From a reader…
Today at mass, after the priest had completed the Eucharistic Prayer, and we had moved past the Agnus Dei, one of the EMHCs noticed that the Chalices and Ciboriums with unconsecrated hosts (those meant for distribution to those at Mass) had not been placed on the altar.
Instead they had been on a table to the back left of the priest who presumably had no idea they were there (he looked quite shocked when the EMHC went to move them to the altar). They then proceeded to distribute communion as normal with those hosts and chalices that had not been on the altar during the consecration.
My question is: were those hosts consecrated, being behind the priest, and not on the altar? Would it matter whether he knew they were there?
I abstained from receiving lest I receive what was passed off as, but not really, the Blessed Sacrament, but I wondered what I should do.
Also, now that the leftover unconsumed hosts have been placed in the Tabernacle, what do I do if I return to Mass at the same Church. With my knowledge, must I be wary of receiving those possibly unconsecrated hosts, being passed off as the Eucharist? Thank you for your response!
Priests are trained, or ought to be trained, to have the intention, at least the moral intention, to consecrate the elements that are placed on the corporal upon the altar. Priests have it drilled into them, and they drill it into themselves, that if it is on the corporal, it gets consecrated. They don’t have to have a specific immediately conscious intention about each and every single host. A general, or moral intention is adequate.
The practice of priests making a act of intention before they go out to celebrate Mass should be revived. I warmly urge every priest (and bishop) who reads this to learn the Formula of Intention and even to print it, frame it, and locate it near where you put on your vestments. There are other good prayers for the priest’s preparation to say Mass, but I think this is the most important and basic. The Formula can be found in every copy of the traditional Missale Romanum. I also found it in the Latin 2002 Missale Romanum. I don’t happen to have to hand an English volume, but I’ll bet a translation is in the appendix. Here is the text:
|Ego volo celebrare Missam, et conficere Corpus et Sanguinem Domini nostri Iesu Christi, iuxta ritum sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae, ad laudem omnipotentis Dei totiusque Curiae triumphantis, ad utilitatem meam totiusque Curiae militantis, pro omnibus, qui se commendaverunt orationibus meis in genere et in specie, et pro felici statu sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae.||My purpose is to celebrate Mass and to confect the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the rite of the holy Roman Church to the praise of almighty God and all the Triumphant Church (in Heaven), for my good and the good of all the Church Militant (on Earth), and for all who have commended themselves to my prayers in general and in particular, and for the favorable state of the holy Roman Church.|
|Gaudium cum pace, emendationem vitae, spatium verae paenitentiae, gratiam et consolationem Sancti Spiritus, perseverantiam in bonis operibus, tribuat nobis omnipotens et misericors Dominus. Amen||May the almighty and merciful Lord grant us joy with peace, amendment of life, room for true repentance, the grace and consolation of the Holy Spirit and perseverance in good works. Amen.|
Back to the specific question.
In my opinion, the priest did not validly consecrate the hosts in the ciboria that were left on the credence table.
It might have mattered should he have know about them, remaining on the credence table, but then he ought to have had them brought to the altar. In your description, you say that he was “quite shocked” when the ciboria were brought up, which indicates that he didn’t know of them and, therefore, didn’t intend to consecrated them. Hence, they were not consecrated.
It is possible that the priest then spoke the words of consecration over those hosts. However, even in the context of Mass that’s not good. A priest mustn’t consecrate one species apart from the other. What he should have done, in my opinion, is simply explain to the people that the ciboria were left on the table, they were not consecrated and there would not be enough consecrated Hosts for everyone. He should explain that, yes, they were at Mass because he had consecrated and consumed his Host and Blood from the chalice and that they had fulfilled their obligation and he his obligation to say Mass for the intention offered. Done. That could have been a learning experience for many.
However, there is such a mania today that everyone must always go to Communion at every Mass, that Father was psychologically driven to do something else.
If the priest did not consecrate those hosts, and they were distributed, he would have committed a grave sin. Please, Lord, I hope he didn’t do that. Furthermore, if he put unconsecrated hosts into the tabernacle then he would cause people – albeit unwittingly – to commit acts of idolatry were they to venerate them. Please, Lord, I hope he didn’t do that. And he would sin again, sacrilegiously, by leaving them there and – quod Deus avertat – distributing them at another Mass! If Father knows for sure which ciboria are in question, he should take steps to correct the situation.
In any event, it is better simply to explain what happened and learn from it than too do something imprudent and, potentially, scandalous.
For your part, I would refrain from receiving Communion for a few days, at least if you see that hosts from the tabernacle are being distributed. Also, you would not be out of line to contact the priest and ask him about what you saw. Be calm, respectful, factual, and listen carefully to his explanation.