Question: A couple of weeks ago in our parish Mass there was a large quantity of the Precious Blood remaining after a communion. Instead of drinking it, the leader of our squad of Eucharistic Ministers decided to pour it down a special sink in the sacristy which he said was made just for this purpose. Is this allowed? It seemed so irreverent to pour the Eucharist out like that.
Answer: Although the extraordinary minister of the Eucharist may have had good intentions, objectively to treat the Precious Blood in that way is a terrible sacrilege. The bishops of the United States have established norms recognized by the Holy See which are the minimum to be followed in the reverent treatment of the sacrament of the Precious Blood. Their Directory for the Celebration and Reception of Communion Under Both Kinds, promulgated in 1984, states: “Ministers shall always show the greatest reverence for the eucharistic species by their demeanor and in the manner in which they handle the consecrated bread or wine. Should there be any mishap, for example if the consecrated wine is spilled from the chalice, the area should be washed and the water poured into the sacrarium. After Communion, the eucharistic bread that remains is to be stored in the tabernacle. Care should be taken in regard to any fragments remaining on the corporal or in the sacred vessels. In those instances when there remains more consecrated wine than was necessary, the ministers shall consume it immediately at a side table before the Prayer After Communion, while the vessels themselves may be purified after Mass. The amount of wine to be consecrated should be carefully measured before the celebration so that none remains afterward . . . It is strictly prohibited to pour the Precious Blood into the ground or into the sacrarium (paragraphs 34-36, 38, emphases added).
The “sacrarium” is a special sink in the sacristy of most churches used for the disposal of sacred things that are no longer usable, for example, holy water, blessed ashes, and so on. The Blessed Sacrament is never “disposed” of. It must always be consumed (eaten or drunk) by a priest, deacon, an appointed minister, or one of the faithful.
In the introduction to the norms just quoted, the bishops give a clear and classical presentation of the Catholic dogma concerning the substantial and permanent presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Perhaps if we priests were as eager to give instruction in the sublime mysteries of the Faith as we are to involve the laity in various liturgical ministries, such horrible practices wouldn’t occur nearly as often as they do.
Question Answered by FR. HUGH BARBOUR, O.PRAEM