QUAERITUR: Elderly priest skipped the consecration

From a reader:

This Sunday, I went to “Mass” at a church with an elderly associate pastor who sometimes forgets things (to be expected, I don’t blame him). But what happened on this occasion is an entirely different matter. He went from the first Communicantes to the Doxology, skipping the consecration. He later realized he skipped something and did part of what he missed after the Our Father, but again there were no words of consecration. I was hoping he would realize that and correct it but by the time the Agnus Dei rolled around, I realized that wouldn’t happen. The pastor was outside before Mass so I tried to find him/call him at the rectory but wasn’t able to do so.

I’m going to try to chat with the pastor on Tuesday … and I trust he will deal with it appropriately. But if something like this happens again, what should I do at that moment? I thought about going up and trying to point out where he needs to be in the missal (if it were any old part of the Mass, I wouldn’t. But skipping “This is my Body” and “This is my Blood” like he did is obviously more serious), but I was afraid of causing a scene. I was also hoping the permanent deacon present would have caught it, but no such luck. I don’t blame the priest because he’s in his 80s and I have the deepest appreciation for him, but this is pretty serious.

I am filled with awe at God’s love for us.

He entrusted the most sacred thing in the cosmos to His little wounded creatures.

Just imagine! I, a priest, can do what an angel cannot do. I can consecrate the Eucharist. You, a lay person, can receive Communion. Magnum mysterium!

I remember the summer when, back from Rome and staying at my home parish, one of us (usually the undersigned) had to be present at the afternoon Mass of an old priest who was skipping things. The pastor made the good decision to have the old guy saying Mass, even though there were … problems.  He didn’t really save us work. Rather, he created more work for us, but it was absolutely the right thing to do.

Yes, have a calm and kind chat with the pastor.  Tell him what happened.

Also, I think that deacon should have a kick up the backside. Perhaps the pastor can see to that.  Didn’t notice?  Sheesh.

In the meantime, if Father skips the consecration again, I suggest that you smile, refrain from going up for Communion, and then make sure that Father gets a ride home or get’s back to the rectory.

You might prompt him to share some anecdotes and lore about life in the diocese during his many years of priesthood.


Some have argued in the combox that it would have been better to stop the priest somehow and guide him to say the words of consecration.  They make good points.

I didn’t make that suggestion in the original entry for the simple fact that I don’t want to give people the idea that they can stop Mass and attempt to correct priests when they think some serious problem has occurred.  That would be bad.  Bad, I say.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Geoffrey says:

    This should definitely be one of the unofficial reasons/benefits for a deacon to assist at a Mass celebrated by an elderly priest. Aside from helping him move about within the sanctuary, the deacon could also preach the homily, point out places in the Missal for the celebrant, etc. I am stunned this deacon did not notice/take action. If it that duty belonged to anyone, surely it would have been the deacon!

  2. harrythepilgrim says:

    I can top that. How about a priest saying the consecration twice. Happened a few months ago. A very good priest, anyway.

  3. triumphguy says:

    Perhaps the deacon did notice, but knew that in this particular circumstance the best thing to do would be to deal with the situation privately afterwards.

  4. Choirmaster says:

    Heartbreaking every time. The deacon surely has some culpability here.

    We should revive the practice of having a Master of Ceremonies at public masses for just this reason. A sharp kid in the sanctuary could also have caught this… so no “priest/deacon shortage” excuse! Especially in this instance the M.C. can been prepared by the pastor to deal gently but effectively with these kinds of things.

  5. Jim McCrea says:

    I once saw a priest raise the host and say: “this is the cup of my blood.” Then the Christian brother assisting whispered in his ear what he had done. Then, he raised the host again and said: “this is my body.” Then that was it! He didn’t consecrate the wine.

    I wonder how that would affect the validity of the Mass.

  6. Choirmaster says:

    Oh! Let’s add ad orientem while sotto voce so that, when the plucky M.C. notices the omission, and has a clandestine chat with Father right then-and-there, it is not so embarrassing or obvious to the congregation. :)

  7. Judith23 says:

    What about a retired priest who paraphrases his way through the entire Liturgy of the Eucharist? This isn’t an oversight or a one-time happening, but he is filling in until further notice>

  8. Paulo says:

    Our elderly associate pastor skipped the lighting of the candle during a baptism two Sundays ago… After he finished the rite, one of the integrants of the choir quietly brought him the candle. He is a nice priest, but he gets easily confused, and still, occasionally, uses the words of the old ICEL translation… Pray for him!

  9. kat says:

    We have had this happen with an elderly priest. The altar boys were waiting to ring the bells for te consecration of the wine, and the priest was already on next page. One just quietly reminded him to do the consecration. Priests are people too! God bless them all.

  10. Choirmaster says:

    @Judith23: I think, in this post, we are dealing with a case of human weakness and frailty. What you describe seems to be a willful disregard. Fr. Z always gives the good advice to start with the priest himself, and then continue up the chain in writing, with proofs, and copying all correspondence back down the chain as you progress, with charity and without personal attacks.

  11. esiul says:

    Fr. re your story yesterday about the woman who assumed the oran position and prayed all the prayers with you, and your so “sharp” dealings with the Latin. Brilliant!!!!!
    We don’t have this happening at my church, but 99% will use this position. Nobody ever says a thing about it. Matter of fact my children some 25 years ago were told they had to do it. I never complied.
    Thank you Father, I don’t get back to you often, but I read you all the time.

  12. Back pew sitter says:

    I love your kind response. Some time back a similar thing happened when I was at a weekday Mass, and the the very holy and esteemed priest in his 80s missed out the consecrations. One of the older members of the Congregation approached the altar and spoke with the priest during the Our Father. The priest paused and quietly went back over the Eucharistic prayer including the consecrations. God love our old and forgetful priests!

  13. APX says:

    triumphguy says:
    Perhaps the deacon did notice, but knew that in this particular circumstance the best thing to do would be to deal with the situation privately afterwards.

    I would be interested in hearing why it would ever be best to deal with something of this magnitude privately afterwards when it can easily and quickly be rectified right then and there simply by discreetly telling Father he missed the consecration.

    Something like this poses issues. If there was no consecration, there was no Mass. Sunday obligations weren’t filled then, unless those who noticed went to another Mass. There is also the problem of making a piece of bread and wine objects of worship. You have people saying they believe that a piece of bread/wine is the body/blood of Jesus.

  14. Philangelus says:

    Last week, the priest in a parish we were visiting said the former version of Eucharistic Prayer II for the first half and the corrected/updated version for the second half. I think that was a genuine mistake on his part, but he’d been changing/ad-libbing so much else through the entire Mass that I wasn’t sure at first. I wondered if it was a valid consecration.

  15. VexillaRegis says:

    esiul and others: “Fr. re your story yesterday…” I’d like to read that story, but I’m not able to find it. Where is it? :-)

  16. Magnum mysterium, indeed! I am fondly reminded of a very, very old Dominican who was in the rotation for the weekday evening Masses at the Theatinerkirche when I was studying in Munich. Though it may have been his age, I suspect rather it was the deep charity and wisdom that had come with that age, that informed his wonderfully unique, if lengthy, way of saying the Consecration. He would speak each word of the prayer with such loving care and devotion, almost caressing them, tasting each one, savoring them slowly and with delight: “Nehmet… und esset… alle… davon….”

    He reminded me alternatively of the portrayal of Br. Ubertino de Casale in the film version of The Name of the Rose, and of a passage from Thomas of Celano’s First Life of St. Francis (I.84-87), describing how the holy father, as a deacon, announced the Gospel at the famous Christmas Miracle Mass at Greccio:

    The holy man of God wears a deacon’s vestments, for he was indeed a deacon, and he sings the holy gospel with a musical voice. And his voice, a sweet voice, a vehement voice, a clear voice, a sonorous voice, invites all to the highest rewards. Then he preaches to the people standing around him and pours forth sweet honey, telling them about the birth of the poor King and the little city of Bethlehem. Often, too, when he wished to mention Jesus Christ, burning with love, he called him, “the child of Bethlehem.” Saying the word, “Bethlehem,” in the manner of a bleating sheep, he fills his whole mouth with sound but even more with sweet affection. He seems to lick his lips whenever he uses the expressions, “Jesus” or “child of Bethlehem,” tasting the word on his happy palate and savoring the sweetness of the word.

  17. Gregg the Obscure says:

    This Sunday our youngish priest at the OF Mass intoned “Lift up your joy”. In nearly three years, I’ve never known him to ad lib any part of the liturgy. Just a very odd slip of the tongue I guess. I am grateful when my mistakes happen in circumstances that aren’t as public as that.

  18. Legisperitus says:

    I once heard an elderly priest at an EF Mass omit a key word from the second consecration (“sanguinis”). I was the only one close enough to hear, but being merely a server I didn’t feel competent to say anything to him. Still wonder whether I should have.

  19. Seems to me the reader left out the most interesting part of his story–whether there were any EMHC’s who still entered the sanctuary to distribute unconsecrated bread and wine as though actual sacred species, and whether there any low-information Catholics so clueless as to come forward to receive, bowing or kneeling (and saying “Amen”) as though in adoration of the Real Presence.

  20. oakdiocesegirl says:

    Wow. More widespread than I imagined. This Saturday, a retired priest who has Parkinsons & used to be our pastor was asked to say the memorial Mass for a past beloved mayor. Father completely skipped the Minor Elevation. The altar boys probably didn’t realize it, the cantor who is also a deacon, did nothing, but from the murmuring I heard, the congregation certainly noticed the error. This is probably a pitfall of constantly revising the English translations of the liturgy & expecting our priests to keep up, along with everything else we expect of them!

  21. Blog Goliard says:

    Father, I love your gracious response to the reader’s questions. So often we hear the word “pastoral” and brace ourselves for inanity or error…but the tone you struck here is precisely what that term ought to mean.

    Including the bit about giving the deacon a “kick up the backside”. We have a wonderful retired priest fill in at our parish now and again. He’s always assisted by either a deacon or an instituted acolyte, all of whom are quite aware that it’s their job to help him stay on track. It’s a lovely thing to see that task carried out discreetly and well, with a gentle vigilance.

  22. Matt R says:

    The defects printed in front of the 1962 Missal, as referenced in my copy of O’Connell, expects this situation, since we are human and all, and reminds the ministers that essential defects must be corrected. If no deacon is present, I suppose even a server should correct the priest, gently and charitably?

  23. Faith says:

    That happened once to a Mass I attended. The priest realized it himself, and went to the tabernacle and took out hosts already consecrated to be distributed.

  24. triumphguy says:

    APX says:
    “I would be interested in hearing why it would ever be best to deal with something of this magnitude privately afterwards when it can easily and quickly be rectified right then and there simply by discreetly telling Father he missed the consecration.

    Something like this poses issues. If there was no consecration, there was no Mass. Sunday obligations weren’t filled then, unless those who noticed went to another Mass. There is also the problem of making a piece of bread and wine objects of worship. You have people saying they believe that a piece of bread/wine is the body/blood of Jesus.” [Noooo…. don’t go off the rails here. When there is no Mass to attend people are not held to the obligation. They were not able to attend Mass through any fault of their own.]
    Do we know it was a Sunday mass?

    And why…? Because perhaps the Deacon might not have been able to discretely told Father he missed the consecration. Or perhaps the Deacon knew something about Father’s health or state of mind that we don’t. Or whatever….

    Because perhaps people do the best they can in the circumstances and they don’t deserve a bunch of strangers who weren’t there criticizing them.

    And perhaps the Deacon should get a kick in the pants – but we don’t know and therefore we can’t judge.

  25. pinoytraddie says:

    I had an experience with One Retired Bishop saying mass last Saturday Evening(Anticipated),it was Unauthorized Propers with a Combination of the Old and New Translations of the OF Roman Missal. His Favorite Greeting: The Lord IS with you. Fortunately, We the Laity gave the Correct Responses.

    [I have heard that goofy greeting before. On one occasion the annoyed people responded “And maybe with you!”]

  26. acardnal says:

    This is another good example of why we all need to be fasting, making sacrifices and praying that young men will respond favorably to the vocational call of the priesthood.

  27. Joan M says:

    triumphguy says: Do we know it was a Sunday mass?

    Yes, indeed we do. The OP’s first words were “This Sunday, I went to “Mass” at a church…..”

    I am of the opinion that it was, most certainly, the responsibility of the Deacon to handle this. But, if he did not, then someone in the congregation should have. Many members of the congregation would have noticed the omission. The omission was crucial. There was no Mass. There was no Eucharist. Surely someone could have, should have, drawn the attention of the priest to this major error.

    Years ago, at a Sunday morning Mass the then parish priest mixed up the words of consecration – using the words for the wine for the bread, and visa versa. Immediately a number of us in the congregation called out (not shouting, but quietly and clearly) “Father”. He looked up and realized he had made a mistake. I do not know if he knew exactly the mistake he had made, but he immediately started over the consecration and went on from there. There was no embarrassment, no criticism. We all know how easily we can get distracted and make a mistake.

  28. Catholictothecore says:

    The place where I attend daily Mass has all retired priests in their 80’s except for on who is probably 69 or 70. Through all these years I’ve never seen any of them stumble in such a stunning way as described above. The only time I saw a lapse in memory was when JPII passed on and they had to remember to say Benedict our Pope. Strangely none of them have said Benedict in the past few weeks. Francis comes quite easily to them.

    I feel for our elderly priests. They do the best they can, they try, they really do, and sometimes it just happens – a memory lapse when they least expect it. With a shortage of priests in a lot of places we should be thankful that our elderly priests still help out in celebrating Mass for us. Thank you to all of them. We appreciate your devotion and sacrifice. God Bless you all.

  29. wolfeken says:

    I would argue that this is one of those rare situations where it is entirely appropriate for anyone in the sanctuary (preferably) or even the congregation to audibly (with charity and clarity) let the priest know he accidentally skipped a consecration. In fact, I have attended one such traditional Latin Low Mass.

    It is an uncomfortable circumstance, for sure — but there is a 0.0 percent chance of a valid Mass without the consecrations. After Mass, then make sure the priest is surrounded by supportive communicants to ease any embarrassment.

    Better to have a moment of discomfort than a entirely preventable invalid Mass.

  30. everett says:

    About a year ago, our pastor skipped from the preface to the doxology. My wife and I immediately looked at each other and asked, “Did he just skip the consecration? What do we do?” Neither the deacon nor the acolyte noticed (or if they did, neither did anything), and a quick glance around showed that most of the people present hadn’t noticed either. It was the one time we were glad that the sign of peace was a madhouse at that parish (meeting in a gym long-term): with everyone else roaming around, I wasn’t out of place hurrying up to the altar and pointing out to Father where he had skipped. Once he had everyone back at their seats, he said that he had missed some prayers and was going to do them right then.

  31. APX says:

    Faith says:
    That happened once to a Mass I attended. The priest realized it himself, and went to the tabernacle and took out hosts already consecrated to be distributed.

    Distributing previously consecrated hosts unfortunately didn’t rectify the problem. No consecration-> No Mass. If this Mass was supposed to be offered for someone/something, because there was no Mass, the Mass wasn’t applied to it.

    Triumphguy says:
    Do we know it was a Sunday mass?

    Yes, yes we do.
    “This Sunday, I went to “Mass” “

    Even if he couldn’t discreetly tell the priest, if he noticed, he should have said something. This was a critical error. It’s one thing to nitpick about little mistakes, it’s another thing altogether to ignore the fact that Father forgot the consecration. The deacon was in a position to help correct the mistake. He should have done so. If I’m driving my car and start changing lanes into where your car is, are you going to just sit there like a bump on a log while I side-swipe your car, or are you going take evasive action and kindly notify me of your presence by laying on the horn?

    Anyway, here’s a helpful little free resource regarding defects of the Mass published in the late 1800s in English for the laity. It might be a good resource for everyone all around. I’ve been reading some real whacky ways of handling certain situations that may arise simply because no one has anything currently written for “What to do when…” situations. Even bishops don’t always seem to have the answer.


  32. Fr. Frank says:

    The Lord is kind and merciful. Not long ago I assisted a very holy and very elderly priest as he celebrated. After the choir finished the Agnus Dei, dear father elevated the Sacrament and announced “Behold the handmaid of the Lord.” I just hope I’m still able to offer the Sacrifice when I’m his age.

  33. Fr AJ says:

    I pin this one on the Deacon. Was he daydreaming? Wow.

  34. Matt R says:

    Fr Frank, that’s actually kinda funny.( It was a completely accidental oversight, and in a spot where the validity of Mass is not in question, nor its licitness in this situation.)

  35. APX says:

    Fr. Frank says:
    “dear father elevated the Sacrament and announced Behold the handmaid of the Lord.”
    To what did everyone respond? “Be it done to me according to thy word?” :)

  36. Gail F says:

    I can’t imagine that this is a problem except to the most legalistic soul. [?!? There was no consecration!] If the elderly priest forgot it as a one-time thing, and the deacon didn’t notice or was too confused to act, no one did anything deliberate to mess up the Mass. Yes, I know it didn’t have the correct form. But there is a vast difference between an elderly person, who has the correct intention and just didn’t do it, omitting something than a younger or more vigorous man deliberately leaving it out. In such a situation, I think the correct course is to trust God that the Sunday obligation is met. [The Sunday obligation is not the issue here.]The Schoolmen did a great job for us of thinking up what to do about almost everything that could possibly go wrong. But not everything can be foreseen and sometimes stuff just happens.

  37. Ralph says:

    God bless that priest! I’m sure he is doing his best and God loves him for it. Like Father said, he might just need a little extra help now and then.

    We had a very frail priest celebrate Mass on Saturday. He needed a little assistance, but for the most part did just fine. I made a point to thank him for his ministry after Mass and kiss his hands. He was very humble and said all the thanks should go to God. What a treasure.

    How wonderful it is to see our elderly priests. When they retire from active parish ministry you really miss them. It’s nice to see them and catch up.

  38. JARay says:

    For Vexilla Regis.
    The incident which esiul mentions was not reported on this blog.
    If you want to see what happened you will have to go to the blog of Msgr Charles Pope on the Archdiocese of Washington blog. He tells of a woman who stood up and said the whole of the priest’s prayers out loud in the Orans position. When she refused to stop it he turned to the back of the Sacramentary and began again in Latin, which the woman did not know, and that stopped her in her tracks. The incident is mentioned in a post on his liking the new translation into English but lamenting that the Latin at the back of the old Sacramentary is not there in the new versions.

  39. The Masked Chicken says:

    I am grateful to never have been in this situation. I was at a large N. O. Mass on a Sunday many years ago said by a very conscientious, but old, priest. He had always been in the habit from pre-Vatican II days of fasting from the midnight before Mass to communion. Unfortunately, it caught up with him and he collapsed just before the Agnus Dei. Several health professionals ran up to the sanctuary and took him back to the sacristy. Fortunately, one of the associate pastors happened to be in the back of the Church during the Mass and stepped in to finish it. By the way, is that sort of thing acceptable? Is the Mass valid?

    Question: there is a one hour fast before communion under the current regulations. Can things like diabetes or old age exempt one from the fast? I know that taking medication is exempted, but in these cases, doesn’t food become, essentially, a form of medication?

    The Chicken

  40. momoften says:

    God Bless this dear old priest for still wanting to serve us. Our Pastor had a priest whom he knew
    was in a nursing home with early onset of Alzheimers. He wanted to celebrate Mass in the worse
    way, so Father set up a crew of young men, and young adults to help this dear old priest celebrate
    Mass by standing next to him and helping him keep his place. (kind of like an MC1) About a year
    later, he told our Pastor it was time, he couldn’t offer Mass well enough to say it–shortly afterwards
    he passed on. It was such a blessing for my sons to be part of that, and to share his final days with him. It was a blessing for this dear old priest to be able to celebrate Mass, and have his regulars come
    everyday to visit and say Mass. My suggestion would be go to to the Pastor and he may be able to convince the elderly priest to have someone assist him, an older server. I know I have known a lot
    of very dear and holy elderly priests-they still have plenty to offer. Again, God Bless Him for serving in his old age.

  41. Imrahil says:

    I’ll give my two cents’ worth on that, and totally agree with what the dear @wolfeken said. Especially if the Fr. Celebrant did so for forgetfullness. If he had skipped the consecration on purpose, then you cannot do anything about it; I’d rather advocate for leaving the Church. (And visibly. No need to draw attention on purpose, but also no need at all to avoid attention even in case it could be avoided. Of course, with “you cannot do anything” I’m not including something that can be done afterwards, such as denouncing the priest to the responsible offices – which I’d strongly advocate against if it is only about forgetfulness, however important the subject.)

    It sure is modesty to wish not to make a scene, but in the traditional Thomistic catalogue, fortitude comes before moderation. (Not saying that there’d be contradictions between the virtues… So, for those who wish technically correct statements: it is neither immodest nor making an unnecessary scene to speak out.)

    I could imagine some old-school theologian for an elevation of an unconsecrated host or giving “Communion” with an unconsecrated host, could draw words like “objective idolatry” out of his pocket. Also, no Mass.

    Heavily sorry, reverend dear @Fr. Z, to disagree with you.

  42. skl says:

    @APX Is the book you linked at https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=N8EHAAAAQAAJ&printsec=frontcover&output=reader&authuser=0&hl=en&pg=GBS.PA1 “1oo Defects of the Mass” a reliable source? Note the affiliation of the author. “Rev Robert Maguire, BA, Clerical Secretary of the Islington Protestant Institute!”

  43. MikeM says:

    When I was younger, I was in the running for worst altar server in my rather large archdiocese. I could never remember what to do, I would trip over my own feet… I was truly awful. Not too long ago, the local Parish school had gone on some trip and so they were short altar servers. I wound up filling in, serving for one of the priests who I used to serve for back in my clumsy childhood. The priest is now pretty old (I think over 90) though he’s still healthier, clearer minded, and more energetic than I am at the ripe old age of 23. He, uncharacteristically, skipped over a page in the missal (I can’t remember which one), and I was there to point it out to him. We had a good laugh after Mass about how, for the first time ever, I was the one on the ball!

    Sometimes I wonder if God billed me to be an awful altar server to temper me later when I learned to be somewhat liturgically conservative.

  44. Trad Dad says:

    God bless His/our priests .
    Some years ago an elderly priest forgot to consecrate the host & went on to consecrate the wine – some of the congregation simply spoke softly to the server who reminded Father & he remedied the omission.
    Pax et bonum .
    From Our Lady`s Land of the Southern Cross .

  45. jenne says:

    In my awe of the priesthood I couldn’t think of a more dignified response Fr gave to this situation. In the tenderness for this priest please all remember to accompany him. It is good for you and for him.
    Thank you all priests!

  46. BobP says:

    After the New Mass was promulgated, there were some elderly priests who were exempted from saying the New Mass. Perhaps we need to give this eighty-year old priest a break or two also. Apparently the new retranslation is a little too much for him. Either that or the new translation police is out there in full force, poking their “gotchas” whenever and wherever they can.

  47. APX says:


    Thanks for pointing that out. I did a quick skim through. I thought it sounded a little on the harsher side when it said Catholics can never. E perfectly certain the Eucharist was validly consecrated because they couldn’t hear the priest. It probably is still more accurate than half the “catholic” books written these days. Perhaps people might want to avoid reading it.

  48. BobP says:

    >His Favorite Greeting: The Lord IS with you. Fortunately, We the Laity gave the Correct Responses.<

    Perhaps the Hail Mary is wrong too?

  49. APX says:


    There was no consecration! It’s not something like a slip of saying “for all” instead of “for many”. There was no Mass!

  50. BobP says:

    >No consecration-> No Mass. <

    There's an Eastern Rite which has no words of consecration per se. Exactly what makes that Rite valid?

    [This rabbit hole is closed.]

  51. BobP says:

    Sorry, Fr., I didn’t see your warning. I’m outa here. [No need for that. Let’s just close this rabbit hole. o{]:¬) ]

  52. Giuseppe says:

    Fr. Frank says:
    “dear father elevated the Sacrament and announced Behold the handmaid of the Lord.”

    First time I went to confession after a few years, the memories came flooding back. I knelt down and the first word of the prayer came to me: “Bless”. But instead of “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned, it has been…” I said “Bless us O Lord for these thy gifts…”. The priest didn’t skip a beat. “I take it that it has been quite some time since your last confession, my son…”

  53. skl says:

    @APX The book seems to blend a sympathetic, or putatively sympathetic air towards Catholicism, but actually be an anti-Catholic book bent on attacking transubstantiation (if not the Real Presence itself, I haven’t figured out exactly what the writer’s angle is) … however it does have what seems to be at first glance reliable information about certain doctrines about the validity of the materials of the mass,etc., at that time (better than alot of Catholic works now,you are righht on there)..but ordered such as to attack the Faith … hard to say. I found it briefly interesting but to be honest stopped reading myself, it seems to be the 19th century version of the “selective quoting” we find in Internet fora today. An interesting bit of history, if nothing else :)

  54. Well, he is an elderly priest; I would bet serious money he did not skip the consecration on purpose. The deacon should have done something; I don’t know who else could have in the circs.

    If that happened at a Sunday Mass I was attending, I would just go to a later Mass, at another parish if necessary. Or, if there were no later Masses anywhere, I would offer up my failed attempt to fulfill the Sunday obligation and make a spiritual Communion.

  55. Salvatore_Giuseppe says:

    Just one more reason we need to pray for and encourage vocations. Younger priests will (as you noted in your anecdote, Fr.) be able to aid and assist those who are getting up there in age and slipping up more often due to memory issues.

  56. Hank Igitur says:

    De Defectibus states that another priest if available is to step in to continue the Mass should the celebrant become incapacitated

  57. Giuseppe says:

    SKL and APX – I must admit that what I have read of the book is rather sinfully funny.

  58. ray from mn says:

    Few parishes have a spare deacon around who can be present to assist an elderly priest with his Mass.

    But there are always men in the congregation who could volunteer to be a server for Father. “Cassocks, surplices and albs are not required to serve Mass if there are none available.

    And that happened recently in a chapel where I serve two days a week at a noon Mass. We had an elderly retired priest say the morning 7:30 Masses and he skipped the consecration once. He was very grateful when his server (not me) stepped up and told him about the omission so he could go back and start again from the beginning of the Consecration.

    A month or so later, the priest retired and within another month, he died. God rest his soul.

  59. Fr. Frank says:

    For APX:
    The congregation responded by looking at me, and without missing a beat I launched into “Lord, I am not worthy . . . .” They all joined right in.

  60. Jeannie_C says:

    Hypothetical question – if the correct words were not used and therefore consecration did not take place, what about any remaining wafers in the ciborium? If the ciborium is then placed in the tabernacle and the regular pastor is called to administer Viaticum, he would unknowingly be administering an invalid Communion, would he not? With this possibility in mind, I believe it necessary to speak to the pastor about what had taken place if only to avoid such a scenario.

  61. RafkasRoad says:

    Commenter ‘Kat’,

    ‘Priests are people too! God bless them all.’ Amen sister!!!!

    My heart goes out to this elderly priest. think of the number of masses he must have offered during a long lifetime in service to our Lord and Saviour jesus Christ and His flock faithfully through perhaps the most turbulent time in Church history for a millennium.

    I wonder how any of us would go, day in, day out, without mistakes, remembering everything in our eighties. The dear soul probably didn’t even realise he had missed the consecration. have a little mercy. I would be asking why the deacon fell asleep at the wheel. if one was so concerned as to whether one’s Sunday obligation had been met, attending another mass would not be out of the question. Value our priests, especially the elderly who work hard long after us layfolk can retire and go fishing. The enemy wants us to tear ourselves apart and rejoices when Christ’s faithful servants, His priests, are torn down by layfolk also. I have been guilty of it; discression, prayer, a quiet word if necessary, but have love and mercy become such dirty words nowadays?


    Aussie marounite.

  62. Fr Z, is there something that could be done ahead of time to help the elderly priest beforehand? I know the book should not be permanently marked but what of a removable tab that would point to the text of the consecration? Perhaps even a transparent overlay that with markings to indicate a polite “READ AND SAY THIS!”?

  63. bsjy says:

    I endorse all the precision and care that Fr. Z and the readers of this blog take with respect to liturgy and doctrine, but in the case of an elderly priest having a senior moment at the point of consecration I am reminded of Jesus’ words to the disciples upon their reaction to his comments to the rich young man: things which are impossible for man are possible for God (Lk 18:27). The Pharisees stumbled because they could not see that Love encompassed the Law. Love triumphs over Death; surely it triumphs over a brain cramp. [To be clear: the Eucharist was not consecrated.]

  64. @Philangelus
    The old translation is valid. It is not licit and if a priest keeps using it, you can charitably mention something. If he is tired one day and says it by accident, priests are human too.

  65. pinoytraddie says:

    BobP: Yes, Bishop M does the Hail Mary to close the General Intercessions/Prayers of the Faithful

  66. Lori Pieper says:

    I just had to post this. A few days ago, the longest-serving priest in the Archdiocese of New York, Msgr. Nicola Marinacci, concelebrated Mass with Cardinal Dolan and other clergy of the diocese to mark the 75th anniversary of his priesthood. He is 102. Yes, that’s right, 102!

    I guess if he forgot anything, the other concelebrants were able to cover for him :-)


    Heartwarming picture in the article of Msgr. Marinacci and Cardinal Dolan.

  67. jdmatthew says:

    This would be the kind of thing you would want to tactfully mention later to the priest, and I am sure he was mortified. All in all, though, not something to rend your garments over. If you don’t think the host and wine were consecrated and you really want to receive the Eucharist that day, go to a later mass or another parish. I would rather be inconvenienced than embarrass the priest.

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  69. frjimt says:

    I am so glad so many are “watching”…. many I’m sure would have kept ‘watch’ with the Lord.

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