Questions Answered

Question: When we do not have enough consecrated bread for Holy Communion is it permitted to dip unconsecrated bread into consecrated wine? Does the Council of Trent give special permission in this regard?

Answer: I am constantly amazed by the strange liturgical abuses which occur in the celebration of Mass today. Apparently, some priests from India and Indonesia recently suggested this practice as a possible solution to a shortage of hosts during Mass. The practice you relate is perhaps some strange interpretation of a prior Church practice described by the bishops in their newsletter of July, 2004 when they addressed the issue of the pouring of the Precious Blood from a pitcher or carafe. It is worth quoting:

Widespread evidence of the distribution of Holy Communion under both kinds to the faithful dates at least from the time of Hippolytus and continues into the twelfth century. From the seventh century, the Roman ordines describe a practice whereby at the time of the distribution of Holy Communion (but not during the fractio) a small amount of wine from the main chalice (calix sanctus) was poured into a chalice of unconsecrated wine (calix ministerialis) held by the deacon. The admixture of the Precious Blood and unconsecrated wine in the chalice for distribution was called the sanguis Dominicus, though there is disagreement in the liturgical tradition as to whether the mixed substance was to be considered the Precious Blood in a strict sense.

There is also a tradition that if one runs short of holy water, one can add unblessed water to blessed holy water and the contact between the two will make the unblessed water holy.

It should be obvious though that the example of holy water is in no way comparable to the example of the Precious Blood. Holy water is merely a sign of the action of grace. It is a sacramental. The growth in grace depends on the disposition of the person receiving it. A sacramental does not communicate grace in its own right. Even the case of another sacrament would not apply to the Eucharist. This is the reason that the bishop’s document states that though there was a practice in this regard at some time in the Church, it was questionable whether the unconsecrated wine poured into the consecrated wine become consecrated. Since the teaching of the Church on transubstantiation developed, this should be easily clarified. The being of the wine, substance and accident, is completely changed to the being of Christ. As a result, mere exterior touching or mixing would not change either substance which remain two, even though one could not tell them apart sensibly. They both have the appearances of wine.

Perhaps the priest who did such a thing might claim some justification in a practice permitted by the Council of Trent. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal states:

If the priest notices after the consecration or as he receives Communion that no wine but only water was poured into the chalice, he pours the water into some container, then pours wine with water into the chalice and consecrates it. He says only the part of the institution narrative related to the consecration of the chalice, without being obliged to consecrate the bread again.

This is obviously for the sake of the integrity of the sacrifice.

The same principle would not apply to dipping the unconsecrated host into the chalice as it remains merely bread. Nor would it apply to just quickly consecrating more hosts. The document Redemptionis Sacramentum clarified this:

The communicant must not be permitted to intinct the host himself in the chalice, nor to receive the intincted host in the hand. As for the host to be used for the intinction, it should be made of valid matter, also consecrated; it is altogether forbidden to use non-consecrated bread or other matter. (104)

Many priests probably do these things in good faith, but they are nonetheless abuses.


Question: I am a convert and devout Catholic. I love my Church and would like to do more for it. However I have a same-sex attraction. I live chastely but have been told I cannot join a religious order. Is there something more I could do for my Church? I would really like to.

Answer: Provided one is living chastely, there should be no impediment to participating in many ministries in your parish from sacristan to lector. One can also sing in the choir, perhaps be an usher or official greeter. The fact that some vocation would not be prudent to embrace in no sense means that a person who experiences this difficulty should feel marginalized. Though the Catechism of the Catholic Church makes it clear that homosexual activity is a grave and unnatural sin for those who are completely responsible for it, this in no sense means that SSA is something to be ashamed of or keep one from full participation in parish life.

The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection. (2358-9)

The very fact that a person is called to a more difficult self-mastery and through prayer participates more in this growth can be a kind of martyrdom for the sake of detachment. This can be both a means of greater interior personal growth in charity and as a sign to others of the possibility of the healing power of divine grace can encourage others to embrace whatever struggles they have with the desire to dominate others with a more spontaneous and loving frame of mind.

After all, the grace of baptism introduces each person into union and transformation in the life of the Holy Trinity. Both homosexuals and heterosexuals are called to embrace a chaste life to experience the depths of this grace.

Another important point to keep clear is that the vocation of the laity is not to become mini-clerics, but to transform the secular society. This is also the basis of their implementation of the universal call to holiness. Your friends, your family relationships, your business practices are all connected to your own growth in charity. In fact, the proper sphere for this activity is the apostolate of the laity in which they transform the world simply living as a holy Christian. You need to do nothing more than that. In this you would be fulfilling the universal call to holiness, so dear to the Fathers at Vatican II. By baptism you share in Christ’s three-fold office of priest, prophet and king.

As prophet you are called to teach the faith primarily by example. Thomas Aquinas distinguishes various teaching roles in the Church:

There are many types of instruction. One is conversion to the faith, which Dionysius attributes to the bishop in Chapter II of The Ecclesiastical Hierarchies. This can befit any preacher or even any one of the faithful. The second is instruction by which someone is instructed in the rudiments of the faith and how to comport oneself in receiving the sacraments: this belongs secondarily to the ministers, primarily to the priests. The third is instruction in the mode of the Christian life and this belongs to the godparents. The fourth is the instruction in the profound mysteries of faith and on the perfection of Christian life. This belongs to bishops ex officio—in virtue of their office. (Summa Theologiae, III, 71, 4 ad 3)

As priest you can participate in the entire sacramental life of the Church except marriage. This does not mean you cannot experience spousal love but cannot do this after the manner of this world. You can experience spousal love as virgins do.

As king, your self-mastery leads you to a greater maturity in grace. It also is the source of your cross to bear. In being a model for others you can also encourage them to self-mastery.

For all these reasons please see the very rich possibilities that exist for you as a member of the Church which enable you to participate more deeply in Church life.

Fr. Brian Mullady, OP About Fr. Brian Mullady, OP

Fr. Brian T. Mullady, OP, entered the Dominican Order in 1966 and was ordained in 1972. He has been a parish priest, high school teacher, retreat master, mission preacher, and university professor. He has had seven series on EWTN and is the author of two books and numerous articles, including his regular column in HPR, “Questions Answered.”

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Fr. Brian T. Mullady, O.P.
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Portland, OR 97232
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  1. Avatar Gregorio V Climaco says:

    All of the above are true but what’s missing, I believe, is the urgent need for emotional or psychological therapy for curing the homosexual inclination.