Breaking a Eucharistic Host

Hello, I’m a Sacristan for my Parish.
I wrote an instructions manual for EMHCs in our parish, but our pastor has taken issue with the fact that I stated that EHMCs should never break or fracture a Host (for example if the communion line is long and they worry about running out). It of course seems sacrilegious to break a Eucharistic Host outside of the Fractio Panis. And I have cited the GIRM when it says only the Priest or Deacon can break the bread at the Fractio Panis, but our Pastor says this is insufficient, he claims this only applies to the Fractio Panis itself and not distribution. Can anyone give me official Church documents that talk about not fracturing the small breads during distribution, or that support the idea of “if you run out, you run out”?

Follow your pastor’s instructions. HE is in charge, you are not.

Your priest has been to seminary and knows what may be done and not done.


Your pastor is correct.

Moreover, do you have “official Church documents” that make the assertion that you have put in print, and are attempting to defend against the objection of your pastor? Must he defend his objection… or instead, aren’t you the one who has the obligation to prove the positive assertion you’ve made?


It “seems” that way? You mean, in your own personal opinion, so you wrote the guidelines in that way?

And where did you get the idea that “if you run out, you run out” of consecrated hosts? I have never seen a distribution of Holy Communion at Mass where somebody was excluded from receiving the Body of Christ because “they ran out”. Precious Blood, yes, that runs out sometimes, but never the Body of Christ.


I had never given any thought as to whether EMHCs are permitted to break Hosts (they’re not), but I do not receive from EMHCs, so that’s not the kind of thing I’d be thinking about (“and why not, HSD, you spend quite a bit of time thinking and speculating about what people other than yourself do?” :flushed:)

I found this article from an earlier CAF thread:

While rare, it is possible for the Hosts to run out. I do not see what the big deal is with this. No one, aside from the priest, has to receive communion. I would want to see at least one Host retained in the tabernacle, on the off chance that someone might need Viaticum before the next Mass.

If I were at such a Mass, the Hosts were about to run out, and the priest couldn’t break the remaining Hosts into enough pieces to administer to everyone, I would gladly give up my receiving communion, to allow someone else to receive instead.


I’m sure you can provide something to substantiate your opinion, then?

OK, but neither this observation (nor the one that no one aside from the priest celebrants must receive) proves the assertion you make. Attribution, please?


I’m sorry, I thought earlier in the thread, we had established that EMHCs may not break Hosts. I wasn’t seeking to “prove” anything. I guess I misread the thread. Maybe they can, maybe they can’t. Could any of our priests on CAF weigh in on this, @edward_george1 @InThePew ?

I see no theological objection to allowing EMHCs to do this. Just because the priest is the one who performs the fractio panis doesn’t mean that only a priest may break the Host. Very often, I reverently break the Host in half with the Host pressed between my tongue and the roof of my mouth, as I have dry mouth sometimes, and the large flat circular Host often sticks to my tongue otherwise. I do not chew It.


No worries. :+1:

I’m trying to think which documents discuss EMHCs, other than the GIRM. There’s nothing out there I’ve ever read that prohibits the breaking of hosts when necessary. (Of course, one would need to be very careful not to send shards of hosts flying, when doing so.)

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As a practical matter, I would think that EMHCs would pretty much have to be allowed to break Hosts as needed. What if they were administering communion at a service with no priest present — “well, it looks like some people here aren’t going to be able to receive communion, because we’re running out of Hosts and we don’t have a priest here to break them into smaller pieces”.

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I’m a Eucharistic Minister and I was never told we couldn’t break hosts


You’re assuming it’s “desecration” for an EMHC to break up a consecrated host for the sole purpose of allowing everyone in line to receive Holy Communion. Your priest obviously disagrees, and he is the one who probably has the better knowledge of this. You’ve not shown any source that indicates you know more about it than he does.

If you’re going to be coming onto an Internet forum claiming your priest is telling people to “desecrate” a consecrated host, when you don’t even have a source to prove your accusation, then maybe you shouldn’t be working as his sacristan…just sayin’…

Also, receiving the Body and Blood of Our Lord is not “for the sake of participation”, it’s the source and summit of our lives as Catholics. We’re not Protestants where it’s some symbolic act. I realize people don’t have to receive Communion, but why would you want to exclude a Catholic in a state of grace from a sacrament, when the Church provides a way for them to be included?


Your theology is gravely disordered, my friend.


I agree with paperwight’s comment above. Your theology, attitude and whole approach to this issue appear to be disordered.

This conversation is discouraging for me too because it would seem that a sacristan should show much more respect for his pastor and also more comprehension of the spiritual needs of the parishioners, than what I am seeing in your posts. If I were in your parish, and I heard you going on like this, accusing the priest of sin as you are doing, I would have serious concerns about you remaining in your position and would probably reach out to the pastor to discuss.

The Mass is not about what “you consider” to be all right or not. You’re not the authority here. You don’t get to decide what is “illicit”. You haven’t shown one source to back up your claim, and your pastor has already corrected you. Your constant references to “hurting someone’s feelings” indicate to me that you have no understanding of what Holy Communion is all about.


This is interesting. It might be based on the Parish and what the Head Priest decides, then. I, too, am a EMHC as well as a CM. We are trained that, if we are running low and it appears we will run out of hosts, we can, at our discretion, break the hosts to allow all communicants to receive the Body of Christ. After all, as someone said, Jesus is present in even the smallest crumb. This is why we are instructed to wash our fingers in the ablution bowl after handling the Body of Christ. Even the dust of a host has the presence of Christ and should be reverently disposed of.

Ideally, the CM would prepare enough hosts. Underestimation occurs, though. My stance as a CM is that it is better to have too many hosts than not enough to avoid having to break the host.

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CM…? :thinking:

But whatever it means:


Sorry. That’s the Coordinating Minister of the EMHCs for the Mass who is responsible for preparing the vessels, amount of wine, number of hosts, and generally supervising the EMHCs for that Mass.

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Half a lifetime ago I celebrated a marriage where at the accompanying Nuptial Mass the hosts ran out. For the last handful or two of communicants Father can be seen on the video gesturing to his left or right as he explained to each “I’ve run out of hosts. Please receive from the cup.” :trophy: :joy: :trophy:


This thread was not a personal attack; you asked a question and many here simply tried to answer and correct a misunderstanding, but it seems there is a much larger issue here. It is, indeed, disturbing to see some of the flawed statements you have made throwing around words like “heretical” for valid teachings of the Church with no documentation to support your views and plenty in opposition.


Well, yes. Also, something that supports your claim that this constitutes “desecration.”


Here’s a question for you: where in the GIRM does it state that the EMHCs may approach the altar to receive a ciborium/chalice to distribute the Eucharist? Is it before the Agnus Dei, or after? If I’m not mistaken, the GIRM makes no such specification. So is having them come up to the altar liturgical abuse because the GIRM says nothing about it?

A Catholic in a state of grace has a right to the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist. Not a privilege, a right protected by canon law:

“Can. 912 Any baptized person not prohibited by law can and must be admitted to holy communion.”

Is that merely trying to avoid hurting people’s feelings? You’re accusing your priest who is trying to conform to this canon of permitting sacrilege, a very grave sin, especially when done a priest. Asking for a document that supports your claim is not unreasonable.

Also, you are aware that fracturing the host does not fracture Christ, right? That’s not how the Eucharist works. Or would you like to argue that Christ Himself is split in half at every Mass?

You’re not being mocked.

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