What happens when you break one of those over-sized Hosts.

Over at southern orders I spotted an interesting post which reminded me of the famous Communion in the hand fragments posting here.

My emphases and comments:

Do you see the large fragment to the left of the large un-consecrated host–that’s a crumb on my black trousers as I was breaking the large host! More about this below!

Another picture of crumbs or large fragments from large unconsecrated host I was breaking at the scored part of these hosts!

For the past 30 years I have used the large host in the photo above for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. But no more! [OORAH!] I’ve become more conscious of the fact that when these are "broken" after the Consecration of the Mass, during the "Breaking of the Bread" that large fragments of the host fly all over the place, on clothes, corporal, floor and elsewhere.

I saw this happen this morning in my office as I sat at my desk chair with a Tupperware container. I was breaking the large breads and realized that against my black trousers and the florescent light, I could see large and small fragments flying everywhere! If I had filmed this in slow motion, it would look like these fragments would become like an aerosol spray or a sneeze from a person’s mouth filmed in slow motion. One can’t see this during Mass with the white altar cloth background and the lighting of the Church. [A good point.]

I have already made a decision no longer to use the large, whole wheat hosts because I would find large fragments on the corporal after the Breaking of the Bread. But I had no idea to what extent this was happening. On top of that, the broken hosts from the large one have a very jagged edge with large fragments easily falling as these are given to communicants. [There was a reason why the Church used smaller Hosts.]

I am not a scrupulous person, but I do believe what the Church teaches about transubstantiation and that every fragment of the host no matter how large or small is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Risen Lord. Accidents happen with small fragments and certainly our Risen Lord can take care of Himself. However, knowing now from what I have seen, I cannot in good conscience continue using these large hosts.

We are using the Cavanaugh hosts in white bleached wheat and the traditional smaller large host for the priest beginning this Sunday!


WDTPRS kudos to Fr. McDonald. 

And I am happy to report that they are well on their way to solving the rectory rat problem.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. And when one receives the Lord in their hands there are also particles that one may not be able to see. Yet another reason to receive Him on the tongue, IMHO.

  2. They were using those at my new assignment before I arrived. There were 2 left when I showed up at the beginning of July, so I used them that first weekend and didn’t order more. Problem solved, especially since there were 3 packages of the celebrant large hosts and several cases of the smaller hosts.

  3. Luke says:

    And this is an ugly reminder of the places in Minnesota that one is better to avoid for Mass. There is a particular place in Collegeville, whose name I won’t mention (as though many don’t already know), where a large pizza-looking thing is consecrated and then broken over the floor as it is distributed. Very unfortunate. Whenever one of those priest fills in down in the Cities I find myself wandering back to the sacristy after the Mass to ask him, “Father, why do you change the words and rubrics of the Eucharistic Prayer?” It’s about time that we all express in some way that we’ve had it “up to here” with having goofy theology shoved into our faces through these changes.

  4. dans0622 says:

    Great! Those large hosts are abominable and I am glad that at least one more priest will stop using them. Fr. Sticha: glad to hear it.


  5. Luke: Good for you, bro. I’m a “survivor” of that certain place in Collegeville; I know, all too well, of what you speak. Just nasty all around.

  6. pattif says:

    My college always uses those Frisbee hosts at the college Mass (or Eucharistic celebration, as they prefer to call it). On one particularly horrendous occasion, when the Principal was the celebrant, I was nearly at the end of the queue as I approached him for Communion. Unbeknownst to me, he had several fragments left in the ciborium and thought it would be clever to give me two. I put out my tongue, upon which he placed the two fragments, on on top of the other. The bottom one naturally stuck to my tongue, but the top one (which I didn’t know was there) slid straight out of my mouth because it didn’t have anything to stick to. I made a grab for it as it went down, but missed, and I’m ashamed to say I was so shocked I just walked away. I have no idea what became of the fragment of host that hit the floor. It still makes me shudder to think about it.

  7. Get rid of the frisbee hosts. And since Fr. McDonald brings it up, get rid of the whole wheat ones, too. I’ve never been able to understand the point of having hosts in a color other than white.

  8. Subimonk says:

    I no longer use the extra large hosts. They produce too many crumbs, and are too thick. I’ve gone back to the traditional hosts in white. With my medical condition, I produce hardly any saliva, and whole wheat just about dehydrates me, and makes me choke. Making a virtue out of necessity, I suppose.

  9. JohnE says:

    This past weekend our priest talked about Christ’s humility and said that he could have chosen to come as anything in this sacrament, but he chose bread to show his humility. Part of his point was that we shouldn’t be overly concerned about crumbs because Christ knew that this is what bread does and this was the humble way Christ chose to come to us. He also said we should stop being so afraid to touch him (apparently he doesn’t consider receiving on the tongue to be touching him).

    A year or two ago he had also said that Christ’s real presence remains as long as the accidents are still bread — and crumbs aren’t bread. My impression from other times he has spoken on this topic is that he views those who receive on the tongue as having a superficial piety. I receive in the hand from him, unless I’m carrying one of my children, and on the tongue from all others. God knows if I’m only pious superficially. If so, maybe someday my superficial piety will sink in deeper. But I just don’t see how being less pious externally is supposed to help me. I thought these external acts were to help me internally.

  10. JosephMary says:

    Yes, and what is really heart wrenching is when the priest holds up one of those large hosts to break it with flourish, snapping it in the air.

  11. paxchristi says:

    Many years ago I viewed a priest holding a large Host high up over the altar and breaking it while he said the words of the Consecration (“He took it and broke it …”) He happened to be standing in a shaft of sunlight and I watched in horror as the tiny fragments cascaded up into the air, all over the altar – and beyond.

    Some years later I attended a Mass where Communion was from an unleavened “loaf” which was broken up by the priest, deacons and EMHE’s before Holy Communion. After the priest and deacons had left the altar, an altar server came along, picked up the corporal (left behind on the altar), shook it vigourously, folded it and took it to the sacristy. When the church was empty, save me, one of the deacons quietly approached the altar and spent the next 20 minutes laboriously seeking and reverently consuming every fragment on the altar and on the floor. He has long since died and that is my special enduring memory of him. May God rest his beautiful soul.

  12. RickMK says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of them used in any church I’ve been to around here. (I’m in the Philadelphia archdiocese.)
    It is nice to know that even though things can get pretty annoying at Novus Ordo Masses around here, things could be a lot worse, and we are more fortunate here than people are in other places.

  13. The Egyptian says:

    Seeing one of the severettes hold up the corporal by the edges and shake and fold it, I approached our priest and was informed that the new hosts don’t crumb and there was nothing to worry about. He is also the one that informed me that the church is now horizontal not vertical, sigh. I have since asked to assist the new person training the servers, he agrees with me, so maybe some good will come.

  14. The Egyptian says:

    PS he uses the big “party hosts”, would it be appropriate of me to forward this to him, or should I leave good enough alone?

  15. aod33 says:

    Exactly why I use the traditional-sized hosts. The more you have to break something, the more fragments there will be. I’ve argued against the giant hosts with no success. I get two responses from those who are pro-frisbee host: 1) the large hosts are easier for the people to see and 2) it’s good for some of the people to receive from the same host that the priest receives.

  16. Fr. Basil says:


    Why would not there be crumbs flying when breaking the customary priest’s hosts?

  17. Jordanes says:

    It’s a matter of the physics related to the size, thickness, and texture of the host. If the host has a larger diameter, but its thickness is not that much greater than that of a normal-sized host, it will tend to be more brittle and apt to break into more and larger fragments: and each fragment will have edges with more surface area, meaning more material available that is capable of creating crumbs — those edges would also more easily crumble due to the stress of fraction.

    If a crumb’s accidents are recognisably those of bread, it is Jesus. Tiny, microscopic dust that may fly off a small host during fraction loses the accidents of bread and thus is not the Blessed Sacrament.

  18. Will D. says:

    I wondered the same thing, Fr. Basil, but I suspect the real problem with these huge hosts is that they are repeatedly broken, rather than just once. More pieces (24 in the pictured host), more particles.

  19. Fr. Basil: Why would not there be crumbs flying when breaking the customary priest’s hosts?

    There can be.

    However, when the priest’s host is smaller, it is easier to control. Also, if the priest sticks to a more traditional way of handling the Host, especially at the time of the fraction, the possibility of the loss of particles is greatly minimized.

  20. GirlCanChant says:

    “I get two responses from those who are pro-frisbee host: 1) the large hosts are easier for the people to see and 2) it’s good for some of the people to receive from the same host that the priest receives.”

    I know this is a little off-topic, but isn’t the priest supposed to consume the entire host himself? I only know one priest who does this; the rest break it up into smaller pieces, even if they are using a non-frisbee. Is this in the rubrics somewhere, or does it just not apply to the Ordinary Form?

    Also, sometimes I wonder if they use the frisbee hosts because they make it harder to receive on the tongue. I try not to be paranoid, though.

  21. aquinasadmirer says:

    I too have been subjected to Masses in Collegeville. I was singing for Mass, and my daughter received a blessing because she was not old enough to receive our Lord in the Eucharist. After she got the blessing from the celebrant (who went on to be the president of the college) my wife noticed that there were crumbs all over the top of her head. My wife could see them easily because my daughter is a brunette. My wife didn’t quite know what to do. I was more than a little troubled.

  22. Jayna says:

    I feel like I should send this to my priest. And you think that’s big, take a look at this monster. That’s from my up-til-recently parish (and yes, those are wood vessels).

  23. Just from my own experience; even with the regular priest’s host, crumbs can be everywhere; the older practice of “scraping” the corporal was very wise…all kinds of fragments, visible to the eye, can be there. And when, for some reason, I’m using a corporal previously used by another priest, I sometimes find all kinds of rather obvious fragments of the Holy Sacrament.
    I’m not being scrupulous here; but when you can SEE them, the normative action is to scrape them and place them into the chalice where proper consumption and purification can take place.
    There can be a very lax attitude/practice here; with this host, broken into how many pieces, how can there NOT be fragments?

  24. Will D. says:

    Jeepers, Jayna. I’m pretty sure tortillas are not licit, no matter how stale they are.

  25. Sandra_in_Severn says:

    What I was taught by the Chaplains; “NEVER EVER shake out the altar linens!” The corporals were gently folded. They are then, after Mass, taken to the sacrarium. (Yes. most military chapels do have them and it is labeled so the Protestants and others don’t mistake it for a regular sink.)

    Once in awhile I see one of the kids start to make a mistake, and get quickly corrected.

    Off post, it can be a real “eye opener” what happens during Mass.

  26. stpetric says:

    And, from the perspective of a man in the pews, the enormous hosts simply look absurd. A conventional priest’s host is perfectly visible and serves just fine.

  27. Jack Hughes says:


    Amen, I went to an evening Mass on tuesday (not my regular parish) and the host was enourmous;I had to stifle a giggle

    @Nazareth priest

    Amen, at Downside we lowly servers had this lesson hammered into us by a wonderful priest whilst being taught how to maintain a good sacristy

  28. Even if you were talking about an ordinary meal in a dining room, you wouldn’t shake out the tablecloths and napkins all over the floor of the dining room!

    I’m appalled on so many levels. But it goes to show that kids are not going to magically know things; they need to be taught to be servers, and they need to practice every motion until the whole thing gets engrained. And whoever is the sacristan or Mass coordinator needs to keep an eye on things, to prevent bad practices being let slip.

  29. Diakonia says:

    The timing of this post is uncanny! I was assisting at Mass very recently at a time when the sun was shining very brightly down directly at the altar from windows that are vey high up in our Church. I went to the tabernacle to retrieve the ciborium with the reserved hosts. When I got back to the altar, the priest has just completed the fracturing of the very large host. That process caused such a huge creation of small particles and “dust” that it truly appeared as though something was on fire directly in front of the priest. Standing right next to the priest, I could clearly see something resembling smoke rising upwards illuminated by the sunbeams that were directly focused in that area at the time. I was truly concerned for a split second about fire, but then I sadly realized that it had come off that enormous host.

    The use of them makes no sense to me. If the explanation is so that people in the back of Church can see the host during the two elevations, then it fails to explain why the same priest uses the small host on weekdays.

  30. cl00bie says:

    “Many years ago I viewed a priest holding a large Host high up over the altar and breaking it while he said the words of the Consecration (“He took it and broke it …”) He happened to be standing in a shaft of sunlight and I watched in horror as the tiny fragments cascaded up into the air, all over the altar – and beyond.”

    Our pastor does that now, holding the host up to show everyone, pulls it back and cracks it in half (not appearing to worry about where the fragments were going).

    I told my wife that it appeared that “Jesus was flying hither and yon”, and my wife said: “It isn’t Jesus yet.”.

    Is that true? At that point, is the priest only breaking bread?

    If so, I would think that one would only need to worry about the fragments that landed on the altar, since those would be the only one transsubstantiated, no?

  31. jilly4ski says:

    I too am a “survivor” of a certain somewhere in Collegeville. Though I must say it isn’t as bad as a certain somewhere in Saint Joseph MN, especially recently. But when one has to defeat the urge to dust ones hands off after receiving and suck particles of the host from between your fingers… Also the size and crumbliness of the torn host makes it impossible to receive on the tongue. On the bright side at least I know I am not the only “survivor” of the bad liturgy perpetuated at that place. =)

  32. catholicmidwest says:

    This is why I started receiving on the tongue, even though I had not been taught to do so in RCIA. I’m not a scrupulous person, but I am a chemist and so have attention to details, and would find particles on my hands after receiving in the palm, particularly if the host had been broken. This way, at least, I’m not dropping anything on the floor. I wish they would use patens.

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