ASK FATHER: Too much Precious Blood consecrated. Who should consume?

From a seminarian…


First and foremost I have to thank you immensely for this blog, which has greatly helped me and some of my brothers from our Seminary down here in Brazil (where stuff like those on Fishwrap are rather commonplace as well).

Now to the question… Father, I heard that somewhere not so far from here it’s been happening a situation I’m not so comfortable with but about which I have no arguments or explanations: after the faithful have received Communion, Father gives the Chalice to the EMHC or Master of Ceremonies (this one being a 16 years old boy) as he cannot consume of It himself because of illness or medication indult and only has the Communion from both kinds guaranteed by intinction. In any case, Father is the first to Communicate and the rest of the Mass is reverently and normally performed and this person has already communicated on due time.

Quæritur: who can Communicate from the Precious Blood after communion is over or proceed with purification of the Chalice?

Thank you again and may the Lord bless us all and especially this blog, you and my fellow readers.


First rule in the seminary – as long as it doesn’t violate the moral law, do what your superiors tell you to do.

There are four Cardinal virtues – justice, prudence, temperance and fortitude. All are important, but in seminary formation, the virtue of prudence is truly the queen of all virtues, since it governs and guides the others. Prudence does not require violating one’s conscience, but prudence does require one to carefully select the battles one fights. Prudence, for a seminarian, often means swallowing some liturgical tomfoolery, because to fight against it in that situation is not the virtue of fortitude, but rather the vice of foolhardiness.

That said, Our Eucharistic Lord deserves all the respect we mere mortals can give.

Holy Communion should be received as devoutly as possible. The Church now permits the regular reception of Holy Communion under both species. There are many complications which come from the distribution of Holy Communion under both species. Some of these complications arise from the fact that the Precious Blood, unlike the Sacred Hosts, is not to be reserved after Mass – it should be wholly consumed.

If a priest consecrates too many Hosts, what happens? Ordinarily, the excess hosts are reserved in the tabernacle. If a priest consecrates too much Precious Blood, what happens? Here’s our dilemma.

All good seminarians, steeped in the theology of St. Thomas Aquinas, know that consuming a larger portion of the Holy Eucharist does not avail themselves of more Christ, and neither does receiving the Holy Eucharist under both species. Christ is truly present in the Eucharist under both, or either forms, and as long as the elements retain sufficiently the appearance of bread and wine, Christ is sacramentally present. If one were to receive a whole host, and the next person in line were to receive only half a host, both receive the same Christ.

With these theological matters in mind, we can approach the question. Unfortunately, there is not currently in the Missal a “de defectibus Missae” section that outlines what is to be done in these situations, and since reception of the Precious Blood was not ordinarily done by anyone other than the priest in the older Missal, the “de defectibus” there does not enlighten us. So, what are the options?

1. The priest could consume the excess consecrated Blood.

2. The priest could ask another to consume the excess consecrated Blood.

3. The priest could dissolve the consecrated Blood with enough water so that it no longer retains the appearance and form of wine and respectfully dispose of the material down the sacrarium.

It seems as though this priest has, for various reasons, opted for option 2. That person has already received Holy Communion, and by assisting the priest, is not receiving “more” Communion, anymore so than if he had accidentally been given two Hosts at the altar rail.

The prudence of having a 16 year old be that person seems questionable, but there is no real liturgical norm being violated here. It should be an occasion for the priest to consider consecrating a smaller amount of wine at subsequent Masses.

Fr. Z adds:

To ALL SEMINARIANS… review HERE for the Rules of Seminary Survival.  I believe that we are going to return in many places to something like the experience we vets had in the 80’s.

Also, speaking of not receiving “more Jesus” with a greater quantity of the Eucharist and speaking of the horrid hell hole that was the seminary I did hard time in…

We had “substantial bread”.  I’ll spare you the details of how it was made, but it was often so inedible, so impenetrable with human teeth that we could barely get it down.  In spite of its resistant qualities, it still left lots of crumbs. How happy Satan must have been.  In any event, it was so tough that even the lib seminarians hated it and we all complained.  The response we received back – I am not making this up – from a priest on the faculty was – again, I am not making this up – the more we chewed, the more of a sacrament it was.

What times were those.

However, doesn’t that sound a little like something that you might now, these days, hear again?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. jfr1900 says:

    Fathers Ferguson and Z provide good counsel here.

    The 2004 CDW document “Redemptionis Sacramentum” provides some helpful advice. Paragraph 102 points out the need to not grossly overshoot the mark with respect to the amount of wine that is presented for consecration.

    I’m a bit hesitant with respect to Fr. Ferguson’s third solution, namely, dissolving the Precious Blood. While it certainly eliminates the Real Presence, I have only heard of such a solution (for instance, in the good ‘ole “De defectibus”) when the sacred species has in some way been tainted (e.g., spit up by a sick communicant, overrun by bugs, laced with poison by personal or ecclesial enemies!). I would suggest that more lay communicants could be drafted into helping consume the Precious Blood (Fr. Ferguson’s second solution), more than just the 16-year-old boy. Otherwise, dissolving “good,” untainted Precious Blood seems somehow disrespectful. I wonder if the entirety of “Redemptionis Sacramentum,” especially the ending, is pertinent here:
    “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 a latae sententiae 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. Furthermore all will remember that once the distribution of Holy Communion during the celebration of Mass has been completed, the prescriptions of the Roman Missal are to be observed, and in particular, whatever may remain of the Blood of Christ must be entirely and immediately consumed by the Priest or by another minister, according to the norms, while the consecrated hosts that are left are to be consumed by the Priest at the altar or carried to the place for the reservation of the Eucharist.”

  2. Suburbanbanshee says:

    I’ve always heard that, if the congregation is receiving the Precious Blood, and if the last few communicants can see that there’s an awful lot of the accidents left in the chalice, it’s prudent and kind for the last few communicants to sip a little bit more of the Precious Blood than usual.

    [OR, if this is a regular problem… don’t have Communion under both kinds. Duh.]

  3. Imrahil says:

    The solution I had encountered was like:

    “Take a big sip. The Blood of Christ.”

    for people who had not yet Communicated under the species of wine at all.

    – That said, as for the 16-year old altar boy: We know the Precious Blood retains the accidents of wine, including the intoxicating (or, well, rather: tipsifying) quality. Now in countries with (forgive me) decent Catholic alcohol regulations this is not a problem, but then we do know there are some countries around with a rather Puritan history concerning the matter. Might the priest possibly be breaking the law in doing so?

  4. APX says:


    In Canada, the issue you brought up is dealt with on a provincial level. So far, I have yet to find a province whose alcohol laws that would prohibit such. Even parents and legal guardians are allowed to give their children alcohol under their supervision.

    That being said, when I still had a probationary drivers licence and was on a zero tolerance for alcohol consumption and driving, I got stopped at a roadside check stop on the way back from Saturday evening vigil Mass and got a very stern warning from the sergeant who was not sympathetic and wasn’t buying transubstantiation. Same with people on Probation and court orders with a no alcohol condition.

  5. JPK says:

    I only remember this happening once in my parish. The priest asked three other men and myself to consume with him two full chalices.

  6. Philmont237 says:

    When I was in ROTC field training for the Air Force, we fortunately had Sunday Mass. One Sunday I was an EMHC (something that I no longer do) and was distributing the Precious Blood. The Chaplain basically filled my chalice to the top, and not many cadets partook of the Precious Blood. I was left with what amounted to more than a normal-sized glass of cheap red wine. I had to “reverently shotgun” this wine. Since we weren´t allowed to eat enough, and it was before dinner, I felt it immediately.
    Immediately after Mass we did a formation run! About a half mile into it, I began to feel sick (ever run while buzzed?). I fell out of the formation and was immediately screamed at by the OIC. I looked at him very seriously, “Sir, I had to consume a very large amount of the Precious Blood after Communion. I don´t want to throw it up and spill the Blood of Christ all over this parking lot.”
    “Oh…okay, Cadet. I understand. Just walk until you feel better.”

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