ASK FATHER: Pyxes left in the choir loft after Communion

Were more pyxes to be of this quality, it would be far less likely to find them lying around, unpurified, in places where they don’t belong. Just a thought.

From a reader….


I frequently find communion pyxes lying on the organ in the choir loft. They seem to be left there from a prior Mass where they were used to bring Holy Communion to the choir by an extraordinary minister.

Should the pyxes just be left in the loft? Aren’t they supposed to be purified?

Goodness gracious.

Of course they should be purified!

Take them all to the priest, as soon as possible.  Tell him where you found those unpurified pyxes!

Care of the Blessed Sacrament, as the center of parish life, is among the most solemn responsibilities that every pastor must account for before God.

Pyxes should be properly used, which means also properly cleansed after use.

Furthermore, they ought to be of a dignified material.  They should be treated with the respect due to a vessel that carries our Eucharistic Lord.

Leaving them lying about unpurified is not how to show them respect.

Respect for sacred liturgical vessels, such as chalices, monstrances and pyxes, both flows from and also influences faith in the Eucharist.  Treating the vessels with dignity and care, helps to foster faith and reverence for the Eucharist.  Misuse and negligence, on the other hand, both reveals weakness of faith and understanding and erodes further the little there is.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Absolutely everything Father Z says about care of the Blessed Sacrament and the vessels is right on but what caught my eye in the article was the “Choir Loft”. You mean there are still churches where the choir is not up front playing and singing Protestant songs with guitar and piano backup? If there is ever a reform of the reform let it start with the choir, please God.

  2. frjim4321 says:

    Furthermore, they ought to be of a dignified material.

    So true, and so hard to find.

    Our religious goods vendor (very big name in these parts) finally had to admit to me that there is NO GOLD in the faux precious metal sacred vessels they sell. It’s all “lacquer.”

    Many of the pixes I see are aluminum with gold lacquer. No really actual gold.

    We have people who use the pyxes for their non-gluten hosts, so there are a lot of them floating around. They aren’t very well made, though I suspect they are very expensive.

  3. Netmilsmom says:

    Would it be possible to buy a pack of 12.00 Gold Leaf on Amazon and glue it into your pyx? It may not be perfect but at least it’s precious.

  4. Charles E Flynn says:

    There are no products in this world that lack a first-rate producer. Someone, somewhere, makes pyxes the way Queen of Heaven Rosaries makes rosaries. The problem is to find this producer, who may be small, and lacking in marketing resources.

    For the record, any pyx is a step up from what I have seen used to bring the Eucharist to the the housebound, a piece of Kleenex. At least it was genuine Kleenex, and not a knock-off.

  5. JARay says:

    Surely there are jewelers in America who are able to arrange for articles to be plated with gold. One certainly would never paint lacquer on them. The idea of sticking gold leaf on/in pyxes I find simply silly. Within no time at all you would simply have a mess of the leaf being scratched and peeling off. The pyx I have is certainly gold plated inside and out and it cost me somewhere around $50. It is perfectly serviceable and will last me for years. I bought mine at a Catholic supplier who had several for sale and also sold chalices, ciboria and even monstrances. Try looking online for a good Catholic supplier. Even the Protestants sell pyxes but the ones I saw them selling had a plastic interior and I wouldn’t touch one of those at any price.

  6. Grumpy Beggar says:

    This text would really be great mounted on a plaque and hung on a wall in the sacristy. It would be a help not only to those who are new, weak or uninstructed in the faith , but could also serve as a constant reminder to help guard against a type of desensitization/routineness which has been known to gradually creep into certain situations where the Blessed Sacrament and the sacred vessels are continuously handled on a daily basis.

    Fr. Z said :

    “Respect for sacred liturgical vessels, such as chalices, monstrances and pyxes, both flows from and also influences faith in the Eucharist. Treating the vessels with dignity and care, helps to foster faith and reverence for the Eucharist. Misuse and negligence, on the other hand, both reveals weakness of faith and understanding and erodes further the little there is.”

    AMEN .

  7. Elizium23 says:

    Father Jim,

    I sincerely hope that you meant low-gluten altar bread. “Zero gluten” breads are invalid matter for consecration. Yes, there are some outlets which sell “Gluten Free” altar bread which is really a branding for low-gluten breads (taking advantage of the fact that the FDA in the US permits you to call something “free” if it has really low content, like “Fat Free” foods with 1mg of fat.

    Ingredients should be checked, “gluten free” altar bread made from rice or potato is surely invalid matter. The Catholic Church always uses wheat.

  8. Allan S. says:

    It’s the poor theology behind all this which is most troubling. I attended a Noon Mass at a Neumann Centre Chapel, and the white robed female ‘altar girl’ (20 years old or so) was being trained by a more senior university ‘altar girl’ who told her “after Mass just stick the extra wafers in the cabinet over there (indicating the Tabernacle).”

    One is pretty accustomed to banal liturgy, ugly vestments and so on but this way over my “this shall not pass” line. I said to both of them “excuse me ladies, but if the only thing inside that ‘cabinet’ over there are wafers, we are all well and truly..” I’ll end there because the next word out of my mouth was not appropriate, and the subject of a subsequent confession.

    Why does no one speak the truth? Our Church is under a very successful attack from within from clerics and laity who absolutely do NOT believe the Eucharist is ever anything other than bread and wine and a ‘representation’ of something, and they want to “jettison all that medieval, superstitious crap” that’s “holding us back” from full communion with Muslims, atheists and other “good people.”

    THAT’s why it seems like no one cares about the sacramental priesthood as a distinct entity, sacred vessels, sacrificial rites like Mass, the need of confession or the efficacy of sacramentals (blessed objects being as silly to them as cursed ones).

    These people are 100% onside with the current Bishop of Rome, although I’m sure they find his occasional reference to the devil as some sort of quaint Latin American cultural thing, as there certainly is no actual devil either.

  9. rafferju says:

    okay, I had an uncle a priest and he had a pyxe that was given to me after he died. when I looked into it it had tiny particles of the blessed sacrament still in it. I took it to a priest and he told me to wash it out and empty the contents in the garden.
    I took it home and did this. Does this mean it still needs to be purified if so how?

  10. Dennis D says:

    Here’s a solution: How about the choir sing a short Communion antiphon instead of a longer hymn and join the communicants in line to receive Communion? There’s also the added advantage of some silence after Communion. Win/Win.

  11. edm says:

    There is no shortage of good quality, dignified pyxes. Manufacturers and retailers can be found anywhere. What is lacking is proper training of these people by the clergy. Even better would be the reduction in numbers of lay people doing what more correctly belongs to the ordained

  12. cpttom says:

    In my parish we’ve had way worse. One evening our schola arrived at rehearsal and found a chalice and a cyborium at the base of the stairs to the . The Chalice still had what we believed was small amount of Precious Blood in it, The cyborium still had concecrated hosts in it. We immeadiately brought this to the attention to the parish administrator who seemed unaware of this happening. We found out they were left after a funeral mass earlier in the day. Worse, the chaice and cyborium had been “laid out” prior to that mass! Now, I know you can use previously concecrated hosts, but I am sure you can’t do that with the Precious Blood. Thank God this Never happened again, but it is part of the really bad ideas that happened around here before we got a new bishop who is really trying to correct the last 40 years of abuse.

  13. Michael_Thoma says:

    Problem is too much “participation” by a bunch of people unknown to the priest. Bigger problem is most priests don’t want to know.

    I’ll bet some of these “assistants” are not even Catholic-In-Name-Only, especially at college Chapels and other venues without a regularly assigned deacon or priest. I know about at least one “incident” where a reader was selected in a room full of college student Catholics and Name Onlys, she being the only Hindu. While liturgical sense of zero was no better or worse than probably most of the attendees, at least they should have checked if she could pronounce “Corinthians” and not “Cothereans.”

  14. Stephen Matthew says:

    I suspect that pyxes are rarely purified after use in the average parish.

    I know it is common practice in many places that the pyx is kept by the extraordinary minister from week to week. Thus the only time the pyx is taken to the church is when the minister is in the process of taking communion to the sick or home bound. I suspect there are pyxes in such use that have not been purified for years. (I should hope the extraordinary minister would at least make certain any visible particles are consumed after each use of the pyx.)

    At least a pyx is being used.

    I have witnessed the host being taken home in a handkerchief on more than a few occasions because someone forgot to bring the pyx with them.

  15. frjim4321 says:

    Frankly we had a situation in which the minister was scheduled to take communion to a shut-in some distance away and there was no pyx to be found anywhere, so a proper corporal was used instead, then brought back to church for proper laundering the next day. The only alternative would have been for that person to be denied communion. I find that it’s far more disastrous to deny communion than to use a corporal as an emergency replacement.

  16. Fr. D. says:

    No surprises in this post given the culture we live in. Pyxes reminds me of the sacrileges perpetrated by poorly trained Extraordinary Ministers. For years they put the pyxes in the pockets of their jeans and continue to do so. Purses are often used. Many go shopping or take their time in getting to the home of the shut-in. I always wear a small stole and carry my pyx in a burse around my neck when I bring Holy Communion to the sick. It prevents idle chatter on my way from church to the car and people know what I am doing. Unfortunately we also see lectors in shorts and t-shirts proclaiming the Word. Athletic shoes for many in the sanctuary. And now frenetic hand-cleansing during the Agnus Dei (I wash my hands before Mass and do not handle missallettes) causing several people to approach me for Holy Communion and then mention that they do not like the taste of the hand sanitizers! Several health care professionals have told me they are quite ineffective, so it becomes an accretion to the Sacred Liturgy. I have even seen an especially elaborate hand pump placed near a tabernacle! And if anything is said, the explanations given are met with a roll of the eyes. What will we see next?

  17. mrsmontoya says:

    A question: how to best carry communion to multiple people, specifically in a hospital setting? I will soon begin volunteering with the Catholic Spiritual Care Ministry at a nearby hospital, and will carry communion to several people each day. I wish to treat the Blessed Sacrament with proper reverence. What would you suggest or how would you yourself make such visits? Thank you for any advice!

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