ASK FATHER: Hosts and wine for when we have to shelter an underground priest – UPDATE

UPDATE: 27 January 2021:

A post by Peter Kwasniewski over at NLM dovetails well with this post. He writes about the building of home altars, that is, altars useful for the celebration of Mass in your home. This might be necessary in the future. In the meantime, in this time of relative calm, it will be good and wholesome. Use good weather to sow crops and to reap and to fill your barn against the day of famine, plague and sword.

Peter has a great quote from St. John Golden-mouth (Commentary on Ps 41) at the end to support his point.

As those who bring comedians, dancers, and harlots into their feasts call in demons and Satan himself and fill their homes with innumerable contentions (among them jealousy, adultery, debauchery, and countless evils); so those who invoke David with his lyre call inwardly on Christ. Where Christ is, let no demon enter; let him not even dare to look in in passing. Peace, delight, and all good things flow here as from fountains. Those [pagans] make their home a theatre; make yours a church. For where there are psalms, and prayers, and the dance of the prophets, and singers with pious intentions, no one will err if he call the assembly a church.

If you can have a big screen TV and sound system, perhaps you can have a home altar.

ORIGINALLY Published on: Jan 27, 2021

From a reader….


IF/when we would need to shelter an underground priest, what do we need on hand to make hosts and what type of wine should we have for proper matter for consecration? thanks!

I’ve written about this before, for example, HERE.   That post has more detail and suggestions.

However, for the sake of your question, here is a quick answer.

Now, you can buy hosts pretty easily: link to 1000 small HERE and lovely priest’s hosts HERE.  All you need for valid matter for the hosts, is wheat flour and water and heat.  Any sort of wheat flour will do, provided that it is truly wheat.  There are different varieties.    There shouldn’t be anything else mixed in with the flour and water.  Host irons are generally used to form and cook/bake/sear the hosts. US HERE – UK HERE   But in a pinch hosts need not be uniform or pretty.  Just make sure they are unleavened and pure.  Thin batter… flat hot surface… ZAM!  Host.

Wine is a little more complicated.  You can get a lots of hosts out of a bag of flour but not so many Masses from a bottle of wine.  Also, wine can go bad.  Some fortified wines are valid matter for Mass.  I’ve written about that HERE.  Fortified wines are valid if the added spirits are distilled from grapes and the quantity of alcohol does not exceed 18%.   Marsala and Port and Vin Santo, which have long shelf life, can be valid, but not Sherry due to when the spirits were added.     I these still relatively calm times it is still easy to buy certified altar wine by the bottle or jug.   Otherwise, in a pinch other wines from grapes with natural fermentation will do.  Most store bought wine, even with sulfites, is valid matter.

Also, and this is important for the sort of days you might be describing, where priests are on the move or at least forced into homes, etc., because churches have be closed or targeted… here is a way to make wine valid for Mass from raisins.   For example, this recipe HERE.

You might want to try gathering the ingredients and making some.    You will need more than raisins.  You could stock up on things used in the process like campden tablets and Montrachet dry wine yeast and yeast nutrient and pectic enzyme and acid blend (or lemon juice) and wine tannin (or tea bags).  Some of those – like the tannin – could be optional, but they might make the process easier and more likely to produce the desired result, wine from grapes which has alcohol, even a small percent, through fermentation.   You should have a hydrometer for that.  Whereas bottles or purchased wine might be hard to store in great quantities for a long period, the ingredients could be, including raisins.    Some simpler recipes could work as well, so long as they produce valid matter.  Remember, the wine produced must have had some natural fermentation which produces alcohol as a by product.  It doesn’t have to be high percentage.  Also, some raisins get a treatment of oil, which can affect your outcome, or of sulfites or sulphur.  I’d go with organic if possible.  If you go off to some other site to hunt up recipes for grape wine, please do use my links to get your supplies.

And don’t imagine that wine from raisins will be awful.  Very fine wines are made in Italy from grapes that are desiccated, including Amarone and Recioto.

So, perhaps when I get myself settled down in a new QTH we could start a collective Mass wine from raisin project and see how our efforts turn out!


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Great idea! Count me in on a Mass wine from raisins project!

  2. I’ve also heard that any wine that is considered (or certified?) kosher (for jews) is in good standing for use in a Catholic Mass or Divine Liturgy. Could Father Z or another knowledgeable cleric please confirm this is true? The wine that comes to mind first in this case is the (grape) wine made made by Manischewitz.

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  4. gouletdrg says:

    Regarding Manischewitz, you must check the label. Some Manischewitz wine has sugar added to it. When I was in Afghanistan, the Rabbi and I shared storage space for our supplies. Though we each had plenty of wine for our respective services, he did show me which bottles did not contain anything added. Those were reserved for use on the High Holy Days for his services. He made me aware so I know and if a need should arise where I had to use his stock. Or, educate a Religious Affairs Specialist.

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