What does the mouse… er, ah, uhm… the dog eat?

One of the favorite questions for medieval theologians to pose in their treatises on the eucharist was quid mus sumit — what does the mouse eat? The question was raised to get at the nature of the real presence of Christ in the sacrament, in relation to the sacramental signs of bread and wine. It was also used as a foil in considering what is (or isn’t) received by those not properly disposed to receive, whether through mortal sin or through lack of baptism.

Thus Thomas Aquinas wrote, “Even though a mouse or a dog were to eat the consecrated host, the substance of Christ’s body would not cease to be under the species, so long as those species remain, and that is, so long as the substance of bread would have remained; just as if it were to be cast into the mire. Nor does this turn to any indignity regarding Christ’s body, since He willed to be crucified by sinners without detracting from His dignity; especially since the mouse or dog does not touch Christ’s body in its proper species, but only as to its sacramental species” (ST III, 80.3 ad 3).

That’s just a little background to this online report from the Toronto Star. Anglican hospitality gone a little too far? Something that would make Jesus smile?

Or just one of those things — you know, something that shouldn’t have happened, but did?


  1. There’s a very good rule of thumb that covers all kinds of unusual situations, and which runs: “Jesus can handle it”.

  2. Jesus can handle it, right. But we shouldn’t handle “it” this way, never “below” the standard of 1 Cor 11. The problem is signaled, where the article talks about giving out “a wafer”.

  3. I think the dog should be burned and its ashes put down the piscina.


    Actually, I think it was a dumb move to communicate the dog and shouldn’t happen again but doesn’t indicate the total collapse of the church.

  4. I note with interest the dog received on the tongue. No Catholic priest would have given the Eucharist to the dog – most because it is a dog and some, I suspect, because the dog put its tongue out instead of cupping its paws.

  5. My family dog would watch Mass on TV every single weekday. He wasn’t a communicant, but perhaps more like an inquisitive outsider. Per Aquinas, no spiritual graces for my late pet. Still I have to wonder. He “attended” Mass more often than most people.

  6. Those crazy medievals and their pointless idle speculation … oh wait, never mind. 🙂

    The next big news story will be about a priest muttering the words of institution while walking past a bakery …

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