SPLIT: Hosts remaining after Mass questions

What you describe has also, as I understand it, been my experience for most my life.

But I think there are a lot of things to think and reflect on here. Why have so many of us been raised doing things this way? Was it a conscious decision, with an end or goal in mind, or just the way things have always been done without question?

For instance…

What’s the deal with the tabernacle during Mass? The Church clearly teaches that the tabernacle should not normally be turned to as a source for communion during Mass; so, assuming we’re taking the Church seriously in our liturgical celebrations, why is there some posture queue that depends on the tabernacle door being shut (when it shouldn’t be opened or shut at all during Mass according to the norms of the Church)?

Uniformity is often an expressed goal…but how important is it? As I understand things, UNITY is essential and most important, distinct from uniformity. Granted, uniformity can often be a valuable thing…but I’d say only insofar as it served unity.



For myself, I was raised by very devout Catholic parents who told me that Jesus was present in the tabernacle and that when I entered the Church I should genuflect toward the tabernacle as a sign of my love and adoration of Jesus, I understood that. So for me, I would say that I know what I am doing and why.

As far as not using the tabernacle during Mass, I understand that, however, after Holy Communion, the remaining Hosts are to be put in the tabernacle, so then, the door has to be opened and then shut.

Thanks allhers. I was raised by devout Catholic parents too. Yes, certainly, if the Tabernacle is in the main worship space (which is an option not a preference or requirement) Catholics are taught to genuflect at the beginning and end of (but not during) their reason for being there.

I agree 100% with you, the Tabernacle should be used if there are leftover “hosts”. The problem I frequently observe is that previously consecrated hosts are taken out of the Tabernacle during Mass which is clearly contrary to what the Church desires.


Well, what do you think should happen with the remaining Hosts in the tabernacle?

I don’t want to speak for diggerdomer, but from what I’ve read about this, it should be rare that very many are left over. In fact, those that are, are to be used for taking Holy Communion to the sick and those who can’t make it to Mass, like those that are too advanced in age to safely be on the road, or those who don’t want to be there because they have lots of medical equipment to carry around, although that is even becoming more rare, as I see people in wheel-chair with more modern and more portable medical equipment these days.

In any case, only hosts that will be used for that Mass ought to be consencrated, I have actually been to some smaller Parishes in little towns where they have a golden dish set out with a bowl of unconcencrated hosts next to it, if you are going to go to Holy Communion they have a little sign next it to that request that you put a host on the golden plate. I don’t know if that would work for larger Parishes or not but if its allowed, perhaps that would be one way to not have so many afterwards.

I think what the Church thinks. Hosts in the Tabernacle are for giving communion to those who couldn’t be at the celebration of Mass. They are not intended to be used AT Mass.


I believe you are mistaken.

Even with care taken not to have too many Hosts consecrated at each Mass, it is not alway easy to predict how many will be receiving Communion especially when there is a large number in attendance. Normally there will be some Hosts put into the tabernacle after each Mass. The Hosts used for those in attendance at Mass are a little more substantial than the ones used for the homebound. The Hosts for the homebound are very thin. More thin Hosts can fit into the pyx than the regular Hosts used at Mass.

I don’t understand what you’re saying.

Why do you believe I am mistaken? Meaning–what Church teaching do you refer to in order to correct me and help my understanding.


I believe that you have misworded the part of your post that is in bold. While it is true that the priest should try to consecrate only enough hosts for that Mass, there is usually some remaining particulary as you have said, in large parishes. What is in the tabernacle can be used at another Mass. The Hosts that we use for the homebound thinner.

What church teaching do you refer to when you say that the remaining Hosts in the tabernacle can never be used at Mass?

Meaning, digger, if your logic were adhered to, that there are almost ALWAYS, regardless of the level of care taken, surplus hosts left over after Mass, more than will usually be used in visits to the sick and so on.

If none of these are used in subsequent Masses, you would simply have more and more and more hosts accumulating in the Tabernacle - to what end?

They need to be consumed within a certain amount of time. Even the longest-lasting Hosts do decompose, which is something we can’t be permitting to happen to Our Lord’s Body. So they need to be distributed in subsequent Masses.

I never said they can never be used at Mass. Please, be more careful.

I refer to the GIRM (General Instruction of the Roman Missal) 85: It is most desirable that the faithful, just as the priest himself is bound to do, receive the Lord’s Body from hosts consecrated at the same Mass and that, in the instances when it is permitted, they partake of the chalice (cf. below, no. 283), so that even by means of the signs Communion will stand out more clearly as a participation in the sacrifice actually being celebrated.


Meaning, the Church’s clear preference is that those receiving communion at Mass are receiving what was actually consecrated at that Mass…not “leftovers.”


I disagree that my logic would result in what you claim. Please clarify.

If there are more hosts or bread consecrated than needed, the “extras” can be consumed by ministers at the Mass, they don’t need to be put in the Tabernacle. Of course, putting them in the Tabernacle is fine.

Yes, what is the “end” of accumulating consecrated bread or hosts? None, except to take to those who couldn’t be present at Mass or for Viaticum. These are limited needs, so it makes sense to conduct Eucharistic liturgies to avoid having an inordinate amount of “leftovers.”


Yep. And the Church’s clear preference is for at least some Latin, chant, and a few other things. Does that mean that those who don’t use Latin are bad or wrong? No, they are well and truly permitted, albeit discouraged, from doing so, so they are not wrong.

If my husband told me that he preferred me to wear a particular outfit for a particular occasion, would I be wrong for using my own judgement and wearing something different? Of course not.

Your relationship to your husband is not equivalent or analogous to your relationship to the Church.

Is it?

Why should they be consumed by those who have no need to consume them (unlike with excess Precious Blood, which does need to be consumed at that Mass), when they can be used at another Mass instead? :shrug:

It appears to me to be more respectful of Our Lord’s body to reserve it for use in future Masses than to have the EMHCs treating Hosts like leftover Jatz crackers after a cocktail party or something.

Like all analogies, it’s not perfect, but the Church is certainly capable of commanding us to consume all leftover Hosts at Mass, as it has done with leftover Precious Blood, if it is of any great import that we do so.

And She is equally capable of leaving certain disciplinary matters up to individual convenience and preference - such as whether to attend daily Mass or not, whether to confess face-to-face or behind a screen, whether to confess weekly, monthly or yearly and so on.

Yes, as I said, the Church does not command that consecrated bread (hosts) be consumed at the end of Mass. I have no problem with that.

But the Church has not left the issue up to “individual convenience and preference.” The GIRM passage I cited indicates the Church’s clear preference. Not a command, but a clear preference. So, if you’re going against the Church’s clear preference, why is that? It may be legitimate, of course…but all else being equal why would you choose to go against the Church’s clear preference? Do you known something the Church doesn’t? The examples you cite are not on par with the issue at hand, given what the GIRM instructs.


Preference, no, you’re right. Convenience - why not? If a priest is extremely elderly and incapacitated then it certainly might be more convenient for him not to distribute communion by himself, but he may let others do so while he sits down. That sort of convenience is perfectly good reason to ignore a Church ‘preference’ that priests distribute communion themselves.

Why are you so intent on assuming the worst - ie that all else IS equal in most situations where priests consecrate lots of hosts and that they are DELIBERATELY choosing to go against the Church’s preference? For starters I’ve seen plenty of churches that seem not to resort to the Tabernacle before Communion at each Mass - including those that use the method where individuals will place their own unconsecrated host in a bowl at the Church door before entering so the number is approximately right.

Neither you nor I are privy to all the possible reasons why priests consecrate the number of hosts that they do. Nor does a priest need to explain his reasons to you or anyone apart from his Bishop should the Bishop become concerned about it.

At least one situation where I can see it making lots of sense is that of large Churches with many Masses of a Sunday. One chuch in this diocese has 11 Masses each and every Sunday.

See, attendance at each particular Mass in such churches can vary dramatically from week to week, I know this from my own experience. A Mass time that is packed one week can be much less well-attended the next. And vice versa. So there’s simply no way for a priest of judging with any accuracy how many people will turn up at a given Mass on a given Sunday.

And the priest always needs to consecrate enough so that he won’t run out - and it’s not like in a large Mass he can a) take tiem out to get an accurate head count of the congregation AND b) painstakingly and timeconsumingly measure out with exactitude the number of Hosts required. So the end result will frequently be excess.

Rather than go through the wasteful process of consuming ALL the excess hosts after EVERY single one of those 11 Masses - it makes incredibly good sense to reserve the remainder from the earlier Masses instead, so that priests at the later Masses can safely consecrate lesser numbers of Hosts. :shrug:


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.