WHAT MINE EYES HAVE SEEN - "Theology of the Crumbs"


Lest I be accused of scrupulosity in my words below, let me be clear that there should be a distinction made between true scrupulosity which is related to “obsessive, compulsive disorders” and what many would simply call a legitimate concern for certain matters, especially those of faith. For example, I wash my hands a few times a day, after using the restroom, before celebrating Mass, after touching something unclean, out of a concern for germs and hygiene and for the well being of others with whom I interact. A scrupulous person washing his hands constantly and for no other reason then a scrupulous fear of germs and other psychological issues is a completely different matter. (Do I hear “Purell,” anyone?) So with that written, let’s go head long into the topic at hand.

One of the things mine eyes has seen since celebrating the EF Mass for over two years now is the rubrical mandate that the particles of the Most Holy Eucharist that could become detached from the consecrated Host in no way be “desecrated” in any intentional or unintentional way; all precautions must be taken even liturgically. Therefore, prior to the consecration, the hands are placed on the altar outside of the corporal cloth which is carefully managed by proper folding and unfolding, using a burse,proper cleaning, etc.

After consecrating the host, the fingers and thumbs that touched the host are joined together so that not even the smallest particle of a particle could be unintentionally “desecrated.” When touching the altar, the priest does so on the corporal cloth.The priest even holds the chalice for consecration by having his index finger and thumb joined prior to taking the chalice. Prior to the priest receiving the Precious Blood, he takes the patten and scrapes the corporal cloth of any particles that could have fallen and then places these in the chalice. At the purification of the the chalice, (the priest’s fingers and thumbs still joined) the server first places wine in the chalice, so that any droplets of the Precious Blood can be reverently consumed. Then wine and water are poured into the chalice over the priest’s fingers and thumbs that may have attached to them particles of the host. The priest drys his fingers, drinks the ablutions and dries the chalice. This is “built in” piety and reverence of the EF Mass that was stripped from the OF Mass. This institutional “care,” in the EF Mass is borne of the concern for avoiding “desecration” of the Sacred Species even unintentional,and contributes to the overall respect due our Lord in the Eucharistic Species. It cannot be classified as OCD or personal scrupulosity.

Let’s fast forward to today to what many have disparagingly called the “theology of the crumbs” since the reforms of the Mass. I can remember as a teenager and very young adult seeing older priests celebrating the OF Mass using the same rubrics they were taught for the EF Mass as it concerned “crumbs, fingers, thumbs, etc.” These priests were accused of scrupulosity by others. I believed this accusation of scrupulosity to be true, because I didn’t know these priests had been trained in this custom of reverence by their celebration of the Tridentine Mass and the institutionalized piety, reverence and concern for not desecrating the Eucharistic Species of this Mass. In other words I was mistaken concerning the “rubrics” these older priests employed–it was not their scrupulosity, but their piety instilled by the EF Mass. “Lex Orandi, Lex credendi,” the law of prayer is the law of belief.

During the wild time of experimentation with the New Order of the Mass, certainly after it was promulgated,(the 1970’s) many “progressive priests, seminaries and parishes” experimented with what was euphemistically called “real bread” as opposed to the unleavened, traditional hosts of Pre-Vatican II. (Anyone recall the sarcastic remark that it was harder to believe that these traditional hosts were real bread, let alone the real Body and Blood of our Savior?)

In my seminary we used bread that had honey in the recipe and salt that in fact acted as a leaven. And in fact, when receiving these “hosts” at Holy Communion, significant crumbs remained on the palm of one’s hand. (More about that below)!

Continue here: southernorderspage.blogspot.com/2010/02/what-mine-eyes-have-seen.html

I try not to think about this because it only makes me cry. This issue bothers me so intensely that I cannot even put it into words.

But we need to think about it. We need to spread the word. This might help:

A video showing that nearly every host put in the hand leaves a small fragment of the Body of Christ

A video to reflect on how this and other things profoundly hurt Our Lord

I don’t know if there are many people whose minds have been touched by the Holy Spirit that realize these things. But we can only imagine the layer of unseen particles of the Body of Christ that are trampled whenever we approach the altar of our average Catholic churches today.

The madness MUST be stopped! Dominus Est!!!

The blogger who wrote this should realize that the bread that had honey and salt in the recipe was not valid matter and therefore no consecration occurred. It did not become the Eucharist. So the crumbs were of no consequence.

\But we can only imagine the layer of unseen particles of the Body of Christ that are trampled whenever we approach the altar of our average Catholic churches today.\

**If this is true when Communion is distributed in the Ordinary Form today, then it is equally true in the Extraordinary Form, and was true before Vatican 2 as well.

If a crumb of the consecrated Host (Pearls, as they are called in the East) is unrecognizable as the species of Bread, then the Substance of the Body of Christ no longer exists therein. How much more does this apply to a particle that cannot even be seen.

Further, can powdery residue in host bags actually be called “bread”?

Especially since the priest consecrates BREAD, not powder that might have once been bread.

I’m not saying every effort should not be taken to prevent particles from falling and being trampled or blown about. Nor am I referring to fragments that are recognizably bread when hosts are broken.

One thing that would help is to make sure that host bakers devise crumbless recipes and production methods. (Consider the large numbers of crumbs when the bag was opened in one of the videos.) I have never baked Western style hosts, so I don’t know how that can be accomplished. When I bake Prosphora, I knead the dough to make it as tight-grained as possible to prevent crumbs.**

No, you are wrong. In the TLM (aka EF), the server holds a paten underneath as the priest administers Communion. Father Allan McDonald, who wrote the article in my original posts, also describes in detail the great extent that the TLM (aka EF) goes to keep from desecrating the Holy Eucharist.

Consecrated Hosts do not belong in bags. Residue or crumbs of unconsecrated hosts don’t really matter, as they would only be bread. After the Hosts have been consecrated, it is a different story. Try looking at it from a different perspective. Droplets of blood, no matter how small are still droplets of blood. DNA, no matter how small, is still DNA. Crime scene investigators can pick p the most minute droplets of blood splatter and DNA on objects. As the consecrated Hosts are no longer bread, but the real Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.


One thing to be hoped for under Summorum Pontificum is that Roman priests will become familiar with the older rite, and it will inform the celebration of the later.

In the rubrics for the EF, the priest is called to keep his thumb and forefinger together and over the ciborium. The altar servers are called to place the paten under the chin of the faithful as they receive. Any and all crumbs are dealt with in the context of the Mass, and the rubrics themselves minimize the possibility of stray crumbs.

Plus, the laity, seeing all of this liturgical action when they assist at Mass and seeing reverence given the host, are catechized more fully regarding the truth of the Eucharist. If the Mass is catechesis, it is arguable that the OF, as commonly celebrated, does not communicate the truths of the faith as clearly as the EF.

Reception in the hand is a problem. It is currently allowed in many countries by special indult granted them, but it is still forbidden in the diocese of Rome. This is not really a part of the new Mass therefore, more of an exception granted to some countries by Rome via special indult.

I think eventually, as knowledge of the EF enriches the OF, the practice of Communion on the hand will have to go by the wayside in the West. In the Western Church, by doing communion this way, we are harkening back to an ancient tradition yes, but it was one that was moved away from over the centuries as a result of organic development in the liturgy, and this natural evolution is arguably entirely reasonable and good.

I mean no implication that there is any disobedience on the part of those who are currently receiving on the hand, or that they are bad Catholics, or priests who encourage the practice are bad priests, or that the N.O. is invalid, or that there is anything wrong with the N.O. itself.

Excellent point and very well articulated.

Minute splatters and miniscule particles are not recognizable and are not the Real Presence. The Body and Blood of Christ are present only in the appearance of bread and wine. Once it is not recognizable as bread and wine, the Real Presence leaves. This is a teaching of the Church. The only perspective that matters is the Church’s. Forensic science is not theology.

Interesting post, and a valid point. However, I point out that theologians (I am not one) can with confidence have recourse to the Sacred Liturgy, Sacred Art, and Tradition when formulating their arguments.

It would seem, given the extreme care of the Eucharist for preventing crumbs etc. that developed over the history of the Church, and specific rubrics designed to prevent the least part of the Eucharist from being profaned, that your dismissal of the OP’s concerns seems, perhaps, a little hasty.

From my understanding, you are also incorrect. If the priest spills the precious blood on the altar cloth, a good priest (celebrating either the OF or the EF) will dilute the spilled spot with water. The rubrics call for the dilution of any spilt precious blood. If it is diluted, that is the proper way to break up the species and deal with a spill.

The same is true with the crumbs from the Eucharist.

Portions of the host (crumbs) have not been diluted with water and broken up by that process, and therefore the real presence may well still be there. The traditions around the paten, around reception, the rubric for the fingers of the priest, all these are present for a reason.

If we treat the Eucharist with supreme reverence, we will have faith in what the Eucharist is. Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi.

Of course, there is also a caution here.

I have heard this story, and have no reason to doubt it.

Two altar boys are serving Mass in different countries at different times.

While serving, both altar boys, accidentally, knock into the priest and spill consecrated hosts on the ground during the Mass.

With altar boy 1 (eyes wide and terrified at his error) the priest turns to him and puts his arm on him and whispers a soothing word and helps him clean up.

Altar boy 2 (eyes side and terrified) is struck hard on the altar by the priest and screamed at and runs away in terror.

Altar boy 1 was Karol Woytyla.

Altar boy 2 was Adolph Hitler.

If the story is true it is a good caution against going overboard with people!

That said, we should always use caution and err on the side of caution and treat the Eucharist with extreme reverence.

Ok, I’m confused. I thought the Church allowed communion in the hand. True or false? Is this a heretical teaching? or not? Is there any documentation from the Vatican on this specifically?

The few times I was in Rome we received in the hand, and we saw many other people doing so. No one said it was forbidden and neither did they stop us.

**Christ in the Eucharist - Presence and Reality
Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.


There is great need, even crucial need, to talk about and act upon the awareness of Christ in the Eucharist, and to raise our sentiments of love towards Him; but this cannot be at the expense of ignoring the prior fact that Christ is actually in the Eucharist, that in the words of the Church’s solemn teaching, “He is contained under the perceptible species of bread and wine.” **What was bread and wine, after the words of consecration are no longer bread and wine but the living, physical, bodily presence-in a word, the real Jesus Christ. To believe in the Real Presence means to believe in the real absence of bread and wine after the consecration. **

We might say, then, that the Eucharistic Presence of Christ is at once a reality and a relationship. It is a reality because Christ really is in the Eucharist, so that the Real Presence of Christ postulates on faith the real absence of bread and wine. He is now, where before the consecration were bread and wine; they are gone and He is here. What before was real bread and wine is only to external properties of bread and wine. He is here in the Eucharist truly present; they are no longer present but only their species or their appearance. Transubstantiation is a fact of faith. All the twisted but learned criticism of the Church’s doctrine as being Hellenistic or Aristotelian is learned stupidity, which is the most dangerous.

For the soul that believes, transubstantiation is no Hellenistic or philosophical terminology; it is the expression of the truth. If we must use Greek, we can; the Greek tells us that the words of Institution institute a “metaousiosis”, meaning that the “ousia” or the being, the “whatness” of bread and wine become the “ousia” or the being of what constitutes Jesus Christ-body, blood, soul and divinity. In a word, in the Eucharist there is present the “totus Christus” (the whole Christ) just as truly as He was present on earth in Palestine and as He is now in Heaven. It is the total Christ in the fullness of what makes Christ Christ, with no real difference between who He was in the first century on earth and who He is now in the twentieth century on earth. Jesus Christ is in Jemez Springs as He is also everywhere where a duly ordained priest has changed bread and wine into the Body and Blood of the Savior.

by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.


We better know - we better understand - that the Church defined that the whole Christ is present even under a microscopic particle of the consecrated Host. Once we believe that Jesus Christ is truly present in the Holy Eucharist, it is only logical then to respect and adore our Lord, no matter how small the particle or drop from the chalice may be.

The Council of Trent declared: *“If anyone says that after the
consecration, the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ are not present in the marvelous
Sacrament of the Eucharist, but are present only in the use of the sacrament while it is
being received, and not before or after and that the true body of the Lord does not remain
in the consecrated Host or particles that are kept or left over after Communion, anyone
who denies that, let him be anathema.” * (Session 13, can.3)

Catholic Encyclopedia:
The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist

But in particularizing upon the dogma, we are naturally led to the further truth, that, at least after the actual division of either Species into parts, Christ is present in each part in His full and entire essence. If the Sacred Host be broken into pieces or if the consecrated Chalice be drunk in small quantities, Christ in His entirety is present in each particle and in each drop. By the restrictive clause, separatione factâ the Council of Trent (Sess. XIII, can. iii) rightly raised this truth to the dignity of a dogma. While from Scripture we may only judge it improbable that Christ consecrated separately each particle of the bread He had broken, we know with certainty, on the other hand, that He blessed the entire contents of the Chalice and then gave it to His disciples to be partaken of distributively (cf. Matthew 26:27 sq.; Mark 14:23). It is only on the basis of the Tridentine dogma that we can understand how Cyril of Jerusalem (Mystagogical Catechesis 5, no. 21) obliged communicants to observe the most scrupulous care in conveying the Sacred Host to their mouths, so that not even "a crumb, more precious than gold or jewels", might fall from their hands to the ground; how Cæsarius of Arles taught that there is “just as much in the small fragment as in the whole”; how the different liturgies assert the abiding integrity of the “indivisible Lamb”, in spite of the “division of the Host”; and, finally, how in actual practice the faithful partook of the broken particles of the Sacred Host and drank in common from the same cup.

Basic Catholic Catechist Home Study Course
Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.


The sensible sign in the Eucharist is the appearance of bread and wine, that is, anything in these elements that fall under the senses such as size, color, shape, taste, weight and texture. After consecration, however, **this sign contains the whole Christ, His Body and Blood, His Soul and Divinity. **

The material necessary for the sacrament is wheaten bread and wine. In the Latin Rite, the bread must be unleavened; in the Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church, leavened bread is used. The wine is mixed with a little water before consecration. Christ chose bread and wine for the matter of the sacrament in order to teach that as we daily partake of food for the body so we should daily receive this heavenly food for the soul. The necessary words for producing the sacrament of the Eucharist are “This is my body”. “This is my blood”.

Christ is present in the Eucharist not only with everything that makes Him man, but with all that makes Him this human being. He is therefore present with all His physical properties, hands and feet and head and human heart. He is present with His human soul, with His thoughts, desires and human affections. He becomes present in the Eucharist by means of transubstantiation.

Transubstantiation is the term used to identify the change that takes place at the consecration of the bread and wine at Mass. Therefore **after the consecration, nothing remains of the bread and wine except their external properties. By this we mean the bread still looks like bread and tastes like bread, and the wine still looks and tastes like wine, but they are no longer bread and wine. Their substance becomes the living Body and Blood of Christ. **

It is a matter of faith that Jesus Christ is contained under each particle of the species of bread and wine. No matter how great the number of parts into which the species are divided, the whole Christ is present in every portion. He is present in the Eucharist as long as the species remain. Therefore, we worship the Blessed Sacrament as we would worship the person of Jesus Himself.

Eucharist as Presence-Sacrament
by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.


…We shall draw on the irreversible teaching of the Council of Trent about the Real Presence. The original doctrine is worded in the form of anathemas. What follows is a summary list of these dogmas expressed in positive terms.

  1. In the venerable sacrament of the Eucharist, the whole Christ is contained under each species, and under each and every portion of either species when it is divided up.
  1. After the consecration, the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ are present in the marvelous sacrament of the Eucharist. They are present not only in the use of the sacrament while it is being received, but also before and after. Consequently, the true Body and Blood of the Lord remain in the consecrated hosts or particles that are kept or left over after Communion.

It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of the foregoing definition of the Catholic Church on the Real Presence. No doubt, their doctrinal substance had been part of the Church’s faith since the time of Christ. But the clear and simple expression of this faith in the sixteenth century marked a turning point in Catholic devotions to Jesus Christ, now present on earth no less than He was visibly present in first-century Palestine.

Transubstantiation. To identify what takes place in the consecration at Mass, the Church has come to employ the term “transubstantiation” (trans = change, Substantiation = of substance). Because of its importance for understanding the Real Presence, this term deserves some explanation.

There are two kinds of changes which, things can naturally undergo. They are called accidental and substantial changes. In an accidental change, something remains substantially the same, but its accidental or non-essential properties are transformed. Thus when a block of marble is carved into a statue, the marble remains marble, but its shape and form are changed.

In a substantial change, the former substance ceases to exist and becomes something else. Thus, when food is eaten, its substance is changed; it becomes part of the organism which consumes the food.

In transubstantiation there is a unique substantial change. The essence or substance of bread and wine ceases to exist, while the accidents or sensibly perceptible properties of bread and wine remain. This kind of change has no counterpart in nature; it belongs to the supernatural order.

What actually occurs? The substance of what was bread and wine is replaced by the living Christ. Although the external qualities of bread and wine remain, their substance is no longer on the altar. It is now the whole Christ, divinity and humanity, soul and body, and all the bodily qualities that make Christ, Christ.

In his historic encyclical The Mystery of Faith, Paul VI goes into great detail to show that transubstantiation produces a unique presence of Jesus Christ on earth. The pope analyzes six ways in which the Savior is present and active in the world of human beings, but they are not the Real Presence. The Real Presence is unique because “it contains Christ Himself.” Moreover, this presence is called Real because it is the presence “by which Christ, the God-Man is wholly and entirely present” (Mysterium Fidel, September 3, 1965).

I am not sure when you were in Rome last, or where you received. The current Pope does NOT distribute Communion in the hand.

The Church ‘permits’ Communion in the hand under special indult. The special indult can be revoked at anytime. The current Pope does not distribute Communion in the hand. This is one of those cases where something being permissable does not necessarily make it the best thing to do.

\One thing to be hoped for under Summorum Pontificum is that Roman priests will become familiar with the older rite, and it will inform the celebration of the later.\


\Once it is not recognizable as bread and wine, the Real Presence leaves. This is a teaching of the Church. The only perspective that matters is the Church’s.\

Precisely what I was saying.

\I am not sure when you were in Rome last, or where you received. The current Pope does NOT distribute Communion in the hand.\

Not every mass in Rome is celebrated by the Pope.

It is allowed to take communion in the hand.


Yep! That is a good source.

It is allowed in some countries (the US included) by special indult. Such permission could be revoked at any time.

Colin Donovan also says this:

“The authority of the Church to permit what in other centuries was freely done and which “by itself” is not contrary to the faith is not in question. If abuses are widespread they are contrary to the mind of the Church as expressed in the Roman documents, and contrary to the devotion expressed in the early Church when Communion was also received in the hand. Withdrawing this permission in our time on account of the abuses is certainly something Rome could do.”

I think the arguments against communion in the hand are very strong. However, you are correct that in our country (and several others) it is permissible to receive this way.

That said, it is okay for a Catholic in good standing with Rome (whether he be priest or lay) to say "Yes, Communion in the hand is currently allowed, but the Pope does not distribute Communion this way. Furthermore, the traditions of the altar rail and receiving on the tongue in the West are an authentic organic development that was incorporated into the liturgy as a means to express reverence for our Eucharistic Lord.

Crumbs frequently spill under the new practice, and it seems to be less reverent than the old. The Pope, with Summorum Pontificum, is encouraging priests to learn the old rites, and also hopes that learning the old rites will inform the practice of the new.

Therefore I choose to receive on the tongue, and following the Pope’s lead, it is my hope that many of my fellow Catholics in those countries where reception on the hand is allowed by special permission, will do the same. It is a good practice and is to be commended."

The above section in quotes is, to my estimation, a well balanced statement that is clearly in line what the Holy Father has written and called for.

This issue, how we receive, ought not be yet another source of disunity. The Holy Father knows full well that many Catholics are used to receiving this way, and will react with vitriol if the rules change suddenly. Slowly, slowly, the Church is engaging in much needed liturgical reform in keeping with our beautiful Tradition. We must move slowly and be patient with one another, always remembering what happened the last time liturgical changes were foisted on the laity quickly, authoritatively, and far too often without adequate pastoral care or reference to our Church’s traditions.

Could we have some sources please?

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.