I have read that both the bread and wine must be consecrated in order for the consecration to be valid (that is, to take place at all). But when the priest says the words of consecration “This is my body” and then elevates the Host, we are taught that it is already the Body of Christ.
These two things seem contradictory. I suppose one could say that since intention to consecrate is necessary, a priest who only says the consecration for the Host would lack proper intention and never consecrate anything. But what if a priest says “This is my body,” elevates the Host, then has a heart attack and is unable to consecrate the wine. What is the status of the host? Has it been consecrated or not?
Phrased another way, if the consecration of the host depends on the consecration of the wine, how can they take place separately?
I posted this question on the “Ask and Apologist” forum but that was a few days ago and they haven’t answered it, so I’m asking it here too. I’m afraid I am going to lose my faith over it because it seems totally contradictory and unreasonable.
I’ve heard that the reason they are consecrated separately is because that is how Christ himself did it. The priest is acting in persona Christi, and thus does the same actions and order of Christ. I’ve also read that if another priest is available that the consecration can continue, but I’m not 100% certain on that. [humor mode] If both or all available priests become unavailable in a similar fashion as the first, get a few miraculous medals and place them around the church, pray the rosary, and call a health inspector, because Something is wrong somewhere. [end humor mode].
The Code of Canon Law reads:
927 It is absolutely wrong, even in urgent and extreme necessity to consecrate one element without the other, or even to consecrate both outside the eucharistic celebration.
What I notice is that it says it is “wrong” – it does not say that it invalidates the consecration of the bread. (This is assuming the proper intention was there before the hypothesized heart attack.)
I’ll be anxious to hear the answer when “Ask the Apologist” responds.
I don’t think that if a priest consecrated just either the bread or the wine and not the other that would make it invalid. However, I do think that it is very important to consecrate both of them, and it is a serious issue. I remember reading somewhere that if for some reason the priest that started the consecration could not complete it, another priest would have to complete it as soon as possible and it would be urgent, so urgent that if the only priest available was one who was ex-communicated, he could even finish the mass
X. 3. If the priest becomes gravely ill, or faints, or dies, before the consecration, the Mass is left. If the Body only has been consecrated, not the Blood, or if both have been consecrated, another priest should continue the Mass from the point where it was interrupted, and in case of necessity a priest who is not fasting. If the first Celebrant does not die, but is ill, and yet able to communicate, and there is no other consecrated host, the priest who takes over the Mass should divide the host, and give one part to the sick priest, receiving the other half himself. If the priest dies when the formula of the consecration of the host has been half-said, the Mass need not be continued, since no consecration has taken place. If he dies when the formula of the consecration of the Blood has been half-said, another priest should continue the Mass, and repeat over the same chalice the complete formula from the words: Simili modo postquam coenatum est; or he may pronounce the complete formula over another prepared chalice, and receive the host of the first priest, and the Blood consecrated by himself, and then the remaining half-consecrated chalice.