So I had received the Eucharist about 10 minutes, and then I walked into my car.
Inside the back row I wiped my mouth and noticed a white speck that was about a half -cm in diameter. It was wet, and I thought it could be part of the Eucharist, so I decided to investigate. Before I could decide anything, however, the car hit a bump and the speck fell into the carpet. I checked the carpet 3 times, possibly even 4 times, throughout the day/weekend (this was a week ago) without any luck. I, being ashamed, even lied to my parents about what I was doing (they said “Why are you in the car” and I said “nothing”.
I eventually asked one of my parents what should I do, and she said that I was worring to much and the speck probably wasn’t even the Eucharist.
This calmed me down some, but now it’s a week later and I’m still worrying. Should I do anything else, such as vacuum the back seat and then let the contents dissolve and then bury them?? Or am I just being too scrupulous?
I could probably just be being too scrupulous, but you can never be too safe.
I don’t have any advice, I just wanted to let you know I am praying for the situation.
May the most holy, most sacred, most adorable, most incomprehensible and unutterable Name of God be always praised, blessed, loved, adored and glorified in Heaven, on earth, and under the earth, by all the creatures of God, and by the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Amen.
Do NOT bury the contents! It is expressly forbidden in canon law to bury the Eucharist. A better option would be to respectfully let the contents soak in a container of water. Once the particle, if it is there, has had a chance to dissolve, then it will cease to be the Body and Blood of Christ because the matter will have lost its form as bread.
There is a special sink in sacristies called a sacrarium that is used to dispose of the water used to purify the vessels after Mass. It’s drain goes directly into the ground. But it must NEVER be used to dispose of particles of the Eucharist, or the Precious Blood. Particles of the Host must first lose the appearance of bread, and drops of the Precious Blood must first lose the appearance of wine before being disposed in the sacrarium. Perhaps that would be the place to dispose of the vacuumed contents after they’ve been soaked to dissolve the particle.
If either particles of the Host or any amount of the Precious Blood are deliberately disposed in the sacrarium without first losing their form–and thus ceasing to be the Body and Blood of Christ–the person doing so is automatically excommunicated–with the ability to lift the excommunication reserved to the Holy See–if they knew at the time that they did it that they would be excommunicated. If the person is a cleric, they can be further punished by removal from the clerical state. That’s how seriously the Church views the matter.
The key here being that it must be deliberate, not accidental, and that the person knows ahead of time that they should not do this. In the quoted text below, I’ve added emphases to the conjunction or to point out that it is not necessary for the person to have a sacrilegious purpose. All other emphases are mine, also.
a. Taking away or retaining the consecrated species for sacrilegious ends, or the throwing them away.
This is the most serious crime mentioned, one that if done knowingly with full consent immediately earns an automatic excommunication reserved to the Holy See. This means that neither a priest nor a bishop can validly absolve a person from this excommunication. The Holy Father has committed the faculty to absolve this crime to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and it alone. In an earlier paragraph of Redemptionis Sacramentum this matter is treated at some length. It states,
[107.] In accordance with what is laid down by the canons, “one who throws away the consecrated species or takes them away or keeps them for a sacrilegious purpose, incurs a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See; a cleric, moreover, may be punished by another penalty, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state”. To be regarded as pertaining to this case is any action that is voluntarily and gravely disrespectful of the sacred species. Anyone, therefore, who acts contrary to these norms, for example casting the sacred species into the sacrarium or in an unworthy place or on the ground, incurs the penalties laid down.
****  Cf. Code of Canon Law, can. 1367.
****  Cf. Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts, Response to dubium, 3 July 1999: AAS 91 (1999) p. 918.
Canon 1367* A person who throws away the consecrated species or who takes them or retains them for a sacrilegious purpose incurs an automatic (latae sententiae) excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See; if a cleric, he can be punished with another penalty including dismissal from the clerical state.
As the authentic interpretation of canon 1367 issued in 1999 and cited above first noted, pouring the Precious Blood down the sacrarium (the special sink in the sacristy that goes into the ground), or onto the ground, or similar actions with respect to the Sacred Host, incur an automatic excommunication.
This thread caught my eye and so I read through, initially thinking, the OP clearly did not do this with intent, and it was entirely an accident. Therefore, no malcontent was present and thus “Jesus forgives”. Right?
I also concluded before reading the replies, that yes, the OP was being scrupulous, but should do his/her best to find the remainder of the Eucharist, but if not possible, what else would be humanly possible? To completely tear apart the car?
Then I read that he/she could be excommunicated!!! I do not see any willful intent to perform sacrilege on the Eucharist or deny Jesus. When I read things like this, it truly makes me question everything and throws my scrupulosity into overdrive, and for all intents and purposes, makes me believe that no matter what I ever do, NOTHING will ever be good enough for the Catholic Church and therefore nothing will ever be good enough for God. It seems much like our own government, with so many laws that no man could ever know or obey them all, because of the sheer amount.
I thought God was a merciful, infinitely loving God, full of Grace, and for the CC to excommunicate someone on the grounds of an accident and a mistake honestly makes me very upset. I mean, of course, I truly believe in transubstantiation and the presence of Jesus, but to condemn and excommunicate based on an accident does not fit with the God I know or understand. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?! If he/she cannot find the particle, he/she will need to essentially soak the car in water, ruining the car, is that what is intended?
NO Excommunication there!!! He was just trying to do his best to protect the fallen particle of the Eucharist. I give him much credit for his devotion. But your going a bit far with your criticism of the Catholic Church and it doesn’t fit the Church I know and love. We should be able to recognize when someone is going to far either way and chalk it up to misunderstanding of whats right. Don’t blame the Church for our human weakness. It is then our responsibility to find out what is really right. God Bless, Memaw
Memaw, please let me say this. I am a Catholic convert, and I truly felt that my conversion was led by the Holy Spirit. I believe, I truly do. I love Jesus and want to be fully whatever He wants me to be, as fallen and imperfect as I am.
But maybe we can agree that the post about the excommunication was a bit much. Sure, the willful destruction of the Eucharist could be considered grounds for it, but the OP was not aware of what to do and not aware of the protocol. I think that was maybe an overreaction to the situation more so than my post, and maybe it is just my anger at how little the CC does to teach these things to people. Clearly in my opinion, this board wouldn’t be necessary if we all knew exactly the proper interpretation of the Bible was. We wouldn’t need apologists, we wouldn’t need Canon lawyers, we wouldn’t need councils or tribunals or anything else because it would just be clear. Obviously that is not the case, and for a person who grew up Lutheran to convert, simply going through RCIA is not enough. In fact, I don’t believe most cradle Catholics know enough. I’m left to figure out most of this myself because there is no help in the Church, no one to explain this and there are hundreds of different (some right and some wrong) opinions here. Even with explanations, things still aren’t clear.
Sometimes I simply want to throw my hands in the air, and say, there is literally NO way God that I can abide by and know all the CCC’s 1000+ pages, all of Canon law, etc. Do you see why I can get irritated when someone screams EXCOMMUNICATION when the OP had an accident?
Sorry for what seems like a rant, and please don’t take this personally, I am just thoroughly frustrated trying to “discern” all of this. Even with prayer, it doesn’t mean I get full discernment, or any discernment. It seems that no matter what I do, I violate something in the CC and that makes me very discouraged. I recently found out that I cannot attend a friend’s wedding because she not getting married in the church (through a priest). I would have gone and of course that would have been a sin. Although not a mortal sin because I didn’t have full knowledge.
I was more used to living God’s will through the laws written on man’s heart, not through the CC and that takes time to get used to. To me, I believe God wrote on man’s heart things like love each other, respect your parents, worship God, don’t steal, lie, cheat on your spouse. But I don’t believe He wrote on our hearts things like don’t bury the Eucharist or the church will excommunicate you.
You have done the right thing by being concerned if it was a piece of the Eucharist or not. Are you 100% sure it was a piece of the Eucharist?
Now, i wonder if God, under these circumstances would change that piece of Eucharist back to an ordinary bit of bread? I would like to think that he would as you have clearly done all you can to find it.
Please dont worry too much. If it really concerns you then see your priest and explain what has happened.
Take a deep breath, calm down and don’t be so hard on yourself or us. I don’t know how old you are but you will never learn everything in a day. I’m 78 years old and still learning.(And I taught CCD for over 20 years.) Every day brings new surprises. And yes, we do need those things you mentioned, Canon Lawyers, Apologist etc, for the very reason you realized. We don’t know everything and some may not even try to learn but we still trust the Church to bring us to the TRUTH when we are willing to learn. Don’t let our weakness get under your skin or discourage you. Go at your own pace with God’s help. The Holy Spirit brought you this far and will be with you always. I would suggest if you can, go spend some time in Church with the Blessed Sacrament. Quietly, peacefully and prayerfully enjoy HIS company. God Bless, Memaw
Your reaction is understandable because the Church does not throw out “excommunication” for situations described in this thread. What’s irritating you are armchair apologists and canon-lawyer-wannabes indiscriminately quoting Canon Law without fully understanding the mind of the Church.
While we should indeed exercise due care of the sacred species, and Catholic Joe on the street knows this, or ought to, the Church does not expect her faithful, who act in good faith and good conscience to bend over into knots over every single unforeseen situation.
So let’s go back to the OP. He accidentally wiped up something white. That alone is suspect: how likely is it for a piece of the Eucharist to somehow remain wet and white outside one’s lips? It could indeed have been the Eucharist due to some odd circumstance, but likely?
But let’s grant that it was the Eucharist. It was an accident (no intention, to excommunication is out of the question). It was wet, happened over a week ago, and despite the OPs best efforts, he could no longer find it and yet still worries people might step on it.
Once the Eucharist loses the appearance of bread, the Real Presence is gone. If the OP can longer find it, it can be reasonably presumed that the speck has dried up and disintegrated, thereby losing the form of bread (no, invisible particles and molecules do not count). He has done his due diligence and can do nothing more. If he want to vacuum and dissolve the contents before pouring them in a safe place in the ground, that’s prudent.
From what I could see, this story is over, the OP needs do nothing more, and is guiltless of any sin.
While it is patently true that the OP is not excommunicated, Memaw’s advice to bury the Blessed Sacrament was quite imprudent. Here on the forums, we have all heard horror stories of hosts snatched up in a wad of Kleenex and/or buried in a potted plant somewhere in a retirement home. It is incumbent on all Catholics to ensure this kind of desecration does not happen, and the matter is serious enough that the Church in her widsom prescribes excommunications for it.
Again, the excommunication aspect would only come into play if someone were to willingly and knowingly want to desecrate the Eucharist, right? If a God-fearing Catholic who had no former knowledge of the matter (burying is wrong) and did out of quickness want to do the right thing and revere it and assumed that burying was the best thing, you are saying that the person would be excommunicated?
I mean, does any of us know the entire U.S. flag code? In my example, the code would be akin to the CCC. If a veteran who served in WWII who honored and respected his country and the flag, who never knew flag code, but mistakenly buried it, thinking this is respectable since we bury our dead, and wanted no disrespect to the flag, should we as a country force him to leave the US?
As a final note, I am not here to tear down the CC, but rather come to fulfillment and this is my way of doing so. I puts forth the final truth, someway, somehow. But when I do not understand something, I get frustrated, and oft times there seems too many questions.
Memaw said no such thing. The suggestion was to vacuum then bury the dirt, not the Eucharist. It might have been more complete to suggest dissolving the dirt in water then pouring it out in a safe place on the ground, but that does not make Memaw’s suggestion wrong. The presumption, which is based on the OP’s own description, what that nothing could be found, which leads to the reasonable conclusion that the Real Presence was no longer present. It would not have been a case of “burying the Blessed Sacrament”.
Here is what Memaw said: “I think you should vacuum, then bury the contents right away, like you said.”
Now she did not say to bury the dust, she said to bury the contents. If the Eucharist was not present in these “contents”, then there would be no reason to treat them specially. So why bury what appears to be dust? That makes no sense.
The truth of the law is that excommunication is rare and frequently does not apply. There are many “escape hatches” that rescue an innocent party, and even a guilty party, from excommunication. It is in many ways the “ultimate penalty” and so it is not frequently applied. Have no fear of that. But that still doesn’t mean we can go around in ignorance and snatch up the Eucharist in a Kleenex or “bury” it in potted plants.
It made sense to me… The OP already clearly stated that he could not discern any particle of the Eucharist from the dust in the car. That makes it pretty clear to my hearing that it has lost the “appearance of bread”. The most helpful comment on the matter was provided by Matt Collins.
Nonetheless, I don’t think it nonsensical or incredibly scrupulous to vacuum the car and treat the dust as if there were distinguishable particles of the Eucharist. How many times do we drop the Eucharist in receiving or after? Almost never for most of us… Having the sensitivity to treat the Eucharist with such reverence fosters a proper disposition to receive.
The comment about burying a host is in a potted plant has nothing to do with situation.