Excessive handling of the Eucharist

{I’ve check around a bit and have not found this particular “abuse” (IMO) addressed, but forgive me if it is!}

During mass at our church, one of the “head” Ems (there are 2 that appear to be in-charge, that I’ve noticed) has the job of putting the hosts from one large bowl into a bunch of smaller bowls for distribution. I suppose that is not a bid deal, but the way both of them do it really bothers me:
First off, they are up right at the altar (where all the bowls and hosts are set next to the priest) WHILE the priest is saying prayers over the host and wine (I do not remember if it is just after consecration or not). Secondly, they take handfulls of hosts out of that large bowl to put them into the small ones, like they were pretzels or something!

I am annoyed and very bothered by the irreverence used under the guise of (supposedly) making the whole process go faster!
Has anyone else seen this? I’ve mentioned is several times to my husband, but he doesn’t seem concerned. I’m definitely thinking of telling Father about this soon. The host should be treated with great reverence and not handled more than necessary!

You can’t post a thread like this…you are about to be attacked…they will consider you a schismatic, heretical, ultra-conservative, traditionalists member of the “remnant” and we all know that means we believe we are “holier” than though…LOL just kidding. I loved your post and I agree, but be prepared to be flamed for it.:stuck_out_tongue:

First of all, the EMHC has no business being at the altar, by the side of the priest until after the priest consumes the Sacred Host and the Precious Blood. According to the GIRM:

  1. The priest may be assisted in the distribution of Communion by other priests who happen to be present. If such priests are not present and there is a very large number of communicants, the priest may call upon extraordinary ministers to assist him, e.g., duly instituted acolytes or even other faithful who have been deputed for this purpose.97 In case of necessity, the priest may depute suitable faithful for this single occasion.98

These ministers should not approach the altar before the priest has received Communion, and they are always to receive from the hands of the priest celebrant the vessel containing either species of the Most Holy Eucharist for distribution to the faithful.

Regarding the Fraction Rite, Redemptionis Sacramentum says the following:

73.] In the celebration of Holy Mass the breaking of the Eucharistic Bread - done only by the Priest celebrant, if necessary with the help of a Deacon or of a concelebrant - begins after the exchange of peace, while the Agnus Dei is being recited. For the gesture of breaking bread “carried out by Christ at the Last Supper, which in apostolic times gave the whole Eucharistic action its name, signifies that the faithful, though they are many, are made one Body in the communion of the one Bread of Life who is Christ, who died and rose for the world’s salvation” (cf. I Cor 10:17).153 For this reason the rite must be carried out with great reverence.154 Even so, it should be brief. The abuse that has prevailed in some places, by which this rite is unnecessarily prolonged and given undue emphasis, with laypersons also helping in contradiction to the norms, should be corrected with all haste.155

I hope that this helps.

None of this is supposed to be happening.

If the hosts are being parcelled out into separate bowls (please tell me you meant gold ciboria) before the Consecration there is no reason why they couldn’t be brought to that altar that way. Sounds like they just want to give the EMHCs something to do which is still not a good reason for doing it but at least they are handling ‘bread’ and nothing more.

If it’s at the Fraction Rite they shouldn’t be up there at all. They’re not supposed to approach the altar before the priest has received Communion.

Have you a suggestion for a more reverent way to accomplish the transfer?

You should definitely talk to the priest about this…

The priest at one of the parishes I go to kind of pours (well, tips the bowl and pushes the hosts) from a bigger bowl into the smaller ones. That’s actually a good question though.

That’s pretty much how our pastor does it after communion when putting the Hosts into one ciborium for reservation. If he’s placing hosts in the second ciborium at the fraction rite he usually does take a handful at a time.

I’m of the opinion that once the hosts are consecrated, they should be handled only when necessary: when giving Communion or placing in a pyx. I would prefer that Hosts not be poured from one vessel to another (much like the Precious Blood is not to be poured). In my opinion, it looks completely profane, like pouring cereal from a box into bowls, or popcorn out of a bag, or chips out of a box. The other method, of grabbing a bunch of Hosts and placing them in another vessel, is also rather contrary to the traditional gravity and seriousness with which the Eucharist is handled.

Simply put: distribute the bread into multiple ciboria before it is consecrated, either before Mass or during the Offertory (I’d opt for before Mass). Restore some dignity to the Most August Sacrament of the Altar.

//During mass at our church, one of the “head” Ems (there are 2 that appear to be in-charge, that I’ve noticed)//

**The “head Em” is the Priest Celebrant.

The proper term you want is EMHC (Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion).**

\Secondly, they take handfulls of hosts out of that large bowl to put them into the small ones, like they were pretzels or something!\

||I would prefer that Hosts not be poured from one vessel to another (much like the Precious Blood is not to be poured). In my opinion, it looks completely profane, like pouring cereal from a box into bowls, or popcorn out of a bag, or chips out of a box. The other method, of grabbing a bunch of Hosts and placing them in another vessel, is also rather contrary to the traditional gravity and seriousness with which the Eucharist is handled.||

**And just how are the hosts supposed to be moved from one vessel to another?

Do you know?

BTW, Priests have been “pouring” consecrated hosts from Patens to Ciboria since time immemorial.**

Simply put: distribute the bread into multiple ciboria before it is consecrated, either before Mass or during the Offertory (I’d opt for before Mass). Restore some dignity to the Most August Sacrament of the Altar.

**Some priests consider it more fitting, when possible, to have all the bread in ONE vessel for the Consecration.

I can’t argue with that view. Can you?

However, you are right: EMHCs should wait for the priest to do so himself, or else a deacon. It should NOT be done by an EMHC.**

Since E is for Extraordinary, the Priest Celebrant is the head OM [Ordinary Minister]. :wink:

Thank you, everyone, for all the responses!

I’ve been trying to think of exactly the point when all the EMHCs :wink: troop up there and I’m pretty sure it is after the consecration, but before the priest takes the Eucharist himself. So not only is the alpha-EMHC (oh, I’m being facetious!) doling out the hosts, the rest of them are in a half circle behind the altar.

As to how large numbers of hosts should be handled, I think someone said it earlier: if they are to be in many vessels, they should be there before the consecration. If the priest prefers the hosts to be in one vessel for the consecration, then HE should be the one transferring them to the other vessels once he is ready.

I’m definitely going to talk to father soon about this. This irreverent handling of the Eucharist by lay-people makes me question (to myself) their belief in Christ’s real presence. And if they act that way, how does it witness to the rest of the congregation?

\This irreverent handling of the Eucharist by lay-people makes me question (to myself) their belief in Christ’s real presence. And if they act that way, how does it witness to the rest of the congregation?\

**It must be terrible to be able to see into people’s hearts.

How do you bear that burden?**

You need not be sarcastic. The OP has raised a legitimate concern that needs to be addressed. Also, would you mind using the quote button? With all due respect, it makes it easier to reply to your posts.

Why do people keep blaming the EMHCs when it is the pastor who sets the procedures in the parish? If anything, he should be the one who is criticized not the poor EMHCs who are only following his direction.

Hey…I agree…ultimate accountability lies on the priest and bishops…doesn’t mean that the EMHC’s don’t share in the blame…but the real chastisement should fall on those in positions of power allowing it to happen

I don’t know much about transubstantiation so forgive me if I say something wrong. In the Catholic teaching, is the Eucharist always Christ, or is it bread that becomes Christ?

If the bread becomes- suggesting that it was something different beforehand- the body and the blood of Christ; then, before that happens isn’t it just bread? Regular plain old get-it-at-store bread? (Idiom for effect. I know that you cannot go down to the corner store and buy communion wafers, and I mean no disrespect to the actual Eucharist.) In which case, who cares how it’s handled, it’s not Christ yet. Either way, I can understand how it would be upsetting for them to be doing that in the middle of Mass… That’s a bit much.

There is no reason that the priest could not consecrate the Hosts in separate ciboria. It is not necessary for them all to be in the same ciborium for the Consecration. When the Offering is being presented, the people could bring up the Hosts already divided into the number of ciboria needed.

The Sacristan could pour the hosts directly from the original packaging into the right number of ciboria, in the privacy of the Sacristy, and then bring them out to where the offerings are being brought up from, already set to go.

Outside of mass, there is no question that what you say is the case. My parish use unconsecrated hosts to practice with the kids in Faith Formation and adults in RCIA. In Mass, it should be treated respectfully before consecration but it is still bread. Just like we treat the vestments respectfully, in my opinion. As for the situation of the Op, the bread is being irreverently handled after consecration, that’s the point where there no longer bread but Christ. And at that point, what the EMHC’s are doing at the Op’s parish is so wrong in so many ways :(. At least it seems like they are not intentional.

My personal view is that separate ciboria should be used for consecration, for the same reason that separate chalices are used. (However, I also note that this is not specifically forbidden in the liturgical texts, and I understand why it is done: for the fullness of the “one bread” symbolism). I chalk it up to an improper ars celebrandi.


The bread becomes Christ during the consecration. The scenario described by the OP is after the consecration, hence the concern.

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