Local Church honours Communications in May
May 18, 2023
“Students safe” after incident at Providence Girls’ RC
May 18, 2023

Why the desecration of a tabernacle hurts

The break-in at the St Augustine RC Church, Southern Main Road, Cunupia and the desecration of the tabernacle with the Body of Christ was shocking for the Catholic community.

The intruders broke open the tabernacle in search of valuables, ignorant that what was contained within was valuable beyond measure.

According to the Code of Canon Law 897: “The most August sacrament is the Most Holy Eucharist in which Christ the Lord himself is contained, offered, and received and by which the Church continually lives and grows. The eucharistic sacrifice, the memorial of the death and resurrection of the Lord, in which the sacrifice of the cross is perpetuated through the ages is the summit and source of all worship and Christian life, which signifies and effects the unity of the People of God and brings about the building up of the body of Christ.”

Canon 898: “The Christian faithful are to hold the Most Holy Eucharist in highest honor, taking an active part in the celebration of the most august sacrifice, receiving this sacrament most devoutly and frequently, and worshiping it with the highest adoration. In explaining the doctrine about this sacrament, pastors of souls are to teach the faithful diligently about this obligation.”

Chair of the Liturgical Commission, Msgr Michael de Verteuil said the Eucharist is central to the Catholic faith as Jesus becomes present in the appearance of bread and wine.

“We can see how important it is by the fact we are supposed to go to Mass every Sunday, to celebrate the Mass and to receive Communion; we believe it is the Body and Blood of Christ.”

He cited 1 Corinthians 10: 15–16, “when we come into communion with the bread and the cup, we come into communion with the Body and Blood Christ” and John 6:55, in which Jesus says, “For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed”.

Msgr Michael De Verteuil during the Liturgy of the Eucharist Photo source: St Francis RC Communications, Sangre Grande

Msgr de Verteuil stated as the Body of Christ is central to the faith, it must be treated with great reverence. “This is why we genuflect or bow when we pass in front a tabernacle, some people even make the Sign of the Cross when they are driving past or walking pass a church, because of the tabernacle that is there with the Body and Blood of Jesus.”

He added that this is why it was shocking to see it treated “in such a scandalous manner” in the break-in. Msgr de Verteuil continued, “It is a real assault on the faith.”

Responding to the question of what should be done after the desecration, he said a reparation service will have to be done, “which involves possibly a Mass or a Liturgy of the Word. The altar and surroundings and so on are blessed with holy water, as a sign of washing away.” This is to be done as soon as possible after the desecration.

Parish priest Fr Steve Ransome, in a message to parishioners via Facebook Thursday, stated that, “The Vicar General has been notified and in consultation with Monsignor De Verteuil (Archdiocesan Liturgical Coordinator) it was advised that a Special Penitential Service be conducted in the community by the Archbishop or his appointed delegate.

“In this regard, the Cunupia Church will remain closed until the Special Penitential Service is held. In the interim, parishioners from Cunupia are welcome to celebrate Mass at any one of the other community Masses in the Parish. We will advise when this Special Penitential Service will be held and the reopening of the community.

“Parishioners, I entreat you to continue to lift our Parish in prayer and pray for the conversion of the perpetrators. Thank you for your understanding and your support during this time.”

Disposing of consecrated Hosts

There is an appropriate way, if necessary, to deal with consecrated Host or Precious Blood.

The first, is consuming the Host/s. Msgr de Verteuil clarified that this was done with reverence and prayer. “You don’t just pop these things into your mouth like popcorn or a pill.” Another way is to dissolve it and the water is poured into the earth. “Not down the drain,” he said.

The Diocese of Salt Lake City, Utah developed Guidelines: Proper way of Disposing of a Consecrated Host or Precious Blood. It states as follows:

“A. ‘If a host or any particle should fall, it is to be picked up reverently. If any of the Precious Blood is spilled, the area where the spill occurred should be washed with water, and this water should then be poured into the sacrarium in the sacristy.’ (General Instructions of the Roman Missals No. 280)

“B. If the host is dropped on the floor when receiving the Sacrament of Holy Communion, it should pick it [sic] up by the communicant or minister and consumed immediately.

“C. During the distribution to the elderly or infirm, if the communicant is unable to swallow (host is spat out or dropped from the mouth), the Host should be collected in a piece of linen and returned to the parish for proper disposal as described below.

“D. The process of dissolving the host in water may be used in special conditions such as a partially consumed host that may have fallen from a communicant’s mouth or a host that was unintentionally dropped to a less than clean floor.

“E. To dispose of a host, the priest, deacon or eucharistic minister must dissolve it in water to the point where the host no longer has the appearance of bread. This may require that the host be broken up in small pieces prior to placing it in water. It is necessary to wait for the host to be fully soaked in water, out of respect for what once contained the presence of Christ and in order to avoid any danger or appearance of a host being discarded or profaned. However, once the host is saturated (within an hour) it must then be disposed of immediately in the sacrarium or in the earth as described in paragraph F.

“F. The liquid should be poured down the sacrarium (a special sink with a drain going directly into the ground, not the sewer). It should not be poured down a common sink. If such is not available, the liquid should be poured on the ground in a location that would not be walked over, such as behind a flower bed that is along a wall, at the foot of a statue or similar places.

“G. With respect to the presence of Christ, most theologians would hold that, although the host externally remains intact, the real presence would cease as soon as the host is fully soaked with water since from that moment the species is no longer exclusively that of bread.”