Fruit wine - Illicit or invalid matter




Maybe contacting the winery – and asking about the content of the white wines they produce – would clarify whether the wine is valid for Consecration.


Fruit wine as in malt liquor?


I’ve never even considered a white wine as being used for Mass. Do churches use white wine?
Bizarre. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:


My parish does and all parishes in the greater area where I live. The largest parish uses at least 60 purificators in a week. Wine spots from white wine is easier to clean than red wine. Lipstick on the other hand, is something else to talk about…

The Maronite or Melkite, Ukrainan and another which I can’t remember have used red wine for their Liturgies.


Incorrect. Preservatives may be added:

"Mass Wine: Treated with Sulphurous Anhydride, Etc. (Holy Office) Private.

The Holy Office was asked by the Archbishop of Tarracona: Whether in the Sacrifice of the Mass, wine may be used which is made from the juice of the grape, treated with sulphurous anhydride or with potassium bisulphite.

Reply. In the affirmative.

(Private) ; Holy Office, 2 Aug., 1922.

Not published in the AAS; cf. Il Monitore, Oct., 1923, p. 289."

In generations past, brandy was added to sacramental wine as a means to preserve it.


In many Orthodox churches, women are required to remove their lipstick before presenting themselves for communion.


White, red and rose are all 100% licit.


Actually use of the term “Sacramental” and “Altar” wine in the US dates to the prohibition, where these distribution of these wines were legal for religious practices, but supposed to be closely controlled…however, that was not always the case…there were many instances where less than honest people distributed the wine under false pretenses.


The sacramental wine business is a scam for the most part. Mont La Salle’s (formerly Christian Brothers) used to have the following displayed on their website (since removed):

"Is our current Altar Wine approved for Sacramental use?
We at Mont La Salle like to state that we cannot determine how other suppliers make their wine or if it is made according to the requirements of Canon Law. We know with absolute certainty that Mont La Salle altar wine is made according to Canon Law and, in addition, our label states “approved for sacramental use”. As far as we know, there is no other wine offered for commercial sale that makes this statement.


Sulfites in Wine - (Why does the wine label state ‘contains sulfites’? And, what are sulfites?) Sulfites in wine are nothing new since the yeast cells during fermentation produce a small amount of sulfites and the better winemakers have made tiny additions of sulfites for many centuries. This miniscule amount of added sulfites acts as an anti-oxidant and as a yeast inhibitor which preserves the natural good condition of the wine and retards spoilage. For the information and protection of those few people who are extremely sensitive or allergic to sulfites, U.S. Federal Law, for some time now, requires that wine containing (10) or more parts per million of sulfites be labeled “contains sulfites”. This labeling requirement is mandatory for all wines produced in the U.S. The wines are the same as they were before such labeling was required. Substances that assist in making sound wine and that remain in the wine in minute traces, such as sulfites, have been and are considered by canonists and theologians to be acceptable for the Eucharist. One such approval, as reported in the Sacramentary, was the Holy Office Decree of 2nd August, 1922."


Sure. Some parishes get tired of replacing altar linens because of stains and switch to white.


Yes. Exactly.

That’s what happens in the US when a bishop and a winery partner to put a label of “Altar Wine” or “Sacramental Wine” or similar label on one or more of its wines.

Absent a label, that’s what a priest is supposed to do before he attempts to use that wine at Mass. Unless he is absolutely certain (such as “this parish has been using the wine from the local winery for 3 centuries” or something like that).


That doesn’t change the fact that when a wine is labeled “Altar” or “Sacramental” and this has been done after an investigation (inquiry, whatever word one likes) of the bishop, that means a priest can trust that the wine is valid matter for the Mass.

Without such a label, at least in the U.S. there are so many kinds of wine out there, and so much is permitted to be done without needing to disclose it on the label, a priest just cannot be certain by doing nothing more than reading the label itself.


That’s really unfair.

First of all, the statement is still on their website. You are trying to imply that they now admit that there was something wrong with it, so they removed it. They did not remove it. It is there as of today, 12 November 2017.

And I assure you as a priest, that the practice of labeling wine as “sacramental” when that practice is done legitimately is not a scam at all. It is an extremely useful tool for priests to use. It is extremely helpful.

I do not need to contact wineries to ask What’s in your wine? Do you add sugar? Do you add fresh grapes? Do you add fruit? etc. etc. etc. I can trust that whatever questions need to be asked have been asked by the bishop (past or present) or his vicar.


Ah, but who’s Sacrament? There are protestant churches that (LCMS) for one, who call their version of the Eucharist sacramental. While, I wouldn’t think it necessary for a humble parish priest to have to contact wineries, but I would think the Bishop might provide a “Qualified Supplier List” of sorts, because a priest accepting only a label might not be doing due diligence in ensuring the validity of the Mass.


No. That’s not a problem. We priests actually do know what to look for in reading such a label. There are certain indicators. The name of the bishop or diocese is the most obvious one. The wine I use has such a label. Some will say “in accord with canon 924.3” which is likewise clear.

And it’s not about the supplier. It’s about the individual wine. A winery might make 20 different wines. 10 of them are valid matter, 10 not.

And yes, some diocese DO make available a list of valid wines, based on what is typically available and popular in that area. Such lists are not exhaustive, but can be very helpful. It’s especially true when the list includes the major name brands specific wines which are available “just about everywhere” within the diocese.

For example, every major wine company makes a Cabernet, Chardonnay, White Zinfandel, Merlot. If these exist in that state, chances are that they can be purchased at any retailer.

If there are a few small winers in that particular area where the diocese is located, it’s not difficult to contact them and inquire. If there are a lot of small ones, like California, then if the priest wants to use their wine, he needs to inquire first.


Are these specific wines, assuming they have no unusual additives or special treatment, valid for communion wine in the Catholic Church in the US?


The point is “I don’t know.”

I haven’t inquired into every one of them.

My point is that it is possible for a bishop to make a list of wines and the priest can then choose from that list. Some diocese do this.

Just because a bottle of wine is bought “off the shelf” does not eliminate the possibility that it can be valid matter. At the same time though, just looking at the label is NEVER enough to know it’s valid matter. Someone qualified still has to contact the winery and ask the appropriate questions.


60 purificators? This whole discussion makes me wonder if returning to the practice of communion under one species only might be the better part of prudence. Alternatively, intinction would require a lot less communion wine.


In this scenario, a valid sacrament would refer to a truly consecrated Eucharist. Validity determines whether or not a sacrament really took place. Illicit would simply refer to something that is not permissible, even if it wouldn’t invalidate a sacrament. In the Latin Rite, for example, only using unleavened bread at mass is valid AND licit. Even though it is illicit (not lawful) to use leavened bread without permission, it would still be a valid Eucharist - meaning that the bread really did become the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ.

For example, the Code of Canon Law states that a man needs to be at least 25 years old to be validly and licitly ordained to the priesthood. A bishop could, in theory, ordain a 23 year old man validly but not licitly without dispensation. It is not permissible to ordain a 23 year old man without dispensation, but the sacrament really does take place (provided that no other external factors could potentially invalidate the sacrament), and is therefore valid.

However, if a bishop tried to ordain a woman, for example, it would be invalid no matter what. Liceity doesn’t matter at this point because the Sacrament of Holy Orders can NEVER be validly and truly conferred on a woman.

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