EWTN Catholic Q&A
Re: Brown Wafer
Question from Anonymous on 05-20-2003:


I was wondering about my church's wafers, too. They are not very dark. It looks white or very light brown with darker brown speckles. Do you think that it is valid?

If I doubt whether it is valid, am I obligated to attend a different parish's Mass? I can never tell for certain since I am not receiving communion at the moment.

Answer by Colin B. Donovan, STL on 06-04-2003:

There is no way to answer your question without knowing the ingredients, which may be only wheat flour and water. That means it could conceivably be whole wheat flour and therefore brown and valid.

However, should it turn out that it is more than flour and water, it would be gravely wrong to receive doubtful matter, and even grave to attempt to consecrate it. The Eucharist is unique among the sacraments in this respect, requiring certainty about the matter. In baptism for example, you can baptize conditionally if a liquid is questionably water. However, in the Eucharist you may not use doubtful matter. For a priest to permit doubtful matter is to risk grave injustice to the communicants, to anyone who gave a stipend for that Mass, and worst of all, to provide an occasion of idolatry to the faithful, since to adore an unconsecrated host would be idolatry. To knowingly use anything less than certain matter, therefore, is morally reprehensible.

I would go to another parish if the pastor is not responsive to the concerns of the faithful concerning the validity of the Eucharist, and I would immediately contact the bishop. If even that is unproductive, someone has to take the matter to Rome. The competent congregation for the validity of the sacraments is the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which has been known to act swiftly in such cases.