QUAERITUR: shaking down the Lord

From a reader:

At the Holy Thursday night mass, there were more hosts than would easily fit into the three ciboria. The deacon held the tops down and gave each one a vigorous shake. When this didn’t quite do it he repeated it. Six great shakes in all. I thought our Lord might throw up or certainly become dizzy. Is it ok to do this?

Yes.  Though priests should always be careful about how much of either Hosts or the Precious Blood they consecrate, so that there is not too much which must be reserved.

Jesus doesn’t get dizzy anymore.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. digdigby says:

    That raises another question I’ve always had. How much respect is due to unconsecrated hosts if any? In one of my old books I remember reading mention in a Paris slum of broken and old unconsecrated hosts being sold cheaply out of a barrel – strange sustenance for the poor.

  2. CarpeNoctem says:

    Indeed, a priest/deacon needs to handle the Blessed Sacrament with due dignity and recollection, but our Lord, in condescending to come under the appearance of bread and wine, and humbling himself to be handled by mere mortals, willingly subjects himself to all sorts of, well, indignities… unintentional, intentional, and the simply absent-minded. I guess this is another reason to celebrate ad orientem, as sometimes it gives the Blessed Sacrament a little bit of dignity by allowing the priest to do things like this (which do come up from time to time) more discretely.

    I also have the image of the ‘gloved subway pushers’ of Japan in mind here, but I digress…

    I’m not sure if the correspondent in this message was being ‘serious’ or ‘cute’ about the comment about our Lord getting ‘dizzy’. I have a sneaking suspicion that the corresponent might be serious, but even if he/she is not, I know there are lots of folks out there who are.

    I think the remedy is the Thomistic formula of our Lord being “sacramentally” present (a ‘physical presence’), rather than being “physically” present (which would describe his presence in human body discernable to natural senses, before us). This helps us talk properly about the Eucharist without ending up in metaphysical dead-ends implying cannabalism, physical harm due to desecration, ‘dizziness’/’drunkenness’/’hunger’/’lonliness’, etc., because of the reality of the Eucharist. The Lord is no less present in the Eucharist than when he walked the Earth… he is truly, really, sacramentally present in the Eucharist–not just ‘spiritually’, but substantially (yes, yielding a physical presence beyond simply a spiritual reality). But in lacking the immediately-present human form (which lives in heaven), in this glorified body, he does not get dizzy or use the bathroom or feast at meals or have bones, hair, teeth, etc… at least locally, that is circumscribed in our space and time and presence. The Eucharist upon our altars participates fully in the transcendent reality of that body (and therefore the person of Christ), but not according to the limits of space and time or the needs of physiology.

    I know that I am on a very technical ground here as far as using language to describe this mystery, and I am intending to walk precisely with the authentic understanding of the Church… if I am being imprecise in my language, I accept correction from proper authority/wisdom for the sake of getting the right teaching out there. I have heard too many faithful Catholics absolutizing the “physical presence” of our Lord in a way that is simply not Catholic, and I think this is a really good discussion that circumscribes the correspondent’s original comment.

  3. Random Friar says:

    If it’s not too much to reasonably consume, I consume as many hosts as it takes so that the ciborium can be secured. If it happens to be way over the top, numbers-wise, I send the acolyte to find some extra ciboria in the Sacristy. Rarely have I had to resort to using a sacred container that had no cover, and instead covered it with a corporal and made sure to use that reserve first and foremost.

  4. Random Walk says:

    I’m thinking that, given the amount of abuse (courtesy of UPS, USPS, etc) pre-consecration, a shake or two won’t hurt anything. The important part is to treat the consecrated host with the respect due to any gift from God.

    (I am curious as to why this wasn’t at least somewhat measured/figured down in the Sacristy pre-Mass, though…)

    Besides, it’s (in my limited experience as a recipient) more often, not enough hosts are consecrated in a given Mass (esp. around Christmas or Easter), causing the Eucharistic ministers to have to start breaking hosts in half, then quarters, etc as the supply begins running low before the line does.

    Carpe Noctum brings up an excellent point, though. It’s important to make the distinction between the real sacramental presence as the perfect sacrifice, and some mere molecular/biological presence which gets “dizzy”, hungry, cold, etc. (I’m assuming that the “dizzy” comment was said in half-jest, but yeah… I can see where someone would take that and assume it as a literal condition).

  5. Random Walk says:

    PS: forgot to mention one bit: A resource describing and defining a real presence in ordinary terms would be extremely appreciated… this is awful thin ice to be skating on. :)

  6. CarpeNoctem says:

    I would say, no particular reverence towards unconsecrated bread, but certainly no profane usage as to cause scandal. If an unconsecrated host is to be wasted (because it is broken, soiled, malformed, etc) it has always been my policy to consume it or otherwise scrupulously destroy it insofar as it cannot possibly be mistaken as a consecrated host which might have been thrown away, if by some bizarre chance someone were going through our garbage. Indeed, if an intact host were to be found in our trash, I would know that it probably was consecrated and disposed of improperly by someone. This would allow me to take appropriate countermeasures to correct this.

  7. Fr. Basil says:

    \\I thought our Lord might throw up or certainly become dizzy. \\

    You don’t think Jesus in Heaven says, “OUCH!” if a Host is dropped or bitten, do you?

  8. digdigby says:

    CarpeNoctem –
    Thanks for your thoughtful answer.

  9. That said… it would be nice if there were a more discreet way of going about these things. Microphones pick up the sound of shuffling Hosts and people sometimes are worried as above. (Possibly this is yet another reason for ad orientem?)

Comments are closed.