How would you consecrate 1,500,000 hosts?

My daughter returned last night from World Youth Day and, though we have not had much time to catch up on her adventures, I did ask her what it was like going to Mass with 1.5 million people. She said that, of course, they could not really see anything except what was projected onto giant screens. She also mentioned that as far as she could see there was no attempt made to give communion to most of the people there, which she found disappointing.

I suspect that some attempt was made to give communion to some of the young people, and she was simply unlucky enough to not be in that group. Still, this raises the question in my mind of whether the Mass is really the most appropriate form of worship for such gatherings. The word on the street for some time is that the Pope is not crazy about such mega-Masses with thousands of concelebrants, though he seems to be tolerating them for the time being. But one might ask: if you cannot offer communion to those who are properly disposed to receive it, is this an indication that perhaps you should not be celebrating Mass at all?

I take it as given that it is a good thing to gather young people from around the world to pray with each other and with the Supreme Pontiff. My question is whether it is possible to celebrate the Eucharist in a worthy manner at such an event. And if so, how would one go about doing this?

52 comments

  1. I suspect that “non-communicating” Masses are anathema to many PTB readers, but I don’t think it’s a good idea to try to commune 1.5 million people. Perhaps it would be better if only the Pope and concelebrants communicated at a future WYD. I sympathize with Deacon Fritz’s daughter, and can see that perspective as well. Still, the dangers of profanation are immense with that number of people. I could see “pocketing the Host” as a huge problem.

    Why not have many Saturday vigil or Sunday Masses at city churches or even in tents before the Papal Mass? Pilgrims could hear a Mass with a smaller number of pilgrims, receive Communion, and then attend the Papal Mass without the communication of the faithful. Given the multiplicity of languages, it might be a good idea for a good number of the smaller Masses to be said in Latin, with one reading in one vernacular and the other reading in another vernacular.

    The practice of distributing Holy Communion at Papal Masses is a very recent innovation. Perhaps it is time to return to the previous custom for extraordinary circumstances.

    Question: how do WYD pilgrims confess? Do a phalanx of priests attend the event to hear confessions?

    1. Jordan,

      I guess my question is whether there should be a Papal Mass at all — or maybe there could be a small one for the volunteers who actually work at WYD and a mega-Vespers/Prayer Vigil with the Pope for everyone.

  2. As an instituted acolyte and seminarian, I helped to distribute Holy Communion at Pope John Paul II’s “Mass on the Mall” in Washington, DC in 1979. Over a million “communicants” were expected and over a million hosts I believe were consecrated. Each person to distribute Holy Communion held a “wooden salad bowl” (which I still have, but never have used at Mass again) of hosts, covered with cellophane during the Eucharistic Prayer. Most of us distributing Holy Communion must have been at least two St. Peter Basilica lengths away from the Holy Father as he consecrated what was in our hands.
    However, only about 500,000 people showed up, thus a super-abundance of consecrated hosts were left over. Much to my shock, we gathered behind the altar after Holy Communion and “dumped” our left over consecrated hosts into large, black plastic garbage bags. We were told that these hosts would be distributed to the various churches and institutions in Washington.
    These mega Masses are problematic in many ways.

    1. Fr. McDonald,

      Do you seriously believe those wooden-salad-bowl hosts were actually consecrated the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ. Given the large black garbage bags you subsequently mention, I certainly hope not! (Maybe the ostensible requirement that the ciborium with extra hosts be touching the corporal during the Consecration needs to be reinstated.)

      Surely, stories like this ought to be enough to bring mob scene communion to an end. Sacramental communion by the congregation is not necessary for the efficacy of the Holy Sacrifice–nor for the spiritual benefit of those present–and the pope could set aside any current norms that don’t make sense for mega-Masses like those at WYD,

      Before Benedict, I thought it clear that these mega-Masses should be terminated. However, the unworthy atmosphere sometimes seen at previous WYD Masses appears to have been largely corrected. If participants can be catechized on the great rewards of spiritual communion, perhaps Masses like this can still be a profound spiritual experience for the youth who attend.

      1. I questioned it at the time as we were so far away from the altar and the Holy Father, but I was only a seminarian and thrilled to be doing what I was doing at this historic event. But yes, problems galore!

      2. Henry, This is what happens when Vatican liturgists and other planners are thinking in terms of Disneyland theatricality and a return to Broadway-style extravaganzas with lots of commotion, the glare of lights and cameras as the best forum for the pope to use to communicate with his worldwide flock. Perhaps, for Pope Benedict, a seminar broadcast via YouTube or TV would be more pastorally effective. Maybe, a televised private Mass from the pope’s chapel complete with sermon with just a few old Roman noble families and members of the papal household coming forth to receive holy commuion.

        Until recently, Catholics never observed papal liturgies at all.

  3. I was not there but (from what I gather from reports and watching some of the proceedings on the WYD website), I gather various tents that were set up for the distribution of communion were damaged in the storm the evening before and so only the clergy communicated. I have never in my life been to a Mass where none of the laity communicated, but I was filled with a sense of unease when I heard this had happened in Madrid.
    There is certainly something strange about being at a Mass where you might be over a mile away from the altar, but also something profound about literally being united around one altar, receiving the Word of God and the Word made flesh as part of a thronging mass crowd.
    At the vigil the evening before everyone was led by the pope in silent adoration of the blessed sacrament, something I experienced when the Pope came to London last year, and I think this is also a profound and special way for such a mass crowd to gather in worship.
    Personally I think that distributing communion to 1.5 million people may be logisitically difficult, but I think it is worth the effort to make sure it is done properly.

  4. For many years, I’ve been a mega-Mass skeptic. To my mind, a good rule of thumb is that Mass should ideally be celebrated in space where the congregation generally (with individual exceptions according to ability) is able to hear, understand, and participate/respond without amplification being essential (as opposed to desirable or useful), cutting some slack for cathedrals to offer extra space for diocesan-wide events.

    For this same reason, I am not a fan of gigantism in church building.

    But these mega-rallies should be transitioned to paraliturgical events. I think this is one area both progressives and traditionalists might be thinking alike!

    1. Mr. Saur,
      I have noticed in several posts your appreciation of the integrity of natural acoustics, sensory perception of reality, appropriateness of scale in ritual relationships. I have a hunch that you might have many more worthwhile things to say on the matter than your disciplined comments have allowed. Have you written on this subject in any other forum? If not, I for one would be very interested in what you have to say.

      1. Mr Vogt

        I am flattered by the interest. I’ve not blogged, only been a comboxer, though I’ve occasionally suggested topics over at Catholic Sensibility over the years (Todd Flowerday and I have been conversing virtually on matters liturgical and spiritually since the early years of the RPINET discussion boards, and I’ve been involved in Catholic discussion boards since the old Usenet days).

        Over years of listening and reading people discuss Catholic liturgy and the liturgical reforms, I’ve been struck by the dominance of the optical over the aural. That is, how much energy has gone into analyzing optical desiderata, but how little energy has done into analyzing aural desiderata. I would posit a provocative thought that the liturgical reforms, when properly thought through, require more in the way of reform of the aural dimension of liturgy than the optical dimension of liturgy.

  5. Just saw this from Sandro Magister:

    Silent adoration of the sacred host is an innovation introduced into the World Youth Days by Benedict XVI. The pope kneels down, and with him hundreds of thousands of young people kneel down on the bare ground. All of them kneeling not to the pope, but to that “our daily bread” who is Jesus.

    The violent stormy downpour in Madrid that preceded Eucharistic adoration made the silence even more striking. And the same thing happened the following morning, at the Mass. The unexpected cancellation of of the distribution of communion – for unexplained reasons of security – did not produce disorder and distraction in the endless expanse of young people, but on the contrary a silence of surprising composure and intensity, a mass “spiritual communion” with no known precedent.

    (my emphasis)

  6. I suggest that in the future all World Youth Days be celebrated at the Vatican. That way the Vatican could pay for the whole thing and not burden hosting cities with the excessive expenses involved. No doubt then the Vatican would soon understand how costly, foolish and non-productive such gatherings are and how they make a fiasco of Catholic worship.

    1. Amen! And if they have to sell off a few lace frocks and bejeweled statues of “saints,” that’s just a side benefit. No government funding of religiosity (unless your government is Vatican City), please. The church owes Spain one giant apology for this mess.

      1. When the results finally came in, Madrid profited over 200 million dollars from WYD. Perhaps the government owes the Church one giant thank-you card?

    2. I beg to differ. The experience of worshipping with 1.5 million young catholics from around the world is one that money cannot buy. I attended WYD 2008 in Sydney where there were just 450,000 pilgrims at the final mass (where EVERYONE as far as I knew communicated btw), and that was itself a powerful experience for me and many others I was with. I can’t imagine what it was like to be with 1.5 million Catholics. You’d be surprised by how much the city it’s hosted in benefits economically, culturally, and socially from the event as well. The joy and life from all the pilgrims take over the entire city, so much so that local friends from Sydney were telling me how they’ve never seen local city dwellers be so nice, even after complaining before about how ridiculously expensive it is to host the event. One public bus driver commented that the week was the best week in his entire career. After WYD, few actually continued to agree that it was a bad idea.

      To say such an event is unproductive and a fiasco (although liturgy is a fiasco every time anyway!) is quantifying it in worldly ways, and too reductive, IMHO. This is a much more saturated phenomena than that. I used to share your view btw, until I attended WYD myself. It started as an excuse for a vacation, but it turned out to be so much more.

    3. What was the total financial cost to Spain for hosting WYD in Madrid? How much money was spent by WYD pilgrims in Spain?

      I’ll have to ask the students at Rider University who went to WYD this year if they thought the event was foolish and non-productive.

      That being said, I think mega-Masses are very difficult pastoral situations, and I would avoid them.

      1. I hope that you will find a way to pose the questions to the students more positively. As you present them, the questions are certainly loaded.

      2. I will certainly ask neutrally-phrased questions. I am particularly interested to know what they have taken away from WYD that will have a lasting impact on their spiritual lives and on their relationships, and what they are encouraged to do in the future because of it.

    4. WYD, paid for by Church groups, was an immense bonanza for Spain. According to a catholicculture.org account, the Madrid chamber of commerce estimates that it brought $230 million into the Spanish economy. A local civic organization by itself sold over $30 million in meal tickets to participants. (Sometimes the actual facts just refuse to fit the preconception, don’t they.)

    5. Speaking (as a sometime WYD critic) of “inconvenient facts”, from the Magister piece linked above:

      A second distinctive characteristic of this last World Youth Day is the very low average age of the participants, 22. . . . The veterans of the World Youth Days were there, in Madrid. But above all among the tens of thousands of volunteers who assisted with the organization. Or among the numerous priests and religious who accompanied the young people, whose vocations germinated during previous World Youth Days. It has been clearly shown that these gatherings are an incubator for the future leadership of Catholic communities around the world.

      A third distinctive characteristic is the projection of these young people “ad extra.” They don’t have any interest in the battles within the Church to bring it into step with the times. They are light years away from the “cahier de doléances” of some of their older brothers: for married priests, for women priests, for communion for the divorced and remarried, for the popular election of bishops, for democracy in the Church, etcetera etcetera.

      For them, all of this is irrelevant. It is enough for them to be Catholics as Pope Benedict shows and explains to them. . . . It is not the internal reorganization of the Church, but passion for the evangelization of the world that motivates these young people.

      1. Jeffery said I am particularly interested to know what they have taken away from WYD that will have a lasting impact on their spiritual lives and on their relationships

        Edwards reports: Or among the numerous priests and religious who accompanied the young people, whose vocations germinated during previous World Youth Days

        Most social scientists are very skeptical of the impact of large scale religious events such as “crusades.” Much research indicates that “conversions” mostly occur through personal relationships. Potential converts “hang out” with members of the religious group, and become personal friends first, only later expressing beliefs and adopting the behaviors of the new religious group.

        So when the crusade comes to town and people make their “decision for Christ” or its equivalent, there is usually a long history of personal relationships, growing familiarity and engagement with the beliefs and practices of the new religious organization, etc.

        I suspect the same is true for priesthood and religious vocations, that the people who go to WYD likely have a history of relationships, experiences and thinking that led to their declaring their intentions at a WYD.

        Magister says It is not the internal reorganization of the Church, but passion for the evangelization of the world that motivates these young people.

        Maybe the young generation is much like the older generation, only rebelling against the lack of structure today while the older generation rebelled against the overwhelming structure then.

        What really is this “passion for the evangelization of the world?” Are these young people going out and bringing back “lapsed” Catholics? Or are they just proud of being Catholic?

        In the 80’s young people did not abandon religion like the sixties; however the recent decades have shown young people fed up with religion because of its association with conservative politics. See American Grace .

  7. After hearing all these stories of priests going around
    St. Peter’s Square after a papal Mass to look for hosts that had
    fallen on the ground, it seems some type of adoration of the sacred host would be better at an event such as the World Youth
    Day in Madrid and outdoor Masses in Rome too. The Byzantine practice of blessing the congregation with the veiled chalice (a short form of Benediction) containing the holy mysteries after the communion would appear to be appropriate.

  8. After hearing all these stories of priests going around
    St. Peter’s Square after a papal Mass to look for hosts that had
    fallen on the ground, it seems some type of adoration of the sacred host would be better at an event such as the World Youth
    Day in Madrid and outdoor papal Masses in Rome too. The Byzantine practice of blessing the congregation with the veiled chalice (a short form of Benediction) containing the holy mysteries after the communion would appear to be appropriate.

  9. For the record, news reports say that it was intended that communion be provided for all those present, but that the massive thunderstorm during the vigil the evening before destroyed most of the hosts, resulting in very few receiving communion the next day. One could argue, I suppose, that this was a case of divine judgement on the whole idea of communion for 1.5 million.

    But barring the possibility of the Almighty manipulating weather to make a liturgical point, it seems to me that the GIRM assumes (#56) that all the faithful who are properly disposed have the possibility to receive, since that is, as it says, “the Lord’s command.” Which would mean that if we have mass for 1.5 million, we should find a way to properly have communion for 1.5 million. This would have to take into account the possibility of varying crowd estimates and avoid ANY use of plastic bags, even in liturgical colors.

    Otherwise we should find a way for 1.5 million to pray that is not mass.

  10. My only experience with such liturgies was as one of the music committee for the Jubilee 2000 Mass at Fenway Park in Boston…with a (modest) 24k participants. I can’t even imagine a 1.5 million crowd.

    recall an instruction to the concelebrating priests from HE Bernard Cardinal Law that their ciboria must be held high during the consecration so that they were within the “line of sight” of the Cardinal celebrant down on the field (the Priests were up in the bleachers). At that point I knew this was a bad idea…

    1. “line of sight” consecration?????

      Is this really where OF Eucharistic theology is now? Reform of the reform, anyone?

      1. “Is this really where OF Eucharistic theology is now?”

        No. It’s the rather odd personal perspective of someone like Cardinal Law.

  11. While I thought the world travels and large outdoor Masses of JPII had a good one time value of setting before us and the world “global Catholicism”, I had hoped an older B16, especially given his critiques of the liturgy, would have found a way to curtail the trips and the Masses and substitute something different.

    His books, both his book interviews and on the Gospel narrative, have shown his capacity to communicate with people.

    He needs something like several regularly televised interviews per year on various topics. He seems to come across well when he takes “pre-arranged questions” from priests and from journalists.

    We really don’t need a permanent JPII style papacy. Maybe some day if there is another young Pope, or another actor?

    At this time when the Papacy and the Hierarchy have responded so poorly to so many problems in the Church, these extravaganzas remind me more of Hitler and Kremlin parades, get every body excited about a spectacular so that they will not notice how bad the country and government are doing.

  12. Are we trying to spread the Good News, or going for the Guinness Book of records? Is an event with 1.5 million people holier than one with a mere 1 million? What is the difference between seeing Mass from half a mile away on an outdoor TV screen and watching from home?

    In some respects, these questions echo the ones raised about combining smaller parishes into larger mega parishes. The numbers can be impressive until you begin to examine what is lost. “Spiritual” communion? Really?

    Given the near disaster of the thunderstorm, I have to wonder whether the next WYD will introduce us to the disaster of a crowd panicking and crushing people.

    Maybe a better practice would be to pair up parishes to exchange visits. The photos won’t be as spectacular, but the results may be more lasting.

    1. Excellent points, Bridget. These top-down, hierarchically-organized to-dos clearly accomplish little of merit. Local groups getting together (Dutch ekklesias?) get you every bit as “holy,” and without reinforcing destructive attitudes or putting massive strain on the infrastructure of some country that didn’t want them there anyway. 😉

    2. Spiritual communion—understood at least since Aquinas as an act of the will expressing an ardent desire to receive our Eucharistic Lord and a loving embrace in the heart as though we had already received Him—has been extolled by too many saints and councils and popes to start a list. Numerous theologians such as Liguori (whose Act of Spiritual Communion is often used) have stated that the value of a spiritual communion can be as great as that of sacramental communion itself.

      But of course its greatest value is when sacramental communion is impossible. For instance, everyone could stay home from Rio in 2013 and make their spiritual communions while viewing the closing papal Mass on EWTN. Aside from the possibility of this being this a profound spiritual experience uniting the global village, one could argue seriously that the individual value would be greater than that of standing in a muddy field and receiving sacramental communion en masse after the Real Presence has confected in hundreds of bowls of Hosts via Cardinal Law’s mystical line-of-sight rays at the moment of consecration perhaps a half mile away. (Really, can anyone take this seriously?)

      But perhaps the best view is that we need not worry overmuch about it. Because the best and brightest of our Catholic youth (as well as others) will go anyway, and (as Magister puts it) “For them, all of this is irrelevant. It is enough for them to be Catholics as Pope Benedict shows and explains to them.” Deo gratias.

  13. I was in Italy 5 years ago and happened to attend the (outdoor) first canonization mass at which Benedict presided. We were about half-way back (near the obelisk), and after fewer than 10 minutes- barely time for the priests to move from the altar back to us, the Prayer After Communion was intoned, and we were left hungry.

    Disappointing, frustrating (they had not run out of hosts, perhaps only patience).

    One would think they could have things running more smoothly precisely where they do this regularly. Or perhaps sacramental minimalism triumphed yet again.

    1. So much for “all are welcome,” eh? More like “hierarchs in the front three rows are welcome, the rest of you peons can bugger off.”

      Jesus wept.

    2. In Pontcanna Park Cardiff when JPII toured UK in 1982 or 1983, (I forget which) there were huge crowds of mixed ages present, arranged in “corrals,” with wide passageways between. At the time for Holy Communion, the hosts were brought from the papal altar, given to the ministers who then were transported by milk float type vehicles (electronic) to their appointed stations were any who wished received Holy Communion, under the one species. It was expeditious, seemly and reverent.

  14. Thank you, Brigid. And let’s face it, the great majority of those who are able to attend WYDs are from comfortable enough economic circumstances. Is this really the face of the universal Church of the future?

    And was there in fact an announcement that asked the participants to offer up the absence of Holy Communion as a sacrifice for the pope? I certainly saw this reported in the press, and was told that this was so by someone who was there.

  15. I believe that Benedict (or marini, at least) has changed the papal mega-mass protocol so that now pre-consecrated hosts are used, which is the purpose of these ‘communion tents’ – they are actually temporary blessed sacrament chapels or tabernacles. I assume this is to overcome the difficulties mentioned about consecrating hosts not on or near the main altar (or even any altar). I’m not too favourable about using hosts from the tabernacle during mass generally but I think in these exceptional circumstances it is a fair call.

    I also remember the funeral mass for JPII. Well after the words of institution (consecration), there were lines of priests still running out the doors of St peters trying to stand in rows along the sides of the altar. I remember feeling uncomfortable about it at the time. Later the priests also started to run off to their communion stations before the Eucharistic prayer had ended. At some of these large televised masses, I’ve even noticed communion being distributed before the agnus dei has started or the pope’s communion. Surely, rubically inconsistent?

    Although I think there might be a good case for not distributing communion at these really mega masses – is this maybe the a proper context for exposition and benediction (ie within the mass itself in place of the communion rite)? However, I would be disappointed if an attempt to communicate the faithful were not the default norm for these large outdoor masses. I feel that if it’s in a sports stadium or more organised event where people are contained in segmented areas then logistically it should be perfectly possible to organise communion for all both efficiently and reverently within a reasonable time frame ie 15-20 minutes. Incidentally I think communion under one kind in this situation is one of the fewer occasions when it should be the norm!

    I also wish that they’d sort out communion at St peters, the centre of roman Catholicism! From watching on tv, it looks like a bun fight with priests handing over hosts and stretching out with the ciboriun over the barricades to the crowds. I understand there are security concerns about free movement of the congregation but surely it’s not rocket science to devise an orderly system of communicating only a few thousand people.

  16. The logistics are daunting, but is it really that much different from providing for 5,000 (not counting women and children)? The celebrant is alienated from personal contact with all but a few of the participants, but Christ can feed them all.

    I still remember attending a Eucharistic Congress in Phila. 35 years ago, esp. when we sing the hymn written for it, Gift of Finest Wheat. The experience of a large scale, stadium service informs the smaller liturgies I attend nowadays. The same will happen with WYD attendees.

  17. This is a serious question. I’m not trying to yank chains.

    I never understood the position of those who believe that all who attend a Mass should receive Holy Communion. A Mass still confers grace without the communication of the laity, and attendance at Mass is a call for repentance for those in sin. I understand that Pope St. Pius X, among other popes, have encouraged frequent reception of the Sacrament. I always thought that “frequent” depended on two variables. First, an understanding of one’s state of grace and habitual sin, as determined by a confessor. Also, an adherence to periodic communion, again as determined by a confessor. The pastor of one of the traditional/”high” churches in my diocese suggests that even those not conscious of mortal sin should confess regularly according to pastoral advice.

    I wonder if these large Masses encourage an unexamined reception of Communion. Yes, the conditions I have mentioned before, if not checked, can slide back into the Jansenist heresies about the reception of Holy Communion. Still, have we gone too far in the opposite direction by unconditionally communicating anyone who appears, especially at mega-Masses?

    I never feel deprived or unwelcome if I do not receive Communion at Mass. I simply know that I was not prepared to receive at that Mass. No one should feel stigmatized if they have examined their conscience and do not receive, either at a Papal Mass or Sunday Mass at the church around the corner.

    1. Jordan

      But the logistical concerns here are not about subjective disposition but the inability to serve those who are properly disposed. Unless you’re proposing to segregate the congregation according to disposition to make this easier…..

      1. Yes, I agree Karl. I understand that the basal question is logistics, especially at WYD and other huge events. I regret the line Still, have we gone too far in the opposite direction by unconditionally communicating anyone who appears, especially at mega-Masses? because what I wrote is incorrect. The Church recognizes, and protects, a person’s choice to receive or not receive Communion. Again, we’ve been through this question historically, and the orthodox answer is as above. I agree that Vespers and Benediction, or Matins perhaps, might be a better choice for the reasons outlined here on many posts. Communion cannot be realistically offered to all at huge Masses, and perhaps it’s time to end the practice.

        Regardless of WYD, what I am more concerned about is the notion that some hold that all should, or indeed, must receive Holy Communion at Mass regardless of their personal examination. Priests have counseled me that it is more important to receive the Eucharist at every Mass than make an examination of conscience. That is, in my view, just as erroneous as the “eucharistic fasting” once prescribed by Jansenists.

    2. I wonder if these large Masses encourage an unexamined reception of Communion.

      I don’t think this is symptomatic merely of “large Masses”. Not to put too fine a point on it, I received Communion out of a state of grace plenty during my college years (but surprisingly little actually at college… go figure…). I received for a number of reasons, and I’m not entirely sure I was aware at the time that I shouldn’t be receiving. It wasn’t really on my radar.

  18. “Still, this raises the question in my mind of whether the Mass is really the most appropriate form of worship for such gatherings.”

    Indeed.

    It’s unfortunate that the organizers lost their 1.5 million hosts in a storm. Why on earth they would keep altar bread in tents in spite of storm warnings–it’s beyond me.

    If there is any doubt about an organizer’s ability to provide for a sound sacramental celebration, it might be better off not to attempt Mass, even if the pope and hundreds of clergy are present and disposed to celebrate and receive the Eucharist.

    Practically the only redeeming feature of megaliturgy is that one can actually experience Christ in the sacrament. Spiritual Communion? You can go for a walk in the woods for that.

  19. Maybe the desire to have Mass at all these events is a symptom of something I see a lot — that the Mass has to carry the weight of every type of prayer and every need. It would be interesting to see if, were planners to do other kinds of liturgy and explain why, if that would be a step toward showing that there is prayer outside of Mass. In the parish where I work, every event seems to need a Mass. If I suggest, e.g. Liturgy of the Hours, people feel cheated, despite the fact that we have three Masses here every day.

  20. At World Youth Day in Cologne, 2005, separate tents were set up throughout the crowd. During the Eucharistic Prayer, I happened to be kneeling next to one and was just able to look inside through a small open space by the ‘flap’. I saw a priest at a small altar who appeared to be concelebrating, or rather offering a synchronized Mass, with the Holy Father. At Communion time he emerged from the tent with the ciborium and distributed Holy Communion.

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