Yo Father, You Forgot the Host

Quick background…I am a non-believer who, for the sake of family harmony, attends mass with my Catholic wife every week. Although I don’t believe in what supposedly takes place during the mass, since I am there every week, I pretty much know what’s going on.

An interesting thing happened at this morning’s mass. During the consecration, the priest forgot the host. Actually, he spoke the words normally spoken while consecrating the host, but he elevated the cup. As he sat it back on the altar, I could tell that he knew something was wrong, but it took him a few moments to figure it out. By the time it dawned on him what he had done, he had already continued with the mass as he would normally do after consecrating the wine. The next few minutes were very awkward, and it wasn’t until we got to the Our Father that he finally regained his composure. So, I was wondering…first of all, was this a valid mass? Valid or not, should he have handled the situation differently?

Finally, an interesting observation: As I looked around the church, it seemed that very few people were paying enough attention to realize what had happened.

Did he raise the chalice twice? The same chalice?

Sorry if I wasn’t clear. No, he raised the chalice only once. He never did raise the host.

Not sure if it was a valid mass or not. But if he was using host from the tabernacle, it’s already been changed. And those would be valid hosts.

I wonder how old the priest is. It can be very sad to watch a priest who is aging, and perhaps have some brain issues (dementia, and such)… It can take some time to get them squared away to proper medical treatment and care.

Hey, any chance you believe a person can become possessed?

If I’m not mistaken, the sacristans are supposed to set that up ahead of time.

As a new altar server, I was told to always check the credence table ahead of time to make sure everything was present and to take a mental inventory of what was on it to know what to expect. One of the things I was told specifically to check for was the presence of a host in the paten.

Last Saturday I forgot to check and as the cross bearer got to the sanctuary he gave me a hard look - there was no credence table! A deacon had decided to assit the priest and had moved the credence table to the sacristy without our knowing.

It happens. Sometimes the candles aren’t lit. Sometimes the priest forgets his wireless mic. People are human. Whadayagunnado? :shrug:

I betcha the congregation would have noticed at our parish.


If I had to guess, I’d say mid to late 70’s. He was subbing for our usual priest who is visiting family out of town.

Hey, any chance you believe a person can become possessed?

Hey, anything’s possible. That said, no, I don’t have a belief regarding demonic possession.

I’m pretty sure the host was there. He just didn’t consecrate it.

If it was his intention to do the actions and say the words of consecration correctly and completely, then it was consecrated, even if he ‘spaced out’ and accidentally lifted the chalice instead of the host.

It was probably pretty awkward because he was trying to figure out how to make up for it. I was at a mass where the Monsignor (with advanced degrees in theology, very gifted and faithful priest) forgot a line in the Eucharistic prayer. He admitted it at the end of the mass, but assured us that he had added it in silently at a pause, even though it was out of order at that time.

On the other side of the spectrum, if he wasn’t aware of the host(s) it probably wasn’t consecrated. We had another priest who didn’t notice that one of the new servers had placed an ancillary chalice on the altar, on the opposite side from the corporal. When it came time to distribute communion, he saw the chalice, realized he hadn’t had the intention to consecrate it, and simply didn’t use it. He drank it himself later as they were purifying the vessels.

Because Christ acts through the priest (in persona Christi), as long as the priest has the intention, Christ fulfills the action. Because no human, no matter how holy, and no matter how perfectly he may say the prayers, cannot by his merits or powers consecrate the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. It is entirely the action of Jesus. And he completes with his Grace what is lacking in our nature.

Last point: if the priest has, by action or omission, not consecrated the Body and Blood of Christ at the altar, but the faithful, not aware of this, receive communion in good faith and believe that they are receiving our consecrated Lord, they are receiving the Body and Blood of Christ through the Church. I don’t remember the latin phrase or what the theological concept is called, but if I recall correctly, the latin phrase translates basically to “the Church provides.” Meaning, in the event that the faithful are in a situation where they would be left without the sacraments unknowingly and through no fault of their own, they can be assured that God provides for them through the Church, through whom the priest has his faculties (i.e. directly from the bishop).

Hopefully that covers all the bases.


Ecclesia supplet actually does not apply in this case, although I have found that surprisingly a lot of priests seem to think that it does. What the Church supplies for are cases when there is an illegality or deficiency of jurisdiction e.g. when a priest is dismissed but celebrating the sacraments. The Church has no power to supply for defects in the sacramental form and the sacraments are invalid. One may piously believe that God gives grace but this would be extra-sacramentally.

If the priest said the corrects words, but mistakenly raised the chalice, the Mass and the consecration of the bread is still valid. Whether the consecrated Host is raised or not is irrelevant - the action is only for the people to adore.

If the priest did not say the correct Words of Institution over the bread, the the bread is not consecrated. The wine is consecrated if the priest says the correct Words over it. The Mass, that is the sacrifice, is invalid since the consecration of both species is required.

The speaking of the words is required, because an intention can never supply for an omitted form. Although Christ can do so by his omnipotence, we cannot assume it. While he completes with his grace what is lacking in human nature, he has nonetheless willed to operate through the form of words and action which he himself instituted. A sacrament is a sacrament if there is a signification, and it is a sign - it cannot signify anything without the words.

What people sems to forget is that priests are also people. People make mistakes. Most probably he did a mistake for which i am sure that he felt guilty enought. I wouldn’t judge him, since you say it happened one time. Maybe the other people in the Church were just polite and didn’t want to say anything.

The elevation of the host or chalice is not essential part of the process, only the words and the matter itself (bread and wine) is necessary.

We are limited human beings, mistakes happen. The principle is, that (unless essentials are missing) the power of the Church given by God takes care about it, makes it proper (Ecclesia supplet)

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve made more than my share of mistakes, several of which have been whoppers. So no, I was not passing judgement on this priest. Sorry if I gave that impression. Besides, as I said in my OP, I’m a non-believer who does not receive communion, so this makes no difference to me personally. I was simply curious.

It isn’t the “lifting up” of the host that consecrates.

If the host was there on the corporal (the small square white cloth), and he said the words of consecration of the host (“This is My Body”) then it was indeed consecrated, even if he accidentally lifted up the chalice instead (or even if he had the chalice in his hands at the time), that doesn’t matter because at that point, the Host is already the Body of Christ.

The two questions are:

  1. Was the host there on the corporal?
  2. Did he say the words of consecration of the host?

It is clear that he did consecrate the bread. But your answer here leads me to the next question: Did he say the words of consecration over the wine?

There are times that priest may stubble, but the bread and wine is consecrated through the power of the Holy Spirit.
I noticed that my pastor did a similar thing, he began to consecation of the host but reached toward the cup, he caught himself and picked up the host. It was his fouth mass for the weekend so mistakes are understandable.
Sionce the priest in question is in his seventies, some leaway should be given to him. It sounds as though he corrected himself, so no harm.

  1. Yes, the host was there on the corporal. (I learned a new word today. Well, a new meaning for a word I already knew.)

  2. Yes, he said the words of consecration of the host. (And then elevated the cup.)

No. After saying the words of consecration for the host and elevating the cup, he continued with the mass as if he had consecrated the wine.

I guess I don’t know as much about the mass as I thought. I keep leaving out important details.

So, if I have this straight, the priest

  • said the first part of the Institution Narrative over the bread, and elevated the chalice
  • did not say the second part of the Institution Narrative over the wine in the chalice

If that’s correct then, as AJV has already said, the Mass was invalid (perhaps it would be better to say: there was no Mass) because the Sacrifice was incomplete. The elevation of the Species is incidental in that it has no bearing on validity.

Yes, that’s exactly what happened.

That is how it looks to me, too. It is worth saying also that it seems very likely that the bread was validly consecrated and that the people who received it did, in fact, receive Holy Communion.

Of course, only God knows when the bread and wine are transubstantiated. The tradition in the west is at the words of consecration. I believe there is a tradition in another Church of the Catholic Church that it occurs at the calling down of the Holy Spirit (the epiclesis?)

IF that is the case, then the words of institution are a rememberance of Christ’s actions at the last supper and an offering of His Body and Blood to the Father as part of the Sacrifice on Calvary and at the Mass. When I was in school, to respect both traditions, the Church was teaching that there is bread and wine at the beginning of the Eucharisic prayer and Body and Blood at the end. And the specifics are left up to the Holy Spirit.

So… no-one can know. If in doubt treat the sacred species as the Body and Blood of Our Lord.

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