ASK FATHER: Altar boy notices priest skipped the consecration of the Precious Blood

From a reader…


I have a couple of questions regarding something that happened recently at a weekday TLM.  Our good and reverent priest was distracted during Mass one morning and completely forgot to consecrate the Precious Blood.  After consecrating the host, he genuflected, and then continued on with the prayers after Consecration.  My 12 year old son happened to be serving.  I have two questions… was the Mass valid?  And should the altar boys have, somehow, alerted the priest to his mistake as soon as they realized he had missed part of the Consecration?

Oh dear.

First, it is a serious problem to consecrate the sacred species outside of Mass.  It is a serious problem to consecrate one species without the other.

If intentional, either of those would be serious sins, possibly leading to the gravest of canonical penalties.

In this case, it seems that the priest was distracted and didn’t intend anything.  He didn’t sin and he is not open to canonical penalties.

However, if he did not consecrate both species, that means that he did not consume both species.  If he did not consume both, the it wasn’t Mass.  For the Sacrifice of Calvary to be renewed, you have to have the two-fold consecration and then the priest must consume them both.  That didn’t happen in this case, so Mass was not celebrated.

If Mass was not celebrated then the intention for that Mass was not fulfilled.  The priest must see that a Mass is celebrated for that intention as soon as possible.

The 12 year old server had no responsibility in the matter.  He could have done something, but he was not obliged to.  It is not his role as a minor to bring these things up.  If, being certain about what he saw and understanding what he witnessed, he had said something during Mass he would have done something meritorious.  He would have drawn the priest’s attention to the issue and the priest could have decided how to proceed.  However, he did not sin by not saying something, especially if he was not completely sure.  Another case could be made for a, say, seminarian serving or a man in his majority.

At this point, I want to assert that I know that a great many of the TLM altar boys out there DO understand about the two-fold consecration and its important to complete the Sacrifice and Holy Mass.


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15 Responses to ASK FATHER: Altar boy notices priest skipped the consecration of the Precious Blood

  1. Ryan says:

    That’s a courageous sign that the boy noticed and shared it with his parents… Truly heart wrenching situation there. Aves for sure…

  2. Amerikaner says:

    Questions about this… if one species is present but not the other, Christ is still truly present? If so and the priest does not consume the sacred species and there is was not a Mass, Christ is still present but how is it that the Mass was not the Mass? I don’t understand. Thanks!

    [Yes, Christ is present in the Eucharistic species which was consecrated. However, the Mass is the renewal of the Sacrifice of Calvary, not just the bringing of His presence.
    The essence of sacrifice is the separation of blood from body. Therefore there is a two-fold consecration that separates Christ’s Blood from His Body. Both consecrations are necessary. Without the two-fold consecration, Mass is not celebrated.]

  3. Suburbanbanshee says:

    This is why it is a good idea to tell people contingency plans, even if they are very simple, and even if you only mention them once. Because otherwise, a lot of people are going to freeze and say nothing, because they literally do not know what to say or do.

    “I’m not saying this will ever happen, but tell me if you notice I left something out of Mass” might do it.

  4. bobbird says:

    This is important, and I have had similar situations. To begin, an elderly priest, saying Mass where he resided at a senior citizen’s home, once told us that if in his absent-mindedness he forgot to consecrate the Precious Blood, to alert him immediately. Taking that advice, years later a very good but aging priest elsewhere said, at the consecration of the PB, “This is my body, given up for you.” I immediately said, from the pews, “Excuse me, Father, but you said the wrong words of consecration.” His reply, said aloud was, “It will be alright.” After Mass I told him why I spoke up. He said that his INTENTION was sufficient to consecrate the PB. [No.] I consulted other authoritative sources, who disagreed with him. Their answer was “Words have meaning, which is why they are said aloud.” A few weeks later the same priest did it again at a week-day Mass. Before I could speak, he corrected himself, smiled, and told me after Mass that if I hadn’t spoken up before, he would not have had the brain-click to fix it the 2nd time. And this has happened with yet another priest years later, who when I spoke up, re-spoke the proper words. Would you please comment, Fr. Z? Specifically, on taking the first priest’s advice in speaking up and whether “intention” is sufficient? [No. The words of consecration – the form of the sacrament is two-fold – must be spoken correctly.]

  5. Holy Mackerel says:

    That happens sometimes, even to holy, reverent priests. It happened to one such priest while I was serving. I know that a 12 year old wouldn’t easily know what to do, because I sure didn’t. But fortunately, my guardian angel body-slammed my human pride and put it into a Bulgarian headlock. I approached the altar and told the priest sotto voce what had happened, whereupon the Mass was consummated. God bless our priests and servers.

  6. rhhenry says:

    What’s the best thing for someone in the pews to do in a situation like this? (I’m imagining the Novus Ordo, where the prayers of consecration are easily heard.) Do we call out during Mass? Walk up to the altar immediately and mention it to the priest quietly? Mention it while receiving Communion? Sit quietly and offer it up?

  7. Kenneth Wolfe says:

    About ten years ago I attended TLM with this exact situation, although the acolyte did not realize the priest forgot the second consecration. A member of the laity in the pews noticed it and calmly interrupted the Mass, saying “Father, you did not consecrate the wine.” A striking thing to witness during Mass! My only advice before taking this action is be 100 percent you are right.

  8. Amerikaner says:

    Fr Z, thank you for taking time to answer my questions above.

  9. rtrainque says:

    Our priest encourages “assertiveness” in MCs (and daily low Mass servers, all grown men) in terms of speaking up should the need arise. This is especially helpful on those occasions when new priests/infrequent TLM celebrants fill in. You make a good point that the same might not be expected from the younger servers.

  10. albinus1 says:

    Situations like this are why my favorite part of the old missal is “De defectibus,” which prescribes exactly what to do if certain mishaps should occur during the celebration of Mass.

  11. abdiesus says:

    Yes, thank you Fr. Z for your clear answer to the question posed by Amerikaner. One of the reasons I have come to love the TLM is the clarity of the language in the prayers which repeatedly emphasizes that this Mass is a *propitiatory sacrifice*. For some reason, this fact, while still technically true of the NOM, seems almost completely obscured in the language of the vernacular prayers.

  12. RichR says:

    I had something similar happen with a High Mass I was assisting as MC. The good priest forgot the Kyrie and headed to the center of the altar to wait for the Schola to stop chanting their Kyrie. With a voice only loud enough for him to hear, I phrased my observation in the form of a question:

    “The Kyrie?”

    The priest realized he had gotten ahead of himself and smoothly completed the exchange without anyone knowing anything had happened.

    By phrasing it in the form of a simple question, you are avoiding anything accusatory that may upset the hierarchical order of things, and you are also making this his decision, not your correction. Ultimately, it shows him you trust him.

    [Not really similar. First, you are an adult. Second, you were MC, so it was your job. Third, not nearly as important an element as the consecration. However, there are times when my MC catches me when I get contemplative.]

  13. bobbird says:

    RichR: I like your answer. A question like, “Father, did you pronounce the correct words of Consecration?” are much less invasive, but in the vital moments when a gaffe occurs, and seconds count before it cannot be undone, it would take a huge degree of aplomb or Grace to phrase things in a better way. I only recall the elderly priest’s telling us to “Immediately stop and point out to me” or words to that effect, any mistake he might make, so that the Mass would be valid.

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