Wednesday, March 29, 2017


Our previous post opened the possibility of confession via face time ala The Jestsons! When one travels to Rome and wants a religious article bless by the pope or to receive a papal blessing with all the indulgences, one may receive these blessings from a distance and any relious articles are blessed too and if one is watching a papal blessing live on TV, the same blessings is validly extended to the one watching TV.

Could the Church in her infinite pastoral ministry allow bread and wine placed before the TV at a live celebration of the Mass where the celebrant has the intention of consecrating those elements for the Catholic who is watching and waiting to receive Holy Communion?
In 1979 as a seminarian, I was chosen to be an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion (I was an installed acolyte at that point) at Pope St. John Paul's Mass on the Mall in Washington, DC. The organizers gave us who were to distribute Holy Communion wooden salad bowls (which I still have) filled with unconsecrated hosts covered in plastic wrap. I was about a block from the Holy Father, and it is said that it was His Holiness intention to consecrate all these hundreds of thousand of Host held by those who would then distribute Holy Communion to the vast throngs.

So consecration at a distance is plausible and I suspect could be extended to a live celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass to homes and bread and wine awaiting consecration with the intention of the celebrant to make it happen.



Anonymous said...

Consecration by TV is only slightly more absurd and ridiculous than the purported consecration at a distance (as you describe) at these unfortunate papal spectacles, where mass distribution of hosts--sacrilegiously distributed if they're not validly consecrated, often sacrilegiously handled or received if they are--leads to so much sacrilege, and calls into question the faith and belief of these responsible for these profoundly disturbing events.

rcg said...

My concern is not that it could be done but that it would be handled with the same level of respect and reverence as the dispensation from meat on Fridays by the USCCB. This is too important for the current crop of leaders ad hoc unless they pick someone ala Ranjith, Sin, or Sarah with both reverence and experience.

James said...

Taking communion is (or ought to be, except in extremis) a public profession of faith and repentance, so consecration at a distance seems like a non-starter. How would priests stop unrepentant divorcees, satanists and so on from joining in?

I guess virtual consecration could work under highly controlled circumstances, e.g. if a specific group of people known to a priest, and living in a remote area, were to be watching a private broadcast of a mass. That seems like the only way to satisfy the intention criterion fully, since a priest can't have a blanket intention to consecrate hosts in locations he's not aware of.

From what I recall, the indulgences that accrue from attending certain papal masses don't apply to virtual attendees, presumably because they haven't gone to any trouble to attend. This suggests that the Vatican regards those watching masses on TV as passive rather than active participants, which I suppose would be another argument against virtual consecration.

Stephen Conner said...

No way! Holy Communion via television could be an open door to many abuses, including those who would have the bread and wine consecrated via TV and then commit a sacrilege with the consecrated host and Most Precious Blood. If the Holy See were to allow such a practice, then I believe it should only be allowed for extreme cases, such as homebound persons, extreme sickness and/or injury, hospitalization or hospice patients. Each "extreme case" would need approval of the Archbishop, an Auxiliary Bishop or Bishop of the respective Archdiocese or diocese. Providing for those who want to go to Mass, but for extreme health reasons cannot, and preventing abuse and sacrilege, all at the same time.

mf said...

It's my understanding that the matter must be visible, within sight, of the minister for it to be validly consecrated.
We are also dealing with the difference between sacraments and sacramentals. The sacramentals can be more broadly confected as the Church allows. Sacraments however do not enjoy the same discretion.
There has also been some discussion of theologians about the validity of hosts consecrated outside of the vision of the celebrant, even if it is at a papal Mass.

John Nolan said...

JP II allowed an indulgence to be gained via television. I don't recall the details, but it was a 'first'.

In the Roman Rite the ciborium is placed on the altar and uncovered at the consecration. A ciborium left on the credence table would not be consecrated.

Since the Novus Ordo is supposed to confect the same Sacrament, the same would logically apply. The fact that a Vatican official rules that elements to be consecrated need not be on the altar, and indeed may be several streets away, does not change anything.

Even were the pope to declare this to be so, it would make no difference. What is invalid in one rite cannot be valid in another.

Stephen Conner said...

Great point, John Nolan, regarding the credence table. When I go to Daily Mass at Immaculate Conception, in Dublin, GA, the credence table is literally a couple of steps away from the altar. The room used for Daily Mass there is large enough to only seat around 30, if that large. So you can imagine how tight the space is for seating, the altar, ambo, credence table and center aisle for the celebrant to reach the altar from the only entrance in the back. The set-up is perfect for Daily Mass in that particular parish and I really like it. However, if the hosts on the credence table, just three steps to the side of the altar, are not consecrated during the Mass, how can hosts a half-mile or more away...or even those in the living room of someone watching on television? My thinking and question I would pose, unless I am missing something.

Anonymous said...

Not an expert, but doesn't the priest have to speak into the chalice and into the host? The priest at my parish always makes a point of doing that. Doesn't the chalice and host have to be on the altar too? I thought they had to be on the altar stone? Those mega masses were never a great idea, but JP2 wanted to contrast the Mass with all of the other arena events of those decades. Good intention? Good practice? Yes and no.

Carol H. said...

I think I heard Mother Angelica say on one of her live shows, that in order to receive an indulgence via television, one must watch the LIVE event and be unable to personally attend. Rebroadcasts, while spiritually uplifting and beneficial, do not carry the indulgence.

Anonymous said...

Anon- There is no requirement that the priest "speak into the chalice and into the host." Nor is there a requirement that the elements to be consecrated must be "on the altar."

Gene said...

They could sell Wal Mart Computer Communion it, take it home, sit in front of the computer and follow the instructions on where to click. Place your hand on the monitor screen (remember Oral Roberts), while you imbibe the elements....Hey!! I think I just saw the face of Christ in my Apple!

Anonymous said...

What one CAN do profitably while viewing a televised Mass, is to make an act of spiritual communion(*). Which some Catholic theologians have taught can have a spiritual value as great as actual sacramental holy communion itself. And, indeed, which might be preferable to the questionable communions at some public mega-Masses.

(*) For example, the act of spiritual communion attributed to St. Alphonsus Liguori:

My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament. I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.

John Nolan said...

So, answer the question. Since we are referring to the Sacrament of the Eucharist, instituted by OLJC, are we to believe that what would be invalid in the Roman Rite as it has developed over nearly two millennia should be considered valid in the Novus Ordo, an artificial rite cobbled together less than 50 years ago?

And on whose authority would such an assumption be based?

'There is no requirement ...' Again, who says this and on what authority? Does anyone have any evidence that in the long history of the Roman Rite elements NOT placed on the altar were consecrated?

If so, let him come forward and present it. Any takers?

Anonymous said...

If the requirement is there, cite it. Easy Peasy.

John Nolan said...

The requirement is in the rubrics of the Missale Romanum 1962. The vessel containing extra Hosts for the people's Communion is to be placed on the altar behind the Chalice; the priest is to uncover it with his right hand at the Offertory and again at the Consecration.

Fr McDonald related that once, when celebrating an EF Mass, the ciborium was inadvertently left on the credence. He concluded that it had not been consecrated. That the consecration take place on the Altar of Sacrifice is intrinsic to the Roman Rite, hence the clear (and prescriptive) rubric.

The point I am making is that in a matter as important as this there cannot be 'grey areas' and that what is invalid in the Roman Rite cannot be any less invalid in the Novus Ordo. If one holds to the view that the Novus Ordo is the 'Traditional Mass' then the argument holds even more force.

Based on both evidence and logic, it is far from clear that the salad bowl wafers distributed by seminarians in 1979 were the Body, Blood, Soul and Divin1ty of Our Lord, really and substantially present.

You can't make up the rules as you go along, and anything concerning the validity of the Sacraments needs to be taken seriously. Easy Peasy it ain't.

Anonymous said...

The rubrics of the 1962 Missale Romanum are not authoritative in Masses not celebrated according to those norms.

John Nolan said...

'The rubrics of the 1962 Missale Romanum are not authoritative in Masses not celebrated according to those norms.'

No-one is suggesting that they are. However, they indicate that there was (and still is, since the pre-1970 Roman Rite was never abrogated) a requirement that the elements to be consecrated be placed on the Altar of Sacrifice. If not, then why have an altar at all? The Protestants answered this by removing altars and denying the sacrificial nature of the Mass.

I can find nothing in the GIRM which suggests this requirement no longer exists. Indeed, para. 306 has the ciborium placed on the altar along with the chalice and paten from the Offertory until the Ablutions.

To say that it never was a requirement requires at least some evidence from the long history of the Roman Rite (not to mention valid non-Roman Rites) that attempts were made to consecrate elements which were not placed on the altar. Does any evidence exist?

On the other hand, to acknowledge that there was a requirement but it no longer applies, or that it applies in some rites but not in others, or that it applies in some circumstances but not in others, is problematic to say the least. Are there any official documents to support any of these contentions?

TJM said...

John Nolan,

You won't hear back from Anonymous at 4:38

John Nolan said...


I wouldn't count on it. But one can be assured that he won't address any of the questions raised.

Anonymous said...

I think it goes back to the example that Jesus gave when he healed the Centurion's servant from a distance. Distance doesn't matter since it is not the Priest that does the actual transubstantiation rather it is Jesus. Once the priest says the words for consecration all those united even from a distance reap the benefits of his words because Jesus is the one that does the rest of the work not the priest. Like the miracle of the healing of the nobleman's son (John 4:46-54), the healing of the centurion's servant (Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10) reveals Christ as able to heal from a distance merely by the power of His word. Because of his experience as a commander, the centurion knew that it was not necessary for Jesus to come to his home to visit the sick servant and pray while standing over the afflicted. Then, as now, distance is not a factor in Christ's ability to heal or work a miracle; His word is sufficient whether near or far. We can receive a plenary indulgence from a Papal TV blessing because it is not the Pope that gives the grace but God himself that gives it to the people. There are millions of people who cannot leave their homes. I definitely see how this would benefit millions of people in the future if Eucharist could be transubstantiated via the live televised mass.