Eucharist vs. Unconsecrated Host


Let me first point out that I am an active and faithful Catholic and that the following is honestly asked with faith seeking deeper and fuller understanding.

I am fairly well versed in typical apologetics, but I something occurred to me today that I have been tossing back and forth in my head:

How am I to tell, personally, the difference between the Eucharist - Christ, the risen and living God - and an unconsecrated host - simple bread - assuming that I am presented both and both have comparable accidents (appearance, etc).

Obviously the Eucharist is a source of sacramental and saving grace, but how am I, as an individual, to distinguish the effects of that grace from, say, the effects of the grace I might receive from prayer after I received what I was made to believe was actually the Eucharist (when it, in reality, was not)?

Thanks in advance for any replies!


Hi C…

You don’t think that you’d know?

I firmly believe that I would.


I’m sorry, but I probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. Any peace that I feel I may get would be chalked up to phychosomatics (did I spell that right?).

One extra note: I served as Eucharistic Minister and distributed the hosts today and I felt a greater joy and peace than I’ve ever felt before. By the end of communion, you couldn’t wipe the smile from my face. I can’t explain why, but it just happened. It was very nice!


I really don’t know. I don’t think the effect is so instant and independent of ourselves and our disposition that you could do a ‘Pepsi taste test’ in this fashion and see an obvious distinction.

If you could, on the one hand we’d have an awful lot of very holy roaches and rats walking around :yup: and on the other we wouldn’t be able to usefully make an Act of Spiritual Communion on those occasions when we’re unable to physically receive.

And I know what you mean NW, I’ve had an opportunity to minister the chalice (more to come, please God) and it’s a wonderful way to serve Our Lord.


I think if a donkey could tell the difference, so could we :slight_smile:

To prove the Real Presence to a heretic, St. Anthony of Padua presented a consecrated host to a donkey which had not eaten in three days. The donkey bowed down and adored :slight_smile:


I don’t know if or how you would be able to tell.

Although I have heard stories about very holy people who have been able to look at a table full of hosts and immediately point out the one consecrated one.




I, personally, think that my soul would instantly and definitively know the difference. But I am unsure as to whether or not my mind and body would be as quick to catch the hint and make me consciously aware :blush:.

The confessional, maybe, could be an answer?

Still, I am not sure that the graces of the Eucharist are supposed to be so “instantly gratifying” as, indeed, Christ’s Passion is not a message of instant gratification.

However, for me, the Eucharist is a great source of grace on long AND short terms.

And to add, I too felt unquenchable happiness and joy at communion today. It occured to me that we should never be hesitant or reserved in our happiness - Christ is risen!


That was a miracle, just like the various Eucharistic Miracles that have happened over the years where the Sacred Body and Precious Blood have turned into real flesh and real blood.

Doesn’t mean any of 'em are guaranteed to happen at every consecration, are they?

And I’m sure there have been times mistakes where unconsecrated Hosts were accidntally reserved along with the consecrated and no-one any the wiser about which was which.


The thing is, I’ve been a Eucharistic Minister for many years, but this is the most profound feeling I’ve experienced.

I remember thinking right before receiving Him that truly I am “not worthy” (I do so love that pun) and that I was not worthy of all of His Love and Graces. It was the most humble I’ve ever been before Communion, which probably has the most to do with what I received during Communion.


Though I don’t know if it shows much in my posts, I am a bit of a mystic and somehow…I would just know.

John 10:14 I am the good shepherd; and I know mine, and mine know me.


Indeed, but Christ tells us that we will do greater miracles than those he performed during His ministry. I have never, personally, walked on water. So does “knowing Christ” include consistently recognizing, with my entire person, His presence instantly in the Eucharist?

Rather I think in this passage Christ is speaking on longer terms. I have come to Christ because I have been made totally full by His sacrifice. And so I know Him because I have recognized Him from other worldly things that call out to me.

I think, maybe, we are all called to be so open to God that we could recognize His body among look-alikes. But we are also all called to be so open to God as to walk on water and move mountains. That doesn’t mean that we MUST walk on water and move mountains to attest to our faith in Him, nor does it mean that everyone who believes in God will be given the specific grace of walking on water.

Maybe I’ll be there eventually, but I am not sure that the graces of the Eucharist are so instantaenous as to provide immediate distinction from the graces from, say, prayer, humility, and meditation.

Of course, on the long term, the differences in these graces are quite apparent. Just take the Church compared to the Protestants. :eek: :wink: No offense, just picking! :rolleyes:


I don’t like the implication that those who don’t are somehow ‘less than’ - do you really think every saint in existence would have been able to tell the difference? Even the Apostles didn’t at the Last Supper!


By no means was that what I meant. It’s hard to put into words, but to me there is some kind of “knowing” (for lack of a better term). I would never denigrate my brothers and sisters like that. Maybe it’s just me… but at the same time I really believe that most of us could tell.

An unction of the Holy Spirit?


Since the difference is effected in an entirely supernatural way, there is no natural way that you could tell. No ‘feeling’ or sense of any kind could reveal it to you. Only the Holy Spirit Himself could reveal to you which was truly Christ and which mere bread. I guess highly sanctified individuals (great saints) could tell the difference because the grace in their souls in so strong, but again that is a supernatural ability.


There is no way that you could tell the difference from a human standpoint, since the appearances of both the consecrated and unconsecrated host are identical. The appearances remain. The substance is changed. But you cannot perceive substance directly.

You would only know because you received a host that had been consecrated at the Mass you attended or had been taken from the tabernacle.

This is one reason I don’t like the practice of using unconsecrated hosts as teaching aids.


You cannot tell the difference- there is no physical change when the bread and wine are consecrated. That is why it is important not to mix consecrated and non-consecrated hosts, and to not leave unconsecrated hosts laying around or throw them away in a trash can (that could be very scandalous).


As we all know, the accidents of bread and wine remain in the Eucharist. There is no natural way to tell the difference. Some people might have a special grace to discern the difference. Certainly, angels and the saints in Heaven can tell the difference.

I hope you’re never in a situation where it’s doubtful what is in front of you!

If you’re wondering whether the Eucharist has a real effect that’s not just psychological: It does. Whether someone can discern that effect from other graces is highly subjective.


In the Book of Numbers, a donkey also rebuked the Prophet Baalam! There is good Biblical evidence to show God was at work in that incident!

John 6:56-63 is clear, the bread and wine are a symbol (spirit) of the body and blood of Christ!


(spirit) of the body and blood of Christ!56: He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.
57: As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me.
58: This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever."
59: This he said in the synagogue, as he taught at Caper’na-um.
60: Many of his disciples, when they heard it, said, "This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?"
61: But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at it, said to them, "Do you take offense at this?
62: Then what if you were to see the Son of man ascending where he was before?
63: It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

I don’t see the word “symbol” in that passage. In fact… it’s nowhere in that whole chapter. In fact…it’s nowhere in the New Testament in any passage that refers to communion. Nowhere at all.

The Eucharist IS Scriptural!
is a thread here where the scriptures are examined with respect to the Eucharist.

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