I saw a cup with maybe a couple dozen hosts next to the front door of the church (indoors). Why were they there and were they even supposed to be there to begin with? I have no idea whether they were consecrated or not.
Did you ask a sacristan? That’s the person to ask.
Sometimes they would be there so people can put a host into a pyx and place it on the table with the rest of the gifts for offertory, so Father can consecrate the hosts going to the sick directly in the pyx for each extraordinary minister for the sick and doesn’t have to do a transfer, but there are other possibilities.
Had there been more hosts than that, I would say it is possible that a low attendance is expected and the faithful who intend to receive Holy Communion each drop a host into the ciborium that will be taken up at the offertory, but the sacristan usually puts out more than two dozen hosts in that case. When there are only two dozen people or fewer, the sacristan can just as easily count heads. Having said that, you’d know if the number left out might have easily covered the number expected for that Mass. (A sacristan typically puts in a few extra, in case someone receives who doesn’t know “the system” or someone comes in after offertory but receives Holy Communion anyway.)
No, those hosts could not have been consecrated. Once consecrated, hosts are always either in Father’s line of sight, in the tabernacle, or on the person of someone who has the office of taking Holy Communion to the sick. The Blessed Sacrament would never be left unattended or unsecured.
It is not unusual to see a bowl of altar bread (it’s not a host yet) near the front door. Sometimes inside the church and sometimes just outside. There may also be a vessel of wine there. Often times these same vessels and bowls are brought forward during the presentation of the gifts.
A piece of bread destined to be offered for eucharistic consecration is commonly called the host prior to consecration, too. After consecration, it is called a consecrated host.
Yes, I am aware that it is often referred to as a host whether consecrated or not. However, the root word for host refers to the sacrificial victim. Properly speaking, it isn’t a host if it is not consecrated. The nuns who usually make them refer to them as altar bread or communion wafers for this very reason. This is how it was explained to me by a very knowledgeable priest who had a bit of a pet peeve about this subject.
It is either the bread and wine that will be brought up for the offertory, or in some parishes there is a receptacle with the wafers in it and you are asked to take it in place one in the ciborium if you will be receiving communion. That way they do not consecrate more hosts then people who will be receiving. They only consecrate a few extras.
You’d have to ask someone at the parish to know for sure.
For weekday Masses, this is a common practice in many parishes. There are usually tongs that you can place a host (altar bread) from the cup to the ciborium. This practice assumes that everyone knows what to do at the door.
Thanks for the answers everyone! This really cleared it up for me.
OK, but that doesn’t make sense, because in the Traditional Latin Mass it is typically translated into English this way when the priest says of the bread being blessed at the offertory (boldface mine):
Receive, O Holy Father, almighty and eternal God, this spotless host, which I, Thine unworthy servant, offer unto Thee, my living and true God, for my countless sins, trespasses, and omissions; likewise for all here present, and for all faithful Christians, whether living or dead, that it may avail both me and them to salvation, unto life everlasting.
The priest is speaking about the bread that hasn’t been consecrated yet, but which was prepared with the intention that it was destined to be offered for consecration. It has to be proper to use the word in both senses if the prayers of the Mass itself are translated into English using the word in both senses, right?
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