Key in the Tabernacle - what would you have done?

This happened to me last night. I’ll tell you what happened, then tell you how I dealt with it.

I went to a church near where I work (not my usual parish) for Eucharistic adoration at 6:30p last night. They have a small Eucharistic chapel that connects the parking lot to the main doors of the church. When I walked in, I saw there was no adoration because apparently there was a special Mass at 7p. Around 6:35p, a man in street clothes came into the small chapel, opened the tabernacle, threw some hosts into a pix, and closed the tabernacle. He did not remove his key. At this point, almost everyone had left the chapel and people were walking through the chapel to get to the main church.

At 6:55p, there was only two of us left in the chapel. I was seriously concerned because I was about to leave and the key was still in the tabernacle.

At this point what would you have done?

[pauses for a moment to give you time to reflect]

What I wanted to do:
Take the key, walk out to my car, drive home, and mail it anonymously to the Bishop asking him to please review the GIRM with the people in the parish who have keys to the tabernacle:
The Place for the Reservation of the Most Holy Eucharist

  1. In accordance with the structure of each church and legitimate local customs, the Most Blessed Sacrament should be reserved in a tabernacle in a part of the church that is truly noble, prominent, conspicuous, worthily decorated, and suitable for prayer.

The tabernacle should usually be the only one, be irremovable, be made of solid and inviolable material that is not transparent, and be locked in such a way that the danger of profanation is prevented to the greatest extent possible. Moreover, it is appropriate that before it is put into liturgical use, the tabernacle be blessed according to the rite described in the Roman Ritual.

What I ended up doing:
I asked the other lady who was there if she could watch the tabernacle for a moment as I was going to find out when the person was going to come back with the key. I found the man - apparently a Deacon at the parish - standing with a priest at the entrance of the church. I approached the priest and said, “Father, the key is in the tabernacle.” He said “I know.” I said, “But Father, no one is in there to watch the tabernacle.” He said, “Yes, it’s supposed to be there.” I said, “Um … okay Father. I just thought you would want to know.” He said, “Okay …” and rolled his eyes at me.

I was so upset I almost cried. This was a Mass where many non-parishioners were in attendance, and were using the Eucharistic chapel as a walk-thru. Any number of things could have happened to profane the host. However, at that point, I felt I was under obedience to the priest to leave the key and so I left it there.

I am trying to figure out what I should say in my letter to the Bishop, because our Bishop is a strong and orthodox priest. I feel confident he would want this issue addressed. I told my priest after Mass this morning, and asked him what I should have done, and without missing a beat, he said “Take the key. Walk it to the Priest and give it to him. It’s not stealing, it’s a rescue mission.”

So what would you have done?

The last thing I would have done if I didn’t even know who the deacon was is to even think of grabbing the tabernacle key and mailing it to the bishop with instuctions to him.

This post is suspiciously identical to this post:

I’ll say here what I said there. Anyone who would consider doing what you state here is rude, arrogant, and out of line.

The deacon was well aware of what he was doing, as was the priest. You are out of line.

I was thinking the same thing. :thumbsup:

“Threw some hosts”:confused:

OP I believe you don’t like this particular Church and are looking for something to gripe about.

The laity don’t have the right to just go up to the tabernacle and remove the key!

A couple of things. I wouldn’t take the key out of the tabernacle. It is possible the deacon is coming back or the priest told him to leave it there so he would know where it was. I definitely wouldn’t take it and mail it to the Bishop. What if it got lost in the mail. I am sure they have more keys but what if they didn’t.

That said, I think you did right by finding the priest and telling him. I think the priest could have been a little more considerate when answering you, the deacon also but we all sometimes have moments when we don’t answer people as politely as we should.

I like your priests answer also, knowing me, though, I would probably try to find the priest first because I would be very frightened to go and take a key out of the tabernacle without permission.

If I did not like this church, and this chapel, I have 3 churches within a 5 minute drive of it to go to. I would not go there 3-4 days a week on my lunch hour or after work to pray and adore.

So do you believe that leaving the tabernacle with the key inserted, alone, in a room with no windows, with a door that goes directly to the parking lot, is in line with the GIRM, and that is taking the most care possible to avoid the profination of the hosts?

I think the priest is the liturgist in his parish, not you.

I do also believe the priest and deacon were in line with the GIRM. They were both present and both preparing for Mass. Were any hosts profaned? No.

I stand by what I said. YOU would be out of line to do anything other than what you did. You approached the priest and deacon and gave your opinion. They are not obligated to agree with your interpretation of things, nor to act because you desire it.

I would have locked the tabernacle, removed the key and found a cleric to give it to or someone else in charge. Some parishes have sadly adopted this abominable (truly horrific!) practice of placing the key in the tabernacle before Mass to “expedite” things and it’s terribly wrong. Not only does it leave the Blessed Sacrament unsecured, it also screams “speed before reverence” to everyone that sees it.

This got to be a big deal in my parish. I complained (and so had others before me), to my pastor tried to stop the practice and the “special” laypersons pretty much ignored him! Finally I just told him nicely that I had a stamped envelope addressed to the bishop in the glove compartment of my truck. Knowing there was more than one key I told him I would lock the tabernacle, remove the key and mail it to the chancery on the way home.

Their final excuse? The laywomen ( :rolleyes: ) who accessed the tabernacle complained about not having anywhere to keep the key during Mass. The pastor attached a wristband to the key. The issue finally got resolved but it took gentle and not so gentle perseverance.

SHAME on him and I mean that. That sort of callous and cavalier attitude has taken a real toll on the faithful over the years. But worst of all it leaves the Blessed Sacrament unsecured and that’s just wrong. No way to put a positive spin on their actions.

Bravo to your pastor. As Catholic Christians we can’t go looking for fights but this situation demands action. If you write a letter to your bishop keep it charitable and short. Forget the reference to the GIRM. He knows what’s going on. It’s wrong and it needs to stop. Beware about just how tenaciously some will fight the bishop and possibly the priest on this one. Like it or not there is something truly wrong with any parish that allows the key to be left in the tabernacle. It got to the point at my parish that I truly began wondering about demonic possession (hold your laughs and rolling eyes) about those who were so resolved to ignore my pastor’s directions. It’s not a matter of convenience in my opinion. It’s a small but important display of “I couldn’t care less, I am going to do things my way” or even worse. There is no benefit to the practice.

For those that actually defend the practice, shame on you too. You’re putting misguided temporal power and authority ahead of the security of the Blessed Sacrament. Leaving the key in the tabernacle is precisely the sort of thing that facilitates a drop in the faithfuls’ belief in the Real Presence. “It’s no big deal.” Wrong! “It’s none of your business.” Wrong again!

What a quandary!

As a fractious Lutheran, I would tell you the duty obey ends when a wrong is being done.

Grabbing the key and mailing it would be prideful in my opinion, but approaching those who were responsible was correct. If you did it with humility, then the “rolling of the eyes” was uncalled for - I would hope that if I was wrong, I would respond with “Thank you for correcting me.”

Given that I’m Lutheran, it may be wise to take my advice as being the exact opposite of what you should have done. :smiley:

What was the problem? There was a parishner in the chapel with you watching the tabernacle. The mass was about to start and the priest, I am sure wanted the key in there so that he could get any hosts out of the tabernacle that he needed during the mass.

The man in street clothes taking the hosts in a pix may have been an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist taking communion to homebound.

Apparently the priest knew what was happening. Best not to take off with the key.

I don’t think its unreasonable to presume the tabernacle would have remained unlocked until after the mass that was just about to begin when you hunted down the deacon. You said there were many non-parishoners there, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t Catholic. I wouldn’t have jumped to the conclusion that there was a chance the Eucharist was in danger with so many people around. And I definitely wouldn’t have taken the key in case that prevented them from being able to lock the tabernacle after mass was complete, it could have created an even bigger problem than the one you were trying to address.

Which is exactly what I did. I went and found the priest. We all have temptations and actions. My temptation did not win, and I did what I felt was most appropriate. Had I done what I wanted to do, it would not have been taken in a spirit of charity at all. It would have only caused anger by the priest and deacon.

But that doesn’t negate the terror I had of thinking that the hosts, that the true presence of Christ, was left endangered, at risk of being profaned or stolen, and the parish priest had a complete ignorance of this reality. Hence my reaction of being upset.

I would do anything to protect the profanation of Christ in the sacrament. He’s really there. For anyone to have such a lackadasical attitude towards the safety of the Host breaks my heart. My parish priest keeps the key for the tabernacle in his pocket, and the only time it is taken out is during Mass or if he has to get a Host for the sick. And when he does that, he rubs his fingers in the holy Salt after he handles the hosts, and makes sure that everything is locked, and genuflects when he approaches the altar, when the door to the tabernacle opens, and when he is leaving the altar.

If you feel this strongly, perhaps you should write to your bishop asking for clarification of this section of the GIRM. Without going into any specific instance, simply ask him what is appropriate and what is not during the minutes leading up to Mass and during Mass.

Two questions. What made you use the term’ threw’ the Hosts into a pyx’? Don’t you see how inflammatory (and most likely, unjust) that is? You are saying straight away that the EMHC was irreverent and careless. What right have you to say that? Apart from anything else, I would hazard a guess that it is impossible to ‘throw’ Hosts into a pyx. Have you ever actually handled one? They are small, usually, just Host-size in diameter. Nobody would try to throw any Hosts into one as they would simply miss.

Second question . What’s ‘the holy salt’?

Actually, under Texas law (and I am assuming you are in Texas), that would be Theft. (Intent to deprive permanently isn’t a element of Theft in Texas.) You would probably have a decent chance at a necessity defense, but it would be misdemeanor theft.

That’s the other thing that my priest said - that the irreverence shown towards the Blessed Sacrament is one of the reasons why there are so many problems in the Catholic church today. In the book “Jesus, our Eucharistic Love”, the author speaks of the attitude of the Saints towards even one particle of the Eucharist:
"Once when St. Thérèse of Lisieux saw a small Particle of a Host on the paten after Holy Mass, she called the novices, and then carried the paten in procession into the sacristy with gracious, adoring comportment that was truly angelic. When St. Teresa Margaret found a Fragment of a Host on the floor near the altar, she broke into tears because she thought about the irreverence that might be shown to Jesus; and she knelt in adoration before the Particle until a priest came to take It and put It in the tabernacle."This is what offended me by the Deacon “throwing” the hosts into the pix. It was so cavalier, so much as an afterthought. The Cure of Ars says it best - He’s really there. My heart breaks for every act of irreverence ever done towards the Eucharist. Every time I receive in communion I offer it in reparation for all the sins and coldness that the Eucharist has ever received in the holy sacrament of Love. I had my conversion at the consecration at a Mass, and I’ve never once touched the Eucharist with my hands nor have I ever accepted the Eucharist from anyone except a priest or Deacon. To me, the sacrament is sacred, the most precious thing in this world - in its accident of bread, Christ comes to us and waits for us and our love, in every tabernacle and in every church.

And yet people seem to think it’s perfectly fine to leave him exposed, vulnerable, available to anyone with good or bad intentions who could walk away and do horrible and sacrilegious things not to the thought of God, or to the church of God, or to the books of God, but to God the Son Himself? I weep for the love of Christ, for his Sacred Heart, so disregarded in this world. Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.

Okay, would it be better to say “Dropped the hosts like Alka Seltzer into the pix”? It was irreverent, in my opinion. I know this is my opinion, and I’m aware that my “Alka Seltzer” is another’s “he was just doing his job”. And I’m okay with that.

And sorry, I mean to say water, not salt. At my parish, there is an Ablution Cup on the altar. According to the book “From Sanctuary to the Altar”:

The Church has great reverence for the Body and Blood of Christ, and so she is concerned that no particles of that heavenly food be lost or unintentionally profaned. The Council of Trent taught that even the tiniest particle of the Sacred Species is the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, substantially present in this sacrament.

Therefore, after the distribution of Holy Communion, whereas the priest-celebrant purifies his fingers with wine and again with wine and water, priests and deacons who distribute Holy Communion during the course of the Mass, as well as outside of Mass, will employ the Ablution Cup to purify their fingers of the sacred particles of the Host.

The Ablution Cup, filled with water, is typically a small bowl-like container, located near the tabernacle. After the distribution of Holy Communion, the minister of Holy Communion, namely the priest and the deacon, returns the Ciborium to the tabernacle, dips his thumb and index into the water held by the ablution cup, wipes his fingers on the purificator, and returns to the sacristy.

Yes. And I didn’t do it, so I will be sleeping in my own bed tonight.

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