QUAERITUR: priest consecrating the people during Mass?

From a reader:

I thought I had heard it all until—
I attended a Mass tonight during which the priest said:
"Tonight, Lord, we offer You these people and these gifts… we ask you to bless them and make them holy…. so that they might become… the Body and Blood… of Our Lord Jesus Christ."  He motioned towards the congregation with the words "these people" and towards the unconsecrated bread and wine with "and these gifts…"
I hope that the priest was not trying to "consecrate" the people…  but from the logic of this sentence, that’s what it sounded like.
What do you make of this?  Is this a liturgical abuse?  What, if anything, can be done about it?


Priests don’t consecrate people at the consecration during Holy Mass.  Priests consecrate the bread and the wine for the people, who in their turn are uniting themselves to what the priest is doing.

Yes, that strange interpolation is a liturgical abuse. 

The priest had a text provided for him in the book.  He chose instead to make something up on his own, at the most important part of Mass.   He violated your right to have a Mass celebrated according to your rite.  Furthermore, he created confusion by what he did.

If he regularly says this, I would have a discussion with the pastor of the parish, if that priest is not the pastor.  Otherwise, I would write to the bishop. 

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  1. I’m tempted to make several inappropriate comments, but it’s Sunday so I’ll be good!

  2. Henry Edwards says:

    Is it a stretch to far to think this priest’s interpolation suggests (or even reflects) the common heresy that the consecration forms the assembly present into the Body of Christ, and that His Real Presence is more in and among them than in the consecrated bread and wine? (As when at the words “This is my Body” in the consecration, the celebrant looks out benignly at the assembly, perhaps swinging his gaze from one side of the church to the other, and gestures to them with his consecrating hands.)

  3. Thomas G. says:

    It sounds like the writer was visiting a parish he does not normally attend. This is always the toughest situation to address, I have found, because even if you are around long enough to speak to the pastor about it, your status as “visitor” detracts from the seriousness with which your point is taken. It shouldn’t, but it frequently does.

    I visited a parish in Linz, Austria, in which the people plucked consecrated hosts out of a large bin, intincted them in the Sacred Blood, and put them in their mouths. Unable to speak to the pastor about it (I was passing through), I wrote to the pastor and Cardinal Shoenborn about the abuse (with the utmost courtesy) and didn’t even receive the courtesy of a reply.

  4. Supertradmum says:

    Should we add that the Mass was probably illegal and illicit? Would not the bread and wine not become the Body and Blood of Christ under this circumstance?

    Regardless of a lack of response, one should write to bishops about such.

  5. Maltese says:

    At the Oratory in Rock Hill, SC, they have these flattened loafs of bread, and after the consecration a dozen or so people come up to the altar and start crumbling the loafs with their unconsecrated hands. Ah well, it’s a community happy meal right, and not the Sacrifice! Gherardini, where art thou?

  6. Random Friar says:

    Yes, it would seem illegal or illicit, but not invalid, since it occurs at the Epiklesis. In Latin Rite theology, the substantial change occurs at the “This is my body…this is my blood.”

    I guess I would also ask if he made the Sign of the Cross, and over what. If he made it just over the gifts, then it’s, at best, an implied error.

    Anyway, the people are already consecrated… that’s what “Christian” means — anointed, i.e., consecrated to God. By Baptism we are incorporated into the Body of Christ, by Confirmation for service and witness, and by religious life and ordination for separated service and witness to God and His people. He is equivocating “consecration” here. Bread and wine are not already consecrated (and when they become the Body and Blood, they’re not substantially bread and wine, anyway).

  7. Mike Morrow says:

    Novus ordo…just say NO!

  8. William says:

    And now I need help on this: yesterday, Holy Mass was interrupted several times by a youngster (visitor) with what seemed to be severe emotional problems–loud outbursts, etc. It was eerie enough to cause me to say the St. Michael Prayer. Father appeared somewhat distracted and neglected (something he would not otherwise do) to consecrate the bread, moving directly to the wine. Valid-? Invalid-? Partially valid Mass? I received under both species (something I would not ordinarily do) so as to cover all bases. Please advise.

  9. lmgilbert says:

    Thomas G., you write:

    “Unable to speak to the pastor about it (I was passing through), I wrote to the pastor and Cardinal Shoenborn about the abuse (with the utmost courtesy) and didn’t even receive the courtesy of a reply.”

    If this is a new practice being introduced on an experimental basis, remonstrating reasonably with the pastor seems the way to go. If, however, it is an illicit local custom, why waste your time?

    If this was in the recent past, there is nothing standing in the way of writing to the CDW now.

    You always have standing, no matter in the world you go to write directly to

    Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments
    Palazzo delle Congregazioni, Piazza Pio XII, 10, 00193 Roma, Italy

  10. ray from mn says:

    Note for liturgy cops: Unless you see a suspected abuse repeated, I don’t believe that it is necessary to request an opinion on every single aberration that you observe in a Mass.

    We all know that the sad state of affairs is such that there are many abuses. God will take care of them for you if it’s truly a problem.

  11. Jamus says:

    Please note that we out here on the wrong coast have suffered for some time under such as the following, from a “pastoral letter” by one local bishop: “The key [of the Communion time] was unfolding the wonder and thanksgiving Catholics feel toward the Body of Christ –the consecrated bread and wine, and the Church. Both have the same name. What does it mean when the Body of Christ comes forward to receive the Body of Christ?”. I suspect the idea was not conceived in a theological vacuum; that there are several Ordinaries and other teachers who bloviate like bavardage…

  12. I am reticent to comment on this; it’s obvious there is a definite liturgical abuse and this priest had no right to change the words or the gestures.
    According to Pope Benedict (who would never allow or sanction this, so I’m treading thin ice here)…there is, in the Roman Canon, the prayer that the gifts that become the Body and Blood of Christ would transform those who receive them (“consecrate”?) into the very Presence of Christ.
    When the priest (in the EF) prays over the gifts at the “Hanc igitur” with hands over them, and at the “Quam oblatione”[which is a direct connection to Romans 12, 1-6…Offer your bodies as a sacrifice…and the “rational offering(sacrifice)” which is the sense of the Sacrifice of the Lord made present through Word that abolishes all other sacrifices] makes the signs of the Cross over the gifts (not the people!) there is a definite “link” between the “oblata” and the recipients.
    I’m just saying that in essence, this priest is correct in one aspect…the gifts that become the Body and Blood of Christ are meant to transform the recipients into His Presence in the world. But liturgically speaking, he is way off the mark.
    Bad teaching. Bad theology. Bad praxis.
    But again, based upon an erroneous application of something that does, in fact, happen when the faithful receive the Body and Blood of the Lord in Holy Communion.

  13. One correction: When I said “very Presence of Christ” I did not mean the sacramental Presence of Christ: the objective reality of His Real Presence, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the faithful who receive Him sacramentally. But the Presence of Christ, in another dimension, the transformed person who is “in Christo”; that is the aim of Holy Communion; it is one of the fruits of the Holy Mass.

  14. Mike says:

    This is very similar to the Archdiocese of Winnipeg’s Liturgical Renewal document which states, “Through the praying of the Eucharistic Prayer, the bread and wine as well as the entire worshipping assembly are changed and transformed into the Eucharistic Presence of Jesus. […] With the words of consecration, the Eucharistic Prayer transforms bread, wine and assembly into the presence of Jesus, one body and one cup, now food for the world.” -Paragraph under “Blessing”

    Archdiocese of Winnipeg Liturgical Renewal

  15. Random Friar says:

    William: It would seem to me that it was an invalid Mass, but there would have been no ulterior motive or intentional act by the priest. In that occasion, however, the people are considered to have fulfilled their Sunday obligation.

    It would seem to me that a quick and understanding word to the priest would be all that’s needed. Almost any priest would naturally be very embarrassed, and would not necessarily need a strong fraternal correction or display of righteous ire in that case.

  16. dcs says:

    William writes:
    Father appeared somewhat distracted and neglected (something he would not otherwise do) to consecrate the bread, moving directly to the wine. Valid-? Invalid-? Partially valid Mass? I received under both species (something I would not ordinarily do) so as to cover all bases. Please advise.

    The consecration of the wine would be valid, but the Mass itself would not be valid and the priest would have to offer Mass for the Mass intention or return the stipend.

  17. C. says:

    Instant theosis! If it worked, I would fly there tonight.

  18. Cantuale says:

    There is a big problem: is the tabernacle of the church big enough to put all those “consecrated” people in it, if you can’t eat them up at communion?? And beside that you need a very big ciborium to contain them! :-)))

  19. Random Friar says:

    Some priests and religious make fun of our habit (not the white one) of making distinctions and using analogical thought. Comes in most handy in situations like these.

    All hail Thomism! :)

  20. Jack Hughes says:

    @Random Friar

    Religious make fun of other religious in habits? what is the world coming to.

  21. GScheid says:

    The pastor at my local church makes up the entire Eucharistic prayer. It seems he uses the others as a guideline and is close but surely different each Mass. Even adds in long pauses to pray for this and that during the second portion.

  22. Random Friar says:

    Mr. Hughes: Well, even I make fun of ours sometimes. You can tell what a Dominican has eaten the last week he’s worn the habit from all the stains. Those Franciscans weren’t being poor — they were being practical!

  23. paxchristi says:

    “…otherwise, write the bishop”. I guess I’ve become jaded, but “write the bishop” sounds as useful as sending ice to the North Pole. We write and we write; we get the same polite oblique opaque responses (IF we get a response at all) underpinned with a pat-on-the-head, go-away-little-children attitude.

    The faithful laity is very weary of superior arrogance and lack of transparency coming from the chancery. When I fault the bishops for replies and attitudes like this, a priest wags a finger and tells me we should respect the office of bishop (read, never criticize a bishop). Yes, that is understood to a point, but there comes a time when the office of bishop needs to respect the faithful knowledgeable laity.

  24. Jack Hughes says:

    @ Random Friar

    You can laugh at your own habits if you want to and if the blackfriars want to examine each others habits to guess what they ate over the past week thats fine with me.

    Its when people make fun of Religious simply for being in habit or Priests for wearing cassocks that I get annoyed !!

    @paxchristi – as someone in a similar situation I feel your pain; my bishop it would seems would rather close/merge parishes than let the ICKSP, FSSP, Fransiscan Friars of the Renewal in to help run them. My bet is that if these orders were allowed in then you’d have no problems with vocations, numbers of practising Catholics ect ect……..oh well one can only pray adn do penance

  25. Jack Hughes is “right on”…
    If we religious are going to be a “sign of the Kingdom”, clean habits and whatnot are not much to do, yeah?
    The Catholic Church in England is in much need of our prayers, our penance, our compassion, and yes, maybe, our presence.
    “Our Lady’s Dowry” is not something merely “pretty” or pious. She needs our assistance.
    Can some missionary spirited priests/religious please assist our brothers and sisters in the UK?
    Jesus, Mary and Joseph are pleading with you…can you do it??

  26. Clevelander says:

    At present, the idea is a dual consecration, but it would be naïve to think that this is where this particular heresy [correct my terminology, Father] is destined to end up. Rather, it is just a step along the path toward airbrushing the Real Presence, and with it the meaning of Holy Orders, out of the picture, until belief in them is effectively gone. There is practically no limit to the deformities of faith to which you can lead people, if you are simply patient enough to work by degrees, armed with sentimental, faux-theological explanations for what you are doing.

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