about validity. Clearly minor corrections such as retaining “cup” and “for all’ might cause some squeamishness for the scrupulous, but invalidity has never been a concern with such replacements. With respect to the example at hand it might seem at first glance that we could be dealing with an invalid simulation of a sacrament here. But we do have the example of the Anaphora of Addai and Mari, undoubtedly valid but lacking an explicit institution narrative. [High disputed by scholars. This question is open. And it does NOT pertain to the Roman Rite.] I don’t have the text in front of me, but it may not have the word “blood” in it. But I don’t know if that matters. I think it could be argued that an implied institution reference in the context of a Eucharist presided over by a validly ordained priest would be valid. [Nope.]Pastorally, however, I don’t think it’s a very helpful alteration of the text. I wouldn’t recommend it.

  8. Grumpy Beggar says:

    A sacrament simply cannot be, unless the two elements of form (in this case, the words of consecration) and matter (in this case , the wine) are not used in the sacramental rite.

    But it all rests on, or is dependent on, that foundation we call intention : The minister must intend to do what the Church does. It is one of the reasons why the words (form) are said to be the more important of the two elements in the composition because , words express men’s intentions (St. Augustine) “Verba inter homines obtinuerunt principatum significandi”

    I remember some 14 years ago my spiritual director wanting to drive home the importance – the precedence , to me of intention where it concerns confection of the Eucharist . He asked me to consider looking at it from what I call the other end of the pipe. He said , “Now, imagine you have a validly ordained minister who follows the exterior rite to perfection using unleavened bread only made from flour and water, and wine made from grapes, and who pronounces the words of consecration exactly as prescribed . . .but, who at the same time is saying interiorly, obstinately ‘I don’t want to consecrate, I don’t want to consecrate!’ The end result would be that no Eucharist would have been confected – even though all the exterior signs would have indicated otherwise . . . because he did not intend to do what the Church does.”

    That one shook me up for a while. I kept pondering why anyone would go to all the trouble of following the prescriptions to a T, while having no intention (nor love, it would seem) of doing what the Church does. And relative to the case described in the OP, one might conversely ponder [inadvertent defects aside] ( from the other end of the pipe ) : How could someone intending to do what the Church does, be so careless with the words of consecration ? Is it possible to really believe that one is actually making God Himself and His Sacrifice of Calvary present on the altar , while simultaneously treating the words which express this truth, as though they were insignificant ?

  9. Grumpy Beggar says:

    Sorry guys – a typo in the above (speaking of inadvertent defects . . . doh!!)
    First sentence should have read “are used in the sacramental rite” not “are not used. . . “

  10. Father P says:

    Grumpy Beggar,

    “but, who at the same time is saying interiorly, obstinately ‘I don’t want to consecrate, I don’t want to consecrate!’ The end result would be that no Eucharist would have been confected”

    That’s not actually correct. Sacramental intention is not an interior disposition but is something that is expressed externally. By showing up to celebrate Mass at the scheduled time, vesting in the vestments, approaching the Altar, using the Roman Missal, the priest has manifested his intention to celebrate Mass no matter what his interior disposition or personal faith. It’s why the “read the black and do the red” is so important. By following the rite as given us by the Church the priest manifests the intention to do what the Church does.

    (BTW its why a priest who leaves the Catholic Church and takes up ministry in a Protestant ecclesial community doesn’t consecrate at a Communion Service even if he says in his heart during the service “I intend to consecrate”. There may be the proper matter, form, and minister, but by showing up for the 11:00 service at First Methodist, with a Methodist congregation, using the Methodist ritual for holy communion his intention is to do what the Methodists do)

  11. Gerard Plourde says:

    Dear Grumpy Beggar,

    Thank you for the excellent post regarding the indispensible interrelationship of both form and intention. The rubric truly is: SAY the Black. DO the Red. INTEND your words and actions from your heart.

  12. Suburbanbanshee says:

    I think it is best to assume absentmindedness instead of assuming that someone doesn’t care or is malicious. The only times I have ever walked into traffic inadvertently were times when I was particularly absorbed in enthusiasm for living; it was not a secret malicious death wish, or a lack of respect for laws and streets and cars. My feet just got there before my brain did, or I was too tired to follow the more intellectual portion of habitual crossing of streets.

    I do not expect priests to be less subject to human error than laypeople are.

  13. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Also, if servers are around they can prompt Father, but most parishes are light on servers these days.

  14. pjsandstrom says:

    It is a ‘curious coincidence’ that this question would be raised during the series of 5 Sundays when the Gospel proclaimed is John 6. Or is it?

  15. Wiktor says:

    It happened once that an older priest didn’t mention the name of the pope, nor bishop ordinary. I hoped it was simply a mistake, and not… something else.

  16. APX says:

    Pax–tecum

    Did anyone else notice that the fonts used nowadays in altar missals are much smaller than they used to be before the Council?

    With all the options, there is a lot more text that needs to go into the Missal. More text means more pages. More pages means more trees cut down. By making the text smaller more can be fit on each page, thus cutting down on pages and tree murder. Less trees murdered equals better stewardship.

  17. frjim4321 says:

    What if we composed an Anaphora which replaced “this is my body” with “the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world?” It would truly be extraordinary but it would be hard to see it as invalid. It’s as close as John gets to any kind of institution narrative.

  18. gheg says:

    I was once at an Eastern-rite Divine Liturgy with a small congregation when the priest accidentally said the proper words over the chalice twice and omitted the bread altogether. I quietly opened the “deacon’s door” and told him what had happened. He went back to the beginning of the consecration and did the whole thing again.

  19. Augustine Thompson O.P. says:

    The most recent statement of the Pontifical Council on Ecumenism, explicitly approved by Pope St. John Paul II recognizes the Anaphora of Addai and Mari, as used by the Assyrian Church of the East currently (without an explicit institution narrative) as validly consecrating the elements. See section 2 of the document:

    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/documents/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_20011025_chiesa-caldea-assira_en.html

    Needless to say, this would not make a Roman Mass valid, if the narrative or essential words are omitted, since this decision applies only to the Church of the East and its most common Anaphora. The argument in the document is that in the Anaphora of Addai and Mari the narrative is implicitly present “in a dispersed euchological way.”

  20. Augustine Thompson O.P. says:

    Opps, make that “Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity” in my last post. Must stop citing documents from memory.

  21. Tantum Ergo says:

    As an old codger, I’ve seen a lot of screwy stuff. Once the priest apparently forgot the consecration. I went over to the rectory after (Mass?) to let him know in a gentle way what happened. He said that he caught the error and whispered the words. (I’ll have to take his word.) Then he said that ecclesia suplet took care of it anyway.
    I’ve also seen a priest use the only words of consecration of the Precious Blood for both species.

  22. Grumpy Beggar says:

    Father P says:
    “but, who at the same time is saying interiorly, obstinately ‘I don’t want to consecrate, I don’t want to consecrate!’ The end result would be that no Eucharist would have been confected”
    “That’s not actually correct. Sacramental intention is not an interior disposition but is something that is expressed externally. By showing up to celebrate Mass at the scheduled time, vesting in the vestments, approaching the Altar, using the Roman Missal, the priest has manifested his intention to celebrate Mass no matter what his interior disposition or personal faith. . . ”

    Hi Father P. Thanks for your interest and for the reply.
    I’m not quite sure you understood what I meant (or maybe I’m not reading you right). I was citing a hypothetical example given me by my spiritual director, but I assure you, it is soundly based. While I don’t really enjoy chewing on any bones of contention with my fellow combox members of Father Z’s blog, perhaps several things could be cleared up at least:

    I can agree with what you’re saying in general about sacramental intention – but not exclusively, as you imply, without factoring in the free will of the minister. The minister’s free will cannot be discounted or discarded. When a man is ordained to the priesthood, he doesn’t just suddenly or automatically lose his free will- no matter how great his ministerial responsibility becomes. Your example of someone leaving the priesthood would support this fact.

    Your reply appears to be written from the perspective of a faithful priest – and I think that’s great. I was careful in my post to lay inadvertent defects aside, so that in reference to the OP it would pertain more directly to deviants (as opposed to faithful). Deviants exist in all walks of life, whether we care to admit it or not.

    Your reply would also appear to have inadvertently excluded, or to have left no room for the possibility of something called sacramental simulation. That’s more what my post was hinting at. The definition of sacramental simulation given by Father John Hardon’s Modern Catholic Dictionary and quoted here , appears to concur with what my spiritual director told me – that it is in fact possible to simulate he sacrament by “changing secretly and unlawfully . . .the necessary intention.”

  23. Cantor says:

    Suburbanbanshee –

    I have to say, thanks for the giggle. As a former server, I remember my mind being occupied at the Consecration by exactly when and how long to ring the bells for the genuflections and elevations. (It all depended on the priest.)

    Somehow I cannot for the life of me imagine tugging on Father’s chasuble and suggesting he give it another shot! (Not to mention Sister Mary Deathstar’s laser beam glare that would have put me out of my misery. Or sent me somewhere I’d rather not go!)

  24. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Re: John and institution narratives, it seems that John was filling in stuff that he felt had not been covered, or covered enough for his audience, in the other Gospels. So it would seem that he was happy with the institution narratives in the other Gospels. In exchange, he gave us meatier explanations.

  25. Pax--tecum says:

    @APX

    Perhaps I wasn’t clear enough. The larger font is only used for the Canon of the Mass. The propria are printed in a normal type, while the other ordinary texts that the priest would use every day (prefaces, Pater noster, Agnus Dei, Communion prayers, Placeat tibi, last Gospel) are printed in a type somewhere in between the large and normal type.

    If we are going to be nit-picky about some trees being “murdered” (as if a tree were a human being) so that a worthy and (that I, as a tree-killer, would use such a word!) sustainable, durable book can be printed for the celebration of the most awesome sacrifice that we can offer unto God, the sacrifice of the Mass, well, then we have lost the essence of our faith. Then we have become some sort of New Age treehuggers. There are much better ways to spare the environment: using a missal instead of missalettes/leaflets, removing the options from the New Mass, stop making changes to the liturgical rites every few years so that the books (missals, rituals etc.) can be used for longer than a few years.

    This 1930’s altar missal that I was talking about has the new Commune unius aut plurium Summorum Pontificum that was made during the pontificate of Pius XII pasted in, as well as the Mass for S John Bosco. That means that this missal may very well have been used for decades. The same can’t be said for most books used in the celebration of the New Mass.

  26. frjim4321 says:

    “Then he said that ecclesia suplet took care of it anyway.”

    Not in that case.

  27. Luvadoxi says:

    A related question: what about the part earlier than the consecration, where the priest offers the wine and then something about earth and human hands. He usually just speaks about the wine. Does he do the bread part sotto voce? I’ve always wondered about this….it’s not the consecration, so I don’t suppose it would affect validity, but I’m wondering.

  28. Gerard Plourde says:

    Curiously, this raises an interesing question. How widespread is or was the occurrance of error in the celebration of the Mass of Pius V (the Tridentine Mass)? A mistake by a priest celebrating the Mass of Paul VI is easily caught by the congregation because the words are audible to all. The rubric for the Mass of Pius V requires that the celebrant speak in a low voice and in Latin, lessening the probability that anyone would notice. There were probably occurences before the Second Vatican Council when all priests celebrated it. I would posit that the liklihood is less now, but not altogether absent, given that those who celebrate the Extraordinary Form are truly dedicated to it, but that a return to universal use would see an accompanying rise in inattention and errors (because of the failings of human nature, the occurance of error in the celebration of Mass and the administration of Sacraments was probably the understandable and licit rationale behind “ecclesia suplet”).

  29. Father P says:

    FrJim

    To respond to your example of a Western Eucharistic Prayer that lacked the traditional words of institution. So long as the “we” who composed it is the Church and the Pope defined what would be considered the “form” of the Sacrament in that particular prayer then that would be the form of the Sacrament.

    The recent historical example of the change in sacramental form for the Sacrament of Confirmation in the West shows that this can and does happen

  30. Supertradmum says:

    Living in a diocese where aberrations abound, two of us at a daily Mass two months ago caught this same error. The Host was not consecrated, as the priest changed the words, but the wine was. We could not find out who the visiting priest was, so we made an appointment with the pastor. The pastor told us “You are not the only ones to complain about Fr…….” Well, this renegade priest changes the Mass as he goes alone and says Mass two-three times a week at this parish, as the pastor does not say daily Mass for some reason. His most frequent error is using the EP of the Mass of Reconciliation almost daily. I phoned the diocese about this and was told that some priests do not like the new translation and so revert back to the EP of the Mass of Reconciliation, when the Mass is not one of reconciliation.

    Nothing has been done about this priest. The other lady also reported last year that on the Feast of the Assumption, in a packed church, with children, this same “visiting priest”, who also takes one of the Sunday Masses, said the Assumption never happened, as art depicts and he pointed to the beautiful painting on the ceiling stating this is wrong. He also said that the “stories of the Old Testament” are not to be taken literally.

    Many good men and women who have complained to the pastor, who is obviously not dealing with this priest, have stopped going to daily Mass at that parish, including me. Obviously, if others have complained, nothing is going to change, as I do not know the others, so there can be no concerted effort.

  31. Legisperitus says:

    Gerard Plourde: Just to clarify, in the situation I described above, the elderly priest was reading the consecration from the card, but momentarily paused after “calix.” I got the impression he couldn’t remember whether he had just said “sanguinis” or not. Guess the better course of action would have been to risk saying it twice instead of not at all.

  32. Supertradmum says:

    This exact thing happened this morning. Two of us noted that the priest changed both the words of the EP and the Institution of the Blood of Christ. The priest said “passed the bread” and “passed the wine” to His disciples; he said “cup”, and worst of all, making the Eucharist invalid, the priest omitted “in me” after “do this in memory”. He has done this before. As I am a visitor here, the person I was with is going to contact the diocese, as talking with the priest, he states, will not do any good. Apparently, people have complained about this priest before….when will this ever end.