A Mass question

Suppose a celebrant ran out of consecrated hosts during Holy Communion, what would he do? This almost happened at one of our Christmas Masses, and they were already being divided near the end.

If there are no more Hosts to give out (and there is no more of the Precious Blood in the Chalice(s)), it’s not the end of the world, simply the end of the Communion procession. You are not required to receive Holy Communion at every Mass you attend, and if for some reason the priest runs out of Holy Communion, then you won’t receive Communion.

The Hosts can be divided into rather small pieces.

The above posters are correct. An apology from the priest would be the best solution. Consecrating additional hosts or wine, or even both, is not an option.

Canon 927 states: “It is absolutely forbidden, even in extreme urgent necessity, to consecrate one matter without the other or even both outside the eucharistic celebration.” (emphasis mine).

A “second consecration” would in fact be “outside the *original *eucharistic celebration”. It would essentially be a Mass within a Mass. No can do.

I’ve seen the priest break the hosts when they were nearly gone in order to give everyone at least a piece of it.

Once at a very crowded (special occasion) Mass at our church, they began to run low on consecrated hosts. Our deacon tried to “help” by bringing over extra unconsecrated hosts from the credence table! (You would think he should know better.) Fortunately, our alert sacristan stopped him, but she had to argue with him (quietly) to get him to stop.

Thanks for the replies, what I thought as well, especially thanks for the Canon law regarding such.

If he divides the hosts and still runs-out, there’s nothing he actually can do. The only “solution” is to apologize and tell everyone who hasn’t yet received that they have to make a spiritual Communion instead. It’s far from ideal, but there’s just nothing he can do about it.

How small can they practically be divided? I’ve definitely seen halves from time to time, and perhaps quarters, but no smaller pieces of those hosts normally distributed to the congregation (as opposed to the larger host held by the celebrant).

[quote=SMOM]It would essentially be a Mass within a Mass. No can do.


[quote=SMOM]A “second consecration” would in fact be “outside the original eucharistic celebration”.

I disagree. If I recall, the phrase “Eucharistic celebration” generally refers to the entire mass. A second consecration during the mass would still be part of the same Eucharistic celebration. It is forbidden, however.

[quote="SMOM, post:4, topic:181261"]
The above posters are correct. An apology from the priest would be the best solution. Consecrating additional hosts or wine, or even both, is not an option.

Canon 927 states: "It is absolutely forbidden, even in extreme urgent necessity, to consecrate one matter without the other or even both outside the eucharistic celebration." (emphasis mine).

A "second consecration" would in fact be "outside the *original *eucharistic celebration". It would essentially be a Mass within a Mass. No can do.


Technically the Mass has not ended until the final Blessing. A second Consecration however would be very odd. I've never seen it.

We ran out of consecrated Hosts one day and the priest sent the EMHC to the sacristy for unconsecrated hosts. He then proceded to give the remaining people communion by intinction. I didn’t feel good about what he’d done and a year later when Redemptionis Sacramentum was promulgated I discovered that what he had done was forbidden. He could easily just have offered Communion from the chalice to those willing to receive it and ask them to limit how much they drank. I think his reasoning was that many of those who were left to receive would refuse to receive the Precious Blood from the chalice.

I once heard of a situation at my friends parish where they ran out of hosts but there was still several full chalices. The priest simply explained to the congregation that Christ is fully present within both species and therefore receiving under the appearance of wine is the same as under the appearance of bread. My friend said that many of the members of the parish did not know this and were reluctant but everyone that was left in line received from the chalice.

Most liturgies I've seen have provision for a second consecration for unusual circumstances, but of Latin rubrics forbid this, then the Latin rite forbids it.

[quote="bpbasilphx, post:13, topic:181261"]
Most liturgies I've seen have provision for a second consecration for unusual circumstances, but of Latin rubrics forbid this, then the Latin rite forbids it.


Excellent point - perhaps we shouldn't have been so quick to reply. From the GIRM, there is at least the provision to "repeat" the consecration if one of the species is absent. This is obviously not quite what was being asked.

  1. If the priest notices after the consecration or as he receives Communion that not wine but only water was poured into the chalice, he pours the water into some container, then pours wine with water into the chalice and consecrates it. He says only the part of the institution narrative related to the consecration of the chalice, without being obliged to consecrate the bread again.

There is also in De Defectibus provision for this general sort of problem.

  1. If he notices [the host is corrupt] after the Consecration, or even after having consumed the host, he is to put out another host, make the offering as above and begin from the Consecration, namely from the words Qui pridie quam pateretur. If he has not consumed the first host, he is to consume it after taking the Body and the Blood, or else reserve it somewhere with reverence. If he has already consumed the first host, he is nevertheless to consume the one that he has consecrated, because the precept of completing the Sacrament is more important than the precept of fasting before Communion.
  2. If this should happen after the Blood has been consumed, not only should new bread be brought, but also wine with water. The priest should first make the offering, as above, then consecrate, beginning with the words Qui pridie. Then he should immediately receive under both species and continue the Mass, so that the Sacrament will not remain incomplete and so that due order will be observed.
  3. If the consecrated host disappears, either by some accident such as a gust of wind or by some animal's taking it, and it cannot be found, then another is to be consecrated, beginning from the Qui pridie quam pateretur, having first been offered as above...
  4. If after the words of the Consecration he notices that there was no wine in the chalice, but only water, he is to pour the water into some vessel, put wine and water into the chalice and consecrate, starting again from the words Simili modo, etc.
  5. If he notices this after consuming the Body, or after drinking the water in question, he is to set out another host to be consecrated, together with wine and water in the chalice, offer both, consecrate them and consume them, even though he is not fasting...
  6. If something poisonous falls into the chalice after the Consecration, or something that would cause vomiting, the consecrated wine is to be poured into another chalice, with water added until the chalice is full, so that the species of wine will be dissolved; and this water is to be poured out into the sacrarium. Other wine, together with water, is to be brought and consecrated.
  7. If anything poisonous touches the consecrated host, the priest is to consecrate another and consume it in the way that has been explained, while the first host is to be put into a chalice full of water and disposed of as was explained regarding the Blood in paragraph 36 above...
  8. If, however, all the Blood is spilled after the Consecration, the little that remains is to be consumed, and the procedure described above is to be followed with the rest which has been spilled. But if none at all remains, the priest is to put wine and water into the chalice again and consecrate from the words Simili modo, postquam cenatum est, etc., after first making an offering of the chalice, as above.

The important thing seems to be communion of the priest, and in fact communion under both species at the same point in the mass. The reception of communion by the faithful is very much an afterthought in this document, since it doesn't affect the validity of the sacrament. Accordingly, there is no instruction to resort to these extraordinary measures simply because some of the faithful may have to go without.

I don't know whether De Defectibus is still in force, but I would guess that this approach is still that followed by the Church. In other words, if the supply of hosts is exhausted, too bad, so sad - avail yourself of communion at your next opportunity.

Wouldn't denying someone communion, even though due to an honest oversight, still be denying the sacrament to someone who wanted it? That would sound way more serious to me than to just be reconciled by a simple, "Sorry, but you're out of luck".

Yeah, I get it that there's nothing that can be done, but wow.

But in this case it would not be denying them, it would simply be delaying it until the next Mass. It’s not as though one has to receive Communion every time one goes to Mass.

No, it wouldn’t be “denying” because that word means that the priest has a choice in the matter.

This is one of the reasons why it makes so much sense for priests to always have sufficient consecrated Hosts in the tabernacle (sufficient, but not too many). Especially on days like Christmas (just for example, because it’s in our recent memories) when one just cannot accurately predict how many people will be receiving.

Lest we also forget that the rubrics for Holy Thursday also call for the consecration of a suitable amount of hosts for not only Good Friday, but, for Viaticum as well. Thus, celebrants have to ensure that they have enough consecrated Hosts to distribute to the fathful for the Good Friday liturgy. I know that in the past, the rector had to consecrate about two very full ciboria for use during the Good Friday service, especially since Mass is forbidden on that day and thus, hosts cannot be consecrated…

I was in a liturgy several years ago in our small deaf mission. The priest was unable to come and so the administrative head of the mission set out to have a Communion service. We weren’t sure what was going on after she had opened the tabernacle. It turned out there were only a few consecrated hosts and so she was breaking the Precious Body into very small pieces. Everyone who came forward received the Precious Body and some whole were left in case of the need for Eucharist for the sick.

I have not heard of any stipulation about the size. Sometimes in taking Eucharist to the sick they can consume only a very small piece of the Precious Body. Clearly the concern would always be safeguarding the Eucharist such that nothing gets dropped or in any way “lost”. As a EMHC I’ve broken the Precious Body into somewhat smaller pieces near the end of the line on a few occasions rather than leave people without receiving.

We ran out the day of the big snow storm the Sunday before Christmas. I guess everyone waited to go until the 5PM. We did have an extra ciborium prepared in case there were more people than usual but the sacristian didn’t put it on the table and the priest didn’t realize that it wasn’t there until after he started distributing. So we ran out with about 50 people left. They broke the hosts as small as possible and Father apologised and explained that it is not necessary to receive communion at every mass. We really didn’t hear complaints. I guess given the snow situation people understood. We had over 800 at a mass that usually gets about 450 people. The good thing is that all these people thought it was important enough to brave the snow and come to Mass.

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