Question about valid matter for consecration

  1. A Protestant apologist thought he could confound Catholics by suggesting the following: What if someone put arsenic into the wine before consecration? The priest goes through mass, pronouncing “This is the cup of my blood.” When the faithful receive from the cup, your Catholic Blood of Christ kills them.

A Catholic apologist I know answered that arsenic isn’t valid matter for consecration, so the cup contains both the Blood of Christ, and separately, poison.

  1. When someone adds sugar or yeast to the wheat that is to be consecrated, the altered wheat is no longer valid matter for consecration, and the words of the priest do not change the altered wheat. So we do not have the Lord’s Body at all.

But what is the difference between #1 and #2? Why does the wine consecrate but not the wheat? Am I getting this wrong? I’m hoping experienced apologists can help me with this. Pax Christi…

I don’t know that I have an answer for you, but let’s start thinking our way through this…

First off, the assertion that “the Blood of Christ kills you” is absurd on its very face. It’s the arsenic that kills, not the consecrated wine.

Second, there’s the question of how the arsenic is distributed through the wine. Does it become part of the wine itself, or is it now a mixture (homogenous or otherwise) of wine and arsenic? Does the doping of the wine with arsenic change the nature of the matter?

Third, there’s a difference between adding something to the ingredients that become wine and adding something to the final product itself. Likewise, you’re asserting that you’re adding sugar or yeast to the flour, not the finished product of Eucharistic bread, right? Therefore, the bread is invalid matter from its very origins as ‘bread’.

Finally, there’s the question of intent, it seems. If someone caused the matter to be invalid, then the Eucharist, properly speaking, would not be confected. Yet, we would assert that God would supply the graces that would have been gained through reception of the Eucharist, if it had been present. (I’m not asserting ecclesia supplet, by the way. ;))

Still knocking this one about, in my mind, but those are at least my initial thoughts…

If the priest or a server with the flu accidentally sneezed on the wine before consecration, would Jesus give those receiving the flu or would the flu germs? Just because a foreign element has been introduced that doesn’t mean Jesus is doing the harm. In the first case I doubt that the wine would be valid matter because it had been deliberately altered,

The addition of sugar or yeast to wheat bread would not make it invalid matter. The essential requirement is wheat bread. Unleavened bread is preferred in the Latin Church.

Similarly the thin coating found on most mass produced communion hosts to discourage the bread from fraying or creating a lot of crumbs does not invalidate the matter.

Poisoned wine is no longer fit for consumption, and would be invalid matter for the consecration.

From Redemptionis Sacramentum
vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccdds/documents/rc_con_ccdds_doc_20040423_redemptionis-sacramentum_en.html

  1. The Matter of the Most Holy Eucharist

[48.] The bread used in the celebration of the Most Holy Eucharistic Sacrifice must be unleavened, purely of wheat, and recently made so that there is no danger of decomposition.[123] It follows therefore that bread made from another substance, even if it is grain, or if it is mixed with another substance different from wheat to such an extent that it would not commonly be considered wheat bread, does not constitute valid matter for confecting the Sacrifice and the Eucharistic Sacrament.[124] It is a grave abuse to introduce other substances, such as fruit or sugar or honey, into the bread for confecting the Eucharist. Hosts should obviously be made by those who are not only distinguished by their integrity, but also skilled in making them and furnished with suitable tools.[125]

[49.] By reason of the sign, it is appropriate that at least some parts of the Eucharistic Bread coming from the fraction should be distributed to at least some of the faithful in Communion. “Small hosts are, however, in no way ruled out when the number of those receiving Holy Communion or other pastoral needs require it”,[126] and indeed small hosts requiring no further fraction ought customarily to be used for the most part.

[50.] The wine that is used in the most sacred celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice must be natural, from the fruit of the grape, pure and incorrupt, not mixed with other substances.[127] During the celebration itself, a small quantity of water is to be mixed with it. Great care should be taken so that the wine intended for the celebration of the Eucharist is well conserved and has not soured.[128] It is altogether forbidden to use wine of doubtful authenticity or provenance, for the Church requires certainty regarding the conditions necessary for the validity of the sacraments. Nor are other drinks of any kind to be admitted for any reason, as they do not constitute valid matter.

My comment on adding sugar to the bread supposes the bread is still considered bread, and not some sort of sweet roll, tart, cookie, etc.

I found this: ewtn.com/library/Liturgy/zlitur255.htm

The most recent official declaration on this point stems from the instruction “Redemptionis Sacramentum,” No. 50, which basically sums up earlier laws and the Code of Canon Law, No. 924:

“The wine that is used in the most sacred celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice must be natural, from the fruit of the grape, pure and incorrupt, not mixed with other substances. During the celebration itself, a small quantity of water is to be mixed with it. Great care should be taken so that the wine intended for the celebration of the Eucharist is well conserved and has not soured…”

I think adding arsenic would alter the wine (ha! get it?! ALTER) enough to make it be invalid, and therefore no transubstantiation would take place.

I feel bad for all the dead people, though…

In this Rite, the only valid matter for Eucharistic bread is pure wheat flour plus water, plus heat and baking time. Anything else added or any yeast leavening, and it’s not valid for Communion. Leavened bread is never valid, because we are making a liturgical statement that Jesus is our New Passover.

My understanding is that in the East, the only valid matter for Eucharistic bread is pure wheat flour plus water plus yeast, plus heat and baking time. Unleavened bread is never valid for Communion, because they are making a liturgical statement that they don’t follow the Jewish Law.

Welcome to the power of binding and loosing.

Both ways of doing it are valid where they belong, for ancient reasons. Doing stuff at random is playbaby stuff, simulating the Sacrament and trying to play God.

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