Valid Sacrament?


My parish has an elderly retired priest who offers Mass regularly. He only offers the Eucharist under the single form, bread/Body, but of course consecrates the wine to the Precious Blood as well. Last night, once he/we said, “Behold the Lamb of God…/Lord I am not worthy…” He consumed the Body, as always but completely forgot about the Blood and offered communion to our Extrodinary Ministers (he physically has extreme trouble giving Communion to the people due to his knees) and then they to the congregation. It was not until the clean up time that he drank from the Chalice. Was this just a minor mistake or was the Sacrament invalidated?

On a second note, if this does not invalidate the Sacrament, what does (so that I need not ask any time Fr. makes a mistake)?


Hi. I can help you out with this. I’m a priest, and I also happen to teach sacramental theology. This happened to me once. I had consecrated the Eucharist, consumed the host, and something happened in the church (I don’t even remember what, if it was a medical situation or something). I got distracted (yes, priests get distracted at Mass, too!) and forgot to consume the Precious Blood. I did not realize the mistake until I returned from distributing Holy Communion and began purifying. I then consumed the Precious Blood, completing the sacrifice. It wasn’t ideal, but we all make mistakes. My advice is to have patience with your dear retired priest. Be grateful that he is there.

As for your question, no it does not make the sacrament invalid. For a sacrament to be invalid, an awful lot has to go wrong. For starters, the Church ALWAYS assumes the validity of a sacrament. This is why the annulment process can be so drawn out. The assumption is that a marriage is valid, and it has to be proven to be invalid.

What makes a sacrament valid is a valid minister using valid matter and valid form, and intending to do what the Church does. So, in this situation, you had a validly ordained priest, so you have a valid minister. I’m assuming he used unleavened, wheat bread and grape wine, which is the valid matter of the Eucharist. Likewise, I’m assuming he said the correct words, which would be valid form. And unless there is evidence to the contrary, we have to assume that he had the right intention to do what the Church does in celebrating the Eucharist. So, all four elements were met.

Now, there IS requirement that the priest (and all concelebrating priests) consume BOTH species of the Eucharist. No such requirement exists for the laity. Normally, this is done immediately before distributing communion to the faithful. But, to NOT do so would not make the sacrament invalid.

I hope this helps.



Thank you. If it came off that we are not grateful for our retired priest, I apologize. If he messed up the Eucharistic prayer, would there be a concern, and how much would indicate a concern? Recently he skipped a paragraph or two (though not last night)?

Also, we have a priest in our diocese who does not consume the Body due to a life threatening allergy. (This was brought up to me after I posted.) I had always assumed that when he ministered the Sacrament, that it was valid. Am I mistaken? Thanks again.


If it came off that we are not grateful for our retired priest, I apologize.

Oh, don’t worry. It didn’t come across as ungrateful at all. My comment was just an add-on. As a young priest, I’m indebted to retired priests who can cover for me when I want to go on vacation, for instance.

If he messed up the Eucharistic prayer, would there be a concern, and how much would indicate a concern?

To be honest, there is a constant debate among which parts of the Eucharistic Prayer need to be prayed for the sacrament to be validly confected. You’ll find theologians with differing opinions. Some say you just have to get the words of consecration right. Others say you can’t change a word, for the Eucharistic Prayer is an organic whole, and saying, “Well, you can change this part but not that part,” leads exactly to your question. What, exactly can you change without affecting validity?

To be honest, the answer is above my pay grade. As I said, the Church always assumes validity. So, we should give him the benefit of the doubt. At a minimum, the words of institution need to be said. If the pastor of the parish is not concerned, and he seemingly isn’t, my advice would be for you to not be concerned either.

Also, we have a priest in our diocese who does not consume the Body due to a life threatening allergy. (This was brought up to me after I posted.) I had always assumed that when he ministered the Sacrament, that it was valid. Am I mistaken?

Again, I’m going to have to punt on this one. It’s above my pay grade. And, without knowing all of the details of the situation, I’m not really qualified to answer. Sorry.


I thought the use of unleavened bread was a matter of liceity - not validity…especially since the Eastern Rites use leavened bread.

BTW how and in what manner must the Words of Institution be said given the acceptance of the Anaphora of Addai and Mari?


You are correct about that. Leavened bread is illicit but valid in the Roman Rite.


No it’s not - a priest can under those circumstances receive from the chalice only. However, he celebrate the Eucharist by himself, nor can he be the presiding celebrant at a concelebration (he can however be a concelebrant).

buc_fan33 - see the CDW letter available here


I believe you are wrong, and are misinterpreting the document you cite. First you must understand the difference between “valid” and “licit.” Valid means it actually happened. licit means it was in compliance with law.

  1. For the Sacrament to be “valid” you need (a) valid matter: wheat bread/grape wine; (b) a valid priest using valid form and (d) intent to do what the Church intends (e.g, it’s not play acting with no intent to actually Consecrate)
  2. leavening is a matter of liceity - not validity. Consumption by the priest is a matter of liceity - not validity (e.g., otherwise how could the consecration happen at the Words of Institution - since consumption necessarily follows?)

The document you quote notes that gluten free “bread” is not bread - it renders the purported action invalid - Consecration does not take place. The post notes that the priest simply does not consume - meaning it seems as if he is Consecrating bread. I note for good reason matters of liceity can be changed or a dispensation made - which maybe has happened with this priest…

Even without a formal dispensation, circumstances may relax the laws or penalty concerning illicit actions. The classic example is the use of leavened brown bread and and juice from an old grape in the concentration camps…

Nowhere in the document does it reference failure to consume.


Okay - just realised that, in the original post, I misread “valid” as “invalid**” as well as linking to the wrong document! Really sorry about that, my bad! :blush:

The right document is available here.

Apologies again for the confusion - I’ve really got to stop working so late! My post should hopefully make a lot more sense now


Here is the answer about the Anaphora of Addai and Mari:

The words of the Eucharistic Institution are indeed present in the Anaphora of Addai and Mari, not in a coherent way and ad litteram, but rather in a dispersed euchological way, that is, integrated in prayers of thanksgiving, praise and intercession. All these elements constitute a “quasi-narrative” of the Eucharistic Institution.

A long and careful study was undertaken of the Anaphora of Addai and Mari, from a theological, liturgical and historical perspective, at the end of which the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith on January 17th, 2001 concluded that this Anaphora can be considered valid. Pope John Paul II subsequently approved this decision.


Which is exactly the point I was getting at…IF a “quasi-narrative” with a dispersed “euchological” (waiting for a definition of that word) way of including the Words of Institution integrated throughout the anaphora but not “coherent” (?literally?) …seems to work - what is the necessary manner of the Wordes of Institution? You get to, how incoherent, how quasi, how much dispersion, and how much integration works to keep it euchological? I note that aside from being approved by the Pope, the study was undertaken by the CDF under Cardinal Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI). Nonetheless, it does seem that such a novel conclusion will lead some to question all manner of sacramental theology.
I wonder what our esteemed Priest and teacher of sacramental theology in Post 2 thinks about this issue - and how does he deal with it in his classes? I’m not being flip. It seems to me this is an important issue because it goes to the heart of our theology and ex opere operato…it seems some opere is less important than some operatos…:slight_smile:


The meaning of “euchological” is given there. It is:
integrated in successive prayers of thanksgiving, praise and intercession.

A coherent narrative is from Latin cohaesus stuck together. It is not dispersed.

Since the Church can determine the form, it has for this instance and no general norm is given.


Thank you for the definition.
I certainly believe the Church has the power to determine form…it’s just when it is so amorphous and unclear it moves toward a rule that no form of any real substance is needed…it simply means all theology (at least in this case Eucharistic theology linked to the Words of Institution ) devolves into “Roma locuta est, causa finita” as the only real theology …and guts the theology beyond that. We can go there - but what is left?


I am having doubts that you read the document. There is a detailed expositon of the dispersed form:
In the central part of the Anaphora, together with the Epiclesis, explicit references are made to

*]the eucharistic Body and Blood of Jesus Christ (“*O my Lord, in thy manifold and ineffable mercies, make a good and gracious remembrance for all the upright and just fathers who were pleasing before thee, in the commemoration of the body and blood of thy Christ, which we offer to thee upon the pure and holy altar, as thou hast taught us”), *
*]to the life-giving mystery of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection, which is actually commemorated and celebrated *(“that all the inhabitants of the world may know thee … and we also, O my Lord, thy unworthy, frail and miserable servants who are gathered and stand before thee, and have received by tradition the example which is from thee, rejoicing and glorifying and exalting and commemorating and celebrating this great and awesome mystery of the passion and death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ”), *
*]to the eucharistic offering for the forgiveness of the sins, to the eschatological dimension of the eucharistic celebration and to the Lord’s command to ‘do this in memory of me’ (“And let thy Holy Spirit come, O my Lord, and rest upon this offering of thy servants, and bless it and sanctify it that it my be to us, O my Lord, for the pardon of sins, and for the forgiveness of shortcomings, and for the great hope of the resurrection from the dead, and for new life in the kingdom of heaven with all who have been pleasing before thee”).
So the words of the Institution are not absent in the Anaphora of Addai and Mari, but explicitly mentioned in a dispersed way, from the beginning to the end, in the most important passages of the Anaphora. It is also clear that the passages cited above express the full conviction of commemorating the Lord’s paschal mystery, in the strong sense of making it present; that is, the intention to carry out in practice precisely what Christ established by his words and actions in instituting the Eucharist.


Actually I don’t see the Words of Institution mentioned - only the concept. “The form of this sacrament are the words of the Saviour with which he effected this sacrament.”

“This is My Body” appears no where in no wise in no language. The closest we get is “in the commemoration of the body and blood of thy Christ, which we offer to thee upon the pure and holy altar, as thou hast taught us” Yes the concept is there - it is a stretch to say the form, where the form is “the words of the Saviour with which he effected this sacrament,” is there. Similarly for the Blood. If all we need is the intention with conviction - we need to say it and drop all this, apparently, wrong-headed stuff about the form being the Words since they are not required…only conviction, intention and dancing around the form. But certainly the Council of Florence made clear that the form of the sacrament is the Words of Institution. I fully understand “Roma locutor est.” I fear Rome has said much more than it wanted to, however, and there really is no way around it. The Words are (were?) the form but need only be hinted at with conviction, Rome has overturned Florence and years of teaching. To say the words are present when they clearly are not is a change. I don’t say things can’t change…but

BTW A cite to the mystery has never before been sufficient - and it’s hard to see how it is with no Words of Institution. A cite to the Epiclesis is nice - I don’t believe anyone ever said an epiclesis was missing. And, if mere antiquity is the touchstone, let’s just say that.


Those words are not necessary at litteram and the Holy See stated that they are “explicitly mentioned in a dispersed way”. Per the commentary, the Holy See has determined that the words are there and that it is also an ancient Anaphora.

Also it is good to remember another form of the words of institution of Pope Sixtus II (his reign was from 31 August 257 to his death in August 258) which are narrative:
When he was prepared for the redemptive passion, in the bread which by Him was blessed, broken and divided unto His holy apostles, He gave us His propitiatory Body for life eternal. Likewise, also in the cup which by Him was signed, sanctified and given to His holy apostles, He gave us His propitiatory Blood for life eternal. And with these He added this admonition, saying: So often as You partake of these, make remembrance of My death, My burial and My resurrection until I come.

closed #17

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