I’ve always wondered this: at Holy Communion, the priest only has the chalice with wine (which then, obviously, becomes the Blood of Christ), and the one large wafer (which then, obviously, becomes the Body of Christ). Then the priest goes to the taberbacle and takes out the smaller wafers (for lack of better words, I know they are the true Body of Christ). My question is, if these smaller wafers were not on the altar for the consecration, how are they consecrated? Do priests hold a “private” consecration in which they consecrate a large quantity of hosts to be used in a later Mass? Also, this may be a dumb question, but what is the radius of consecration, if you will. In other words, if there’s wine sitting on the floor next to the altar (for whatever reason), would it too become the Blood of Christ, or only the wine on the altar? Thanks and God bless!
Ideally, the priest ought to consecrate hosts that are to be consumed at that Mass. But practically, this isn’t always possible. The hosts that the priest takes from the tabernacle were consecrated at another Mass. Sometimes a priest will consecrate an extra ciborium (container) to be kept in the tabernacle as needed.
It is the priest’s intention that determines what is consecrated and what is not. Usually it is the priest’s intention to consecrate only what is before him on the altar.
Incidentally, I checked your personal profile to see if you really are from the United Kingdom . He isn’t folks. He’s from the University of Kentucky!
Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.