Food from the Cupboard

Germany 11 014

On holiday in Germany a few weeks ago, I found myself summoned by the bells of the parish church just at the time when the tour schedule allowed us some free time. I wandered across the square to see what was going on. As I had hoped, it was an evening mass, and although a weekday there was a good number of people present for a small village, about 15-20.

The pastor was of early middle age, engaged with the assembly and at ease with his priestly task, and it was clear that both presiding and preaching were a joy to him. There was lots of singing (unaccompanied) and a sense of participation even though no voice was heard except that of the priest. The church building was in exceptionally good order, with an elegant square modern altar at the mouth of the apse, and graced with good liturgical art.

The surprise came at the communion  when, having communicated himself, the priest went immediately to the tabernacle at the apse to bring the Reserved Sacrament to the altar for the communion of the faithful.

I was left bemused at this stepping back from a sense of the assembly’s full participation in the Eucharistic action together. At this crucial moment in the Mass, a clear dividing line was drawn in the sand between priest and people, and for no apparent reason. It seemed so at odds with everything else that had been said and done, and with the architectural setting which evidently had been re-designed to facilitate ‘full, conscious and active participation’ by the whole assembly.

Perhaps the priest needed to consume a great many hosts left over from a previous Mass? Perhaps math wasn’t his strong point (but there was less than 20 of us)? Perhaps it was simply a case of old habits dying hard.

Could it even have been a residual desire to proclaim that the Blessed Sacrament, as objective reality, is always in itself more significant than the liturgical event which gives it birth, and in which that group of people had been called to participate that evening?

It seemed as if the assembly that night were like a group of people invited to a friend’s house for a meal, only to find that their host, after treating himself to the newly prepared food, went to the cupboard to find some leftovers for his guests.

Of course analogies will take us only so far, and yet I came away from that church feeling something was not quite right, that in this small but significant act the spirit of the reforms flowing from Vatican II had somehow been lost. When it came to the moment of sharing the great gift of God, priest and people had withdrawn to their respective domains, and were both impoverished thereby.

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125 comments

  1. Fr. Giles, I would be interested to know the priest’s reason for administering the reserved sacrament instead of consecrating enough for the congregation. Perhaps the next time you see this take place, you might consider asking the priest afterward? If we know actual (rather than possible) reasons for priests preferring to resort to the reserved sacrament, we might be able to address the issue better.

    1. JP, this is an example of what I complained about you doing elsewhere. You seem to be taking a shot at the posting by reaching for some theoretical positive explanation for the negative experience reported. It strikes me as antagonistic, making no positive contribution to the discussion.

      1. Tom, I’m sorry if you read it that way, but you’re mistaken here. I am not taking a shot at Fr. Giles, I am trying to politely request more information from him. I am not trying to antagonize. I measured my words twice and cut once.

        Perhaps the priest…? Perhaps math…? Perhaps […] old habits… Could it even have been a residual desire…?

        I can come up with a few more guesses as to why the priest might have done what he did. But it would be a lot more helpful to get his actual reason.

        Do you believe me, then, that I am genuinely interested to know why this particular priest did what he did, and that I would hope that the next time we have a thread on this subject, we might have actual rationales given by priests who have done this?

  2. It happens. We had funeral last week and there was no way to know how many people would receive. It was a young person who passed and we consecrated 300 hosts. Only about half of the people turned out to be practicing though, so the tabernacle ended up with a large number of hosts (we usually only keep 25 for visitation of the sick, etc.)

    So I really did need to “use up” (indelicate!) many consecrated hosts. Sometimes in such cases I will try to use maybe half newly consecrated and half from reservation and mingle them a bit during the fraction.

    Fr. Jim

    1. A good reason for reserving just enough hosts in a eucharistic dove/pyx. You’re less likely to have a super supply of hosts on hand.

      Since there are usually only a few hosts available, I would think it forces the pastor or sacristan to check more carefully the number of hosts needed for those going to holy communion and use only those hosts consecrated at that Mass.

      Admittedly, in very large churches with unexpected numbers of communicants, this may not work very well.

  3. As much as some will protest that it is easy to always distribute hosts consecrated at a particular Mass, I think the vast majority of Catholic parishes throughout the world resort to the tabernacle precisely because there is a super-abundance from previous Masses and a real inability to judge exactly how many will be receiving at a particular Mass, especially in larger parishes.
    We all know that the Roman Missal’s norm is that Hosts consecrated at a particular Mass should be distributed to those who attend that Mass–that’s a given. However, I don’t think it is too far-fetched in our theological understanding of the Mass to believe that at Mass we step out of time and enter the timelessness of eternity and that in fact there is only one Mass and One Lord and one Sacrifice celebrated in a timeless way. So in an “eternal” sense, even hosts consecrated at a previous Mass are from the one Mass. I don’t think that’s too farfetched and a good way to look at it when the “ideal” isn’t or can’t be met.

    1. I think it is farfetched. For me it’s not a matter of never going to the tabernacle, but of exercising the simple care that obviates the need for doing so.

    2. My parish has hundreds of people attending a given Mass, and the sacristans are very experienced at counting heads during the homily so that that any recourse to the tabernacle (or surplus after liturgy) is fairly marginal, as a routine matter. It just takes effort and perseverance in developing the sense for the judgment involved; it’s not rocket science. It’s when parishes don’t even bother to develop this that there’s a more serious objection.

    3. Despite the ideal for people participating at Mass to receive from the same sacrifice they have just offered (which I am certainly in support of), I don’t think your explanation is far-fetched.

      The ancient rites of the sancta and the fermentum (or should I write them in the genitive?) attest to the unity of the Eucharist across time and space (one involving consecrated bread from a previous Mass being placed in the chalice, the other involving consecrated bread from the Pope’s Mass being received by priests at other Masses in the area). Knowing this helps me avoid feeling offended when I receive the reserved sacrament.

      1. Jeffrey

        I am not offended by receiving the reserved sacrament. I am offended when parish clergy and ministers don’t bother to make much of an effort to avoid unnecessary recourse to the tabernacle. An important distinction.

    4. Fr. Allen and Jeffrey Pinyan, neither the transcendental dimension of the eucharist nor the Roman practice of the fermentum is properly used to nullify the concern raised here. These are excuses to make people feel better, plain and simple, not real justifications. If either of these notions actually justified the practice, we would not see it repeatedly discouraged in papal and conciliar teaching since the eighteenth century, as both were well known throughout that time.

      No, Fr. Allen, you have to abandon the specious claim that all hosts are from “the same sacrifice” if for no other reason than that popes have repeatedly used this term to mean the exact opposite of what you are saying.

      And no, Jeffrey, taking communion from the tabernacle has nothing to do with the fermentum linking the pope’s Mass with other Masses in Rome. Surely you see that this is a different matter altogether?

      1. Rita, I wasn’t trying to justify the practice or make excuses for it. The last thread on this subject covered the magisterial teaching on this, and I’m all for it. It is most fitting that we receive the elements consecrated at the Mass in which we are participating.

        I was simply saying that, given the transcendental nature of the Eucharist over time and space encapsulated in those rites of sancta and fermentum, I don’t feel slighted when I receive Holy Communion for a previous Mass. I know it’s not the same experience as the sancta or fermentum.

        If I could hazard a guess at what Fr. Allen meant, I am reminded of something I read from Chrysostom not too long ago:

        “For it is not man who makes the oblations become the body and blood of Christ [but Christ]. […] The power and the grace are of God who produces the whole. ‘This is my body,’ [Christ] says. This word refashions the oblations. And just as that utterance which said, ‘Be fertile, and multiply, and fill the earth,’ indeed was spoken once, became deed empowering our nature for procreation for all time; so, too, this utterance, once spoken, at each table in the churches from then until today and until his second coming produces the completed sacrifice.” (De Proditione Judae Hom.)

        I interpreted Fr. Allen’s remark as saying that because the Eucharist is not another sacrifice, but the same sacrifice that Christ offered on the Cross, in that specific sense we’re always receiving from “the same sacrifice.” Again, problematic choice of words, but I that’s how I understood him.

        I’m not using this explanation to defend the practice of regular recourse to the reserved Sacrament, I’m just explaining how I see Fr. Allen’s comments as something other than a specious claim.

    5. AJM: Nice theological point here which ignores the liturgical focus.

      What you say is theologically true but irrelevant to the fact that leftovers from the cupboard is bad liturgical practice.

      Has any priest ever thought to announce before Mass that there has been a particular problem such as the funeral Mass mentioned above and asked the help of the congregation in consuming the extra communion bread instead of just handing them the leftovers?

      Would it be possible, when there is excess in the tabernacle, to put the ciborium on the table, veiled perhaps, at the beginning of Liturgy of the Eucharist? At least that way, there is not the noticeable break away from the common table to the cupboard.

      We should be long past the era when priests just dumped wafers from a box into a ciborium in order to make sure there would always be enough. It takes three to five weeks for ushers/sacristans/priests who actually count how much bread is put out for Mass to learn within a small margin of error how much is needed for the regular Sunday Masses. If one cares about how the entire family is treated at the dinner, smaller and larger portions can be given for Communion so that there is something for everyone and nothing to put into a tabernacle except what is needed for viaticum.

      There is also the possibility of giving more bread to each communicant as an aid in consuming the excess. Many a Sunday, in various communities, have I been asked to help the communion ministers consume the excess. This is much better than storing it and sticking others with leftovers later for no apparent reason.

      This seems to happen more often when parishes use loaves of bread which are actually broken and shared and where members are also conscious of the need to provide sufficient and consume excess wine. I wonder if the taking care to have one bread to be broken and shared instead of portion-controlled wafers is related to the hospitality of not serving leftovers?

      1. It takes three to five weeks for ushers/sacristans/priests who actually count how much bread is put out for Mass to learn within a small margin of error how much is needed for the regular Sunday Masses.

        This is simply not the case everywhere. My parish’s regular Sunday (non-Holy Day) attendence frequently fluctuates at our main Mass by as much as 70 people (more than 25% of our average attendence). Some of this variation is predictable (snow, civil holidays), but often it is not or is counterintuitive. Also, our parish has a signifigant (and similarly unpredictable) number of people who don’t receive communion. We do our best to communicate everyone from Hosts consecrated at the particular Mass, but it’s not always possible.

        The other requirement of the Church (so far ignored in this thread), is that the Hosts reserved in the tabernacle (for the sick and for the variation in number noted above) be renewed frequently. It seems to me that the most liturgically “smooth” way to do this is to distribute them to the people periodically.

      2. Has any priest ever thought to [ask] the help of the congregation in consuming the extra communion bread instead of just handing them the leftovers?

        I wonder what the reaction of the congregation would be. I would expect (and this is pure conjecture) that the majority would not mind, and would be curious why the priest was asking to begin with. I say this because I doubt the average Catholic is aware of the Church’s preference for the faithful to receive the newly-consecrated Eucharist.

        Would it be possible […] to put the ciborium on the table, veiled perhaps, at the beginning of Liturgy of the Eucharist?

        If by table you mean the altar-table (as opposed to, say, a credence table), then such a solution is not permitted for the same reason that the placement of tabernacles on the altar used for Mass is discouraged:

        “Consequently, on the grounds of the sign value, it is more in keeping with the nature of the celebration that, through reservation of the sacrament in the tabernacle, Christ not be present eucharistically from the beginning on the altar where Mass is celebrated. That presence is the effect of the consecration and should appear as such.” (Euch. Myst. 55)

        I would also think it discouraged since it might lead to confusion about whether the consecrated elements remain consecrated after Mass (since a container of consecrated bread would be on the altar again — outside of a tabernacle — through another consecration).

        [N]othing to put into a tabernacle except what is needed for viaticum.

        I don’t want to turn this thread into one discussing the worth of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, but I would presume that in a parish that has regularly scheduled Eucharistic adoration, there would be an additional host consecrated specially for the purpose (to be consumed at a later date, of course).

      3. This reminds me of a story of Lutheran seminarians in Gettysburg PA who were regularly invited to the sacristy after communion to consume the leftover consecrated hosts accompanied with
        peanut butter. All of this washed down with the consecrated communion wine.

      4. You know, this discussion of consuming excess communion (an awful expression, but you know what I mean) raises an interesting point.

        No one wants to eat the body and blood of Christ as food.

        Let’s be honest. Everyone blanches at the thought of chomping through large quantities of those cardboard-like wafers, don’t they? Eating one is about the limit.

        “For my flesh is real food and my blood real drink” seems to have faded from our collective liturgical consciousness. It’s Jesus alright, but is it bread?

        Sadly, I’ve found that a lot of people don’t want to drink what’s left in the chalice either. They do it by duty only.

        Isn’t that strange? That a banquet, intended to symbolize the feast of heaven, where our longings shall one day be satisfied, should awaken so little natural response, in fact, a sort of physical revulsion? I mean, think about eating 300 extra hosts at one sitting. It’s horrible!

      5. Rita:

        No one wants to eat the body and blood of Christ as food. […] Everyone blanches at the thought of chomping through large quantities of those cardboard-like wafers, don’t they?

        Does chomping large quantities of leavened bread (perhaps soaked in wine) seem more palatable?

        I’m not against eating the Body and Blood of Christ as food. I just think it’s awkward to gorge oneself on it, relatively speaking (taking into account the normal portion size that we consume). Overeating isn’t pretty, and I don’t think it’s how Christ intends the sacrament to be consumed (though He could very well prove me wrong there).

        I’m not repulsed by consuming a few extra hosts (cardboard and all) nor of finishing the dregs of the once-overflowing cup. (Okay, I might need to take a breath before emptying the cup.) If I were in that position, I wouldn’t rush through it either. I’d take my time with every single wafer and every single sip. But I would definitely feel weird downing multiple chalices and emptying whole ciboria, slow or fast.

        To use the banquet analogy — say, a wedding banquet — there’s always cake left over (isn’t there?) for the bride and groom to share later. There’s also plenty of food leftover (at least there was at my wedding, where we had buffet-style service). I wouldn’t want to see the guests stuff their faces to ensure every last morsel was consumed.

    6. Stop trying to defend the indefensible!

      At a toast when the words of wellwishing have been spoken and the glasses held in the air, as those gathered begin to drink, no one puts their glass down to take up a glass that hadn’t been raised, and over which the words hadn’t been spoken.

      Daft that the practice continues. Worse still that people like you are seeking to explain why it should.

  4. In the great scheme of things, this is a very minor point. The Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle consecrated from previous Masses is no less the Blessed Sacrament than the hosts consecrated at the present Mass. While it is not ideal to consistently use hosts reserved in the tabernacle exclusively, it is not forbidden.

    I am a bit put off by the title of this post, “Food from the Cupboard,” just as I object to the term “doing the dishes” for purifying the sacred vessels. Using such mundane, derogatory terms for sacred actions at Mass one of the results of the trivializing of the liturgy over the years.

    1. In the great scheme of things what you say is irrelevant to the affective result of serving leftovers, from the implications it has regarding those who are there to participate in the Eucharist, not just receive Communion.

      The mundane, derogatory terms are not there to describe the liturgical actions, they are meant to convey the poor connotations of poorly considered liturgical actions by showing them in another context.

      1. those who are there to participate in the Eucharist, not just receive Communion

        But according to Benedict XV (quoted by Pius XII in Mediator Dei 118), “they also participate in the same sacrifice to whom a priest distributes the Blessed Sacrament that has been reserved.” So I do not think it can be framed as “participate in the Eucharist vs. just receive Communion.”

      2. Once again, the term “serving leftovers” is completely inappropriate when referring to the Body of Christ. Christ is NEVER a “leftover.”

      3. Christ is never a left-over. But the bread wafers in whose form Christ is present may have been surplus to requirement at earlier liturgies, i.e. left-overs.

        Christ’s presence is sacramental – a mediate, not an immediate presence.

  5. Perhaps the problem arises in part from the use of plural ‘hosts’. St Paul points out that we share one ‘loaf’ and that our sharing is a sign of our unity. So ideally we should use one bread at Mass, breaking it so that each person who presents himself can have a piece. Of course, this becomes difficult with large numbers. But I still feel uneasy when I see heads being counted before communion – this seems to individualise the act of communion unduly.

    1. It might also indicate the expectation (which seems to be the case nowadays anyway) that everyone present at Mass will be receiving Communion.

      (Please don’t think I’m saying I expect or desire people to be in mortal sin on any given day of the week.)

      1. Either Gerard doesn’t know “himself” can mean both men and women or he is being deliberately ignorant so that he can force others to talk the way he wants them to.

        I cringe when I see people get so picky about language*, as if the old usage has actually died out to such an extent that those who use it do so for deliberately sexist reasons.

        * conversational language, people can be picky about the language used for the Missal all they want since it is more permanent.

    2. As well as reflecting reality, language creates it.

      Whether you like it or not, many people, not just women, resist the use of a male pronoun to denote male and female referents. In the past it was not an issue. Now it is.

      Lanugage is dynamic and evolves to meet new communication needs. This is one such example.

  6. It seemed as if the assembly that night were (sic) like a group of people invited to a friend’s house for a meal, only to find that their host, after treating himself to the newly prepared food, went to the cupboard to find some leftovers for his guests.
    Of course analogies will take us only so far…

    In this scenario, as presented, the above analogy takes an untoward direction, for me a false, dead-end (I’m not a theologian, nor have I played one on a blog flatscreen!) We have enough trouble delineating meal vs. sacrificial offering without this analogy. That said, I would hope that there’s consensus that there was historically only one “Last Supper.” I hope there’s consensus that, as KLS rightly observes, preparing for the adequate distribution of the Body as confected in the sacrificial moment isn’t a “rocket science” labor, so as to be consistent with the liturgical intent of the Eucharistic sacrifice. And surplus happens, thankfully, as last Sunday’s gospel attests. And that surplus, being reserved for the poor, as I understand the gospel, honors said poor, who are always favored by God.
    But where the analogy really fails is that it advances two notions: that the Real Presence has some sort of “consume by ‘date’”; there might be an implied, negative hierarchy suggesting a “self-serving” celebrant who then demarcates that hierarchy symbolically by distributing “leftovers.” The Real Presence is….well, the Real Presence. End of story.

    1. The analogy does not imply a ‘consume by’ date. It implies that good hospitality includes planning and that it is shocking to have the gathering around the table interrupted to bring in something left over from another celebration, as if these are the poor being served at the door and not the members of the family gathered around the table.

      The Real Presence is a theological truth which is irrelevant to what is implied by this poor liturgical behavior.

  7. Only comments with a full name will be approved.

    Karl Liam Saur :

    My parish has hundreds of people attending a given Mass, and the sacristans are very experienced at counting heads during the homily so that that any recourse to the tabernacle (or surplus after liturgy) is fairly marginal, as a routine matter. It just takes effort and perseverance in developing the sense for the judgment involved; it’s not rocket science. It’s when parishes don’t even bother to develop this that there’s a more serious objection.

    This is what happens in my parish, but sometimes things happen. Sometimes 500 people show up to a wedding or funeral and only 100 receive. Perhaps many were not Catholic. Should we have asked before they came in? It is always going to happen the day after Christmas and Easter. You can prepare for everyone to receive, but of course many of those present haven’t been there since last Christmas and of those many rightfully will not present themselves for holy communion.

    Also, wasn’t this same thing addressed a few weeks ago??

  8. Fr. Christopher – yes, it was addressed recently. And one thought expressed was that a weekday mass was exactly the right place to distribute an excess, should one happen. For KLS, the funeral example is a very good one – while one can count heads at a regular Sunday and have a good idea of who will or won’t receive, at a large gathering of folks who don’t regularly attend that parish, it’s simply not possible.

    Or, as has been pointed out, stuff happens. And we deal with it.

    1. Yes. The issue is not being 100% correct 100% of the time. The issue is making a serious effort over time – a certain level of mindfulness and intentionality, as it were.

  9. A few relatives of mine live in a region of the States that has seen an influx of Catholics over the past 20 years. For a while they heard Mass in a school cafeteria. Before Mass, someone placed a bowl of wafers, two ciboria, and two pairs of tongs on a table just before the entrance to the cafeteria. There were no signs — the practice of placing one wafer in a ciborium for each communicant was well established in this church. Remarkably, this system worked well. To my knowledge, no one who went to the altar for Communion was denied the Sacrament. I suspect that the person who prepared the table for the gifts placed a few extra wafers in a ciborium to account for those who forgot to place a wafer in a ciborium, or to account for latecomers.

    I’ve also seen the “place a wafer in the ciborium or on the paten” practice in university chapel Masses where only a handful were present. However, I can see how this practice would not work at weddings or funerals.

    1. ‘Hearing’ is an inadequate and inappropriate verb to express what the liturgical assembly does at the celebration of the eucharist.

  10. As a side note, I tend to have difficulty with some of the eucharistic ministers refusing to consume consecrated hosts after communion, that also results in far too many hosts in the tabernacle. Since some local authorities have spoken against EM’s consuming, ours are getting cross talk on this issue.

    1. far too many hosts

      Fr. Jim, in the scenario you’re describing, are you asking the EMHCs to eat consume a few more hosts to lessen the number that need to be reserved, or to consume all of the remaining ones so that none are reserved? I’m just trying to get the picture right.

    2. Redemptionis Sacramentum says that concelebrants are not to receive from the tabernacle. Why then would this not apply to the the entire mystical body of Christ? I also think that a number of documents have taken up the reasons for reservation. The tabernacle is not a cupboard, but a place of reservation for adoration and eucharist for the sick. I have never seen in the official documents of the Church that it is a cupboard for the eucharist to be stored for use at active celebrations.

    3. Mike, at least from the perspective of the principal (presiding) celebrant, it is my understanding that it is necessary for him to consume the newly consecrated Eucharist because of his ministerial priesthood because doing so consummates that particular offering of the sacrifice. Perhaps concelebrating priests (since they too are praying the words of consecration in persona Christi) are bound to the same law.

      Since the baptismal priesthood and the ordained priesthood differ in degree and essence, the participation of the congregation exercising their baptismal priesthood differs likewise in respect to the offering of the Eucharist, and so they are not bound to the same law (although the strong preference is there).

    4. RS – signed by Arinze who they had to get out of Rome given his “wonderful” liturgical wisdom and actions.

      Sub-deacon – could have sworn Paul VI eliminated these.

    5. Bill deHaas on August 2, 2011 – 3:17 pm:
      Sub-deacon – could have sworn Paul VI eliminated these.

      Ministeria Quaedam, motu proprio, Pope Paul VI, August 1972 (unofficial EWTN translation)

      4. […] The functions heretofore assigned to the subdeacon are entrusted to the reader and the acolyte; consequently, the major order of subdiaconate no longer exists in the Latin Church. There is, however, no reason why the acolyte cannot be called a subdeacon in some places, at the discretion of the conference of bishops. (my ellipsis)

      For all intents, the formal order of subdeacon has ceased to exist except in EF traditional orders. The office of instituted acolyte has survived mostly in seminaries only. The subdiaconate has no relevance in the OF, so far as I know.

      However, the loophole described above in (4) has come in handy for parishes who celebrate the EF and offer solemn Mass. One MC in my diocese has become an instituted acolyte so he can act as subdeacon during solemn EF Mass. In that respect, he is a subdeacon in all but name. He never exercises the role of instituted acolyte within the OF.

    6. Thanks for correcting me, Gerald. I both placed an ellipsis and emphasized text. I should have wrote (my ellipsis and emphasis) or similar.

    7. The subdiaconate has no relevance in the OF, so far as I know. The subdiaconate had/has precious little relevance in the EF too. “Keeping the paten warm” for a large part of the Mass is not exactly a vital symbolic action.

    8. John Nolan: “Eucharistic Ministers? Are you referring to the deacon and subdeacon? if not, please refer to Redemptionis Sacramentum. It’s only been out for seven years, so presumably is not yet on your radar.”

      Well, at least this posting proves that, receiving from the Hosts consecrated at Mass or from the Tabernacle, in the Ordinary or the Extraordinary Form sure doesn’t necessarily guarantee an increase of charity in the recipent.

  11. Only comments with a full name will be approved.

    Jeffrey Pinyan :

    those who are there to participate in the Eucharist, not just receive Communion
    But according to Benedict XV (quoted by Pius XII in Mediator Dei 118), “they also participate in the same sacrifice to whom a priest distributes the Blessed Sacrament that has been reserved.” So I do not think it can be framed as “participate in the Eucharist vs. just receive Communion.”

    The theological unity of the Eucharist from any Mass is relevant if one is discussing receiving Communion. It is not relevant if one is discussing good liturgical practice.

  12. I hate to deprive folks of an occasion to slag each other off, but it seems to me that there isn’t all that much disagreement here. Almost everyone seems to agree that the ideal is that all the faithful would receive from host consecrated at the Mass at which they are present. Likewise, almost everyone seems to agree that there are occasions when this is not possible. If there is any disagreement, it seems to be over how hard one ought to work to realize the ideal.

    1. Yeah, that’s pretty much the impression i got reading through the comments too.

      I also think some people talk past each other because the “leftovers” comparison has different connotations to everyone. I think I get what those who use the term “leftovers” means, but I think a lot of people can read it the wrong way and consider it an insult to the Body of Christ regardless of the point the person using the term wishes to convey.

  13. #36 Jeffrey Pinyan
    Your distinction of ordained and baptismal priesthood does nothing for the unity of the eucharist. Yes, the difference is functional of course and of degree.But if we believe that the eucharist is a celebration of the Totus Christus then the reception of communion should not be done so as to differentiate by status. The presider acts in persona christi of the total Christ.

  14. Fr. Giles,

    There is an implicit clericalism in the way that you yourself describe the Eucharistic celebration when you write:

    “It seemed as if the assembly that night were like a group of people invited to a friend’s house for a meal, only to find that their host, after treating himself to the newly prepared food, went to the cupboard to find some leftovers for his guests.”

    It implies that the priest-celebrant is the host and that the church building is his house, the lay people are his guests, and that he himself prepared the meal.
    Are there any magisterial documents where the priest and the assembly are described in this manner?
    Personally, I don’t see how hosts from different masses are from ‘different celebrations’ any more than different hosts are different ‘bodies of Christ’.

  15. It matters not a jot. Jesus is Jesus.
    BTW what is an “assembly”?. I thought it was something we did at school. At Mass and in Churches I thought we had “Congregations”

    1. Jesus is Jesus

      Yes and no. It’s definitely the same Jesus, but the symbolism may be lacking. The bread and wine placed on the altar symbolize us, all that we have and all that we are. To receive oneself back from the table, as Augustine says, is very powerful. We are joined to Christ’s sacrifice of himself, and called upon to sacrifice ourselves for the life of the world.

      Receiving anonymous Jesus from the tabernacle removes this symbolism.

      1. One does not only receive oneself in the Eucharist (in addition, of course, to Jesus), but also others, no? The Body of Christ, so the saying goes, receives the Body of Christ, and so we are receiving not only our individual selves, but other-selves.

        From that perspective, the “anonymous Jesus” scenario doesn’t seem so alienating or devoid of symbolism to me. It’s receiving Jesus in the Other.

  16. Here’s a practice I’ve not seen elsewhere:

    My large Basilica parish (5 Masses, 6000+ households) depends on the tabernacle for every Sunday Mass I’ve been present for. At the Fraction Rite, servers go to the tabernacle, which is built into the old high altar, take out 4 or so Communion plates, and bring them to the portable altar. The priest celebrant then places a fragment of bread just consecrated into each of the “reserved” Communion plates. There is also the usual last minute divvying up of hosts among the 8 Communion plates, but the practice of placing a “fraction” into plates of previously consecrated hosts is new to me. The parish celebrates tons of weddings, and I wonder if it’s a case of simply never catching up with what’s in reserve.

    Incidentally, this is a worship space that’s unreconstructed, for lack of a better term, and the tabernacle and high altar beneath a monumental and well-lighted baldachin are the visual focus. There are no candles on or near the portable altar table. Rather, 6 lighted candles in tall stands on gradines flank the tabernacle, along with flowers, and atop the tabernacle stands a gilded crucifix matching the candle stands – the only crucifix present during the celebration. I sometimes wonder what a non-Catholic (pardon the expression) would learn about Eucharistic worship when encountering such an arrangement. It must be the highpoint of the ceremony, they might think, when at last two ministers ascend those five marble steps, open a gorgeous little golden door, genuflect, and retrieve plates of some kind from inside. OK. I got carried away. But my point is, in my Basilica parish, spatially, visually, it makes perfect sense to access the tabernacle before the Communion procession begins. And unfortunately, it’s the rule not the exception.

  17. Is liturgy important enough with which to take great care? I think so.

    One suggestion and one story …

    At our parish, we do resort to the tabernacle, probably more often than I would like. Those hosts are brought out during the Communion procession, not before it.

    In my first parish, our 730AM Sunday sacristan had an amazing knack for preparing just about enough. Ten to fifteen leftover. The pastor took me aside once, saying, “Todd, she makes us nervous because it goes down to the wire.”

    “But you never run out, do you, Father?”

    “Never, not in four years.”

    I went back to the woman and said, “Great job, Maria. Keep doing what you’re doing.”

  18. I think this topic is usually dealt with far to abstractly. Its a practical consideration, meaning:

    I worship at a church where a credence table stands at the entrance to the assembly. When an individual or family enters an individual picks up tongs and places the appropriate quantity of hosts in the vessel that will be brought to the altar at the presentation of gifts. For those who forget, or visitors who don’t know, the practice is never so off that a few fragments can’t be further divided in the communion line by the minister. Only once has the tabernacle ever been gone to for further hosts. This practice is scaleable to any church, with any amount of entrances, that cares enough to bother about the liturgical concept – most simply do not.

  19. One priest reported the following story to me shortly after his arrival in a previous parish. The custom had been, even on Sunday, to have worshipers place hosts from one bowl into the large ciborium.

    However, during the institution narrative one parishioner raised up and waved in the direction of the altar a small plastic bag with a few hosts in it. His practice had been not to “bother Father” with the retrieval of the Eucharist for his hospital visits.

    I think there are a few ways for the sacristan to oversee this matter of consecrating enough. Weddings and funerals, too.

    1. I’m not sure if the comment is meant to be a helpful caveat to the practice outlined in my comment, or something else. Obviously one assumes common sense in the practice, and sensitive intervention where it is lacking. The classical Roman dictum applies however: one should not legislate general practice based upon exceptional abuses. Hence, I would still support the practice even in light of the baggy.

  20. I had hoped that the practice of individuals chipping in a host at the church doors had gone the way of other bad customs – but apparently not.

    One reason that priests and people alike do not blanch when hosts are brought to the altar of sacrifice from the tabernacle is that in most places we have no sense, no experience of the one loaf being broken that all might share in it and become one body.

    What’s the subtle message given when worshipers, upon entering the church, place pre-cut (not pre-broken) hosts in baskets? What’s the message given when those baskets are then collected and presented so that, finally, individually consecrated breads (none of which were ever part of a larger loaf) are distributed back to the individuals who had placed them in the baskets in the first place?

    The tong-and-basket approach and communion from the tabernacle might be efficient practices but each, in its own way, weakens our understanding and experience of what Jesus did on the night before he died – and asked us to do in his memory.

    1. Thank you – it also gets at why multiple ways of receiving eucharist in the same celebration touches on the communal, private vs. personal aspect.

      It is also why intinction (if a reason is found to permit it) does not allow the individual participant to “dunk” his host.

      Rita’s comment above about “real bread” raises and makes some interesting points. For those few parishes that bake their eucharist (Deacon Fritz) my guess is that they have successfully worked out a way so that a couple of folks after the celebration don’t wind up in a situation of having to deal with a large quantity of left overs.

      1. Might I ask to have one issue cleared up regarding multiple ways of receiving the Eucharist at Mass? Would it be your intention, Bill, or anyone else’s, to require (for the purposes of expressing unity and letting the communal prevail over the private/personal) that Communion must be received in the hand only, or on the tongue only, in any given celebration of the Mass?

      2. my guess is that they have successfully worked out a way so that a couple of folks after the celebration don’t wind up in a situation of having to deal with a large quantity of left overs.

        We’ve gotten pretty good at estimating numbers, and what is left over is consumed after Mass. Hosts are used at our Saturday anticipated Mass and there are usually some left afterwards that help keep our tabernacle supplied. Occasionally we end up with a lot of hosts, usually due to a wedding or funeral, in which case they usually are used for the Saturday Mass. It’s not the ideal, but short of consuming a hundred hosts after the wedding or funeral, I don’t know of another solution.

      3. Only comments with a full name will be approved.

        Jeffrey Pinyan :

        Might I ask to have one issue cleared up regarding multiple ways of receiving the Eucharist at Mass? Would it be your intention, Bill, or anyone else’s, to require (for the purposes of expressing unity and letting the communal prevail over the private/personal) that Communion must be received in the hand only, or on the tongue only, in any given celebration of the Mass?

        Bill certainly articulates my unease as people receiving communion in different ways. I’d be nervous about using the w word require, because I would want to respect conscience and also leave room in the church for prophetic challenge. But it seems to me that ‘doing what everyone else’ do does’ should be the default position.

  21. I seem to have slept through all the RCIA stuff about the eucharist, but I’ve just started reading a book, “Making a Meal of It: Rethinking the Theology of the Lord’s Supper” by Ben Witherington, and it’s interesting how what started as the last supper has changed into what we have today.

  22. In the late 1950s at the annual Byzantine pilgrimage to Mt. Macrina, people celebrated and communicated at separate liturgies in various rites and languages spread throughout outdoor locations before joining in the new English Byzantine Divine Liturgy also outdoors where there was not wide distribution of communion since most people had already communicated.

    I chose to communicate at the Latin Mass largely because I had never practiced communion according to the Byzantine Rite. To my surprise the priest gave me a mouthful of hosts. Of course, I knew why, namely there was nowhere to reserve them. The experience was positive; I never had any thoughts like “was I communicating more than once.” It all seemed natural even a “fullness of the Lord,” if surprising and unusual.

    There is no reason not to consume all the consecrated hosts from a Mass, except for those needed for communion of the sick, just as we consume all the consecrated wine.

    It seemed as if the assembly that night were like a group of people invited to a friend’s house for a meal, only to find that their host, after treating himself to the newly prepared food, went to the cupboard to find some leftovers for his guests.

    Almost precisely the horror expressed to me by an Orthodox priest a couple of decades ago after attending a Catholic funeral. He saw in the long making of the Divine Liturgy the work of the Holy Spirit, aptly expressed in the form of leavened bread soaked in wine by contrast to the insipid wafers of the Roman tradition, made and dispensed like fast food from a refrigerator.

    Why would we ever want to give people the impression that the Lord had not provided an abundant banquet? The Guest who made sure that people did not run out of wine, and who multiplied fishes and loaves of bread!

  23. Only comments with a full name will be approved.

    Jeffrey Pinyan :

    Tom, I’m sorry if you read it that way, but you’re mistaken here. I am not taking a shot at Fr. Giles, I am trying to politely request more information from him. I am not trying to antagonize. I measured my words twice and cut once.
    Perhaps the priest…? Perhaps math…? Perhaps […] old habits… Could it even have been a residual desire…?
    I can come up with a few more guesses as to why the priest might have done what he did. But it would be a lot more helpful to get his actual reason.
    Do you believe me, then, that I am genuinely interested to know why this particular priest did what he did, and that I would hope that the next time we have a thread on this subject, we might have actual rationales given by priests who have done this?

    But the priest is plainly not available, so you seem to be proposing ways to shoot down the original impression by raising theoreticals to which there are no available answers.

    1. Tom, I didn’t say that Fr. Giles needs to track down this priest. I’m just saying that asking a priest who does this why he does it is (in my estimation) more valuable than conjecturing as to why he did it.

      (I did say that I would have liked to know this particular priest’s reason, but I know that’s not possible now. I didn’t ask Fr. Giles to go back and ask this priest. If you re-read my first comment, you’ll see I spoke in generalities: “Perhaps the next time you see this take place, you might consider asking the priest afterward?”)

      I’m not shooting anything down. I’m not preventing people from having a discussion (clearly).

      I feel like I’m perpetually on the defensive when one of us replies to the other.

      1. But raising these conjectures has the effect of demeaning the point made by suggesting that the person making the original comment has not considered these other possibilities which now cannot be explored. It is like raising anecdotal points regarding a generality. They may be interesting but distract from the discussion rather than advancing it.

        Perhaps I am just reacting to your phrasing.

        I hear it as critical, as if you were scolding, suggesting that the original commenter was not being charitable by not considering these other, [to me seemingly far-fetched] possibilities. That leaves the impression that the original comment is not worth discussing.

      2. I was absolutely, positively trying to NOT have a scolding or condescending or demeaning tone in my comment. Maybe I used too many words and was self-defeating, but I figured a short response would be seen as curt.

        Again, I was not attempting to prevent discussion on the reasons Fr. Giles suggested. (And if I was, no one took the hint!)

        not considering these other, [to me seemingly far-fetched] possibilities

        What possibilities are you referring to here? Back where I mentioned the sancta/fermentum? I wasn’t offering those as possibilities for why a priest would do this, but as related (even if only tangentially, depending on how you perceive the intersection between good liturgical practice and eucharistic theology) to why I don’t get a bad taste in my mouth (ha ha) when I see recourse to the tabernacle and probably received from the reserved sacrament.

      3. J.P.
        “but I figured a short response would be seen as curt.”

        Please, do not be under any illusion. Short is better.

        At least it explains your long postings over many months.

  24. Only comments with a full name will be approved.

    Jeffrey Pinyan :

    those who are there to participate in the Eucharist, not just receive Communion
    But according to Benedict XV (quoted by Pius XII in Mediator Dei 118), “they also participate in the same sacrifice to whom a priest distributes the Blessed Sacrament that has been reserved.” So I do not think it can be framed as “participate in the Eucharist vs. just receive Communion.”

    Again, the theological truth while ignoring the liturgical point. Two different uses of the word “participate”.

    1. How do you see the word “participate” being used by B XIV (“they also participate in the same sacrifice”) versus how you’re using it (“those who are there to participate in the Eucharist”)?

      Again, this is a sincere question so that I can understand your comment better.

      Update: Is it as if you’re saying (with emphasis noted): “Those who are there to actually participate in the Eucharist, rather than those who just show up to do their own thing and receive Communion”?

      1. B14 is discussing the universality of the Eucharist, that whenever Christians celebrate the Eucharist they are celebrating the same meal as the Last Supper.

        I am discussing FCAP in the particular service.

        I AM making a distinction between those who come to be part of a communal event and those who come just to receive something for themselves as a sort of product of that service.

        This is a refrain of mine, a complaint about those who want to have a personal experience rather than participate in the communal prayer which liturgy is by its very nature. This attitude that how the Eucharist is shared, whether from the table or the tabernacle, whether in pieces from a single loaf or as minimally detectable as bread separate wafers, is irrelevant because it is all the same product is an avoidance of any liturgical consideration at all.

        See my many comments on the Cardinal Meisner thread.

      2. Ok, Tom, I recognize and understand your distinction, and I’m glad I was able to hone in on it. I wasn’t sure about suggesting it (which is why it wasn’t in my original comment) because I didn’t want to miss the mark in a potentially offending way.

        At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I think there are times and opportunities in the liturgy (even the modern Roman liturgy) for a personal experience within the context of the communal liturgical act. I don’t just mean in a vague way, like when the priest greets the congregation, he’s also (hopefully) greeting each of us as well, and not just whatever community happens to have gathered. I mean, for example, the Confiteor, which we pray in the first person (to different effect from the Creed), assuming personal responsibility for our sins, and ask our fellow Christians to pray for us — realizing, hopefully, that they have just asked you to pray for them too!

        I understand that you have a very clear agenda (and I do not use that word in a pejorative way) concerning the (over-)personalization or privatization of the liturgy, the juxtaposition of a private experience on what is a communal one (or even the replacement of the communal by the private). (If you haven’t read Marialis Cultus of Paul VI, I recommend particularly paragraph 48, where he addresses the practice of praying the Rosary during Mass.)

        All the same, it sounds from time to time that you won’t stand for any personal element within that communal action of the liturgy, as if we must purge every vestige of self and become simply “we”. But Paul Inwood’s comments about how we should offer ourselves and receive ourselves in the newly-consecrated Eucharist (as opposed to other selves in the reserved sacrament) are predicated on personal offering, on personal identity. That is, we don’t just receive ourselves, we each receive our self.

        But I’m going more general than the purview of this thread, I realize, so I’ll shut up. Don’t want to end up being the author of an “exhausting” comment. 😉

  25. When I was in high school I was a champion debater. I was asked by the Forensic League officials to participate in a different kind of tournament: discussion. I prepared for it the same way I would have for a debate and I wiped out everyone in the discussion. I thought I had won a prize. I got a dismal score because discussions are not debates. Dominating with facts and not using my knowledge to invite deeper group analysis was a big mistake. Hint?

    1. Not to mention dominating with rhetorical techniques such as ad hominem attacks, guilt by association, straw men.

      In debates, the objective is to win. The judgments are about rhetorical competence, the ability to dominate or fluster the opposition. Rhetoric is based on the ability to gain political advantage. The judges do not consider the logic of the position only how well it is presented. The judges do not consider whether the position is logically proven.

      In discussions, facts are to be clarified, explained, mutually understood. Facts are more important than winning. Facts are to be used in tandem with logic and the principles applicable to the subject matter at hand.

      In discussions, the first step is to clarify one’s position and understand the alternative positions. It is not to win by getting one’s personal preferences regardless of the principles of the subject matter. It is useful to identify consistencies and inconsistencies. That is the role of the various interlocuters.

      So often, complaints on this list appeal to personal preferences rather than liturgical principles, historical precedents rather than liturgical principles. Some on PTB get angry when these things are mentioned and never get back to the original subject of the discussion.

      Facts hardly come into the issue here, actually, It is principles, logic, consistency. There can be no discussion unless all are working from the same principles, liturgical principles, not seeking a particular result regardless of inconsistencies or lack of basis in the subject matter of liturgy.

      1. I’m in 100% agreement with you regarding what you just wrote, Tom.

        I also think people need to give others the benefit of the doubt more often. A lot of people read the posts of others in the most negative light possible, or ascribe sinister motives to people they do not agree with.

  26. From a few years ago: The Problem: over-consecration on Holy Thursday for a reserve for Good Friday. The (overlooked? Ignored?) ciborium count on Holy Saturday morning? Oh, about 300 to 500 consecrated hosts. The Solution: alert parochial vicar corrals Ken and Elyn who have just wrapped up Morning Prayer, along with a friend early-arrived to begin decorating for Easter, and the four of us spend the next 15-20 minutes in the sacristy receiving by the fistful…as reverently as the circumstances would allow. Something to experience exactly once in a lifetime.

  27. When ministers run short of hosts, they often break the last five or ten, so that they can then give communion to ten or twenty people.

    Why can’t ministers if, when they see that there are only ten people in the communion line and they have about 20 hosts, then give each several.

    Or if a hundred people show up for a funeral or wedding when ministers expected 200, then just give each several? Or begin to give more than one per person when you see that only half the people are communicating at a wedding or funeral?

    I do not think we should have large numbers of hosts in the tabernacle that we then give out one at time. We should never have more than the number we might need to take communion to the sick Ideally we should reserve just one large host, or several large hosts which would be broken as necessary for communion for the sick.

    Why not routinely consecrate some or many extra large hosts at Mass which could be broken up if needed for the Mass or reserved to be broken up for communion for the sick as needed, or they could be consumed more easily by the ministers at the end of Mass just like unfinished cups are consumed.

    1. These are interesting ideas, and I wonder how congregations (perhaps starting with small, homogenous groups?) would respond to the invitation to this, and to the practice itself.

      What sort of catechesis would be required to correct any misunderstanding of “getting more Jesus” (which is sometimes how Communion under both kinds is interpreted)?

      Would people understand why the goal is to have as little left over as strictly necessary?

      (Given the loaves and fishes passage from this past Sunday, I note that there was not just enough bread and fish for the 5000+ crowd to consume, but several wicker baskets filled with remnants.)

      Why not routinely consecrate some or many extra large hosts [which] could be consumed more easily by the ministers at the end of Mass

      I don’t understand this particular point. What makes larger hosts (broken or not) easier to consume than smaller hosts?

    2. Maybe it would be better to consecrate a large host for the sick and then have a priest fraction the large host after the communion rite into smaller pieces which can more easily fit into a pyx. The priest would then receive ablutions as usual. Those laypersons authorized to administer Communion to the sick could take a particle of the larger host from the tabernacle without worry about fractioning the Eucharist themselves.

      The idea of laypersons fractioning the Eucharist themselves is an invitation for fragments of the Eucharist lining the tabernacle and altar linen. While I’m not exactly thrilled about the development of laypersons entering the tabernacle, I would rather have the EMHC’s retrieve Hosts that are designed not to be fractioned. Either that, or reserve fractioning to priests (the Fraction Rite, after all, is a sacerdotal task).

  28. When our priest unexpectedly finds that he cannot be present for daily Mass he may ask me or another deacon to conduct a Communion Service, i.e. a liturgy of the Word and distribution of Holy Communion. In these cases I hope that he has left a sufficient number of Hosts in the tabernacle for me to distribute to the people who want receive Communion.

  29. @Paul Inwood. (8.33pm).
    Perhaps the symbolism would be reduced( never removed) if the Host is recieved outside of Mass. But never within it. which is 99.9% of the time. Reserved or not.
    I must say I think that there is a little too much emphasis on us, not enough on Him.

    1. We don’t have to worry about catechizing Him, however. It’s the Us whom we have to worry about explaining things to. The Us can only understand Him through the context of other members of the Us. The Him became one of Us in the incarnation.

  30. It may be late in the thread to say this, but when the priest brings a ciborium of “pre-consecrated Jesus” (as I have heard it described) to the altar, there is anthropologically a definite similarity to those cookery programs on TV where the chef says “Here’s one I made earlier”. We know it’s the same recipe, but it’s not the same as feasting on what has just been prepared for us. The analogy may be crude, but the reality is there. This didn’t happen at “our” Mass. It could have happened at a Mass that we participated in, but there’s no way of knowing that for sure. In addition to the loss of the symbolism of one’s own self being placed on the altar at the presentation of the gifts, to be received back at Communion, which I mentioned further up the thread, there is another implication for the people: Jesus is “distanced” from them. When the Church tells us that it’s better to receive, as the priest does, from bread consecrated at the celebration you’re at, this isn’t just pie-in-the-sky or a rule that can be selectively ignored if you like. It’s grounded in good liturgical theology.

    Richard Giles is right. While it may not be the leftovers, it’s definitely perceivable as a “lesser” Communion, now that we know that it’s no longer necessary to have recourse to the tabernacle.

    The Bishops of England and Wales are even stronger (Celebrating the Mass, 2005):

    102 Communion should be distributed from the Tabernacle
    at Mass only when for extraordinary circumstances the
    liturgical norms can not be observed.

    206 The faithful are not ordinarily to be given Communion from the tabernacle.

    211 All signs of discrimination or distinctions among persons
    at the Lord’s table are to be avoided.

    1. Since sadly, I am unable to attend anything else, as we are not allowed EF Masses in our Diocese. I recon its because the NO is so much about the Celebrant, and not so much about the reason for the celebration.

    2. John Nolan: “Oddly enough, when I attend versus populum Masses I am often reminded of TV cookery programmes. I wonder why?”

      Because you don’t come to Mass with what Sister Mary Redempta used to call “the proper dispositions”?

  31. Only comments with a full name will be approved.

    Jeffrey Pinyan :

    not considering these other, [to me seemingly far-fetched] possibilities

    Sorry, I had in mind something similar you did on another thread. The comment is not relevant to what you actually offered here.

  32. @ Paul Inwood.
    Are you then suggesting that the tabernacle be removed or left empty?
    Seems strange to say we need no longer have recourse to the tabernacle, if its there.

    1. The reservation of the eucharist in a tabernacle is not intrinsic to the celebration of the eucharist.

      The purpose of reservation was to provide for those people who were unable to attend the liturgy, such as those who were sick or infirm. The practice of the worship of the eucharist outside of mass developed from that.

      Liturgy is the action of God’s people, not something a priest holds between his thumb and index finger.

    2. It is not “need no longer have recourse to the tabernacle”, but ought have no recourse to the tabernacle. The reserved Eucharistic species are completely irrelevant and in some way a distraction from the celebration of the Eucharistic liturgy.

      The tabernacle ought not even be in the liturgical space but have a fitting chapel of its own for the private devotions proper to the reserved species and to avoid the likelihood of anyone turning their back on the tabernacle during participation in the communal prayer of the Eucharist.

      We return to the desire for private instead of liturgical prayer when individuals want to have the tabernacle in the liturgical space. It belongs in a devotional space and the time for those devotions should not be shaved from the time for liturgical prayer.

  33. I am Irish and can tell you that in 99% probably 100% of churches at every Mass (whether the priest is Conservative or Modern in his outlook) Holy Communion is always given from the Tabernacle. Is it just laziness ?

  34. Indeed Mr Flynn. That would be the Body of Christ. Whether it was consecrated so, at that Mass, a week, a month, a year ago. Makes no difference. It is what it is.

      1. It was a reply to Mr Flynn.Liturgy and Holy communion are not quite the same thing, as I am sure you are aware.

  35. Many of the early comments on this thread describe situations where despite efforts to consecrate an appropriate number of altar breads at a Mass, there is a need for more than had been envisaged, and so recourse is made to the reserved hosts in the tabernacle.

    I recall an occasion, the requiem Mass of a young man in his home village, where the congregation was expected to far exceed the capacity of the local Catholic church building. Accordingly the Anglicans were asked to lend their building. They readily agreed, and their choir, who knew the young man well, offered to sing the service.

    The celebrant, uncle of the deceased, asked the special ministers of the Eucharist to inquire of the congregation how many were intending to receive Holy Communion. But when the moment came, the intending 50 swelled to over 200, led by the choir. WWJD? Without the tabernacle to back him up, the priest broke up the hosts and all who wished were able to express the communion which they clearly sensed.

    Unforgettably wonderful, and with deep comfort for the family.

  36. This is a not minor issue of practicality (FB), and the TV chef analogy (PI) does not hold. In this post Giles has laid bare the still present and deep (if declining) clericalism of Roman Catholicism.

    Proliferation of private Masses in the Middle Ages, and exaggerated emphasis on the Elevation and Eucharistic Adoration made the priest a wonder worker far removed from the laity. Gradually that clericalism morphed into its modern form when the priest became the powerful physician of souls, dispensing the Eucharist, Confession, and Extreme Unction like medicine. Often kindly, gentle and wise as the TV physicians of my youth, but of unquestioned power and authority.

    Most Post Vatican II people, even very liberal ones, still seem to have an excessive place for the Eucharist in their lives, and as long as that continues we will still have clericalism. Since the Divine Office has been the center of my life from high school, we need to revive the Divine Office and permit people to fulfill their “Sunday obligation” by celebrating Vespers or Matins (where women can lead and preach) as well as the Eucharist. Such services should be an hour long solemn sung service like the Byzantine tradition.

    The Byzantine tradition does have a Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified which is celebrated from the reserved Sacrament during Lenten Weekdays. That service combines Vespers with communion. It is very solemn but very different from the Divine Liturgy. The emphasis is upon the Eucharist as food for the journey rather than as the celebration of salvation history and the Banquet of the Kingdom in some ways already present. Pre-sanctified is more like communion for the sick. I doubt the Orthodox would ever consider doing the Liturgy of the Pre-sanctified for Saturday Vigil, although they do combine Vespers and the Divine Liturgy.

    Paul’s TV chef analogy preserves the notion that it is really the priest’s Mass (it does not matter whether he bakes it now or baked it yesterday).

    1. “Most Post Vatican II people, even very liberal ones, still seem to have an excessive place for the Eucharist in their lives, ”

      Well yeah, Vatican ii stated that the Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life.”

      1. The Eucharist could be the source and summit of a Christian Life even if it does not take up much space in that person’s life because they rarely participate in it personally.

        There are many examples of this among the desert solitary saints, e.g. Mary of Egypt whose life is read during Lent in the Byzantine Liturgy.

        http://www.ocf.org/OrthodoxPage/reading/st.mary.html

  37. By that same reasoning you could say that too much emphasis is placed on Christians living in community, or that the desire to baptize people is excessive since there is baptism of desire.
    A hermit is dispensed from attending Sunday Mass because of his/her physical circumstances, if the hermit is capable of getting to Mass, then he/she has that obligation. For example, a hermit who is a priest would be required to celebrate Mass on Sundays.

  38. Will someone find the church on the Internet and see if there is an email address to contact the priest or church directly?! Sometimes I think we spend too much time over analyzing.

  39. Kenny Purdie :

    Since sadly, I am unable to attend anything else, as we are not allowed EF Masses in our Diocese. I recon its because the NO is so much about the Celebrant, and not so much about the reason for the celebration.

    Since this is clearly contrary to church law, I would like to know whether you are citing policy or perception and if policy just where this abuse is taking place.

    1. But there are more than one real presences of Christ in the Divine Liturgy. The presence in the Blessed Sacrament is one par excellence, but it is not the ONLY one.

      And much of the effort of the liturgical movement in the 20th century was to recover a sense of the Real Action, not only the Real Presence, in the Divine Liturgy.

      And what Trent said about the sacrifice of Calvary is not a limiting statement; the Divine Liturgy is not only a re-presentation of Calvary, but of the entire Paschal Mystery (Last Supper and Resurrection included) and a foretaste of the Wedding Banquet of the Lamb, et cet. The Western tendency to cherry-pick individual aspects of this is a weakness rather than a strength.

  40. This is a reply to Bruce Tereski at #105.

    He states: “Why would any Catholic elevate subjective sentimentality of ‘feeling’ united and symbolism of Host consecrated at ‘this’ Mass over the reality of Christ’s presence?”

    The issue isn’t about some subjective feeling, but about what constitutes actual full participation. The GIRM is very clear on this point at Paragraph 85: “it is most desirable that the faithful, just as the priest himself is bound to do, receive the Lord’s Body from hosts consecrated at the same Mass and that … they partake of the chalice, so that even by means of the signs Communion will stand out more clearly as a participation in the sacrifice actually being celebrated.”

    It in no way reflects a lack of belief in the reality of Christ’s Presence to point out that Eucharist is far more about the actions — “take, bless, break, eat” — than about receiving a “product” of those actions. Communion is communion with the Lord and with each other, so that partaking of the One Bread (and the One Cup), we might become more fully one Body in Christ. Distributing reserved hosts from the tabernacle as a matter of standard practice obscures and undermines the recognition of that sign.

    1. Because it’s not only about the Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament. If it were, we’d just show up to get our portion. Instead, by setting aspirational limits on recourse to the reserved Sacrament, the ritual books are underscoring the integrity of the symbolism of the entirety of the liturgical action as a whole.

  41. Kenny Purdie :It was a reply to Mr Flynn.Liturgy and Holy communion are not quite the same thing, as I am sure you are aware.

    I still can see no point in what you say.
    Flynn was making that the Eucharist is first something celebrated and only secondarily the Eucharistic species from the celebration.

    What point are you trying to make?

  42. #105 by Julie Heath Elliott on August 5, 2011 – 11:50 pm

    This is a reply to Bruce Tereski at #105.

    He states: “Why would any Catholic elevate subjective sentimentality of ‘feeling’ united and symbolism of Host consecrated at ‘this’ Mass over the reality of Christ’s presence?”

    What is happening here? Both of these #105?
    I can find no Bruce Tereski comment above this “reply” to him.

    My most recent comment got dropped into the midst of things even though it did not use the respond but the quote option. I expected it to be attached at the end.

    Now the same has happened here, even though I entered it in the final comment box.

    1. One of the peculiarities of this blog. Replies to particular posts cause each item following to be re-numbered. There cannot be two items assigned the same number.

  43. Honestly, it was there — at #105 — when I wrote the post! It is a mystery to me why such posts sometimes disappear. And I haven’t been able to get one of those “quote boxes” into my reply even if I am making an observation about some specific claim or wording (hence the use of the number and name to identify what’s being quoted — though I have noticed the same issue about subsequent posts getting renumbered if a comment gets added into a thread!) …

    Does the blog have a tutorial about how to post that I haven’t spotted yet?

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