ASK FATHER: Hosts found on the floor… twice

From a reader…


The attached strongly worded letter was in our bulletin today and it has left me greatly disturbed. In the past two weeks we have found Jesus left on the floor, not once, but twice. I am also sickened by this and greatly saddened. I was hoping for communion in the hand to be eliminated at our parish.

Our bishop does not permit communion to be distributed solely on the tongue, but my understanding is that if there is a risk of profanation, it is not to be given in the hand. How much risk does there have to be? I don’t want to read about Jesus being left on the floor week after week.

First off, I would rejoice in having a pastor so clearly dedicated to preserving the sanctity of the Blessed Sacrament. Pray for him. Let him know how much you appreciate his concern and that you share his concern. Offer to spend some time in the Church, both in reparation for the desecration of Our Eucharistic Lord and also to pray for the souls of those who mistreat the Blessed Sacrament.

Work with the pastor. He seems to be on the side of the angels.  Try and figure out the best way to solve this problem. Perhaps there is some poor catechesis lingering from the past.

Does the parish need new, orthodox volunteers to help teach catechism to the younger children?

Is there a need for better teachers in the RCIA or adult religious education programs?

Would organizing holy hours be something that would help?

Let him take the lead, but be ready to pitch in and help.

Meanwhile, you are right about risk of profanation.  In Redemptionis Sacramentum we read:

[92.] Although each of the faithful always has the right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue, at his choice, if any communicant should wish to receive the Sacrament in the hand, in areas where the Bishops’ Conference with the recognitio of the Apostolic See has given permission, the sacred host is to be administered to him or her. However, special care should be taken to ensure that the host is consumed by the communicant in the presence of the minister, so that no one goes away carrying the Eucharistic species in his hand. If there is a risk of profanation, then Holy Communion should not be given in the hand to the faithful.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. L. says:

    I wish that this lady’s level of outrage was more widespread in the hierarchy of the church. If it were, it seems likely that communion in the hand be done away with and the weak excuse of “not politicizing the ‘communion rail'” would not be given to justify giving the body of Christ to manifest public sinners.

  2. Christ_opher says:

    We will be praying for your Priest and your Bishop as mentioned by Fr. Zuhlsdorf but also for the author of the note to have the strength and courage to deal with this scandal thus correcting this wrong. I have a question, Have you asked the Bishop directly about communion on the tongue or has somebody else said that the Bishop insisted on communion in the hand? If this information has come from somebody else or even the Bishop it is definately worth re-checking the facts. In our parish we have older people with arthiritis or other ailments that would not make communion in the hand practical (btw hand held communion is Thank God the minority choice here) so you could utilise this fact as a way of trying to change this nonsense. Another idea could be but I’m guessing here that the body of our Lord Jesus Christ fell on the floor whilst distributing communion if this is the case you could volunteer or possibly find someone to utilise the plate that our Altar Servers utilise during Holy Communion. If the Priest or Bishop will not accept your solution you could make it an issue for the Cardinal to deal with he may well have more reverance for the Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Fight the Good Fight!

  3. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    The priest should conduct a formal Eucharistic catechesis during his sermons, then state he will be having a Eucharistic procession followed by adoration/exposition in reparation for such sacrilegious disregard for the Sacred Species.

  4. Grabski says:

    If the bishop insists on communion in the hand, what’s against a patten and consumption on the spot.

  5. JPD says:

    Christopher, I m not sure what an Cardinal can do considering the Bishop, in communion with Rome, has the ultimate authority within his diocese.

    Redemptionis Sacramentum is certainly an impressive document, but the Priest also has to balance his action with the political dimension of his diocese. If he refuses communion on the hand, which is his right, he could the incur the wrath of his Bishop, which could bring a whole host of problem. Sometimes, it is better to find alternative solutions.

    The ultimate solution would be for Rome to issue a decree stating Communion should only be given on the tongue a was the case in the early Church.

  6. Gerard Plourde says:

    I think it should be recognized that while reception on the tongue might lessen the risk of profanation it does not eliminate it. One truly intent on profaning the Eucharist could spit the Host into a tissue or handkerchief and carry it away.

  7. TWF says:

    JPD: yes I am also not sure what he meant by going to “the Cardinal”. That being said, the metropolitan archbishop does have the canonical duty to report grave issues throughout the province to Rome, and the metropolitan could very well be a cardinal, but I can’t seeing reporting the issue to the metropolitan going anywhere without clear evidence that the local bishop was indeed allowing truly grave abuses to fester.

  8. Christ_opher says:

    Thank you JPD.

  9. Michael says:

    Hearing about situations like this makes me want to continue even more earnestly in my prayers that the Holy See disallows Communion in the hand and mandates a return to patens. How long, O Lord?

  10. Kathleen10 says:

    Working in education, I recognize nice sounding rules that are on the books but are not actually applied in real life. Few realize they are not carried out because they are perceived to be impractical or impossible by the people whose responsibility it is to put them in place, but they look good on paper and maybe were applied at one time. The rules and rubrics are only as good as the people making sure they are applied.

    “However, special care should be taken to ensure that the host is consumed by the communicant in the presence of the minister, so that no one goes away carrying the Eucharistic species in his hand. If there is a risk of profanation, then Holy Communion should not be given in the hand to the faithful.”

    There is ALWAYS a risk of profanation, especially today. Therefore according to this rubric Holy Communion should not be given in the hand, but it always is at NO. A priest should never count on people coming up with horns on their head in order to identify risk. The risk is there, even if it is of carelessness or lack of appreciation for the Real Presence. This is how we end up with Jesus lying on the floor or stepped on.
    Special care should be taken to ensure that the host is consumed by the communicant? The sacred host can be spit out and carried away to sacrilege, most easily. We are given the Blessed Sacrament, immediately turn and walk away from the priest or EMHC. They don’t know what has been done with the Blessed Sacrament at all. It is hard to comprehend how this could ever be acceptable to a priest or bishop.

  11. Longinus says:

    In a parish I formerly lived in ushers were well trained to be vigilant that those who received the Sacrament in the hand in fact consumed it. One was stationed a short distance to the left and right of each minister of Communion. If a person reached the usher without consuming the Sacrament the usher would stop them and ask them to consume it.
    I remember one instance in particular when a person refused. The usher called out to the priest who immediately stopped distributing Communion and retrieved the Host.

  12. Kathleen10 says:

    JPD, that would be the best solution, absolutely. May it happen!

  13. majuscule says:

    I am glad this has been brought up–I need to remind our new pastor about something that happened last year at this time.

    I found parts of a host on the floor in the third row of pews. I brought it to the attention of one of the priests who was rightly upset and reverently disposed of the host and checked the floor for any other pieces.

    When I told the pastor, he thought a moment and told me that the First Communion class had been “practicing” in the church and no doubt it was an unconsecrated host that had been dropped. He was agreeable to the suggestion to remind the religious education teachers about reverent treatment of the hosts or using something else instead of hosts for “practice. In the meantime he has been transferred and we have a new pastor.

    With First Communion coming up on the calendar I think it’s time for a reminder. It seems to me that even in practice, even with communion in the hand, the children should consume before returning to the pews.

    Making note to self to talk to pastor and see if he will speak to the RE people and perhaps oversee the “practice” sessions. Sigh. Why is this even necessary?

  14. One practical remedy which need not wait for others’ actions: each of us can be vigilant when we are at Holy Mass, and when we visit in church.

    I don’t mean in a pesty or intrusive way. But if you sense someone sitting near you is new, and perhaps is not Catholic, there are kind ways to ask: “are you new here? Do you need any help?” And if someone seems befuddled by communion, either going up or coming back to the pew, it may be because they just went along with everyone else and didn’t know what else to do.

    One of the things I do, as a priest — and I train extraordinary ministers to do this — is to observe that people consume the host right away. I have, more than a few times, hurried after someone who didn’t do so.

  15. pelerin says:

    When Communion in the hand was first introduced, those having received the Host used to step aside still facing the altar and consume before turning round. This practice seems to have almost disappeared now so no watch is kept on those who have received particularly when a paten is no longer used.

  16. Packrraat says:

    I think they should reintroduce the use of patens at communion time too. I am one of the few at our parish who receive on the tongue and recently, the host ended up on the floor. I was horrified. No patens. Of course, it would help immensely if I could kneel and my head were able to tilt upwards more. No communion railings either and I stand out too much kneeling by myself on the floor.

  17. Gerhard says:

    Holy Communion in the hand ought to be banned, period. But do not be too disheartened. No matter how dud your Priest or Bishop – and most seem that way unfortunately – Our Lord is the Head and Bridegroom of this Church and He does not measure holiness by numbers. Let us not be ashamed to stand up for Him fearlessly, nor to fear ridicule. Genuflect. Kneel to receive. Show ’em how it ought to be done.

  18. Faith says:

    We had this incident awhile back, a few times. The Host was always found in the same pew, after the same Mass. Everyone suspected a mentally challenged man who sometimes sat there. The offender stopped doing it, evidentially.

  19. Giuseppe says:

    I am not a big fan of communion in the hand. Nonetheless, while if is still permitted, why not make the communicant put the Host into his/her mouth while standing in front of the priest. It will ensure that the Host goes in the mouth. It will also slow the line, and thereby create peer pressure over time to receive in the mouth, since the end of the mass is being held up by hand-receivers.

  20. sparks1093 says:

    pelerin, this is exactly how the vast majority of people in my Parish receive Communion- they take one sidestep while putting the host in their mouth after which they make the sign of the cross. Those that don’t either take the host on their tongue or put it in their mouth before they’ve taken two steps. (I am an extraordinary minister.) I have seen a couple of instances where the EM/communicant dropped the host and each time the EM retrieved the host from the floor immediately and consumed it before pro-offering another host to the communicant.

  21. JohnE says:

    At our parish the Knights of Columbus serve as guardians of the Eucharist. They are first to receive Holy Communion and then stand a few feet to the side to ensure other communicants consume the host.

  22. arickett says:

    Once again I am left wondering what US usures do. Every Sunday one of my jobs is to ensure the hosts are consumed striaght away. Never had a issue once you explain.

  23. Volanges says:

    I’ve never belonged to a parish where it was someone’s job to ensure that the Host was consumed.

    In my present parish the priest is the only one who distributes the Host and 99.9% of those who receive consume before they walk away. The .1% who don’t seem to be those who are new to the parish and come to us from parishes where self-intinction was the way they received under both species. They receive the Host and proceed to the Chalice in order to dip it into the Precious Blood. Saw it happen again yesterday. Once a year or so we have to address that abuse and remind people that it’s not allowed.

  24. JAZ says:

    At my parish, an usher is stationed at each side of the church near the communion rail to watch the communicants to make sure that each communicant consumes the Host immediately, although from what I am told, no one has ever walked off with a Host. I suspect that the lack of a problem is the result of (1) a reverent celebration of the Mass, (2) communicants receiving Communion while kneeling at the communion rail, which tends to encourage immediate consumption, (3) the priest or deacon distributing Communion being accompanied by an altar boy who puts a paten under the communicant’s chin or hands, and (4) Communion being distributed under the species of bread only, which removes any temptation towards self-intinction. Just in case you are wondering, this is an ordinary form parish, we do not use extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, and about 98% of communicants receive on the tongue.

  25. Suudy says:

    We had a lady in my previous parish that regularly received communion then took it back to the pew to breakup and give to her young children. I reported this several times to the priest, and he said that she should not do that. But after 3 or 4 complaints to the priest by myself and other ushers, nothing happened. As an usher, I suggested to her “You should consume that before returning to your seat,” she balked and I found out she complained to the priest that she was being harassed by the ushers.

    Ultimately, nothing changed the situation, and I don’t doubt she’s continuing to do it. When the priest is complacent, the EM’s apathetic, and the woman obstinate, I resolved to just pray for her.

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