Is there a moment when the consecration takes place?

I’m on the Liturgical committee at my parish and someone asked about having bells at the moment of consecration. Our pastor said that the Church doesn’t specifically define when the MOMENT of consecration takes place. He said that sometime during the prayers is clear, but there is not a specific mention of an absolute moment. A deacon friend of mine said that he is mistaken and that the Church does define this exactly. Please help me understand what the Church teaches about this.


Dear Andrew,

The custom is not to ring the bell or bells during the consecration, but when the priest elevates the host and then when he elevates the chalice.

There IS a moment when the bread is transformed into the Body of Christ—just as there is a moment when anything that changes, actually changes. The transformation takes place when the priest expresses his intention to consecrate by completing this thought in a sentence, i.e. when the subject “This,” and the predicate “is,” are completed with the object “my body”. HOW this happens is a great sacred mystery. WHEN it happens is no mystery at all.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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