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An experiment with an unconsecrated host demonstrating how many particles of the Eucharist fall from the host when received in the hand
(original source from Fr. John Zuhlsdorf's blog)



God the Son lowered himself
even to becoming a man two thousand years ago

The Incarnation of God the Son as a human child conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary was the fulfillment of God’s promise to send a Savior to the world and also was a powerful manifestation and example of the Savior’s humility which all His followers are called to learn and practice. 

St. John the Apostle and Evangelist described this event of God the Son’s Incarnation as the shining of the life-giving light in the darkness of the world, but deplored that the world did not comprehend or accept it (John 1:4, 5, 11).  Because of the minds and hearts of many people were darkened and hardened by their sins, they only saw the human nature and appearance of the Savior and refused to recognize His Divinity when He stood before them; condemned Him as a blasphemer; and crucified Him.  The Lord even performed many miracles to prove that He was truly the Son of God and was sent by the Father to the world as its Savior, but many people still continued to perceive Him only as an ordinary countryman and a carpenter from Nazareth, and, thus, failed to seize the precious opportunity of salvation that their ancestors had been waiting for thousands of years.  Only the few who were humble in heart and feared God understood that Jesus was truly the Messiah.  


The Incarnate God the Son, Jesus, now lowers Himself even to looking like bread and wine in the Blessed Sacrament

Now, two thousand years later, the opportunity of salvation is being offered to us in the basically same way as before with a test of our humility and filial love and fear of God.  This test is necessary, because we humans have free will and, thus, can and must decide on our own destiny and on how we will live to achieve our goals.  The test two thousand years ago was to recognize and accept Jesus as the true Son of God and Savior, without being inhibited by the divine Savior’s human nature and appearance.  It was not possible to correctly recognize and faithfully accept Him unless one had the lowliness of the heart and the willingness to listen to God and obey His Will.  Now, the same Savior, Jesus, approaches us through His Real Presence in the Eucharist, which can be perceived only as bread and wine by human eyes.  Again, without the lowliness of the heart and the filial love and fear of God, it would be impossible to penetrate the external appearances of the Eucharist and see the true reality of the Eucharist, which is the Real and Living Presence of the whole and entire Jesus with His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. If the main priorities in our daily life are human vanities and secular gains, we will not be able to recognize and accept the true Reality of the Eucharist, which is Our Lord Himself, and give Him the worship of latria, which is due only to God. 

Thanks to the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the Catholic faithful are immensely blessed with the perpetual Emmanuel, meaning God With Us, without any excuse to envy the earlier Jewish people who could see, hear, and touch Our Lord and walk and eat with Him.  The Holy Eucharist and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, in which Our Lord in the Eucharist is offered to the Father in a re-presentation of the Sacrifice on the Cross, are the core of the Catholic Faith and Life.

According to the Protestant teachings, on the other hand, the bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper are only symbols of the Lord’s Body and Blood.  In the Protestant faith, the concept of Our Lord’s Real and Full Presence with us on earth during the time between the Lord’s Ascension and His Second Coming is lacking, and this makes it difficult to accept the fact of Our Lord’s exercising His own authority and power in feeding His sheep by teaching them the infallible truths, forgiving their sins, and performing other pastoral duties for their sanctification through His ministers in the Church.

After the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, through the works of some progressive theologians, who misinterpreted and misapplied the Council Fathers’ teachings especially on the relationship with other Christian communities and other religions, the tendency to de-emphasize the traditional and authentic Catholic teachings and moral commandments has spread all over the world.  The solid faith among many Catholics before the Council has weakened and become equivocated especially regarding the Divinity of Jesus Christ, the Church being the Mystical Body of Christ, the Holy Eucharist, the Blessed Mother, the Papal authority, the Sacrament of Confession, penance, miracles, and so on, creating widespread confusion and disorder in the Church.  The relaxation of the doctrinal and moral discipline among the Catholic faithful has not expedited the evangelization of the world or brought about a deeper understanding and trust with other religious communities but resulted in many desertions from the sacerdotal and religious vocations, a shocking increase in the number of the Catholic laity who abandoned their practice of the faith, and a steep fall in the number of converts from other Christian communities to the Catholic Faith.  It is an undeniable fact that the Church is in a major crisis.  Of course, the Church will never succumb to the power of hell as the Lord promised (Matthew 16:18), but the urgent need for a genuine, universal reform of the clergy and laity in the Church with a restored discipline with regard to both the revealed truths and the moral commandments is so obvious.


The Church teachings about the fragments of the Eucharist

The presumption that the question of how to perceive and handle the little broken pieces of the Eucharist must be a trivial one is totally mistaken and is not compatible with the official Church teachings. Actually, this question is one of the central and most serious issues facing everyone who practices the Catholic Faith.  The question regarding the importance of the fragments of the Eucharist is the same as the question about whether Our Lord is really present in the fragments of the Eucharist or not.  If there were no Real Presence of Our Lord in them, this question would indeed be a trivial one.  The following are excerpts from the relevant teachings of the Church and the Saints. 

1.  “The Eucharistic presence of Christ endures as long as the Eucharistic species subsist.  Christ is present whole and entire in each of the species and whole and entire in each of their parts, in such a way that the breaking of the bread does not divide Christ” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #1377).       

2.  “Do not now regard as bread that which I have given you; but take, eat this Bread, and do not tread upon (or crush, grind—conteratis) its crumbs (micas); for what I have called My Body, that it is indeed.  One particle from its crumbs (e micis ejus) is able to sanctify thousands of thousands, and is sufficient to afford life to those who eat of it” (St. Ephrem, Hymni et sermons, IV, 4).    

3.  “Partake of it, but be sure not to lose any of it.  For if you lose any of it, you would clearly suffer a loss, as it were of your own limbs.  Tell me, if anyone gave you gold dust, would you not take hold of it with every possible care, ensuring that you would not drop any of it or suffer any loss?  So will you not be much more cautious to ensure that not a crumb falls away from that which is more precious than gold or precious stones?”  (St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechesis mystagogica V, 21-22, PG 33).

4.  “Also in every part of the consecrated host or the consecrated wine, when separated, the whole Christ is there” (Council of Florence (1438-1445), Decree for the Armenians, DS #1322). 

5.  “In fact the faithful thought themselves guilty, and rightly so, if after they received the Body of the Lord in order to preserve it with all care and reverence, a small fragment of it fell off through negligence” (Pope Paul VI, Mysterium Fidei, no. 58, September 3, 1965).

6.  “Receive it: be careful lest you lose any of it.  Further, the practice which must be considered traditional ensures, more effectively, that holy communion is distributed with the proper respect, decorum and dignity.  It removes the danger of profanation of the sacred species, in which, in a unique way, Christ, God and man, is present whole and entire, substantially and continually” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Memoriale Domini).

7.  “After Holy Communion, not only should the remaining Hosts and the particles that have fallen from them that retain the appearance of bread be reverently preserved or consumed, as the reverence due to Christ’s eucharistic Presence, but even for the other fragments of Hosts the directions for purifying the patens and chalice should be observed as they are found in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, De Particulis et fragmentis hostiarum reverenter conservandis vel sumendis, May 2, 1972).

8.     Especially in the manner of receiving Holy Communion (in the hand) some points indicated from experience should be most carefully observed.  Let the greatest diligence and care be taken particularly with regard to fragments, which perhaps break off the hosts.  This applies to the minister and to the recipient whenever the Sacred Host is placed in the hands of the communicant” (Congregation for Divine Worship and Sacraments, Immensae Caritatis, January 25, 1973).


Some special reasons that expedited the erosion of the Eucharistic devotion since the mid-1960s

It was indicated above that the general erosion of the traditional doctrinal and moral discipline in the Church in recent decades had been caused by the activities of the progressive theologians who misinterpreted and misapplied the teachings of the Second Vatican Council to the life in the Church against the Council Fathers’ intentions.  These priests were carried away by the so-called “Spirit of Vatican II” and misled the faithful into thinking that the Church was moving away from some of her doctrines to keep pace with the modern world and to accommodate to the Protestants and also that the teachings of the previous Councils—especially, the teachings of the Council of Trent in the 16th Century—were no longer valid in our modern world.  A most conspicuous example of this radical mentality in the Church was the appearance of a new catechism in the Netherlands: De Nieuwe Katechismus, 1966, in which the traditional teaching on the Holy Eucharist was compromised by a new theory that focused not on the changes in the substances of bread and wine but on the changes in the signification or purpose of the bread and wine; distorted the teaching on the original sin; justified artificial birth controls; raised doubts about the existence of human soul and the angels; and stated or implied many other deviations and dilutions from the authentic Church teachings.  This new Dutch catechism had a strong influence on the liberal clergy in many countries.

Another significant development that made a profound contribution to the weakening of the traditional Eucharistic devotion worldwide was Fr. Karl Rahner’s presentation of a new theory on the Holy Eucharist in his book: Theological Investigations, 1966.  In his book, Fr. Rahner defined the Eucharist as a meal that God gives us for spiritual nourishment and, based on this definition, said that the Eucharist must have the appearance of a meal to be valid.  He further said that the Lord could not be present in any of the little broken pieces of the Eucharist, because they do not have the appearance of a meal prepared for us.  Fr. Rahner also stated that as soon as the Eucharist enters the communicant’s stomach and begins being digested by the enzymes, there is no longer the Lord’s Presence in it, because the Eucharist that is even partially digested cannot be considered a meal any longer.  It is truly amazing that so many priests so credulously embraced Fr. Rahner’s new theory in preference to the official teachings of the Church.  Fr. Rahner is a theologian and, as such, the truthfulness of his teachings is not automatically supported by the teaching authority of the Church.  Any individual’s theological writings and speeches should be weighed by the standards of the official Church teachings before they can be accepted as authentic.  If they fail this test, they are only speculative private opinions that are likely to confuse people rather than enlighten them.

In Fr. Rahner’s theory, “the appearance of a meal” is the key standard in determining whether the Eucharist contains the Lord’s Real Presence or not.  On the contrary, the Church teaching says: “The Eucharistic presence of Christ endures as long as the Eucharistic species subsist.  Christ is present whole and entire in each of the species and whole and entire in each of their parts, in such a way that the breaking of the bread does not divide Christ (Catechism of the Catholic Church #1377).  These two standards used in discerning Our Lord’s Eucharistic Presence are not the same.  The Church teaching clearly says that the broken parts of the Eucharist do contain the whole and entire presence of Christ as long as they retain the species of bread and wine (whether they look like a meal or not).  The requirement of “looking like a meal” is a subjective concept formed in individuals’ minds and has nothing to do with the objective facts of the Eucharistic species of bread and wine.  A grain of salt, for example, still is real salt, even though it may not look like a meal.  Fr. Rahner replaced a key concept in the official Church doctrine with a different concept concocted by him.  His assertion regarding the Eucharist is an error and only incites more erosion of the Eucharistic faith and devotion in people’s minds. 


What about the particles of the Eucharist that are too small to be visible to our eyes?

As indicated above, the Church teaching says that the broken parts of the Eucharist do contain the whole and entire Presence of Our Lord, but does not specify the smallest size of the fragment of the Eucharist that still retains the Real Presence of the Lord.  According to science, the smallest unit of a matter that still retains its property is the molecule.  A molecule, however, is too small to be seen by human eyes.  Then, it seems theoretically possible that there are very small particles of the Eucharist that are not visible to us but are still valid Eucharist.  On the other hand, we need to trust God’s infinite power and wisdom and accept that God will only require us to do our best and do not worry about what is beyond our power.  What we are unable to handle, He will.  In fact, this is what Fr. H. Noldin and Fr. Albertus Schmitt, both Jesuit theologians before the Second Vatican Council, stated in their book: Summa Theologiae Moralis Iuxta Codicem Iuris Canonici.  Their guideline was generally accepted in the Church as correct and appropriate before the Second Vatican Council and should remain the same after the Council.



The problem in our time is not about the Eucharistic fragments that are too small to be seen by our eyes but about the visible fragments and particles that are being handled carelessly as if they did not contain Our Lord’s Full Presence, are being lost or even knowingly disposed of.  This is a problem caused by the lack of faith and is a sacrilege.  (When the Eucharist is received in the hand, little particles sometimes (more frequently than generally known) remain in the hand and get lost.)  A careful, loving care of the little pieces of the Eucharist, on the other hand, will be an expression of our faith in the truth that Our Lord taught us and of our little-but-genuine love for Our Lord even when He is situated in a lowly and helpless condition.  We live in a world where external power and glamour are highly valued, but this is not how God judges us and weighs our works.  God is looking for true love that necessarily goes with humility and self-denial.  That is why Our Lord often comes to us in a lowly appearance, hiding His divine glory and power.  If we despise the small size and lowly appearance of the Eucharist and its fragments, we will not be able to recognize Him, the incarnate God the Son dwelling among us, even if we consider ourselves as friends of His. 

It also seems that this same principle applies to the question of abortion.  Because these babies in their mothers’ wombs are small and unable to defend themselves, we may be tempted to despise them, trivialize them, and unhesitatingly get rid of them when they are deemed inconvenient.  Their small sizes and weakness, however, will not be acceptable excuses before God for taking their lives.

The evil of neglecting and mistreating the fragments and particles of the Holy Eucharist seems to have spread all over the world along with the general weakening of the Eucharistic Faith and Devotion.  The spiritual and moral debts that we have incurred before God because of our carelessness and coldness toward the Holy Eucharist, the countless abortions and other sins must be enormous and rising fast every day.  We must urgently spread the truth about this crisis to awaken more people and also pray hard and offer up penance every day to appease the just wrath of God, who has already been too offended but is still holding back the terrifying punishment, because He is anxious not to chastise us but to send down overflowing blessings upon us.


    Benedict Sang M. Lee
Mary’s Touch By Mail
Gresham, Oregon, U. S. A.
December 8, 2009

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