Can a communion host be made differently?
The valid material of the Eucharistic host is unadulterated wheat reduced to flour, diluted with natural water, and baked with fire. Host (Catholic Encyclopaedia)
The shape of a communion host may be different, but generally speaking hosts in the Latin Rite are round. Hosts in many Eastern Rite Churches are cubic in shape.
What if we make hosts wrapped in clear edible coating that would prevent crumbling and also people from touching the bread?
The short answer to this is that it would be invalid matter. Redemptionis Sacramentum is very clear on this matter.
The bread used in the celebration of the Most Holy Eucharistic Sacrifice must be unleavened, purely of wheat, and recently made so that there is no danger of decomposition. It follows therefore that bread made from another substance, even if it is grain, or if it is mixed with another substance different from wheat to such an extent that it would not commonly be considered wheat bread, does not constitute valid matter for confecting the Sacrifice and the Eucharistic Sacrament. It is a grave abuse to introduce other substances, such as fruit or sugar or honey, into the bread for confecting the Eucharist. Hosts should obviously be made by those who are not only distinguished by their integrity, but also skilled in making them and furnished with suitable tools. (no. 48)
Thus anything more than wheat and water added to the confection of a communion host would constitute invalid matter.
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal has this to say about communion hosts:
By reason of the sign, it is required that the material for the Eucharistic Celebration truly have the appearance of food. Therefore, it is desirable that the Eucharistic Bread, even though unleavened and made in the traditional form, be fashioned in such a way that the Priest at Mass with the people is truly able to break it into parts and distribute these to at least some of the faithful. However, small hosts are not at all excluded when the large number of those receiving Holy Communion or other pastoral reasons call for them. (no. 321)
It is outside the domain of this question to appease the need to receive communion on the hand, one way or another. But I will simply add these two statements:
In a letter to The Tablet this week the chairman of the Latin Mass Society, Joseph Shaw, observed that it was not permitted to distribute the host on the hand at the Extraordinary Form, and that in parishes where this was made mandatory, only the priest would consume. He also said that there was no objective medical foundation for suspending reception on the tongue.
Professor Jim McManus, Director of Public Health, who has advised the Bishops’ Conference on their response, told The Tablet: “The guidance is consistent with the fact that coronavirus is spread through saliva. That is backed up by studies which show that the virus has been consistently detected in the saliva of 91.7 per cent of patients.” - Coronavirus dispute over communion on the tongue
Coronavirus Note: My parish still allows communion on the tongue! Many dioceses still allow it. There is no proof that either practice is more dangerous than the other during this pandemic. Our bishop requires all priests to immediately sanitize their hands if they knowingly came into contact with someone’s tongue or lips while distributing Holy Communion. Each priest has a washing station about two (2) meters from the place where he is distributing communion. This will not go back to normal anytime soon, and even possibly during our lifetime!
Just as the priest takes the paten off the chalice, in order to expose the wine when he say the words of consecration, so to the hosts must be exposed when the priest says the words of consecration over them.
A priest saying the Mass with hosts which are covered by some form of clear edible coating implies that he is praying directly over another substance than simply natural bread. This implies very serious invalid matter! If referred to Rome, it would without a doubt receive a negative judgement.
The following is exact how I was taught in the seminary:
Are microscopic particles which fall from the Host still the Eucharist?
How small is too small?
Still, we must emphasize that some persons fall into serious confusion on this point. Because every particle of the consecrated Host is surely Jesus, they think that even every microscopic particle which falls from the Host is also Jesus – but in this, they err.
A piece of the Host which is visible to the human eye (under usual conditions and without assistance) as what appears to be a piece of bread, is surely Jesus. However, those particles which are so small as to be invisible to the human eye, or to be indistinguishable from a particle of dust – these cannot any longer be the Eucharist.
The Church teaches that the Eucharistic Presence remains “as long as the Eucharist species subsist”. This means that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist, so long as the Eucharist retains the accidental properties of bread and wine. Hence, if a Host is dissolved in water (as is done when the Host has become putrefied, as through vomiting after the reception of Communion), upon being dissolved it is not longer the Eucharist. Likewise, the Precious Blood, when the Chalice is purified with water (and wine), is no longer the Eucharist.
The same must hold true for those particles which are so small as to be unrecognizable as “bread”. If the fragment is so small as to appear to be dust or a speck of some other substance, rather than a “crumb” of bread, it can no longer be the Eucharist. Likewise, those microscopic particles which fall from the Host are not the Eucharist, since they clearly do not retain the appearance of bread.
Excessive scrupulosity about such things will only cause the true faith to be ridiculed. Indeed, in this case, the words of the Catechism of the Council of Trent are most helpful. Warning priests to dissuade the people from a vain curiosity into such mysteries, the Roman Catechism states:
“No less of caution should be observed by pastors in explaining the mysterious manner in which the body of our Lord is contained whole and entire under the least particle of the bread. Indeed, discussions of this kind should scarcely ever be entered upon.
“Should Christian charity, however, require a departure from this rule, the pastor should remember first of all to prepare and fortify his hearers by reminding them that no word shall be impossible with God.”