This morning we had a visiting priest – a long time military chaplain. Seemed like a nice man.
He told the story about his experience at a base in Fallujah, Iraq. Some troops were preparing to go out on an op and asked him to celebrate the Mass for him. He didn’t have a Mass kit with him (he didn’t explain why), but they were able to come up with “two slices of bread, a glass of water”, a pocket NT and the memorized prayers of the Mass and they were thus able to have Mass. He poo-pooed the need for anything else.
He said sometime later he learned the reader for the Mass had been killed during the op. He was so thankful that he had been able to celebrate the Mass for him before he was killed. I looked around and everyone was eating it up.
It brought to mind: “Can. 927 It is absolutely forbidden, even in extreme urgent necessity, to consecrate one matter without the other or even both outside the eucharistic celebration.” I was aware of this canon after reading stories about Catholic priests who always kept a morsel of bread on hand while in POW camps during WWII, should a sympathetic guard allow them a teaspoon of wine which would allow them to celebrate the Mass.
I realize the bread WAS confected into the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, yet the Mass itself would have been invalid and what the priest intentionally did is “forbidden even in extreme urgent necessity” by canon law.
So what gives? Did the priest do the right thing, or was he wrong to do what he did under wartime circumstances? It seems like he did was gravely wrong. What’s done is done though. To preach about it today as if it was something to be proud of, left me cold.