Is this valid?

I heard about an event happening during a youth retreat in my diocese just a few days ago. Upon hearing of it, i was ill at ease questioning the validity of what happened. I wish i knew enough to pinpoint if/why it was wrong, if anyone can help, i would be most appreciative.

The small group was in reflective prayer in a chapel. Present were several adults including a deacon. The deacon initiated a time of Eucharistic adoration, exposing the blessed sacrament on the altar in a monstrance. But the deacon had to leave shortly afterward. After a while of meditation and adoration, the group leader present led the small group in an activity. This consisted of her removing the blessed Eucharist from the monstrance and parting it, giving it to the youth. They each in part broke pieces and gave it to each other.

Can anyone help?

I know lay EMHC may expose the Eucharist in the monstrance if delegated this by the priest or deacon if they are unable to. But this seems as if those present took far far more liberties that were not or should not be permitted to them?

Redemptionis Sacramentum explicitly forbids passing the holy communion around like candy

94.] It is not licit for the faithful “to take . . . by themselves . . . and, still less, to hand . . . from one to another” the sacred host or the sacred chalice. Moreover, in this regard, the abuse is to be set aside whereby spouses administer Holy Communion to each other at a Nuptial Mass.

With regard to the EMHC breaking the host, I am not so sure. In mass the fraction rite is something quite specific that the priest does, but if during distribution of communion they are running low on hosts, I have seen the EMHC break hosts in the ciborium so that there will be enough to go round
What you describe ceretainly seems quite unusual.

Discuss it with your priest.

Code of Canon Law

Can. 230 §1. Lay men who possess the age and qualifications established by decree of the conference of bishops can be admitted on a stable basis through the prescribed liturgical rite to the ministries of lector and acolyte.

Nevertheless, the conferral of these ministries does not grant them the right to obtain support or remuneration from the Church.

§2. Lay persons can fulfill the function of lector in liturgical actions by temporary designation. All lay persons can also perform the functions of commentator or cantor, or other functions, according to the norm of law.

§3. When the need of the Church warrants it and ministers are lacking, lay persons, even if they are not lectors or acolytes, can also supply certain of their duties, namely, to exercise the ministry of the word, to preside offer liturgical prayers, to confer baptism, and to distribute Holy Communion, according to the prescripts of the law.

Can. 943 The minister of exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament and of eucharistic benediction is a priest or deacon; in special circumstances, the minister of exposition and reposition alone without benediction is the acolyte, extraordinary minister of holy communion, or someone else designated by the local ordinary; the prescripts of the diocesan bishop are to be observed.

the Eucharist should normally be received during a Mass.
If it is not possible to have a mass the Eucharist can be distributed as part of a Holy Communion service which is presided over by a priest deacon or Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. This may be instead of Sunday mass when there is no priest available, or in the case of a sick person or someone else who is unable to get to Sunday mass. Holy communion services should not be used for mid week services if Sunday mass is available. - except for the bringing of the Eucharist to the sick, housebound or other people unable to get to the church on a Sunday.

It is forbidden for the laity to pass the Eucharist to each other.

What you describe is a ritual which is not described in any of the rubrics. At best it is a serious Liturgical Abuse.
At worst it could be considered to be a desecration of the Blessed Sacrament - that would depend on the intention and understanding of the person who initiated this behaviour.

The Eucharist seemed to have been already consecrated, so it’s still valid; the action seems illicit.

Well, not entirely true. When I take Holy Communion to the housebound, there is not a Holy Communion service in each house. There is a rite to follow, but it is not a Communion service. There just isn’t time, for one thing.

Are you thinking of services in a residential facility where there may be several Catholics?


  1. The OP is not a ‘witness,’ but has encounter a report (story).

  2. We need more facts of what actually occurred, otherwise this is only hypothetical.

  3. As reported in the OP, everything has the appearance of being valid, licit, and within the norms of the Church.

  4. I suspect we shall once again have a rather pointless argument on the matter of EMHCs.

Not based on the description of a lay person taking the blessed sacrament out of the monstrance, passing it around for the attendants to break up and pass among themselves.

This sounds like no licit rite u have heard of and includes elements of behaviour explicitly forbidden. (see quote from redemptoris sacramentum above)

It therefore does not sound licit.

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