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Planning for the Correct Number of Hosts for Communion

Reflections for Liturgy

Copyright © 2003 by

Rick Swenton
106 Melinda Lane
Bristol, CT 06010-7199
All Rights Reserved

Permission is granted for use of this work in parish liturgy or music programs in a non-commercial setting provided that no fee is charged and that this copyright notice remains on all copies.

Planning for the Correct Number of Hosts for Communion

November 24, 2002

As some of you have noticed, there has been more than one time when the number of communion wafers consecrated at Mass was not enough to serve the number of people coming forward to receive. What a GREAT testimonial for our parish to say that we have a very high demand for reception of the Eucharist! Since there are so many people receiving, why don’t we just have more hosts available, perhaps from the tabernacle? There is a very good reason.

The church requires that the communion bread be consecrated and distributed at Mass and not drawn from a source of previously consecrated bread in the tabernacle. The Eucharist is a meal of celebration and all are invited to share in the meal. When you come to Mass, you are invited to share the food prepared at that meal. So we do our best to estimate the number of hosts to use without going under or over.

The Second Vatican Council in 1963 addressed the importance of the faithful receiving communion from the same Mass they are attending. In the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (the primary ritual book of the church) we read that the Vatican Council II strongly endorsed “that more complete form of participation in the Mass by which the faithful, after the priest's communion, receive the Lord's body from the same sacrifice.” We also read, “It is most desirable that the faithful receive the Lord's body from hosts consecrated at the same Mass and that, in the instances when it is permitted, they share in the chalice. Then even through the signs communion will stand out more clearly as a sharing in the sacrifice actually being celebrated.”

So, here’s what we do at St. Joseph. We know the average number of hosts needed for each of our four Masses. Our goal is to have enough hosts consecrated at each mass to serve the number of people receiving without going under OR over too much. If we go under, we will draw hosts reserved in the tabernacle. The primary use of the hosts in the tabernacle is for the sick, hospitalized and homebound. While rare, if there is an unusual demand for communion, it is possible to deplete the hosts in the tabernacle. We prefer not to go over because we only need enough for those we serve outside the Mass. What would we do with all the extra hosts if people are supposed to receive the bread that was consecrated at the Mass they are attending? It is a constant challenge to estimate the correct number.

While communion is very important, it is not the only real presence of Christ at Mass. The Second Vatican Council again says that the Mass is the source and summit of Christian life because of the four important ways that Christ becomes physically present to us:

  • Christ is present in the Word – the sacred scripture.
  • Christ is present in the gathered assembly.
  • Christ is present in the presiding priest.
  • Christ is present in the shared meal – the bread and wine.

If you were not able to receive communion at your Mass and you want to receive outside of Mass, please approach one of the priests, the deacon or one of our Eucharistic Ministers. They can take you to the chapel to receive communion from the tabernacle there. Thank you for your understanding.

Copyright © 1997 - 2007 - Rick Swenton. All rights reserved.

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