ROME, 22 JUNE 2010 (ZENIT)
Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara,
professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.
Q: If, after the consecration of the bread, the priest dies or
forgets the consecration of the wine, do we have a Mass? I know
that the consecrated host is the Body of Christ. Is the
consecration of the wine absolutely necessary for a valid Mass?
A: In part, we have responded to this question, albeit as a
follow-up, on Jan. 29, 2008. The reply was partly based on a
moral and pastoral theology manual published by Jesuit Father
Henry Davis in 1935.
The nucleus of our answer regarding the interruption of Mass
"Should a priest have to interrupt the Mass due to illness or
another grave reason after he has consecrated either or both
and is unlikely to be able to recover sufficiently within an
there is a grave obligation to have the celebration continued by
"In grave emergencies even a priest who has been excommunicated,
suspended or otherwise irregular may finish the Mass.
"If the first priest is able to communicate he should be given
communion from the species consecrated during the Mass.
"If no priest is immediately available, the hosts and the
chalice (even if not yet consecrated) should be placed in the
tabernacle until a priest can come to finish the Mass.
"The interval elapsing between the two parts may be of any
duration but should be as soon as possible.
"If not-yet-consecrated wine were to spoil, or be certain to
spoil, before a priest can come to consecrate it, then it may be
poured down the sacrarium and replaced with new matter (wine and
water) when the priest arrives.
"Only in very rare and extreme situations may the consecrated
species of an interrupted Mass be consumed. Such occasions would
be, for example, an imminent danger of profanation of the sacred
species or the objective impossibility of safely keeping them,
such as during wartime conditions or a climate where the species
of wine would certainly become corrupt before a priest can come
to complete the Mass.
"If the interruption were to occur before the consecration, with
no priest to continue the celebration and no other Masses
reasonably available, then a deacon, instituted acolyte or
authorized extraordinary minister could distribute Communion
from the tabernacle using the rite for Communion outside of
"If the interruption occurs after the priest's communion, then
the same ministers can administer the consecrated species to the
faithful using the same rite."
From what has been said, it is clear that the consecration of
wine is an absolute necessity for a valid Mass. And the priest's
communion is necessary for its completeness as a sign of
sacrifice. It is true that Christ is really present in the hosts
immediately after the consecration of the bread, but the
sacrifice of the Mass requires the consecration of both species.
If a priest forgets to consecrate the chalice and then
administers the hosts to the faithful they would receive the
Body of Christ but, strictly speaking, would not have
participated at the sacrifice of the Mass. It would not even be
the same as the distribution of Communion outside of Mass as
hosts thus received are the fruit of a complete sacrifice.
Should this happen, the deacon, an acolyte or anybody at all
should immediately inform the priest that he has not consecrated
the wine. The priest should then interrupt the Eucharistic
Prayer and proceed to consecrate the wine before continuing. He
should preferably repeat the second part of the Eucharistic
Prayer as these orations only make sense in the presence of the
complete sacrifice. If he finds out later, say just before
communion, he would only need to say the words of consecration.
If it happens that a priest is told that he omitted the
consecration of the chalice after the Mass is over, he should
privately complete the sacrifice by pouring wine and water into
the chalice, consecrate and consume the Sanguis.
The same basic principles would apply in the less likely
situation of a priest skipping directly to the consecration of
the chalice omitting the consecration of the hosts. The change
in order of the two consecrations would not invalidate the Mass.
Needless to say, such distractions ought never to occur, but
and priestly humanity is no exception
is fraught with imperfections and limitations. Thus, such things