Good evening father,
I am writing to know what the priest should do if the consecrated hosts run out when he is distributing Communion.
I learned that some priests in that case reconsecrate the hosts for the faithful, but I believe this is not lawful, both because one cannot consecrate one thing without the other, and because it seems impossible to me that the consecration can be repeated in the same Mass. Unfortunately, I don’t find this particular case in the CIC, I don’t know where they talk about it. Can you help me? Thank you.
1. These problems were dealt with in the old manuals of moral theology.
The moral theologians of today say that these are not matters of their own, thus referring the question to the liturgists.
2. To solve the problem it is necessary to remember what the Mass is.
In the words of Saint Paul, it is the memorial of the Lord’s death.
In other words, it is the same as making Christ’s sacrifice on the cross present on our altars.
3. The sacrifice is made present in particular with the words of the consecration (anamnesis).
It is made present as the Lord has commanded and that is through the specific consecration of the bread and wine, which signifies the state of immolation.
4. Consecration is not a magical act that brings about the conversion of the substance of the bread into the substance of the Lord’s Body.
If this were the case, priests who have no hosts at the time of Communion could consecrate one species without the other.
But this, as I said, supposes a magical and mistaken meaning of the event of the consecration.
5. Consecrating only the bread is the same as starting to make Christ’s sacrifice present on the altar and not bringing it to completion.
For this reason, the Church strictly forbids such a way of proceeding because of the irreverence that is committed towards the Sacrament, because the sacrifice of the Lord is made to begin again without bringing it to completion.
For this reason the great moral theologian D. Prümmer writes: “It is never lawful to consecrate a host after the consecration has already taken place; this would mean sacrilegiously beginning an essential part of the Mass ”(Manuale theologiae moralis, III, 176).
6. Remaining without hosts, the priest has no choice but to exhort the faithful to take spiritual Communion.
I thank you for the question, I entrust you to God and I bless you.