Desecration of the Eucharist

I read recently on an Ask an Apologist thread that desecration of the Eucharist is cause for automatic excommunication. I assume this would include having impure thoughts about it.

For example, let’s say that someone read that and is wondering whether having impure thoughts about it would get someone excommunicated, and as they are thinking that, they are suddenly attacked with one. They fight it off, but continue to have these thoughts throughout the week, always fighting them off. Then, one day, they feel like one is coming and they try to dispel the thought then and there, but it continues to linger in the back of their mind and they don’t feel like they are doing enough to get rid of it, almost as though they feel like as soon as they let their guard down, the predator that is the thought will attack them. Thus, they call the thought forward and fight it off then and there, and sometimes before it even begins to approach the forefront of the mind. Would forcing it upon themselves in order to fight it off more directly be grounds for automatic excommunication?

Also, another question: Would taking the Eucharist in a state of mortal sin be desecration of it? Let’s say they have full knowledge and full consent when they committed the initial mortal sin and if they do this, they will commit another. I assume not, because such a sin can be lifted in the confessional.

Good questions.

I guess it’s how one interprets (and translates) Canon Law. It seems before Vatican II, any laity laying hands on communion was considered desecration of the sacrament.

You are confusing terminology. No thoughts involving the Blessed Sacrament could incur an excommunication

On the one hand, one certainly should not receive Holy Communion in the state of unrepentant mortal sin; to do so is to not only not receive the graces attached to worthily receiving that sacrament but to do so would add a sin of sacrilege because of the unworthy reception of Holy Communion. In a sense, such a Communion can be termed a desecration of the Blessed Sacrament.

However, the sort of action that is discussed in Canon 1367 is very specific; it involves a physical action by a person against the Sacred Species. “A person who throws away the consecrated species or takes or retains them for a sacrilegious purpose incurs a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See; moreover, a cleric can be punished with another penalty, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state.”

Canon 1367 does not involve thoughts against the Eucharist. If the thoughts are really and truly willed and entertained in the mind, they could be sinful depending upon the nature and willfulness of the thought(s).

In matters of temptations regarding thoughts, I would just add that one is best advised to simply dismiss them by an act of the will rather than trying to engage them in some sort of prolonged mental battle. It is neither spiritually nor psychologically helpful to use such a tactic I remember one professor of mystical and ascetical theology saying such matters can be most effectively dealt with by simply acknowledging that the absurdity (“Where on earth did that thought/image come from?”), laughing off the ridiculousness of the image, and immediately turning the mind to something else and occupying it with more wholesome thoughts.

It is not correct that laity touching the Eucharist was always and everywhere forbidden before Vatican II.

In the administration of Holy Communion, should the host slip from the minister’s hand and fall into her décolletage, a lady was always to simply retrieve the host with her own hand and then consume it, for many obvious reasons.

In case of fire or other threat, the Blessed Sacrament could be saved by whoever could get to the threatened tabernacle to access it rather than leaving the Sacred Species to be consumed in the flames for wont of a sacred minister being able to do so.

There is a famous scene from the life of the Abbess, Saint Clare of Assisi, when her monastery was on the verge of being overrun and invaded by a Saracen army. Clare retrieved the Blessed Sacrament from the tabernacle and held it aloft in the face of the invaders and, overcome with fright, they abandoned their plans of invasion and fled the environs of the monastery.

None of what you describe here constitutes desecrating the Eucharist.

It was taught in the U.K. and the U.S. where I went to schools.

Not that it matters as this point, but where wasn’t it forbidden?

Let me console you, oh sorrowful heart.

Partaking of Communion in mortal sin is a sacrilege, not a desecration. It is not grounds for automatic excommunication.

Desecration is a black Mass. If you participate in one, you are committing desecration, because your will is in it, even if you don’t partake of the Communion there.

Rather than “forcing it upon themselves” can they employ mindfulness that a distraction is just a distraction (if that’s all it is) and remember where they are and how good that is.

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