Non Solum: (Not) Distributing Communion from the Tabernacle

Moderator’s note: “Non solum” is a new feature at Pray Tell for our readership community to discuss practical liturgical issues. The title comes from article 11 of the Vatican II liturgy constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium: “Therefore there is to be vigilance among holy pastors that in liturgical action not only are laws for valid and licit celebration to be observed, but that the faithful should participate knowingly, actively, and fruitfully.” (Ideo sacris pastoribus advigilandum est ut in actione liturgica non solum observentur leges ad validam et licitam celebrationem, sed ut fideles scienter, actuose et fructuose eandem participent.) May the series contribute to good liturgical practice – not only following the law, but especially grasping the spirit of the liturgy! – awr

Today’s Question: Distributing Communion from the Tabernacle

We all know the ideal: that the faithful all receive Communion from bread and wine consecrated at that Mass as a fuller sharing in the sacrifice in which all are participating. This ideal has been expressed repeatedly down through the centuries – the liturgy geeks out there can look up the references for us if they want. Practically, how does this work? How do you gauge it so that you’ve consecrated the right amount? If you realize you need more or fewer hosts during Mass, how do you gracefully adjust things without causing a distraction? What do you do when your tabernacle gets overfilled – say, because much bread was consecrated for a wedding or funeral but few received? And if you do have to distribute hosts from the tabernacle, how do you do it so as to minimize it and not draw emphasis to use of the tabernacle? In my experience, this ideal is a tricky one to implement. Your thoughts?

 

37 comments

  1. An interesting title for this section. What we seem to say is that the active participation of the faithful is more important than the rubric.

    We, as priests, have to be concerned with both. But realize that particpation is more important than the legal or proper action.

    Then we calmly use hosts from the tabernacle to supplement. If there is collaboration in the sacristy between the priest and preparer, most mistakes can be worked in.

    Another concern is the purification of vessels after communion. We merely clean out the small particles and move on. It need not be as time consuming as some make it.

    There should be times of silence in the mass. We do not have much silence during the rest of the day and we try to understand what we are doing. But I uncomfortable with multiple times. Again the point is: does this satisfy the law or are we helping the people participate?

    I like the general theme of this section: non solum.

    Rev. Richard L. Allen
    retired – Green Bay Diocese

  2. Tough questions, especially when we consider the various settings in which Eucharist takes place. I once had to judge the numbers for communion in a large conference setting. I tried to do a rough head count during the homily — and overshot by 75. (The MC, who along with the concelebrants had to consume the remaining hosts, was not pleased with me!)

    Likewise, depending on the architecture of the Church, going to the tabernacle is not always an inconspicuous act. I usually worship at our diocesan cathedral, where the tabernacle is located directly behind the main altar. It’s impossible to not be obvious when going there. However, when the priest or deacon moves with purpose and without dramatic gestures, it is at least not distracting. I find it much more distracting when the tabernacle is in a side chapel and someone has to leave the sanctuary to get there.

  3. I’ll go first:
    We could at every Sunday Mass during the first reading. The ushers write down the number, and the sacristan adjust the hosts as necessary, up or down. We put out enough hosts for 90-95% of people attending. Unless something is wrong, we only have about 5 leftover hosts. (If we’re under, that’s by 4 or 5 people, that’s easily solved by splitting hosts.) Usually, the presider can consume the 3-5 extra hosts. So we don’t have to go to the tabernacle ever during Sunday Mass.

    (And point of clarification: Sunday Mass are around 250-300 people.)

    No distraction, as the room with the hosts is in the back of our church.

    If for some reason we really go over (funerals and weddings are indeed the common reason): we use the weekday Masses, and then just consecrate a big host.

    And what about wine? We also need to adjust up our wine! We want to make sure there’s enough Precious Blood as well. Extra wine is rarely to never a concern.

  4. If I have to use Hosts from the tabernacle, I myself go to the tabernacle after giving the invitation to exchange the Sign of Peace and bring the ciborium to the altar so that all the Hosts to be used are o the altar during the fraction and distribution of Hosts (if done) into additional ciboria.
    My intention is to draw as little attention as possible to going to the tabernacle to get Hosts while trying to maintain the “integrity” of the fraction rite.
    At the same time, however, I think it is good for people to see, from time to time, the Eucharist being brought from and/or returned to the tabernacle. Believe it or not, there are folks (especially the young) who have no idea of the significance of that “gold box on the side altar” nor of what is contained within it or why. I think (I hope) it helps restore an enduring reverence/respect for the Blessed Sacrament even outside the Eucharistic celebration. Still, sadly, in the church where I preside, that area directly in front of the altar of repose remains a favorite gathering spot for post-Mass chit-chat.
    Re: the distribution of the Precious Blood. Would that left over Species were a problem. What if we were to actually take and drink instead of take a small sip?

    1. @John Swencki – comment #4:

      Believe it or not, there are folks (especially the young) who have no idea of the significance of that “gold box on the side altar” nor of what is contained within it or why…[T]hat area directly in front of the altar of repose remains a favorite gathering spot for post-Mass chit-chat.

      Hmm. Do I hear good fodder for a wonderful sermon?

  5. I cannot contribute much here, because most Masses I attend (on Sundays especially) end up requiring hosts from the tabernacle. Communion is almost never distributed entirely from hosts consecrated at the same Mass.

    In the service of liturgical geekitude, however, I can provide a couple of relevant passages from the GIRM (England and Wales edition) – first in English, then in Latin.

    +++

    §13. Above all, the Second Vatican Council, which urged ‘that more perfect form of participation in the Mass by which the faithful, after the priest’s Communion, receive the Lord’s Body from the same Sacrifice,’ called for another desire of the Fathers of Trent to be realized, namely that for the sake of a fuller participation in the holy Eucharist ‘the faithful present at each Mass should communicate not only by spiritual desire but also by sacramental reception of the Eucharist.’

    Potissimum vero Concilium Vaticanum II, a quo suadebatur « illa perfectior Missæ participatio, qua fideles post Communionem sacerdotis ex eodem sacrificio Corpus dominicum sumunt », incitavit, ut aliud optatum Patrum Tridentinorum in rem transferretur, ut scilicet ad sacram Eucharistiam plenius participandam « in singulis Missis fideles adstantes non solum spirituali affectu, sed sacramentali etiam Eucharistiæ perceptione communicarent ».

    §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, in the instances when it is permitted, 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.

    Valde optandum est, ut fideles, sicut et ipse sacerdos facere tenetur, ex hostiis, in eadem Missa consecratis, Corpus dominicum accipiant et in casibus prævisis calicem participent, quo etiam per signa Communio melius appareat participatio sacrificii, quod actu celebratur.

  6. In the parishes where I have served, I have only seen this law observed in the breach. Our weekend attendance varies widely, so this is particularly difficult to address. The model described above by Chuck offers some promise, though the downside is that at least a few of your liturgical ministers are busy behind the scenes during Mass and therefore not listening to the scripture readings, etc.

    1. @Scott Pluff – comment #6:

      There are always behind the scenes stuff going on! Late arrivals needing seating–at the right times. Homeless people coming and going. Parents with crying babies. The musicians fetching the piece of misplaced music. Processions. (It’s easy to grab a few hosts while the collection is being taken. Or…I usually do it during the Gospel Acclamation.)

      And that’s on a Sunday without blessings, anointings, sacraments, dismissals, etc.! It’s always something! Ushers counting from the back of the church is the least obtrusive. (We actually recommend during the psalm!) First time ushers will exclaim they never realized we counted!

  7. I do think it is appropriate for those at Mass to receive Holy Communion consecrated at that Mass, but it is an ideal that is difficult to achieve in large church buildings and parishes that have fluctuations in attendance, etc. Our tabernacle is directly behind the altar and either the deacon or celebrant retrieves what is needed prior to the Lamb of God and Fraction Rite as John does.
    I have attended Mass in parishes that have a separate chapel located some distance from the sanctuary where an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion processes with the ciborium/i to the altar during the Lamb of God as in the Communion Service on Good Friday. This truly exaggerates and makes quite obvious the breaking of the laudable norm of not receiving from the tabernacle unless there is a legitimate need to do so.

  8. Gots to agree with Allan on this one.

    Especially – “…..separate chapel located some distance from the sanctuary where an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion processes with the ciborium/i to the altar during the Lamb of God as in the Communion Service on Good Friday. This truly exaggerates and makes quite obvious the breaking of the laudable norm of not receiving from the tabernacle….”

    Have raised this issue a number of times. Our side chapel is a distance – one of our deacons is in his 80’s and walks very slowly; another deacon (gone now) used to process holding the ciborium high attracting attention to himself, etc. in a stitled and contrived procession. To make matters worse, after communion, there is the long procession over to the side chapel which has a side door that some EMs use to bring the cups to the sacristy and then they return, processing back to their pews. Talk about a distraction, time wasted, can be noisy with doors opening/closing, etc. Find that this happens when folks focus only on some type of contrived *rubric* and have no idea/concept about the actual eucharistic action, what the liturgical principle is, etc.
    (OTOH – would never put the tabernacle directly behind the table of the Lord – side chapel is good; just not the current made up rubric in our parish. Find that tabernacles right behind or in the sanctuary only mitigate against this liturgical principle of using the eucharistic bread consecrated during that liturgy.)

  9. Perhaps (if spatially close) get hosts from tabernacle after all hosts consecrated at that Mass have been distributed. Getting hosts regularly from the tabernacle before distribution begins automatically signals poor understanding of the rubric.

  10. Typically we consecrate a little less than we think we will need, then toward the end of the procession the EM’s and I break what we have and if there are remainders the EM’s are instructed to consume when the take the procession to the sacristy. The EM’s take all the vessels directly to the sacristy and purify after mass. (So, right after the priest’s communion, and when the priest and the EM’s begin distributing, there is no need to return to the altar or credence table.

    Rarely (visiting priest, special days when the number of people can’t be predicted) we do resort to hosts from the tabernacle. But it is rare. And if there are too many hosts for the EM’s to consume one of them will discretely return to the sanctuary and put them into the tabernacle in the silence after communion.

    There is virtually no activity around the altar once communion has begun, and very little activity at the tabernacle either. It makes for a very peaceful post-communion absent the Pavlovian response of people going from kneeling to sitting en masse when the tabernacle doors close.

  11. As most readers here well know, the Byzantine practice (Orthodox and Catholic) is for the deacon (the priest, if there is no deacon) to consume all that remains of the Holy Mysteries. A more than sufficient amount is consecrated and what is not distributed is consumed. Over the last 35 years I have never encountered a problem with this method.

    1. @Protodeacon David Kennedy – comment #12:

      Hi, David, this is one area in which I really appreciate the Byzantine approach. Their dynamic understanding of Eucharist is something sorely lacking in the West. I also like their approach to Eucharistic Adoration.

  12. Two extracts from the England and Wales Bishops’ Conference document 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. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal clearly stipulates that Communion at Mass should be distributed from elements consecrated at that celebration so that, even by means of the signs, Communion will stand out more clearly as a participation in the Sacrifice offered at this Mass.

    and 206, bullet point 6:

    The faithful are not ordinarily to be given Communion from the tabernacle. When, for genuine pastoral reasons, for example, the late arrival of unexpected numbers, the bread consecrated at the Mass must be supplemented with the Body of the Lord consecrated and reserved in the tabernacle after a previous Mass, this may be brought reverently but without ceremony from the tabernacle to the altar at the Breaking of the Bread.

    A reasonably large number of parishes in E&W have the practice whereby as you enter the church you pass by a table with a container [often plastic — think Tupperware] of unconsecrated altarbreads. You take an altarbread (tongs are provided) and place it in the bread bowl or paten or ciborium. If the church has several entrances, you have a table for each.

    The vessels are brought up at the Presentation of the Gifts. If they are seen as coming from different parts of the church, so much the better. Those bringing them will typically add a few extra to allow for those who overlooked the table on the way in.

    It works extremely well. The people know that the bread which is carried up actually symbolizes them, and they receive it back, transformed, in Communion. In these parishes, the tabernacle is only used for reservation for the sick and housebound, and for adoration.

  13. It was quite a tussle with the new associate two years ago to get him not to go to the tabernacle. The pastor backed me up, but we still had a bit of leakage for a few weeks: new guy instructed the sacristan go during the Fraction Rite rather than toward the end of the Communion Procession. With some clerics it is *too* ingrained–that approaches the level of liturgical abuse.

    The easy solution for us: never make going to the tabernacle noticeable. The sacristan retrieves hosts about 2-3 minutes into the procession. If a priest insisted on going, I’d just tell him to turn his ciborium over to the sacristan for a minute or so.

  14. At the parish I served for the past 11 years, a head count is done by the sacristan and the amount of bread (homemade by a team of parish bakers) and wine is adjusted accordingly. The assembly at any given liturgy varies regularly (the parish is in a 4-season tourist area) and few ever notice someone moving about the church, which is in the round. Only once in all those years was it ever necessary to go to the tabernacle, which was done only at the moment it was discovered that there wouldn’t be enough due to about 20 people walking in after the presentation of the gifts. Past history helps the sacristan “guesstimate” how much bread and wine to start with which allows the sacristan, at most liturgies, to finish her duties (yes, only women have volunteered for this ministry to date) in time for hearing the Gospel.

    For this parish, achieving this ideal has been a priority, and they have made it work.

  15. For a parish with a tradition of going to the tabernacle every Sunday and not even trying to appropriate the fullness of the sign, how would readers suggest that the worship/liturgy committee approach the rest of the parish about the change. What is called for in dealing with the pastor? Extraordinary ministers? Sacristans?

  16. My question: why is it a big deal if people see you going to the tabernacle? I honestly don’t get it. If you’re going, what is this big deal about hiding it and making it not obvious? I honestly don’t get it.

    For the record, at my Cathedral, either the MC (a cleric) or deacon goes to retrieve the hosts from the tabernacle following the agnus dei. It is to the side of the sanctuary. No fuss is made about trying to hide it. He walks over, genuflects, opens it, takes the ciborium, and brings them to the altar. Due to fluctuating numbers of PIPs, they usually slightly overconsecrate on the weekends, and “empty” the tabernacle during the week if it is over-full, since the numbers are very constant at weekday Masses. On the weekends, if there is a lot more or less PIPs than usual, the MC will adjust during Mass at his discretion, otherwise, for minor fluctuations, this system works well.

      1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #32:
        You didn’t answer the question.
        I’m not discussing whether to do it or not. Obviously, it’d be better not to. But sometimes you need to.

        But if you do need to, why this need to make it secretive?

  17. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. I used to work in a large suburban parish where we would have had upwards of 1000 people per Mass. We baked our own valid and licit eucharistic bread, and very, very rarely had to go to the tabernacle. Perhaps “real” bread makes breaking it to match the number of participants much easier.

    If we value the theology that underpins the rubric and the practice, then we will move heaven and earth to make it happen. SC says that we are to learn to offer the eucharistic sacrifice, not just through the hands of the priest, but with him (48). The dynamic of presenting our gifts [bread, wine and ourselves] that God returns to us transformed by the power of the Spirit so that by our sharing in these gifts we may in turn also be transformed by the same Spirit into the body of Christ ecclesial and be sent to transform the world is one that receives little attention in catechesis at most levels. Once we start to grasp this fundamental movement within the Eucharist, communion from the tabernacle appears quite clearly as “oxymoronic” – which is what Robert Taft calls it in an article to be published in Worship in 2014 (date yet to be determined).

  18. Jeff Rexhausen : For a parish with a tradition of going to the tabernacle every Sunday and not even trying to appropriate the fullness of the sign, how would readers suggest that the worship/liturgy committee approach the rest of the parish about the change. What is called for in dealing with the pastor? Extraordinary ministers? Sacristans?

    If the theology isn’t understood, then the rubric will be nothing more than that: another rule to follow. There is much catechetical and spiritual formation to be done to enable all the folks to get on board. And that is probably the work of a generation, not just a couple of announcements.

  19. I am surprised that people so readily accept the word ‘hosts’ and assume that each communicant needs to receive one of those individually baked pieces of bread. Jesus didn’t take a pile of such items at the Last Supper – he took a single loaf, broke it and distributed the pieces. Saint Paul interprets this as a sign of the unity of the participants. Our distribution of individual loaflets is partly responsible for the widespread lack of concern about their origin. For the fulness of the sign, communion needs to be received, not merely from the altar, but from bread broken at the altar.

  20. ….. and those flattened white discs have no resemblance to bread -leavened or unleavened – as its known outside church doors.

    1. @Alan Johnson – comment #23:
      Well, they are meant to evoke the idea of manna, FWIW; the Mass is not only meant to evoke the Last Supper but a host (pun intended) of referents. It’s multi-valent that way. And to deal with the practical issue of crumbing that arises more noticeably from the use of either unleavened bread or bread leavened with modern commercial yeast (as opposed to bread made the old-fashioned way by wild yeast). Which is just a way of balancing the complaint.

  21. We have been working hard at Communion only from the altar for the past few years now. It is VERY difficult to achieve consistently for a number of reasons.

    Our worship space is huge – we seat 1,500. And while the floor is raked a bit, there’s no loft or balcony from which one can easily count heads. Our attendance – like many parishes – fluctuates from week to week at any given Mass time, but since we’re so large, it’s magnified.

    Our sacristans do their best to adjust the number of hosts once Mass begins, but it’s difficult to for them to do so with accuracy.

    When I floated the idea of the ushers counting every single head all the time, not just for the month we do our diocesan census, let’s just say the reaction was not favorable…

    If we put out “just enough”, our 28 EMHCs (plus priest and deacon) find themselves needing to break hosts (which disturbs some – both EMHCs and Communicants alike).

    Which then leads them to start breaking hosts earlier next Sunday, which then leads to having lots of hosts leftover when they’re all combined at the end.

    If we put out too much, we run out of room in our tabernacle.

    I agree that this is an ideal to work towards, but perhaps in some scenarios it’s just not worth the aggravation?

    People are so accustomed to Communion from the tabernacle, it just seems normal (despite explicit calls for avoiding it for centuries now!) Of course, what’s in the tabernacle is “the same” as what’s on the altar, so trying to convince the average worshiper of the distinction is difficult.

    But, if we believe that the people see themselves in THAT bread that they just offered, and that the gathering of THESE people at THIS place and THIS time matters, then shouldn’t Communion from the altar matter too?

    I think it helps to counter the prevailing (and sad) notion on the part of many that Communion is a commodity. Sadly, I think many people would be content if we simply consecrated a weekend’s worth of hosts at the first Mass, and offered Communion…

    1. @Jeremy Helmes – comment #26:
      Jeremy, your situation presents several opportunities for catechesis, as you’re probably already aware.

      Regarding the breaking of hosts, the EMHCs and the congregation should be reminded that the fractio panis (“breaking of the bread”) is already part of the Communion rite, albeit done by the priest. It is a practical and highly symbolic act. Breaking Communion hosts later, for the purposes of extending the distribution, can be seen as an extension of that first act.

      Regarding your final paragraph, while I’m loathe to refer to the reserved Eucharist as “leftovers”, if we use the family meal analogy, it’s like serving nothing but leftovers at an important family gathering (except perhaps the cook, who makes something fresh for him or herself). There’s also the sad possibility — from your final sentence — that some parishioners really don’t understand why the Eucharist is consecrated anew at every Mass.

  22. I keep seeing references to problems in headcounting. These are simply solved by the procedure described in my previous post, #13, which also deals with Bernadette’s theological point, too (posts ## 21-2). What’s the issue? Why bother with headcounting when the people can in effect “count themselves in” as they arrive?

    1. @Paul Inwood – comment #28:
      At my parents’ parish in rural Idaho, this method is employed, and works quite well…with a church that seats 200 people MAX. (It’s ironic that the visitor who usually forgets to put a host in for himself is me, the professional liturgist!)

      Unfortunately, I can’t imagine how this would work at our Sunday Masses, which see nearly 1,500 people entering through a unified entry way (3 sets of double doors at a large immersion font). I can see the “traffic backed up” out through the Gathering Space, onto the front plaza, making people later to their pews than they already were to begin with!

      But, you’re right – this is likely the most accurate method.

  23. I encountered that method in college in Charlottesville in the late 1970s, and it worked well.

    I notice if recourse is had to the tabernacle before the communion procession has begun. I can’t square that with what the Church expects, but I understand the pragmatic rationalization for it; it doesn’t cut it. I much prefer when such recourse is only had well into the procession if and when it becomes necessary.

  24. Wouldn’t it be better to fraction some hosts before Mass? This way, the hosts are unconsecrated, so mishaps (like dropping a fragment) would not be a big deal. I can’t see how someone could hold a ciborium in one hand and make a fraction. A proper fractioning of a host requires both hands — and even then there is the chance that a particle will fall off the fractured host as the minister conveys it to a person. When a priest fractions the host at Mass, he most often fractions with both sets of fingers. He then removes any particles with his canonical digits and places them on the paten. How is it possible to fraction without using both hands? Trying to fraction a consecrated host during the communion with one hand on the ciborium seems like an accident waiting to happen. I’d say that its better for the priest to go to the tabernacle than split consecrated hosts, simply because the accident possibility is reduced.

    I did not write this post to be a nudge. I have different ideological emphases. I appreciate that receiving hosts consecrated at the same Mass is an ideal. However, ad hoc fractioning strikes me as dangerous. I also recognize, however, that a restriction of fractioning to the priest alone before the administration of communion would upset not a few people. I appreciate the posts in the thread, and strive to listen.

    1. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #30:

      Jordan,

      Most Ministers of Communion are routinely trained in the technique of dividing a host in the ciborium with one hand. It’s quite easy and very safe, and with most kinds of altarbread does not produce crumbs. You place the host on top of your index and middle fingers and press firmly into the middle of it with your thumb. The host fractures down the middle with a soft “snap”, and your thumb and fingers are still “holding” both pieces so nothing flies anywhere. If further division is required, this works with half-hosts too.

      Believe me, this is quite normal and nothing to worry about. In fact it is not needed all that often.

      Jesus took bread and broke it and shared it (cf. Bruce Harbert’s post # 23). There is nothing wrong with receiving a piece of bread that has been broken.

  25. First of all, we never go to the tabernacle at the breaking of the bread. We’ve worked out a system that makes it possible for us to come pretty close to providing communicants with the elements they presented at the preparation of the gifts. But we have a CM whose task is to bring communion to those not able to join in the procession (people in wheelchairs or in some way less ambulatory). They are handed a ciborium with a few hosts consecrated at this Mass, but while the procession begins they go to the tabernacle and combine what is left and bring communion to the sick (that is after all the primary purpose of the tabernacle). At the end of the procession, whatever remains is consolidated and after the Deacon and I brow profoundly, he takes it back to the tabernacle. While he is going I invite people to pray for all the sick who will be united to us through the reserved sacrament and whose names are listed on the prayer list. After the last Mass, there are about 50 consecrated hosts which is just a little bit more than needed to communicate the infirm and homebound during the week. Sometimes we mess up and there is more, but usually not.

  26. Keep in mind that the desire is have every person receive the Eucharist consecrated at the Mass he or she attends, not that there should be none left over. I would agree that it is very difficult at times to get the number exactly right. However, it should never be difficult to make sure that there are enough hosts for everyone. As an exaggeration, you could simply put out a number of hosts to serve the maximum capacity of the church at every Mass. Having one host for every communicant is not hard. The question is, how many hosts are left.

    Ideally, you would have only enough hosts remaining such as could be consumed by the celebrant, but let’s say that the priest is especially worried about “running out” of hosts…so the number of hosts left over is normally more than can be consumed. I believe the following procedure honors the theology of the rubrics and the practical realities of a large parish:

    1) For almost all Masses, put out a number of hosts sufficient for all present paying as little or as much attention as you desire to getting it exactly correct.

    2) If there is more left than can be consumed, return to the tabernacle

    3) For ONE Mass on a weekend, distribute Holy Communion from the tabernacle.

    4) Rotate which Mass will have Holy Communion distributed from the tabernacle.

    This approach respects the theological principles involved and ensures that the NORMAL experience of the faithful will be receiving the Eucharist consecrated at the Mass they attend and only rarely receiving from the tabernacle. Currently, exactly the opposite happens, so this would be a large improvement.

  27. As a matter of personal preference from one of the people in the pews, who also knows the liturgical and theological aspects…

    What I most dislike is when the hosts run out, the communion procession stops, someone must rather obviously go the tabernacle in the side chapel (usually the priest), then return to resume distribution. This breaks the flow. It also singles out those at the end as getting “the day old leftovers”.

    Steps need to be taken for the procession to be reasonably continuous, not interrupted or paused. Also, you need to avoid singling out those sitting in the back. You may think they are the late-comers and thus deserve it, but that isn’t always the case.

    While I know the problems with this, at a place I go to daily mass what is in the tabernacle is discreetly placed on top of the hosts consecrated if the attendance appears larger than expected before the fraction, thus due to the vagaries of distribution everyone can reasonably think they received what was consecrated that mass, no one is obviously left out.

    Also, about breaking hosts, I think you may be overlooking the smaller crumbs/particles. When I have broken hosts, or watched others do so, there are often small crumbs/particles either on the hands or in the container. Also, when receiving in the hand I very frequently end up with particles which are at once discernible both by sight and feel on my hands/fingers. So care needs to be taken with this, and I would strongly advise the use of an ablution cup at the credence table for the ministers to use as a precaution (given some are of poor sight and the lighting is poor I don’t expect they can all see if particles are still on their fingers or not).

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