|ROME, 24 MAY 2005 (ZENIT)
Answered by Father Edward McNamara,
professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University.
Q: What is the proper procedure when a consecrated Host falls on the
floor when distributing Communion? We were told to leave the consecrated
Host on the floor till the Communion procession is over, then pick up
the Host and put it in a bowl of water to dissolve and then pour the
contents on a plant in the church or down the sacristy sink. Is the
dissolved Host still the Body of Christ? Is this a new directive to be
— M.B., Upper Sackville, Nova Scotia
A: This subject is addressed in the General Instruction of the Roman
Missal, No. 280:
"If a host or any particle should fall, it is to be picked up
reverently. If any of the Precious Blood is spilled, the area where the
spill occurred should be washed with water, and this water should then
be poured into the sacrarium in the sacristy."
There is no mention of leaving the host on the floor, and in fact it
should be picked up immediately, both out of respect for the Lord and
lest it be trampled by unwary communicants.
Nor is there any indication about dissolving the host. I would say that,
if the host remains clean, then either the minister or the communicant
should consume it directly.
The process of dissolving the host in water may be used in special
conditions if a host had been seriously soiled. Once the host is
dissolved, the water may be poured directly upon the earth or down the
— the special sacristy sink that leads to the earth, not to a
It should not be poured down a common sink.
With respect to the presence of Christ, most theologians would hold
that, although the host externally remains intact for several days, the
real presence would cease as soon as the host is fully soaked with water
as from that moment the species is no longer exclusively that of bread.
It is necessary to wait for the host to dissolve, out of respect for
what once contained the presence of Christ and in order to avoid any
danger or appearance of a host being discarded or profaned. ZE05052423