Saturday, July 28, 2012

"Fragments" of the Eucharistic Species

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, John 6:1-15
When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the fragments loft over, so that nothing will be wasted.”
After the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fish, by which our Savior fed some five thousand men, the Lord instructed his disciples to gather up all of that which was left over. These “fragments”, as Jesus calls them, fill twelve wicker baskets – a sign of the fullness of time, and that the Savior is come twelve tribes of Israel.
However, recalling that our Lord gave the Bread of Life Discourse shortly after the miracle of the loaves, we may well recognize that this gathering of the “fragments” was an illustration of the presence of Christ under each and every part of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Jesus is teaching his disciples that the Eucharistic particles must be cared for, even after the conclusion of the Mass.

The Dogma of the Church
“The Eucharistic presence of Christ begins at the moment of the consecration and endures as long as the Eucharistic species subsist. Christ is present whole and entire in each of the species and whole and entire in each of their parts, in such a way that the breaking of the bread does not divide Christ.” (CCC 1377; cf. Council of Trent, Session XIII, Canon III)
From this doctrine, we know that our Savior is present, whole and entire (body, blood, soul, and divinity), in the whole Host. Further, we know that the whole Christ is present in each part of the Host. Hence, it is clear that the whole Christ is real and truly and substantially present in even a small particle of a Host or in a small drop of the Precious Blood.
However, there is little benefit to be gained from delving into a debate about whether each atom of the Host is the Eucharist – of course it is! Better, rather, to emphasize that there is no part of the Host which is not Christ Jesus. And, we further maintain, no part of the Host is a mere part of Christ, but each part of each Host is the whole Christ present in his entirety.
The presence of Christ in the particles
Now, if a Catholic is willing to believe that Jesus is present in the Host, there is no good reason for him to doubt that our Savior is present in even a small piece broken from a larger Host. Indeed, even a small piece of the Eucharistic species is just as must a Sacred Host – just as the larger Host (used by the priest) is not more sacred than the smaller ones (given to the people).
Further, if a tabernacle containing more Hosts is not holier than a tabernacle containing less, then it should be very clear that the size or quantity of Hosts does not change the presence of Christ.
Hence, if a Catholic believes in the Eucharist – that Jesus is truly present in the Host – then he is already acknowledging that a relatively small piece of what-looks-like-bread is, in fact, Jesus. Now, if a regular Host can become the whole Jesus, why would we doubt that a small Host can be the whole Jesus?
Therefore, those who are not careful with the Eucharistic particles, or who outright deny that Jesus is present in even small pieces of the Host, either do not believe in the Eucharist at all or are very foolish (since their own reasoning is self-contradictory).
How small is too small?
Still, we must emphasize that some persons fall into serious confusion on this point. Because every particle of the consecrated Host is surely Jesus, they think that even every microscopic particle which falls from the Host is also Jesus – but in this, they err.
A piece of the Host which is visible to the human eye (under usual conditions and without assistance) as what appears to be a piece of bread, is surely Jesus. However, those particles which are so small as to be invisible to the human eye, or to be indistinguishable from a particle of dust – these cannot any longer be the Eucharist.
The Church teaches that the Eucharistic Presence remains “as long as the Eucharist species subsist”. This means that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist, so long as the Eucharist retains the accidental properties of bread and wine. Hence, if a Host is dissolved in water (as is done when the Host has become putrefied, as through vomiting after the reception of Communion), upon being dissolved it is not longer the Eucharist. Likewise, the Precious Blood, when the Chalice is purified with water (and wine), is no longer the Eucharist.
The same must hold true for those particles which are so small as to be unrecognizable as “bread”. If the fragment is so small as to appear to be dust or a speck of some other substance, rather than a “crumb” of bread, it can no longer be the Eucharist. Likewise, those microscopic particles which fall from the Host are not the Eucharist, since they clearly do not retain the appearance of bread.
Excessive scrupulosity about such things will only cause the true faith to be ridiculed. Indeed, in this case, the words of the Catechism of the Council of Trent are most helpful. Warning priests to dissuade the people from a vain curiosity into such mysteries, the Roman Catechism states:
“No less of caution should be observed by pastors in explaining the mysterious manner in which the body of our Lord is contained whole and entire under the least particle of the bread. Indeed, discussions of this kind should scarcely ever be entered upon.
“Should Christian charity, however, require a departure from this rule, the pastor should remember first of all to prepare and fortify his hearers by reminding them that no word shall be impossible with God.”
Care for the Eucharistic fragments
Still, it is incumbent upon both the priest and the people to give great care for the Eucharist and also for those pieces and fragments of the Eucharist.
In order to teach his disciples that the Eucharist is truly his own Flesh and Blood, he first instructed them to gather up the “fragments” which were left over from the multiplied loaves – if such care was taken for the mere symbol of the Eucharist, how much more must we care for the Real Presence!
If the pastors of the Church do not care for these fragments, the people will soon lose their faith in the Eucharist. Indeed, this has already happened to a large extent in most of the western world.
Even in those cases where the particle is so small as to cause some doubt as to whether or not it is the Eucharist, the priest and the people ought to exercise extreme caution. This is one reason why communion in the hand was not permitted in the Church for so many centuries – and why the bishops ought to re-think this practice today.

O Sacrament most holy, O Sacrament divine, All praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine!


Marko Ivančičević said...

I think that when the species of bread and wine lose their accidental properties on a chemical level, the Real Presence ceases to be.

Species of consecrated wine has it's own chemical formula. When particulated so much so as to loose chemical properties of species of wine i think the Real Presence stops. Just like in case of species of wine turning into winegar - it's chemical formula has changed because of natural laws and because the chemical properties have changed it is no longer to be considered to be species of wine and therefore we can't talk about Real Presence anymore. So when a particle would be so small that it couldn't still be considered wine i think the Real Presence would stop there.

Water is H2O. We can go into different sizes and shapes but it's still water. Even a molecule of water is still water. The word molecule here, only designates quantity. If we dissolve this molecule in 2 atoms of hydrogen and 1 atom of oxygen it is no longer water but just independent atoms(quantities) of hydrogen and oxygen.

I don't think we can stop at fenomenology and recognizing particles as bread. This could be subjectivism about Eucharistic species(i don't think it looks like bread therefore, Christ is not present there). Now it is important here to define the mode of recognition. If a person can't distinguish between some speck and particle of the Host because of his/her's poor eyesight i don't think it hinders the Real Presence. What if person i blind?
So what i would say about recognition is that, to recognize a particle of Eucharist having accidental(chemical) properties of bread or wine, is to determine whether this particle would be still considered to be bread/wine if it weren't consecrated. There must be some universal standard. If we are guided with what someone can see or distinguish, or with what can be regarded as species of bread/wine this would mean that there are many standards of "how small is too small" depending on number of persons. If two persons are faced with same small particle and one cannot distinguish it as species of bread and another can there is a problem - if depending on beholder, Real Presence would be and would not be, but we know that same thing cannot be and not be under same circumstances and that circumstances do not lay in beholder but in the object of beholding itself.

The other thing i wanted to say is something about particles stuck on priest's hands(or even on layman's hands). If there is a particle that cannot be clearly seen but it can be still considered to be bread(if scientifically tested) and if priest(or layman) has worthily done everything in his power to secure his hands of Particles for the sake of Holy Particles, i think that there the priest's(or laymans) responsibility for the Holy Particles ceases because he can't do anything more and he doesn't even know.

I am open for correction if there is any need of it. Also i am open for correction as regards to what you think to be "recognition" because i think there could be some misunderstanding between us, but still i posted this comment to express my thoughts and beliefs, and to find out if i don't hold to some heresy.


Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

The issue is not whether "this" or "that" person is able to recognize the Eucharistic Species but (as I say above), the point is whether the particle itself is generally recognizable.
It is not subjective criterion, but objective -- "Does this particle still have the 'sign value' of bread?", if not, then it is not the Eucharist.

It cannot be reduced to the question of molecular structure ... for the Church has never defined it in this respect.
Further, while frozen wine has the same molecules as liquid wine, one cannot consecrate a frozen block of wine (for example).

... but my main point is that the criterion is not subjective -- can you or I recognize it.

Finally, if the separated molecules were still the Eucharist, then we would need to have a microscope in order to purify the vessels.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Father for the Real Presence. This is meant to figurative and literal. I pray that by taking the host, we can be the host for Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!

Unknown said...

"Excessive scrupulosity about such things will only cause the true faith to be ridiculed."

I am reminded of the old "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin" question satirical of scholastic nit-picking. Nevertheless, as a Catholic in doubt of his own faith, I still do find that a certain degree of absurdity in this matter is NOT merely a result of nit-picking, but symbolic of a larger group of questions regarding the faith.

Take the question at hand. The Church has a doctrine, which it teaches the faithful, the majority of which probably are not too worried about microscopic pieces of the Host. Nevertheless, certain people (me included) want more clarity. The response to this, embodied in this article, is twofold (and somewhat paradoxical, even if not necessarily contradictory):

1) It is a matter of Aristotelian metaphysics. If the substance does not retain the accidental qualities of bread, then it does not function as a sign (namely, as the appropriate matter for consecration, namely bread) and thus ceases to be the Eucharist (and is thus no longer substantially Christ). Nevertheless, these qualities are only to be considered from the standpoint of ordinary human observation, and does not relate to qualities determinable through microscopic imaging devices, and so forth.

2) Don't ask too many detailed questions, because it makes this whole thing look ridiculous.

Now, there is a little bit of humor (from my vantage) in the divergence of these two answers. But as someone seeking a some sort of answer to my doubts, I hope you will indulge me in this question:

These explanations considering the sacraments continue to be framed in a more or less scholastic-Aristotelian vocabulary. However, most people (including myself) no longer consider things in this fashion, because more nuanced and accurate models of substances are possible. Do you believe the resistance to providing more detailed and scientific explanations of the sacrament related to the difficulty of translating explanation (1) into more relevant scientific terms, or is it a case of explanation (2), since attempting to describe the sacrament in modern scientific terms would be quite open to ridicule? Or is there another explanation? After all, the truth is that a particle not readily identifiable to the naked human eye as bread would still be readily identifiable thanks to its chemical properties (properties which do not have any ready analogue in Aristotelian vocabulary), meaning that identification of a particle as bread no longer relies solely on simple immediately verifiable outward accidents. Wouldn't this particle, identifiable through modern science indeed as bread, still be a sign?

Jack said...

How about if the consecrated wine freezes in the chalice after consecration.

Is it still the Precious Blood of Christ?

(I could tell you what the Russian Liturgikon says to do in that case, but I don't want to confuse the issue.)

Anonymous said...

Excellent Post. I think that very few people these days take care of Consecrated particles. I for one would like more discussion on this matter. People just don't know and we can't rely on the priests to explain the teaching anymore. In my parish only a few people who receive on the Hand actually check thier hand and take care of any remaining particles. Once when I was distributing Holy Communion, I even saw a woman wipe them from her hand onto the floor. It's a huge mess. But it's born of ignorance rather than malice.

Liam Ronan said...

I recall when I was an altar boy in the mid-60s that if a consecrated Host fell to the floor during the distribution of Holy Communion, the Host was placed on the paten, and the spot where the Host touched the ground was covered with a white cloth (about the size of the lavabo towel) and following Mass the priest, not the altar boy, would scrub the spot on his hands and knees.
I don't see anything of the sort, i.e. the scrubbing, any more.

Anonymous said...

This is difficult and interesting stuff. Both Fr. and Marko agree that the eucharist must be recognized by some objective criterion. Marko says that it is the molecule of the thing. Fr. uses the criterion of 'so long as the eucharist retains the accidental properties of bread and wine,' or alternatively, 'does the particle still have the sign value of bread.' But Fr., neither of your criteria resolves the question of objectivity, because whether or not a thing retains its accidental properties or retains its sign value cannot be objectively determined by human beings in every instance. Unless Fr. you mean that it can be objectively determined by God.

So, I think the matter is not yet cleared up.


Clinton R. said...


I second your suggestion that Communion in the hand be reconsidered. This practice does not inculcate the Catholic teaching that the consecrated Host is the Precious Body and Blood of Our Lord. I pray Communion in the hand becomes obsolete in the future. Great article, Father. Thank you!

Jan said...

Well then, I guess there goes the rationale for that nauseating habit of some to lick their palms after receiving in-the-hand :)

Unknown said...


I read your blog regularly, but, as my practice is with blogs, comment little. I want to take this post as an excellent opportunity to thank you for keeping your explanations of doctrine and dogma sensible and clear; not wandering into the arcane as your response here demonstrates.

God Bless you,

hurrrrrrrdurrrr said...

My favourite part:

First: "However, there is little benefit to be gained from delving into a debate about whether each atom of the Host is the Eucharist – of course it is!"

Then: "Therefore, those who are not careful with the Eucharistic particles, or who outright deny that Jesus is present in even small pieces of the Host, either do not believe in the Eucharist at all or are very foolish (since their own reasoning is self-contradictory)."

So far so good, but then:

A piece of the Host which is visible to the human eye (under usual conditions and without assistance) as what appears to be a piece of bread, is surely Jesus. However, those particles which are so small as to be invisible to the human eye, or to be indistinguishable from a particle of dust – these cannot any longer be the Eucharist.

Wow, no possible contradiction here! When are there enough grains of sand for there to be a heap? Is it when I see a heap of them? Can we finally decide once and for all how many angels can dance on the head of a pin (with scientific certainty no doubt)?

Father thank you so much for your blog. It makes me thankful for Vatican II - I don't get to feel that very often.

Sorry for the bite in my tone. You have a niche to fill here and were on the same team. I wont post here anymore, I'd just like to say that you could leave some room for those uninitiated who don't understand the full glory of scholasticism.

Marko Ivančičević said...

What does it mean that the particle itself is generally recognizable? What is the sign value of the bread? By what objective standard is sign value determined?

*Frozen wine.
Although the frozen wine is still wine it has to be in liquid state because our Saviour has instituted it thus, and has limited the qualities of wine required for consecration to the liquid state, because He wished it so and because He did so. I don't think that wine loses it's sign value when frozen, and i don't think our Lord is limited by the aggregate state of species but simply wanted this to be so. This requirement for wine to be in a liquid state is also proven from Tradition and practice of the Church.

*Criterion is not subjective
But how can my eyesight be an objective criterion of what does or doesn't posess the sign value of bread? As i said - what does it mean to be generally recognizable? I also add - what are those usual conditions that you mention in the post?

*Separated molecules
I will repeat myself on this: "If there is a particle that cannot be clearly seen but it can be still considered to be bread(if scientifically tested) and if priest(or layman) has worthily done everything in his power to secure his hands of Particles for the sake of Holy Particles, i think that there the priest's(or laymans) responsibility for the Holy Particles ceases because he can't do anything more and (because) he doesn't even know(that there are some particles left).".

"The Church teaches that the Eucharistic Presence (...) retains the accidental properties of bread and wine."

Firstly, if bread were to be dissolved into molecules it would still be bread. So this means that if something would happen to species, that would also cause that the species (if it were not consecrated) cease to be what they are, the Real Presence would cease. I mentioned the case of winegar to show that chemistry matters. I think that chemistry is one of accidental properties and i don't consider it to be limiting or reductive. On the contrary - we are limited by our eyesight and our senses, but things are what they are even if we cannot perceive them without aid to our senses, and the category of chemistry deepens and broadens the "possibility" of a thing to still be what it is if particulated more and more. Since science is now more advanced, something can look and taste like bread but it doesn't really have to be bread, and those things(being or not being bread) are determined by chemistry of the mentioned object. So chemistry must be considered as one of the chief accidental properties of some object.

Also if we cannot say that molecules of bread are to be considered as valid matter for the Eucharist, then we must say that there is a limitation to size(and quantity) which gives the bread the property of sign value and therefore the characteristic of being a valid matter for the Eucharist. This limitation must be absolute and objective - and we agree on that. And that brings us back to the first questions about size and quantity. What is this size? Is it the size of general recognizability? What is the size of general recognizability? What is sign value of the bread(and wine)? Etc.

Also if the Church teaches that the species must exist for Real Presence to be maintained, doesn't this logic of "ceasing of Real Presence by Eucharistic speices loosing their sign value" lead us to conclude that the species are not species anymore if they don't posess the sign value? If that were true, it also had to be true that the ordinary bread would cease to be bread if it lost it's sign value, because(in that case) this would be the underlaying cause of "ceasing of the Real Presence by Eucharistic species loosing their sign value".

I am truly sorry for the long comment but those were my inferences and questions.


Anonymous said...

This subject has always made me wonder why the differences in the way the Most Holy Eucharist is handled and distributed between the Extraordinary and Ordinary Rites of the Mass. In the former rite, the utmost care and respect is given to prevent it from any accident or abuse in it's distribution. The Priest who consecrated the Host handled and distributed it and his fingers that touched the Host were kept together until purified. Patens were used to prevent the Host from accidentally being dropped. Now the Precious Hosts are passed from hand to hand sometimes very casually and even the precious Blood is easily subject to losing drops to the floor and being stepped on especially in the haste to process as many people through the lines as fast as possible. I experience this maze each Sunday and feel like an object on an assembly line. I know the intentions of most EMHC's are honorable, however,the concept does little to enhance the belief in the Real Presense in today's world filled with doubts.

Gino R.

Jack said...

\\I second your suggestion that Communion in the hand be reconsidered. This practice does not inculcate the Catholic teaching that the consecrated Host is the Precious Body and Blood of Our Lord.\\

Not true.

Receiving the Body of Christ in the hand is the normal practice of the Assyrian Church of the East. It is also directed by rubric in the Byzantine Liturgy of St. James. The Churches that use the Divine Liturgies have never denied the truth that the bread becomes the Body.

OTOH, the first Book of Common Prayer of 1549 commanded communion on the tongue, with explicit denial that this was indeed the true Body of Christ.

Clinton R. said...

If I can go off topic a wee bit, in the Gospel of St. John it says in 6:9 "There is a boy here that hath five barley loaves, and two fishes; but what are these among so many?" And then Jesus takes the offering and says the blessing. Would this be an early depiction of what become known as an altar boy? Or am reaching too much from that passage. Thank you, Father!

Anonymous said...

Neither here nor there:

In the movie THE LEFT OF GOD, Humphrey Bogart played a priest impersonator. If the bread & wine he consecrated did not become the sacred species, what happened to the faithful who received communion?

I believe the MOMENT the sacred host or wine mixes with human saliva, the commingling of the human & the Divine is complete, the species subsist no more.

Marko Ivančičević said...

@Anonymus of July 29, 2012 9:24 AM

Numerous saints and doctors of the Church have taught that the Presence remains even up to fifteen minutes after consumation of Body of Christ because the Eucharistic species is not completely dissolved immediately after consumation. The cathecism of st. Pius of X explicitly says that we should avoid spitting for some time after consumation of Body of Christ(On Eucharist 48.q.)

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

@Anonymous and Marko,
Yes, of course Christ is still present when the Host is in our mouth ... the idea that simply touching the Host to saliva would make it no more the Eucharist is just as silly as thinking that any food ceases to be what it is simply by touching our tongue!

Thank you, Marko, for the comment! +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

Clinton R,
I love the connection between the boy and the altar boys! +

Responsible Thinker said...

First of all, there are no "bread molecules." Bread is a more or less homogenous mixture of various compounds.

Now, the relevant canons state:

"Can. 924 §1. The most holy eucharistic sacrifice must be offered with bread and with wine in which a little water must be mixed.

§2. The bread must be only wheat and recently made so that there is no danger of spoiling.

§3. The wine must be natural from the fruit of the vine and not spoiled."

Now, wheat is itself a heterogeneous substance containing a variety of compounds, and the exact mixture of these compounds depends from variety to variety. The only compositional substance that seems to be "necessary" (from an authoritative standpoint) is the protein gluten. It doesn't apparently matter how much else of the wheat plant is used, because the flour can be made from wheat with or without the germ or the bran. So, we can give a more modern definition that legitimate bread for Eucharistic purposes is composed of gluten and other incidental proteins as well as other optional and variable component parts of a wheat grain, sufficiently baked.

So, Marko, it's not so much a matter of seeing if it is a "bread molecule." I suppose the only thing you could do is analyze a sample to see if it meets the above criteria: does it contain gluten and incidental wheat components?

That being said, all this talk about "can you tell if it's bread" seems rather...subjective and even whimsical, to say the least. Bread does not cease to be bread simply because it is small. Assumedly there would be a point at which a particle does not have a single protein chain of gluten, but such microscopic fragments would not even qualify as appearing like "dust" (which is a catch-all word for a variety of substances, NOT a substance in itself).

So then, the question: if these crumbs are no longer Jesus, then what are they? Did it "revert" to bread? Because under any non-arbitrary definition of "bread" it is still bread.

Iowa Mike said...

At the NO parish in my area they use many Extraordinary Ministers. The priest only cleanses the chalice used at the consecration at the end of mass. A EM usually collects all of the vessels used by during mass and takes them back into the sacristy to be cleansed in a Sacrarium. Also the purificators are taken back to be rinsed in the Scrarium before laundering. All of the vessels I believe, including the chalice used by the priest at the consecration, are so cleansed. I was always taught that the vessels were not purified until cleansed in the Scrarium, am I wrong.

Also I am concerned that when the EM collects the vessels they will often stop and chat with people in the nave on the way to the sacristy, is this licit?

sepryor said...

Excellent post. This is a subject that is widely misunderstood from a wide perspective. Our priest need to do more to educate the faithful on this subject.

Koko said...

marko, bread is an aggregate, not a simple chemical element or composite. So much for the molecules of bread. As far as a more modern scientific explanation, there can't be any, for modern science only deals with material, empirical phenomena and ignores metaphysics. But metaphysics is no nonsense, since it delves into the underlying principle of all beings,as for instance, the fact that I am not just the sum of all my atoms and particles, because no purely material rhing can reflect of itself as we do when we are conscious of our I.

Marko Ivančičević said...

Father, could you please adress my comment from July 28, 2012 8:28 PM? ...the big one...if you have time...

Anonymous said...

Father Ryan, what does someone like myself do when they are in a parish where no care is taken or given to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament? We had a "change of guard" (two new priests) this month, and they undid in one month what the other two priests took years to accomplish. I am heartbroken. Can you give me some pointers to help me cope with this?
Thank you and God bless you!

Anonymous said...

Gino R., I can relate. It is a sad spectacle to behold. All the more reason why we should stay to make reparation for what goes on.
God have mercy on us!

Steven R said...

Scotty Ellis,
It is not necessary at all to explain the Sacraments in terms of medieval Aristotelian metaphysics, as if God had given the Apostles these things. If you find the scholastic medieval approach to understanding the Sacraments then go and read those of our Eastern Catholic brethren who have the same faith but different expression. It seems to me that much of your exasperation regarding the faith is to try and know and explain things which a mind that struggles with faith ought not even consider to try to know before taking the first few steps in faith.

There is a reason that the early Church did not reveal its mysteries to those outside the Church. They did not have adequate faith and so could not adequately understand, as St. Augustine writes to have faith seeking understanding. There are adequate questions to these questions but the answers will not save your soul. Only due prayer, humility, temperance, and God's grace can save a soul.

I do not mean to be a nuisance to you so as to repudiate you, and we've spoken before, but I implore you to take good consideration of your soul. If you find prayer difficult, read the spiritual classics of the saints, like St. Augustine's Confessions. Faith is difficult to have as an intellectual model, but be attentive and let God grant you faith for His yoke is light and easy. Faith is primarily a trust and hope in things unseen, specifically those mysteries of God. Trust God.

Regarding the Holy Eucharist, Christ Himself, the Church doesn't need to explain itself in terms of Aristotelian metaphysics and even the Council of Trent does not speak in an Aristotelian sense when it says that the wine and bread change into the Body and Blood under the appearance (species) of bread and wine. That is why the good Father has explained that if the appearance of bread and wine is no longer discernible naturally that the Real Presence has ended. It is possible that the good Father is wrong on this matter, but what is important is to seek God's truth in love and humility to Him who holds us to account for our words to one another. Your charge that Holy Mother Church asks us to not ask too many questions is uncharitable. Did you not hear Christ's words, "Ask, and it shall be given, seek, and it shall be revealed, knock, and it shall be opened unto you." But in your asking remember that you, and each one of us, comes as a beggar to the Church and to the Lord to grant us His wisdom. It cannot be snatched from books, but must be something revealed to us by God in prayer. We can learn doctrines but to give up humility and charity and right worship of God is to gain nothing but words.

I hope that God helps you in your crisis of faith. I understand your question regarding molecules, and if you have due patience, perhaps God will answer you.

God bless.

yan said...

@Responsible Thinker [RT],

Good work pointing out that neither bread nor wine can be chemically represented in an absolute manner.

Nevertheless, your analysis is still basically the same as Marko's.


The sign value theory and the accidents theory are at odds when we consider, as we have been reminded, that Christ remains in us so long as the accidents remain. However, while Christ is in us, it cannot be said that His presence remains by virtue of the sign value of the sacrament, since no one sees the consecrated bread once it has been consumed. Thus He must remain and subsist by some other means.

Above Fr you say that we would need a microscope to purify vessels if we do not accept the sign value theory. I'm not sure why that would necessarily be the case. If microscopic bits of consecrated bread or wine remain, how could their presence cause the vessels to be impure?

So, I think we have to admit that Marko is substantially correct, while adding that RT is also correct to point out that we cannot even make the final determination of whether the eucharist remains on a microscopic level because we cannot definitively answer the question 'when does bread cease to be bread.'


DomJP said...

Father your opinion please. I have been invited on a retreat that involves abstaining from the most Holy Eucharist for 2 days and then receiving at Mass on the third 'to make it like the first time again'. This fills me with dread and puts me off what appears to be an otherwise worthwhile and solid retreat. How could turning down communion with God be of benefit to one in the state of grace? My whole life is centered on daily reception of the Body and Blood of Jesus and the very thought of a day without this supreme gift of love pains me. Your opinion please and any enlightenment from the Fathers or Saints would be morst appreciated. Dominic John Paul

celarent said...

@ Jack (July 28, 2012 11:10 PM )

This is a common antiquarianistic argument used by proponents of all the novel practices – an obvious thing is that eastern Churches generally haven't undergone the theological and liturgical development which happened in the Latin Church from Scholastic period and onwards. The precise reason why the Protestants have banned communion on tongue and introduced communion in hand (as well as other novelties which show an astonishing parallel with the Novus Ordo reform: ) is abandonment of the belief in Real Presence, and as we look at the current situation in the Church, we could well recognize the results of such reforms. So obviously, communion in hand has very different significance in context of Eastern Churches which manage to conserve its antique status of ecclesiastical life, and in the Latin Church in which the whole situation is much diverse and 'developed' in some sense.

It is also well worth noting that the EMHCs are mere abuse to the true requirements of the liturgy – the document Redemptionis Sacramentum establishes clear conditions regarding circumstances when there actually happens to be an extraordinary situation, and accordingly the extraordinary ministers could be used – and we all well know that none of this circumstances really occur, but that the actual practice of introducing EMs is a result of pure minimalism and laicising, modernistic process which is widespread in the Church.

The Woman of the House said...

Dom JP, do you have to go on that retreat? It sounds really misguided. I got stuck on a non Eucharistic retreat one time, and boy did I regret it, because in the end, there were lots of other problems there (theological and otherwise) that stemmed from the other.

Listen to your gut!
God bless you,

DomJP said...

My dear Woman of the house, thanks! I have decided against the retreat, I can see no benefit from abstaining from the Eucharist when one is in a state of grace. It seems to me like abstaining from breathing and praying, in short from Life itself. Perhaps dear Father can suggest some wisdom from Tradition on this matter although I fear I should have posed this question on the Ask Father thread. God bless you.

Unknown said...

It seems the gathering of the little left overs, from the twelve (tribe) baskets so that none be lost can show that all can recognize the many "particles" as the single whole He broke apart here in this lower world of duality. I recall He said " I am with you always", which means we have been with His singularity always. It is a mystery to the carnal mind.

Archpriest John Morris said...

I can tell you what the Orthodox do if the wine freezes. It was freezing in the mountains of Cappadocia. That is why we pour hot water into the chalice before Communion. I believe that every particle is the body and blood of Christ. That is why we are very careful to consume every particle and drop of wine. During the Presanctified Divine Liturgy, a piece of the host upon which a few drops of wine is consecrated during the Divine Liturgy before the Presanctified Divine Liturgy is served later in the week is broken off and placed in the Chalice of unconsecrated wine. The mixing of the unconsecrated wine with the consecrated host which also has consecrated wine on it consecrates the entire chalice of wine. If I should notice that I have not consecrated enough wine I pour more wine into the chalice. The unconsecrated wine is consecrated by being united with the consecrated wine. Thus Christ is present in the smallest particle of the host and smallest drop of the consecrated wine.

Archpriest John W. Morris

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

Thank you for providing the details regarding the Orthodox practice! Very interesting!

Regarding the mixture of wine with a particle of the Host ... this cannot consecrate that wine ... for the wine is consecrated by the prayer of the priest.
In days past, there was some debate about this ... but the faith of the Church is that the consecration is effected through the words ... Trent condemns anything else as a heresy.

Peace! +

Anonymous said...

Fr i have found Our Lord on the floor over 160 times. No assistance ever. No relief. It is about faith in Christ. I keep you in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

Where've you been? Come back! I miss this blog!!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 4:14, thank you. I, too, am wondering what happened to Father!


Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

To all:

Don't worry! I will be back to posting soon! Things are just soooo busy here at the parish, preparing for the Year of Faith.

Expect a post around the end of next week, which will explain that I will be back to very regular posting again by October!

Thank you all for your prayers! :-)

Steve Martin said...

We love that the Lord has given us this wonderful gift of Himself, in the bread and the wine.

To invite us, real sinners, to His table, is absolutely marvelous.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

With Communion in the hand a practice in churches throughout the world, is it a given that there will be Particles around the altar where people have received? Then are people walking over Our Lord inadvertently? I am not a peace and somewhat afraid to step in my church after this consideration (and I have a basically good parish). What about those who sneeze, etc. after receiving? Any enlightenment would be appreciated. I know Our Lord gave us this Wonderful Sacrament as a Gift, but what if parishioners are not educated in the Fact that Our Lord is Present in each Particle? Thanks.

DO said...


I am not arguing... just trying to get a better understanding:

How can it be said that whether or not the Eucharistic species remains can be determined by whether or not the size of the particle in question appears larger than a dust particle, and seems to the viewer to be a bread fragment? We mustn't subjectivize the real Presence... a given particle either is Jesus, or is not Jesus. The problem is, we are using the word "appearance" equivocally here. Whether or not the *appearance* of bread and wine remain is not a function of whether or not it *appears to us* to be bread or wine, it is a fact pertaining to the accidents themselves, not our perception of them.

Now, the dissolving of flour in water (or stomach acid, of course) renders it no longer flour. But the careful removal of a tiny particle of flour from a spoonful of flour; a particle so small it seems a mere dust particle, does not render this particle no longer flour -- It is indeed still flour, even if it does not appear to usu to be that (right?).

(I certainly agree that no one is culpable for the sin of Eucharistic desecration if the particle in question was indinstinguishable to them from a dust particle... unless his act was voluntary in cause by willfully lacking the care due.)

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