MERGED: What happens if we run out of Hosts at Mass?

If the supply of Hosts at Mass runs low, of course the priest or Eucharistic minister may break Hosts in half (or quarters, etc) to satisfy demand. And that’s fine - Jesus is fully present in the smallest piece. Nobody gets “more Jesus” or “less Jesus.”

But that system really works well if there is only the priest distributing, as he can gauge both the supply and the demand, and he can sense when it is necessary to start breaking Hosts.

But with multiple people distributing the Host it gets more complicated, because nobody really knows how many Hosts are available in total. I have observed instances where one minister “runs out” and withdraws, allowing other ministers to fill the void. The first minister simply assumes that other ministers are able to meet the need (and, so far, this has worked, in my observation), and no Hosts are ever broken.

But what happens if everyone runs out at the same time? (assuming there are no reserve Hosts in the Tabernacle)

For sake of discussion, we will assume that the Precious Blood has also been depleted (which I have observed numerous times). And we’ll assume nobody has taken a Host in a pyx to deliver to a homebound person.

It would seem to me that proper procedure would be for EMCHs to withdraw as their supplies run out and to whisper to the priest(s) that they are running out so the priest can begin breaking up the hosts he has remaining.

I am not sure if there’s a spelled out protocol on this.

As an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist, I can tell you we are trained to be watching things like supply/demand. It is true that precious blood sometimes runs out first. I suppose some people may go away without the Eucharist, but the priest is suppose to leave at least one in the tabernacle.

If the priest has not had a second mass in the day, he could have a second mass afterwards and consecrate more hosts ( assuming there are extra host in supply that were not consectrated).

What would you do?

In our parish, each EMHC acts independently to a certain extent, in that they have their own line of people coming, so can look down the line from time to time and gauge whether they need to start breaking Hosts. There is the option of getting more from the priest’s ciborium, but that means a delay and people kept standing waiting and getting worried, so best avoided.

Interesting thread! I can recall one specific instance in my parish where hosts literally ran out. The solution was for people to take communion in the form of Precious Blood only. That’s theologically sound and 100% cool.

But! IF it happens that both Precious Body and Precious Blood are all distributed, what would be the procedure for the priest? Would an entire new Mass be required? Would a “restart” at the Eucharistic Prayer give us validly consecrated communion?

I am fairly certain that EMHCs are NOT supposed to break the hosts. I know that this was declared illicit during the Fraction Rite, was it not? Would it be any different during the Communion procession? EMHCs are, after all extraordinary ministers of Communion

In such a case the remaining people would not be able to receive Holy Communion at that Mass because it is not allowed to recite the Eucharistic Prayer outside of a full Mass. If they really wanted to receive Holy Communion they would have to attend another Mass, but they are not bound to because they have met their Sunday Obligation by attending Mass.

Extra-ordinary means “without orders” (eg non-ordained). EMCH’s cannot celebrate/consecrate the Eucharist, and the Fraction is part of the celebration. Not sure that prohibition can be construed to prohibit breaking hosts to extend the distribution. But I don’t have any inside information one way or the other.

Just to point out, there’s never any obligation for someone to receive communion, besides once a year, during easter. If they really wanted to recieve commuion, they’d have to find another Mass.

Or another parish. They wouldn’t have to stay at another whole Mass.

I am one of the diocesan trainers for EMHCs and we do teach them that they are allowed to break the hosts if they see they are running short. This is not the same as the fraction rite. At the fraction rite only the priest’s host is broken. It is a liturgical act that is for the priest alone. Distribution of communion is different and does not fall under the same regulation.

You simply like Jesus pray over the last one and God will multiply them. And, for the wine, full jars with water and pray, God will turn such into wine. Or like the rest of us mortals you run out to the pantry or store.

For the past 2 weeks, our church has run out of Hosts and last week, the Wine as well during our 10:00 am Mass. This has been in association with a HUGE increase in attendance at that particular Mass (which is probably a good thing, but…). This also happened on Ash Wednesday at the morning Mass which also happened to be a school Mass. We had many more adults in attendance than would normally come to the morning Mass, and more than in previous years. We did have plenty of ashes, though!

Of course, one can always receive under one Species or the other-- it’s not necessary to receive both, and one can receive spiritual Communion if necessary… but is receiving Spiritual Communion under those circumstances the same as (or as “valid”) as receiving the physical Species?

And what is the “proper” thing for the clergy to do if they do run out? Of course, they have a supply of unconsecrated hosts (in the Sacristry, I believe), which would be for distribution at later Masses and for the weekday Masses, etc. If they suspect that there might have been a misestimation of the number needed for a particular Mass, can someone retrieve extras from “storage” and add those to the ones being distributed? Or does someone (another priest, for instance) consecrate those hosts “in the wings” and then bring them to the EM’s or celebrant to be added in?

How does that work?

And we are truly thankful for the spike in our attendance! We wouldn’t be running out if people weren’t coming to Mass, right?? :wink:

In Christ,
~Spoken4

It is strictly forbidden to consecrate extra hosts or extra wine after the Eucharistic Prayer. Simply put: if you run out, you run out. No one (apart from the celebrating priest) has to receive Communion, so if they run out, you are not guilty of anything, nor do you have to attend another Mass: your obligation is to pray the Mass, not to receive Communion.

Thanks, Japhy-- I thought about that last part, receiving Communion, when I thought about those folks who for whatever reason are not able to receive Communion yet still attend Mass.

I think if a married couple goes to Mass together as they should, only the husband or the wife should recieve the Eucharist because as 1:Corinthians 7-14 points out, the husband is santificied through the wife and vice versa.
Therefore, we wouldn’t have to worry about the Host running out:thumbsup:

You have taken that passage entirely out of the context in which it is written. St. Paul was talking about a question the Corinthians had about a believer being married to an unbeliever. If the unbelieving spouse did not wish to separate from the believer, the believer was to remain married to them and the unbeliever would be sanctified through the believer. If the unbelieving spouse did not wish to remain married to the believing spouse, they may divorce. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the Eucharist.

One cannot receive the Eucharist in the stead of another person.

Can’t the priest start to break the hosts in half? I have seen this done on occasion. There is no rule that you have to receive a full hosts. In fact, wouldn’t breaking the hosts into even three parts be alright if it were necessary to ensure all the faithful could receive?

The Host can be broken into as many pieces as necessary (or possible). Receiving a fragment of the Host is sufficient: Jesus Christ is present wholly and entirely – Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity – in a single fragment of the Host and in a single drop of the Precious Blood.

The above depends on whether or not home made bread is used. I’ve been to Masses where we’ve had to sing the Agnus Dei multiple times until all the Bread was broken, because there were multiple loaves of unleavened bread used.

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