ASK FATHER: What should I do with an old, now unused pyx once intended for Communion calls?

“Vetus” pyx

From a reader…


I can’t thank you enough for your ministry, it has been helpful in more ways than I can say.

When I was a young man I converted to the Catholic faith from agnosticism via evangelical Protestantism.

Shortly afterward I was recruited to bring Holy Communion to older Catholics in retirement communities. I was given a pyx to use and did so. I have carried that pyx with me through many moves because I have no idea what to do with it. I will not use it for its intended purpose as it is not a proper container for the Host as the inside is plastic.

What should I do with a container that has held the Eucharist but was not a proper container in the first place?

Thank you for your time and please be assured of my prayers.

Thanks for being diligent about this.  Also, your coming into the Church from an Evangelical background is interesting in light of your consistent reading here, given what I’ve written about the demographic sink hole that is opening up under Church in these USA.

A couple things are possible.

The simplest would be to take that pyx to the parish with you and give it to the priest.  To the priest.  Not to the secretary.  To the priest.  Perhaps to a deacon.

If you are not able to get it to a priest at the parish right away, you could give it a soak in water for a couple of days, and then pour that water onto the ground.  Dry it well and wait to turn it in.

“Novus” pyx

Once you have taken a step or two to make sure that it is clean and there are no particles of the Eucharist in it, there isn’t a huge rush.

Otherwise, if you really can’t turn it in, for the reason that it is of an unworthy material, you could use a high temperature fire and then bury what is left in the ground.

This raises questions about selection of and training of lay people who bring the Eucharist to the sick and shut it.   What are their practices?   For example, when do they get Hosts?  At Communion time?  Then they are finishing hearing Mass while they have the Blessed Sacrament.  Do they leave right away?  Then they’ve left before Mass was over.  Do they hang out and chat with people?  Do they go straight to the home or place where the shut in person is waiting, or do they go to the gas station or run home first, etc.  Do they keep the pyx until the next week?  Do the purify it?

There are a lot of questions.

Consecration of the hand’s of priests during ordination means something or it doesn’t.

How we treat the Blessed Sacrament reveals something about our Faith.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    My mother, before she died, coordinated the Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist for her parish, setting up schedules for home visits, Mass where required, etc.

    After I sold her house and had some of her things in boxes at my own residence, I found an ornate pyx in one of the boxes. I opened it, hoping beforehand that the Eucharist was not there. Fortunately, it was not. I contacted her parish, and they asked me to send it back, which I did, first having my own parish priest clean it for me, which he did very graciously.

  2. RobinDeLage says:

    Good post as I have an unused Pyx in my home that I did not know what to do with it.

    Why do I have one? Well I was asked to deliver Communion to a shut in parishioner. I purchased a small gold pyx so Our Lord may be transported in a worthy vessel. I also purchased a copy of the liturgical booklet Pastoral Care of the Sick. I am neither a pastor or deacon but the book does have a rite that a lay person can use when visiting the sick and giving communion.

    The official training I received consisted of receiving a name and an address from the rectory on a scrap of paper with a request to bring communion between 9:30 and 10:00.

    I received the consecrated host near the end of the communion rite during Mass. We would stand between the sacristy and sanctuary and would get the host from either an ordinary or extraordinary minister. This would not be the Mass that I would have attended for my obligation. I would then go directly to the home of the shut in and follow the rite in the previously mentioned book.

    I have never purified the pyx since I am not ordained nor an instituted acolyte. I did not know that I could do that. I will purify the pyx as you described Father.

  3. mater101 says:

    These comments reveal again the loss of Faith in the True Presence! Loss of Faith in our shepherds, who leave instruction in the hands of unordained, and poorly formed functionaries. It makes me cringe. I am SOOOO saddened to see this disrespect in NO Mass after Mass, from priests to their “helpers”. There is no movement that reflects awe and recognition of the Presence . So then, how are the sheep to learn when the shepherds are hirelings.

  4. Charivari Rob says:

    At my hometown parish, those lay people doing Sunday home calls make sure to come early enough before Mass to give their pyx to the Deacon or Priest, who puts the empty pyx on a tray on the credence table where they are kept during Mass. At Communion, they are filled before the ciboria are returned to the Tabernacle. At some point after the Tabernacle is shut and before anything mundane like announcements, those people are called forward. The priest gives them the pyx from the tray with some verbal bidding (not sure what book or document, but they don’t vary it) to carry the Eucharist (and the prayers of the congregation) to their charges – dismissing them then (specified in training to go directly to their charges – do not pass GO, do not collect $200, don’t stop in the foyer for the bake sale, don’t stop to buy tickets for the Super50/50, don’t chitchat, don’t stop at WaWa for coffee).

  5. leftycbd says:

    @mater101: I give my mom a pass on this one. I expect that her dementia and Alzheimer’s affected her long before it became noticeable to me.

  6. TonyO says:

    @ Charivari Rob: my former parish followed almost the exact same regimen, and it did not strike me as deficient in respect to the Eucharist – at least, not any more so than ANY situation of having non-clerics carrying the Eucharist.

    But one thing remains to strike me as odd, to the point of concern: the actions involved, of calling the EM up from the congregation to receive the pyx, and sending them out, smacks of (very deliberate) shoe-horning the sending out as if it were somehow part of the liturgy of the mass. And, further, that the sending of the EMs forth is something done by the community, not just by the priest (or deacon). But I doubt that either of these is actually valid.

    There has been, since about 1960 or so, a strenuous effort from the Communio wing of the left wing of the Church to capture the Eucharist as “being Christ” in much the same way the community of the Church “is” Christ. (After all, they say, the Church “is the mystical body of Christ”.) And so, in their various bait-and-switch magical tricks, they turn the congregation present at mass into “the community that IS Christ ‘to one another’ ” and thereby into the AGENT acting at Mass, both to consecrate the bread and wine, and to offer the sacrifice, and to send forth the Extraordinary Ministers out to those of the community who cannot come to church.

    But the whole business is pure bilge and tripe, without any good rationale for all the mixed metaphors and grafting good elements onto noxious ideas. The entire effort tries to water down (or weed out) any REAL notion of the consecrated, ministerial priesthood as distinct from the laity.

    For the life of me, if it is necessary to use EMs to get the Eucharist to shut-ins (and I notionally accept this may indeed be necessary in some places), I cannot come up with a single reason why they cannot go to the sacristy after mass (and after they have said a thanksgiving of their own for receiving Communion), and were present for the WHOLE of mass, THEN receive the pyx from the priest, and go out as required to the shut-ins. In what way does this harm any proper and rightful order or good that we should want to protect? This model would more faithfully parallel what the priest himself would do to go to the shut-ins with the Eucharist: he would finish mass, go to the sacristy, take off the vestments, etc, THEN take a pyx and go out as needed.

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  9. Nan says:

    I used to take communion to a young woman and also sometimes would do a communion service and rosary at a nursing home; we were trained how to purify the pyx, and to go straight to our destination. After Mass, we’d go to the sacristy and the sacristan would fill the pyx, remaining hosts were then returned to the sacristy.

    When the parish got a new priest, he did the home visits but parishioners still did the communion service so people could receive on Sunday.

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