ASK FATHER: Burying “extra” Hosts after Good Friday

From a priest…


I am a new priest. My pastor tells me that after the Good Friday
liturgy, he buries any leftover consecrated hosts, so that the
tabernacle is “fresh” for the “new beginning” of Easter. Is this a
legitimate practice? It seems suspicious.

This seems not just wrong, but very wrong, sacrilegiously wrong.

I consulted trusted canonists.

Were I in your position, I would contact your local bishop and ask him humbly if this practice constitutes a violation of:

Can. 1367 One who throws away the consecrated species or, for a sacrilegious purpose, takes them away or keeps them, incurs a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See; a cleric, moreover, may be punished with some other penalty, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state.

Of course for any penalty to be incurred, the person committing the delict has to know that it is seriously wrong and then will to do it anyway.

The combox is closed.  I will accept email from clerics on this matter.

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  1. A canonist wrote with one word:


  2. From a canonist:

    Yes, Father, that would seem to be a dictionary definition of “to throw away.” I suppose the priest thinks this is not so bad since we bury religious articles, etc. Putting that misguided view aside, this cannot be allowed to happen again two weeks from today. Your correspondent has to do whatever he can to prevent it. Thanks for your work.

  3. From a priest:

    The only way I can see this even remotely as a tolerable evil would be if for some reason there was danger of desecration of the species, and there was, for some reason, waaaaaaay too many hosts to consume in time before the desecrators broke down the doors. [What sprang to mind was the scene in The Cardinal. Not exactly the backyard of a parish rectory, however.]

    But this… presuming the good, well, perhaps the pastor thought it should be disposed as many sacred things and buried and we can ascribe it to really bad seminary education (somewhat plausible, sadly).

  4. From a priest canonist:

    Burying the Eucharist on Good Friday as described is highly illicit and sacrilegious. There are three places mentioned in the Triduum liturgy as locations for the Blessed Sacrament, none of which include the ground. The instructions for Good Friday clearly indicate that the Eucharist is to be taken to a “place prepared outside the church” (Good Friday #29). In practice this is often the same place where the Eucharist is taken after solemn adoration is concluded on Holy Thursday (normally locked in a special cabinet or tabernacle in the Sacristy in my experience).

    The priest is correct that the tabernacle is to be empty at the beginning of the Easter Vigil, but that does NOT mean that the Eucharist is to be “thrown away” by burring it. Hopefully the priest is just very ignorant of what he is doing. He should be instructed and then, if he continues, I believe he could be subject to the latae sententiae excommunication which is now under graviora delicta reserved to the Apostolic See.

    There are rubrics for just about every little detail for the Triduum, including what chants to sing. It’s all right there. Why is it so hard to just say the black and do the red?

  5. From a priest:

    The pastor in question is acting in a way grievously contrary to the law and to the dignity of the Sacrament. The parochial vicar is morally obligated to correct him, as difficult as that can be, and to resist him in this matter if he will not listen.

    The words of Redemptionis Sacramentum, 107 are illuminating:

    In accordance with what is laid down by the canons, “one who throws away the consecrated species or takes them away or keeps them for a sacrilegious purpose, incurs alatae sentential excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See; a cleric, moreover, may be punished by another penalty, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state”. To be regarded as pertaining to this case is any action that is voluntarily and gravely disrespectful of the sacred species. Anyone, therefore, who acts contrary to these norms, for example casting the sacred species into the sacrarium or in an unworthy place or on the ground, incurs the penalties laid down.

  6. From a priest:

    I thought I had heard every variety of loopiness in the Church, but this is so far beyond the pale. I don’t care how liberal the seminary he went to, how could he not know how wrong this action is?
    Desecration of the Sacred Species, scandalizing the faithful, denying the Real Presence, all in the name of having “fresh bread” in the tabernacle for Easter? I don’t know what act of reparation is prescribed when consecrated Hosts are stolen or desecrated, but someone better do that ten times over. Oh, and send Father Relevant to a run-down monastery with bad food and great spiritual directors for a really long retreat.

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