Elevation of Bread and Wine During Consecration


Forgive me if there already exists a thread on this subject, but my search gave me nothing.

When and where did it begin that a priest says the words of Consecration with the bread and wine (pre-Consecration) elevated? I saw it in one of the televised Sunday Masses, and later found that this is not to be done. Then, after several years away due to moving and health problems, I returned to my old parish and one of the priests there is doing the same thing. So it must be a movement, a trend. It just baffles me that such a thing could go on, given the rubrics and, especially, given the meaning of the priest’s movements at that particular time. My only thought is that the priest wants the people to be looking at the host and the chalice at the moment the bread becomes the Lord’s Body and the wine in the chalice becomes His Blood. Another, much slighter “error,” is that this priest holds up the bread in two forms at the earlier “elevation,” the main host and the ciborium with the smaller hosts. This would not bother me except for the other “error.”

Any answers? Thanks, in advance.


It depends on what you mean by ‘elevated’. The ritual directs the celebrant that he “hold[s] [the bread] slightly raised above the altar” prior to the words of consecration, and following these words, “[h]e shows the consecrated host to the people” (and the same for the chalice).

Interestingly, the celebrant’s posture at this point (bowing) should preclude him from elevating the host to any degree.

As to your other observation, it is true that only the celebrant’s host should be elevated, without the elevation of anything else (paten, ciborium, other hosts). I have to admit, though – I certainly flinched when I read your description of this as an ‘error’…! :eek:

Yet, I’m not certain that we can conclude, as you have, that this is a “movement” of any sort.


I’m sorry but I do not understand what you’re asking here.

When is the Consecration also the pre-Consecration? I don’t understand what moment or moments in the Mass you are referencing.

Could you be more specific please?



When I wrote “pre-Consecration,” I was referring to the state of the bread and wine before they are Consecrated.

The priest, now probably many priests, held the host and the chalice at the same elevation as when they are offered to the people for adoration. I guess my question is whether or not there is any distinct “elevation” anymore.


There are four places that the celebrant lifts the bread and wine / Eucharistic species:

[list]*]At the start of the Liturgy of the Eucharist, as he prays “Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation…”; here, the celebrant “takes the paten… and holds it slightly raised above the altar with both hands.”
*]as mentioned previously, during the Eucharistic prayer, he “hold[s] it slightly raised above the altar.”
*]at the doxology, he “takes the chalice and the paten with the host and rais[es] both.”
*]following the Agnus Dei, he "takes the host and hold[s] it slightly raised above the paten or above the chalice.[/list]

Three of these specify a “slight” raise, whereas the elevation at the doxology does not specify the level to which the species are raised. In his book Let Us Pray, Father Paul Turner asserts that “compared with the other occasions when the bread and wine are held up, this lifting of the vessels [at the doxology] should have the greatest height. During the preparation of the gifts, the priest holds the bread and wine a little above the altar. During the institution narrative he shows the elements to the people, but here, at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer, the paten and chalice are elevated.” (Turner, p 121, #606)


Again, I’m just not following you.

You say “the same elevation” so that means that there is one single event (albeit, one for the host another for the chalice). And yes, indeed, the priest is supposed to elevate the consecrated Host for the congregation to adore; then he is supposed to raise the chalice for the people to adore the Precious Blood within it.

You seem to be asking “is the priest supposed to raise the Host at the elevation?”

If it’s an elevation, then yes, he should be raising it. That’s quite obvious (since the very definition of “elevation” is “to raise”). And that’s what has me confused. Therefore, I rather doubt that the actual intent of your question is “should he elevate the host at the elevation?”

I would like to help here (as I’m sure would others) but I just cannot understand your question.


No. He seems to be asking whether the height to which the species are lifted (“at the same elevation”, not meaning “at the same event” but “at the same height”) at the words of Institution should be the same height as at the doxology.

The answer is that the Missal doesn’t anticipate this, calling the lifting at the words of Institution “slight”. However, calling this an “error” seems too harsh. :shrug:


An additional thought: the particular height of the elevation of the species following the words of Institution (which the Missal simply describes as “showing the people”) has an interesting historical context. Back when all Masses were celebrated ad orientem, the celebrant would need to elevate the species above his head in order to “show the people”; now that most Masses are celebrated versus populum, it is not necessary to lift the host or chalice that high in order to “show” it. As a result, there is, perhaps, confusion as to the proper height that each lifting should attain. In any case, calling it an ‘error’ if one feels that a lifting of the elements is too pronounced seems too harsh a commentary… :shrug:


LOL! It just dawned on me that I left out the ‘elevation’ itself! The Missal states that, following the words of Institution, the celebrant “shows the consecrated host[/chalice] to the people”…!


OK. I think that NOW I understand the question.

However, I don’t see the word “slight” in the rubrics for the elevation at the consecration.
Are you sure about this, or should I re-check my sources?

My copy of the Roman Missal is not handy right now, and I’m reading a PDF version. I can go and fetch it, (and will need to anyway, sooner or later). I might just get it now anyway.

I’m holding back on some other commentary because I want to be sure before I go ahead and start typing.


Okay – When I was learning these things, way back when, I called the “Institution” the Consecration. Maybe I am behind, but that is the point in the Mass to which I was referring. It used to be that the priest would take the Host in his hands (now, it seems, he takes the Host on the paten), bend over slightly toward the Host, say the words of Consecration, lift the Host to a level above his head, genuflect, and do the same for the wine. Now, the priests to whom I am referring lift both species to the level which before was the “elevation,” and, as I made mention, they do not hold the Host until taking it from the paten to a 90 degree angle from the paten. This may not be “error” in a technical sense, but I see no sense in it.


Either word is fine. “Institution Narrative” usually refers to the entire prayer, while “Consecration” usually refers to a specific moment within that prayer. In casual conversation, we can, and often do, interchange the words. Makes no difference.
This can only get us off-topic.

It used to be that the priest would take the Host in his hands (now, it seems, he takes the Host on the paten), bend over slightly toward the Host, say the words of Consecration, lift the Host to a level above his head, genuflect, and do the same for the wine.

OK Let’s pause there.
Let’s take out some words, if you will:
It used to be that the priest would take the Host in his hands, bend over slightly toward the Host, say the words of Consecration, lift the Host to a level above his head, genuflect, and do the same for the wine.
That is exactly what the priest should do. For the moment, let’s set aside the question of “over his head or not?” We might get back to this part, but I fear that, at the moment, that will distract us from your actual question.
Now, before he genuflects, he does return the Host to the paten.

Now, the priests to whom I am referring lift both species to the level which before was the “elevation,” and, as I made mention, they do not hold the Host until taking it from the paten to a 90 degree angle from the paten.

Are you questioning the fact that the priest is using the paten?
At the Consecration, the priest should hold the host over the paten.
The rubrics state “He takes the bread and, holding it slightly raised above the altar, continues:”
This I need to explain. The paten stays on the altar. The priest holds the host. He does not hold the paten. Although it’s not stated in the rubrics, the host remains over the paten, but not on the paten. At this point, the paten and the host are not touching each other.

When he has finished saying the words, then the priest raises up the now-Consecrated Host. He then places the Host back on the paten. Then he genuflects.

Since your post seems to be about the differences between priests, maybe (just maybe) it would help if you could describe what each priest does. If you do this, please tell us what Father A does, and ONLY what Father A does. Then tell us what Father B does, and only what Fr. B does. In your earlier descriptions, you’re combining the two into one sentence, and I am having difficulty separating them. It would truly help me if you would humor me by keeping them separate.


As I understand the OP’s post, the priest, rather than bowing slightly and holding the host slightly above the altar, holds the host above his head as he is speaking the words of Consecration. He does the same with the chalice. Seems rather odd.


GIRM (current for USA)

275 b: “In addition, the priest bows slightly as he speaks the words of the Lord at the consecration”

  1. After the Consecration when the Priest has said, The mystery of faith, the people pronounce the acclamation, using one of the prescribed formulas. At the end of the Eucharistic Prayer, the Priest takes the paten with the host and the chalice and elevates them both while pronouncing alone the doxology Through him. At the end the people acclaim, Amen. After this, the Priest places the paten and the chalice on the corporal.

Eucharistic Prayer 3 example: 110. In the formulas that follow, the words of the Lord should be pronounced clearly and distinctly, as the nature of these words requires.

**For on the night he was betrayed
He takes the bread and, holding it slightly raised above the altar, continues:

he himself took bread, and, giving you thanks, he said the blessing, broke the bread and gave it to his disciples, saying:

He bows slightly.**

Take this, all of you, and eat of it, for this is my Body, which will be given up for you.**

He shows the consecrated host to the people, places it again on the paten, and genuflects in adoration.


Father, Thank you for your patience. I will respond to all of your thoughts and questions in order:

By “over his head,” of course I mean in front of him at an elevation slightly above his head.
I do not question the use of the paten except that the priests to whom I am referring do not actually take the Host into their hands, but leave it ON the paten. That is in contradiction to what you have stated ought to happen and that is what is prompting my questions.

The priests to whom I refer raise the Host ON the paten at approximately eye-level, say the words of Consecration, hold each species there (at separate times) for a few seconds and then return each to the Altar. Thus, there is no separate “elevation” for either the Host or the chalice except for the turning of the Host so that it is visible, but at the same level as during the words of Consecration. It is basically all just one motion, without the priest bending over the Host and the chalice, etc.

This bothered me the first time I saw it on television; but now it looks as if someone messed up in a video or something in which the priests were instructed as to how to make the changes and did it the way I have tried to explain. No big deal, except that it takes me back to when I used hate to go to Mass because the priests all did what they wanted to do. It had just gotten to a place where, at my old/new parish, there was strict adherence to “the rules.” I’m too old to go to Mass and wonder if this or that priest is going to prefer this or that new way of doing something. Invariably, a priest who will vary the movements will also add or delete words in the readings. No big deal; but, to me, truly sad.


Slight elevation during consecration and then this after:

“Show the people” can mean anything when facing versus populum, but when facing ad orientem there’s only one way of doing it.


Also, in the days before the liturgical reforms of Pius X, people normally do not go for communion during mass. The viewing of the blessed sacraments was deemed sufficient- that is why the sacraments are elevated high for everyone to see. Pius X was the one who encourage frequent communing and started our ‘tradition’ of First Communiononly in 1905.

I just got back from mass and the priest (who I know to be liturgically correct) held the sacraments just above the altar. A bit annoying from my point of view as part of my personal worship posture at this point depends on me seeing the chalice and the bread. But, I remind myself that nothing in the rubrics today require him to lift them high.


The thing is that the priest does not elevate all the to-be-consecrated hosts, neither in the old rite or the new. When people receive communion, it does not matter to them whether the host they are receiving was consecrated at that Mass or a previous one. I do know, however, that Vatican II encouraged the practice of distributing communion only from the hosts which were consecrated for that Mass. Further documents encouraged using a Host large enough so the priest could share the same Host he elevated with the rest of the congregation.


What possible Host could be large enough to share with several hundred people - and how long would it take to fraction it into so many pieces - and how many hard-to-manage crumbs would be created in the process? I’ve never head of such a suggestion. What was the document?


IGMR/GIRM #321 supposedly. From Wiki:

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal §321 recommends that “the eucharistic bread … be made in such a way that the priest at Mass with a congregation is able in practice to break it into parts for distribution to at least some of the faithful. … The action of the fraction or breaking of bread, which gave its name to the Eucharist in apostolic times, will bring out more clearly the force and importance of the sign of unity of all in the one bread, and of the sign of charity by the fact that the one bread is distributed among the brothers and sisters”

It’s probably more common in retreats and such, where the congregation is expected to be small.

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