I got this question by e-mail:
I’m a young Roman Catholic who frequently serves at the altar. This Sunday, shortly before the "Lamb of God", my priest dropped the large host on the ground and almost stepped on it. He picked it up and proceeded with mas as though nothing had happened. After recovering from my initial shock, I soon noticed he had no intention to purify the ground on which it fell. I proceeded to send another altar server to place a purificator on the spot upon which the host had fallen (as I had been taught to do by another pastor). He only then reluctantly did the purification.
I would like to know the proper procedure to follow when the host falls to the ground. Should the purification take place immediately, or is it OK to wait until after Mass? Was I right in sending the other sever to place a purificator on the spot?
(I was pretty upset by this incident, I’ll admit. I’ve come to feel that this is only one of several occasions where my pastor has treated the Eucharist very casually. I wrote a complaint the the Vicar Forane of my Vicariate — I hope this wasn’t overstepping anything!)
The best thing to do at that moment of the Mass would be to cover the place where the Host fell with a purificator, or an auxiliary Communion paten, to keep anyone from stepping on that area and to remember where it was, and then do the purification immediately after Mass.
It is a little tough for someone to tell a priest what he has to do. If a priest doesn’t know what to do, and I think there are many today who don’t because these practical things were not part of their formal training, the best approach is simply and matter of factly to get everything ready for him to do what he needs to do, and present them with a measure of calm expectation. If he doesn’t know what to do, he may ask a question: be ready to answer it. If you are going to work in a sacristy, know your stuff.
Be careful about writing letters about things like this, that is, that you don’t think that, in your opinion, the priest treats the Eucharist with "enough" reverence, or that he is too "casual". You can’t easily write about the attitudes of others and provide proofs of what you are talking about. Concrete demonstrable abuses are another matter. A good approach is to, always and in everywhere, in his presence, in every word and action, show great reverence for the Blessed Sacrament.