The Host

When Mike and I were a young married couple we once attended Mass at St. John Eudes in Chatsworth, California. We had not been to Mass in a while. The only thing that I remembered from this experience was the feeling of joy after taking communion. I never forgot how wonderful it felt, but I was too detached from God to fully understand the profound meaning of ingesting the Body of Christ. As I slowly made my way back to living my Catholic roots, I discovered that missing the Host is what was most void in my life.

To serve as a Eucharistic Minister (EM) you must go through training. This  was a short tutorial on where to stand, what to say, and how to give communion. Simple, I thought to myself. The first time felt awkward, and I felt inadequate to do this. I also felt  that all eyes were on me, watching my every move. Then it was when a lady came up and opened her mouth with her tongue extended to receive communion. First I felt the fear of touching her tongue; then I worried that it might not make it to her mouth. Well, fear overtook me and on my first week as an EM I dropped the communion wafer on the ground. The lady quickly picked it up from the floor and ate it. I was mortified. During the training we were told to quickly pick up the Host (maybe this is where the five- second rule was established) but I could not remember what I was supposed to do with it. When it happened again, I quickly picked up the Host and tucked it into my hand while I handed out the communion to others. I took it to the priest and explained the situation. He quickly took it from me and  put it into his mouth and ate it. For five years I have been an EM, and with each day I become more confident in this sacred role. Our parish also serves as a Catholic school, so several times during the week students are required to attend a service.

About a month ago as I was raising my right hand with the Host and saying “The Body of Christ,” I noticed, as I handed the Host to a student, part of the body of Christ fell to the floor. It was not a big piece, but nonetheless, I knew it had fallen. I did not know how to handle this situation. So instead of picking up the particle of the communion wafer I waited until after Mass. My heart was beating for two reasons: First,  there were people praying at the altar, and I had to wait to not disrupt their prayer. Second, what if they stepped on it? My crazed thoughts were on overload when finally, after a few minutes, my eyes were glued to the area where I thought the particle of the Host fell. Allan, one of the sacristans came up to me and asked me what I was doing. “While I was giving communion, I saw a small piece fall to the ground,” I answered. As we both searched  the floor, I found it. I quickly placed it in my mouth, genuflected and walked away. Something was wrong! Whatever I put in my mouth was not part of anything holy. The first clue was that it did not dissolve, and it had the texture of a human finger/toenail. As I was exiting the church, I took it out of my mouth and gave a ladylike gag. I placed the foreign object into my jacket for further investigation. When I got home I gagged like a lumberjack because it was indeed someone’s discarded toenail!


Transubstantiation is the Catholic core belief that the bread and wine used for Communion become the Body and Blood of Christ. That’s why I experienced such joy when receiving Communion at St. John Eudes. It was the body and blood of Christ!

In a recent Pew survey, it was discovered that 69% of Catholics do not understand the holy concept of transubstantiation. These Catholics are under the fallacy that the Body and Blood of Christ  is merely a symbol. I am happy to report that out of the 31 % who believe in transubstantiation, I am one of them.

The Reverence 

After the last ordeal I investigated the proper protocol when you accidentally drop the Host, so that I could  be better prepared.  According to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, #280.

  1. Priest and Eucharistic Ministers must be extremely alert during the distribution of Holy Communion, making  sure the recipients consume the whole Sacred Host and immediately retrieving it if an accident occurs.
  2. When receiving Holy Communion, a recipient must put forth his tongue long enough so that the Sacred Host may be placed securely on it, or make a proper place in his or her  hands to receive it securely. The recipient should then step aside, still facing the altar, and consume the Sacred Host before returning to the pew. (I always practiced this, and this was before realizing it was part of the rules.)
  3. Lastly, if a Sacred Host falls to the floor, or even a piece of it, it should be retrieved and given to the priest at an appropriate time, such as at the end of communion when the priest is preparing  to purify the vessels.

What I found interesting is that the Host that falls to the floor and is too soiled to consume is to be placed in water until the wafer is dissolved. From there the water  is discarded into a special drain that does not feed into the sewer system;  rather it dissolves into the ground.

Last Week of Advent

We are approaching the celebration of the birth of our Lord. Please remember to take time to reflect on all the blessings He has bestowed on us. To understand our calling in life is to bring the Good News of our Savior’s Birth and Resurrection. Pray without ceasing and believe God for your Christmas miracle.

My Prayer

Dear Lord, continue to shed light on our world. Bring and end to this pandemic, an may the peace of God be upon us all. May we never forget to praise You. Lord, I worship You! I ask that You bring Christmas healing miracles to Bobbie, Amy and Bruce. Amen.

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