|ROME, 17 MAY 2005 (ZENIT)
Answered by Father Edward McNamara,
professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University.
Q: I recently attended Mass at an out-of-town Catholic conference, in a
convention center, where there was a large crowd on hand. Soon after
Communion began, the concelebrating priests realized that even after
dividing the small Hosts they were going to be more than 100 short. One
priest, seeing that the hosts were almost finished, said, "I'll go make
some more." Shortly afterward I observed him at a side table saying the
prayers of consecration over a "new batch" of hosts and chalice of wine.
He later explained to the congregation that it was all right to do just
the consecration since we didn't end the Mass. Is it invalid and illicit
what this priest did? Did the faithful that received the "second batch"
N.B., Bethesda, Maryland
A: The priest was certainly in error although he may have done this in
good faith, believing that he was acting justly.
The fact that he consecrated both bread and wine at least indicates that
he was aware of canon law's prohibition of ever consecrating the species
As Canon 927 states: "It is absolutely forbidden, even in extreme urgent
necessity, to consecrate one matter without the other or even both
outside the eucharistic celebration."
He apparently believed that by consecrating more bread and wine within
the context of the Mass he did not fall within the strictures of this
However, what he did was, in effect, to celebrate another Mass within
Mass, as the consecration of new species implies a new sacrifice. He
therefore contravened the second aspect of the canon by consecrating
both species outside the Eucharistic celebration even though he was
still celebrating another Mass.
This case is different from that foreseen in the General Instruction of
the Roman Missal, No. 324, in which for some reason the wine was not
"If the priest notices after the consecration or as he receives
Communion that not wine but only water was poured into the chalice, he
pours the water into some container, then pours wine with water into the
chalice and consecrates it. He says only the part of the institution
narrative related to the consecration of the chalice, without being
obliged to consecrate the bread again."
The same principle would be applied if, as has happened, a parishioner
informs a priest after Mass that he forgot to consecrate the wine. This
process is necessary in order for the sacrifice, and hence the Mass, to
With respect to the validity of the "second batch" of hosts, I would say
that they were valid for Communion, and did contain the Lord's real
What should a priest do in similar cases of emergency when hosts are
I think the best solution is to simply apologize for what happened.
Sometimes we priests have recourse to extravagant "solutions" when all
that is needed is to recognize our fallibility and liability to make
This is especially so in situations, such as that described, when the
consequences of not being able to receive Communion in this circumstance
does not imply a major spiritual damage to the faithful and where an
alternative solution may be found at some other moment of the day.
In some cases, such as mission territories when Mass and Communion are
rare treasures, a priest caught in this predicament would be justified
in offering to celebrate another Mass right after the first one, lest
anybody be deprived of Communion for a long time. ZE05051727
* * *
Follow-up: 2nd Batch of Hosts [05-31-2005]
Several questions have matured from our discussion on the consecration
of a second batch of hosts during Mass (see May 17).
Priests from India and Indonesia suggested that a possible solution to a
shortage of consecrated hosts would be to dip unconsecrated hosts in the
chalice as a means of distributing Communion only under the species of
While this suggestion was made in obvious good faith, it is not viable
as this practice has been explicitly rejected in No. 104 of the
instruction "Redemptionis Sacramentum":
"The communicant must not be permitted to intinct the host himself in
the chalice, nor to receive the intincted host in the hand. As for the
host to be used for the intinction, it should be made of valid matter,
also consecrated; it is altogether forbidden to use non-consecrated
bread or other matter."
A seminarian from Manila asked for a clarification regarding the
principle to be applied if a priest is informed after Mass that he
forgot to consecrate the chalice.
The principle was that of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal,
No. 324, in which the priest should place wine and water in the chalice
and, in order to complete the sacrifice, reverently recite only that
part of the consecration pertaining to the chalice, and immediately
consume it. If necessary, he may perform this act privately, but should
do so without any delay whatsoever.
This situation is different from one illustrated by a reader from the
United Kingdom in which a priest forgot to receive from the chalice
before distributing Communion and remembered only after the chalice had
Technically this would be called an irregularity, as the priest is
obliged to receive under both kinds. This error also occurs sometimes at
large concelebrations at which, due to lack of careful planning, some
priests are left by the wayside in the distribution of the chalice.
While it should not happen, it does not affect the validity of the Mass
for either priest or faithful. The only thing to be done about it is to
learn the lesson the hard way, ask forgiveness for any culpable
negligence, and be more careful and attentive the next time.
A Hartford, Connecticut, reader asked about the following situation:
"Before distribution of the consecrated elements, the celebrant
requested a server to bring a large pitcher of water to the altar, and
added more water to the already consecrated wine, presumably to ensure
that there would be enough for the more than 300 people in attendance.
This was quite surprising to me, and would seem to possibly compromise
the integrity of the species of the Precious Blood of Christ. Was this
Mass invalid because of the addition of water to the Precious Blood?"
Once more, this action, while very illicit, would not affect the
validity of the Mass as such. It could however, depending on the
quantity of water added to the Precious Blood, corrupt the integrity of
the species so that it no longer contained the real presence of Christ.
This would be practically certain to have happened if the quantity of
water were more than half. In such a case, those who received this
mixture would have received only Christ's Body during Communion. The
priest would be gravely responsible for having induced them into
unknowingly committing a material act of idolatry in receiving a mixture
that was not Christ's Precious Blood.
The corruption of the species would be more doubtful in the case of a
lesser quantity of water. But this would never justify the lack of
respect shown toward Our Lord by ever adding a non-consecrated substance
(whether water or even more wine) to the Precious Blood out of
Besides, this process is never necessary, even if the amount of Precious
Blood be deemed insufficient for those present. The option of
administrating both species by intinction always remains open. And
should even this be impracticable, there is never an obligation to
distribute under both kinds.
As in the previous case of a shortage of hosts, a priestly apology is
simply the best solution.
Another reader asked about the precise moment of the transformation of
the bread and wine into Christ's Body and Blood. We have already touched
upon this theme in our answer and corresponding follow-up of Nov. 25 and
Dec. 9, 2003. ZE05053122
* * *
Follow-up: 2nd Batch of Hosts, Continued [06-14-2005]
Thanks be to God for our careful readers who manage to keep me orthodox
in spite of myself.
In our follow-up regarding adding water to the chalice after the
consecration (see May 31) I said that the corruption of the species of
wine "would be practically certain to have happened if the quantity of
water were more than half. In such a case, those who received this
mixture would have received only Christ's Body during Communion."
The point I, maladroitly, tried to make was that the mixture no longer
contained Christ's real presence. However, the phrasing could easily be
understood that one did not receive the whole Christ: body, blood, soul
and divinity, under the species of bread alone. Likewise, in those
special cases where, for medical reasons, a person receives only the
Precious Blood, he also receives the whole Christ. I apologize for any
confusion or distress I may have caused.
Although receiving Communion under both species is more perfect from the
point of view of the sign, and Church law now gives fairly wide leeway
to bishops to grant this permission, the distribution of the Eucharist
under the species of bread alone remains the ordinary mode of Communion
in the Church.
I will take the opportunity to answer some other questions that arose in
A Virginia reader asks: "Regarding 'homemade' bread with additional
matter (other than flour and water), it is my understanding that because
it is invalid matter it cannot be transubstantiated into Jesus' Body and
Blood. I assume the Mass is also invalid. Is this correct?"
While there is no absolute prohibition on using homemade bread that
respects the conditions for valid matter, it is usually not very
practical. The making of hosts is something of an art and homemade hosts
are often flaky and brittle.
If, in addition, other elements are added (for example, sugar, molasses
or honey), the probability that it is no longer valid matter is very
high although one would have to examine each case on its merits. As "Redemptionis
Sacramentum," No. 48, says:
"The bread used in the celebration of the Most Holy Eucharistic
Sacrifice must be unleavened, purely of wheat, and recently made so that
there is no danger of decomposition. It follows therefore that bread
made from another substance, even if it is grain, or if it is mixed with
another substance different from wheat to such an extent that it would
not commonly be considered wheat bread, does not constitute valid matter
for confecting the Sacrifice and the Eucharistic Sacrament. It is a
grave abuse to introduce other substances, such as fruit or sugar or
honey, into the bread for confecting the Eucharist. Hosts should
obviously be made by those who are not only distinguished by their
integrity, but also skilled in making them and furnished with suitable
The Church requires certainty and not probability as to the validity of
the sacraments. Thus, doubtful matter may never be used in any
circumstances whatsoever. A priest who finds himself in such a situation
should not proceed with the celebration until all doubt has been
A Scottish priest asks: "Is reception under both kinds necessary for
validity for clergy to have said Mass at a concelebration? Linked to
that, if a priest has not received under both kinds at a Mass at which
he is a concelebrant, may he still take a stipend?"
Strictly speaking, except in the case of a priest who, due to illness,
has been granted special permission from the bishop to receive under one
species, reception of Communion under both kinds is necessary for all
concelebrants for a licit celebration. But it would not normally be
required for validity as the Mass
that is, the full consecration
was celebrated and at least the main celebrant consumed both under both
Thus, if due to some accident, a concelebrant was unable to receive from
the chalice, he may receive a regular stipend if this is his only Mass
that day. A priest may never receive a stipend for a concelebrated Mass
if he celebrates another Mass on the same day
for example, at his parish and at a funeral. He may offer the
concelebrated Mass for any intention he wishes but without receiving a
The situation of an invalid participation in a concelebration might
arise if a priest where to join in, so to speak, as an uninvited guest,
and where from the beginning there is no possibility of full and licit
I have unfortunately seen this happen at papal Masses where attending
priests pull a stole out of the pocket and pronounce the words of
consecration. There are several liturgical and theological reasons to
doubt the validity of this procedure although the question has not yet
been addressed officially. ZE05061423