The current host is made of wheat and water and baked. Now during the pandemic we are facing new challenges that requires people receive the Eucharist in the hand which creates a high risk of letting the particles fall on the ground or stay on people's hand. This causes a sacrilege.

It seems we will never be able to receive on the tongue. I'm sure this practice will be pushed going forward. What if we make hosts wrapped in clear edible coating that would prevent crumbling and also people from touching the bread? Many pills are made this way.

What is the Catholic Church teaching on this addition to communion host? There would be zero particles falling on the ground and people could recieve on the hand.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Jul 27, 2020 at 16:42

2 Answers 2


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.”

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Jul 27, 2020 at 16:43

(From your comment:)
Sorry but this isn't what I'm asking and you are totally wrong on that the communion on hand is allowed.

Sorry, I was not correctly informed, so I looked up the facts and edited my answer. I know that you didn't ask about this, but I'm writing this because I refer to this information in the next part of my answer:

According to the German language Wikipedia entry about the Holy Communion, the Vatican officially tolerated the host-in-hand variant in a document named "Memoriale Domini" released on May 29th 1969 (however, as far as I understood correctly, only in countries where the local bishops agree).

What is the Catholic Church teaching on this edit to the host?

The canon law is very strict about how exactly the host must be produced. I doubt that it is allowed to add some transparent coating or similar.

On the other hand, the Vatican would definitely not have released the document in 1969 if the teaching of the Catholic Church said that the host-in-hand variant includes a higher risk of particles falling to the ground!

So the pure fact that the Vatican released the document in 1969 tells us that the Catholic teaching does neither see the risk that you see nor the need of some precautions like some coating or similar.

... requires people receive the Eucharist in the hand which creates a high risk of letting the particles fall on the ground ... This causes a sacrilege.

I think that there is no reason for such a concern:

Here in Germany, most faithful in most (but not in all) parishes preferred the host-in-hand variant at least for the last 30 years. (I don't know about the time before.)

Although the host-in-hand variant has been used so often here in Germany, I only noticed once that particles of a host were falling on the ground: It happend while the priest (and not the faithful) was holding the host, so it could also have happened in the case of the host-on-tongue variant.

I know another case where the priest of our parish suspected (the truth was never found out) that some person has thrown a host onto the ground to commit a sacrilege intentionally after the host-in-hand variant. However, the host-on-tongue variant also cannot prevent intentional sacrilege: I remember a case in the news where some mentally disturbed person attacked a priest and then threw all hosts to the ground.

It seems we will never be able to receive on the tongue.

I don't want to be too pesimistic. However, I think that Corona will change nearly all parts of our everyday life permanently.

I fear that there will be very unpleasant changes in the Church or influencing the Church, too.

If you cannot practice the host-on-tongue variant due to the epidemic for one or two years (I'm sure it will be allowed again after the epidemic), you are by far not in the same situation as Christians in countries where the epidemic is used as a pretext for starting a persecution of Christians. (And such countries exist.)

  • 1
    Sorry but this isn't what I'm asking and you are totally wrong on that the communion on hand is allowed. It never been allowed and on the tongue is the only preferred. You were mislead. Study cathechism
    – Grasper
    Commented Jul 25, 2020 at 23:01
  • @Grasper I edited my answer completely. Please check if it answers your question now. Commented Jul 26, 2020 at 8:14
  • I'm not sure if you understand how this site works. This isn't a forum page. I'm not interested in what you think what the church teaches. I don't want to discuss communion in hand. Sorry.
    – Grasper
    Commented Jul 26, 2020 at 14:13
  • @Grasper I'm aware of that; I'm active on other StackExchange websites, too, and know the measures of a good answer. However, you have to understand my situation: Due to Corona most Catholics here don't have the possibility to receive any sacrament (neither communion, nor sick anointing, nor confession) maybe for more than a year! In such a situation it is rather difficult to write a neutral answer based on facts that addresses only the aspects of the question if the question is about this topic. However, I edited my answer in a way that I hope that it now meets the ... Commented Jul 26, 2020 at 17:55
  • @Grasper ... measures of a good SE answer: I'm clearly writing that there are very strict rules about what is allowed and that some coating or similar is surely not allowed. I have to admit that I added a lot of additional information that should help you to understand why this is neither allowed nor needed. On other StackExchange websites (like physics) this would be seen as good practice. Only the last part of my answer is about a sentence in your question that you didn't want to be answered. I answered it anyway because I was hoping to help you in your terrible situation. Sorry. Commented Jul 26, 2020 at 17:55

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