A few years ago, on Holy Thursday we gathered to celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.

I processed forward to receive Holy Communion. I didn’t look ahead of me. I walked slowly with my eyes lowered, and then it was my turn to receive Our Lord.

As usual, I looked up at the priest and opened my mouth. The priest looked a little confused and he hesitated and I wondered what was wrong. And then I understood: a small piece of bread was thrust awkwardly into my mouth, a small piece of leavened scone-like bread. Crumbs broke off and my eyes followed their descent to the floor. My heart skipped a beat as I saw the carpet covered with bread. Our Lord was there all over the floor.

I returned to the pew and knelt down, but I couldn’t pray properly. How I wished I’d never gone up to receive Communion. If only I’d looked ahead and realised what type of bread had been used for the consecration.

Mass came to an end. We stood for the last blessing and then everyone processed out, following the Blessed Sacrament on Its way to the chapel of repose. I stayed where I was. I didn’t leave with everyone else. Instead, I sank to my knees and prayed. Tears filled my eyes and I felt sick inside. Why follow Our Lord to the chapel of repose when He was still there, still there all over the floor?

I wonder what happened to Our Lord. Did someone walk carefully around the room on his knees, picking up every crumb of bread and disposing of it in a right and holy manner? Or was Jesus vacuumed up and added to the garbage?

How could this happen? How could we treat Our Lord in such a way? Have we forgotten about the Real Presence? Perhaps we no longer believe. Or is it me? Maybe I am making a fuss about nothing. If it were important wouldn't everyone have had tears in their eyes?

I was telling this story to a friend the other day and she questioned whether the consecration was actually valid. The priest seemed to have the intention to consecrate the bread. I don’t know what other conditions have to be fulfilled in order for transubstantiation to occur. But I really hope we all returned home without having received Our Lord that Holy Thursday.

And I hope that the carpet was covered with crumbs of bread, only bread…. crumbs that could be safely vacuumed up and disposed of. Because when I think of the alternative I still feel like crying.
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  1. Thank you so much for this post. It raises many important issues.

    You were right to feel as you did. But the priest in question was in the wrong, in my opinion.

    He should have stopped and asked you to open your mouth wider.

    When he saw the crumbs fall to the floor he should have stopped giving Communion and got down on his knees and picked them up himself. That would have been a good lesson to all about the Real Presence in the Eucharist. He need not have made it obvious that you, or anyone else, did anything wrong. This accident could have happened to anyone. But he as a priest would have honored Our Lord by picking up the crumbs from the floor. I remember years ago a host fell to the ground as the priest was giving Communion. And that's what he did. He stopped, got another plate from the Altar, and he picked the host up from the ground.

    As a precaution, that priest in your story should have had a plate placed under peoples' chins to collect crumbs, just as they did years ago before people received Communion in the hand. I wonder how many people that day received Communion in the hand and wiped off any crumbs from their hands afterwards by rubbing hands together or wiping them on their clothes.

    I feel the priest is in the wrong on many counts. But then ... does he believe in the Real Presence? Many priests these days don't.

    Please don't feel bad about this Sue. On His way to the Cross Jesus fell to the ground many times; just for us. He knows what it's like to be in the dirt and down-trodden. Then it was done on purpose. In your case it was an accident and I'm sure He forgives all involved.

    Praying for you.

    God bless.

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  2. I agree with your friend, Sue. Something doesn't seem right about this. Crumbly bread? Doesn't sound like any host I've ever received. You were right to question and be upset. I would have been too.

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  3. Thank you for your comment, Victor.

    Yes, a plate under the chin would certainly have prevented the crumbs from falling to the floor. But the leavened bread should never have been used in the first place. I can't understand why a priest would want to use a scone type bread instead of the usual unleavened bread.

    And you are quite right about crumbs being wiped from communicants' hands. There were so many crumbs on the floor and I was one of the few receiving on the tongue. Receiving in the hand didn't prevent the problem.

    Yes, I felt very bad, Victor. There were a few of us who did. But why wasn't the whole congregation upset? Did they just not believe? To not even realise that Our Lord has been treated in such a manner - this is very distressing.

    I feel bad for Jesus' sake, not my own. As you said, it was an accident and I am sure God would never have judged me for that. you said, Jesus fell to the ground many times - I hadn't thought of it like that. Thank you, Victor!

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  4. Hi Ellen,

    That was the first time I'd been at a Mass where scone bread was used for the consecration. But I have heard of other cases. I'll have to investigate more about the necessary conditions for a valid consecration. Maybe my friend is right and all we consumed was bread. I hope so!

    God bless and thank you for your comment!

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  5. Sue,
    I've never heard of scone bread being used for Communion. The Church requires that Communion wafers contain only two ingredients - wheat and water. They
    are pressed into a special type of iron (sort of like a waffle iron except it shapes wafers instead). This is the way they used to do it at least.

    Accidents are accidents, Sue, and God would never want you to worry about something like this. More worrisome than a Consecrated Host (or bits) that falls on a floor to the Lord (though they should still use the plates under the chin to catch any possible crumbs)is probably those who receive Communion unworthily and in a state of grave sin. A consecrated Host has been dropped in my Church before and the priest took care of it and then resumed giving Communion. Hosts should not be crumbly.

    I don't know whether this means the Communion was valid or not though. Maybe the Church will reinstate the plate under the chin and Communion on the tongue only eventually. This would certainly solve a lot of problems.

    Sue, I used to clean my entire church with my mom. I dread thinking about what may have gone into my vaccuum but I never once SAW any Communion particles on the carpet. If they are made correctly this shouldn't really happen I would think. Makes me wonder though.

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  6. Mary,
    You said, "Maybe the Church will reinstate the plate under the chin and Communion on the tongue only eventually. This would certainly solve a lot of problems." I agree!

    I observed a priest cleaning the vessels after Communion, last Sunday. He took such care to make sure not a single particle was overlooked. Obviously he had a great reverence for Our Lord. And maybe that is what this is all about: reverence.

    Why do we as a congregation not show more reverence to God? Why does it not worry parishioners in general, to observe practices such as consecrating the wrong type of bread? Or do most people just not understand what is happening?

    The accidental falling of the crumbs isn't my real worry. Instead I worry about this lack of reverence and understanding.

    Of course, I am not directing these questions at you, Mary. I am musing to myself!

    Thank you for adding to the conversation. Mary. God bless!

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  7. Hi Sue, I'm coming to this rather late, sorry. This could not have been a valid consecration. Leavened bread is not valid matter. For proper matter, the bread HAS to be unleavened. Even if the intention and words, etc are there, the bread can not be leavened.

    So...all that was consumed was bread. Sadly, as that was the last consecration prior to the Easter vigil and would have been used at the Good Friday services as well :(

    The discussions about the plate and the reverence are quite valid too :)

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  8. Kelly,
    I'm so pleased you stopped and shared. It's sad to know we didn't receive Our Lord on Holy Thursday but good to know it was only bread crumbs on the floor!

    I hadn't thought about that being the last consecration before the Easter vigil. We went to a different church for the rest of the Easter services.

    I wonder why the priest wasn't aware that the use of the wrong bread would result in an invalid consecration.

    Thank you so much for your comment. God bless!

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  9. Hi Sue,

    I've not heard of a priest using anything other than a wafer to consecrate. I would have felt as you did but it was an accident whether it's a consecrated host or not. I worry about being a Eucharistic Minister and dropping the consecrated host. It's never happened to me but I've seen it happen to another.

    Or I worry about spilling Jesus' blood. Once, when I was handing the chalice to a tall man, my ring somehow got momentarily stuck in his coat sleeve and the chalice jerked a bit... but Thank God, I didn't spill or drop the chalice. I couldn't imagine what I would do if that happened!

    ReplyDelete

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