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Sacred Particles on the Floor, Lay Person's Crisis of Conscience: A Priority?

Don't Expect A White Horse From The Vatican

The following letter was sent by a Catholic layperson to the CDF (via U.S. mail between 2/27-3/1/10). The response appears below (it was postmarked on 7/12/10 from the Apostolic Nunciature in the U.S.).

[Copied From Original Letter]


His Eminence William Cardinal Levada

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

Piazza del S. Uffizio, 11

00193 Roma, Italy

Dear Your Eminence,

I am writing today seeking an answer to a question that has been troubling me. I can't seem to get a satisfactory answer anywhere. I beg of you to please provide me with the answer. I will outline the problem below.

First, due to their "irregular" situation at the present time, I do not believe it is right for Catholics to attend Masses at SSPX chapels. I realize that SSPX Masses may technically fulfil one's Sunday obligation, but I do not think it is right to attend 'illicit' Masses outside the diocesan boundaries. (Besides the matter of disobedience, I believe it would be better for the Church as a whole if tradition-minded Catholics stayed within the diocesan structure.)

Second, I believe that every particle of the Holy Eucharist, regardless of size, is truly the Flesh & Blood of Jesus. As expressed by the Church...

"Nor should it be forgotten that Christ, whole and entire, is contained not only under either species, but also in each particle of either species." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"Yes, the same Jesus Christ is just as much in a particle of a host as in a whole host." (Catechism of St. Pius X)

"Jesus Christ is present whole and entire in the smallest portion of the Holy Eucharist under the form of either bread or wine; for His body in the Eucharist is in a glorified state, and as it partakes of the character of a spiritual substance, it requires no definite size or shape." (Baltimore Catechism)

"If any one denieth that in the venerable sacrament of the Eucharist the whole Christ is contained under each species, and under every part of each species, when separated; let him be anathema." (Council of Trent)

Third, it has come to my attention that when Holy Communion is given in the hand, a number of particles remain in the hand after the Host is put in one's mouth. I have never once seen anyone other than a priest look for particles. Rather, it is clear that when Communion is given in the hand, particles end up on the floor (and elsewhere). The number of particles on the floor is multiplied by the number of persons taking Communion in the hand. Therefore, the church floor may be literally filled with particles of Christ's Body. When this occurs, it would be impossible for people to not step on the Sacred Particles.

Now, my problem is that to avoid stepping on these Sacred Particles - Christ's true Flesh - the only option I see is to attend at a parish that does not give Communion in the Hand (e.g. one that ONLY says Traditional Latin Masses... which are the only Masses I attend, unless I have no other choice). Other than the few Priestly Fraternity & Christ the King parishes (none anywhere close to me), this only leaves the SSPX chapels and other "independent" chapels.

So what is a Catholic to do who wants to fulfill the Sunday obligation, be obedient, stay in the diocesan structure, not attend 'illicit' Masses, and NOT step on Sacred Particles?

Anticipating some responses, please also consider that...

* Even if someone wished to argue that there weren't "that many" particles on the floor, it would be about impossible to argue that there were no particles on the floor when Holy Communion is given in the hand. Even if the chance of stepping on a Sacred Particle was as low as 1% over an entire year, I would not want to do that.

* Even if one were not to see a particle, the fact that one steps on it is no less blasphemous (although the blasphemy is not intended, stepping on the Sacred Particle is still stepping on Christ).

* It doesn't matter that the particle is so small - it is still Christ's Flesh, and it is still sacred. Traditionally the Church was very careful even of particles. Why should she not be today?

* Even if it is not "my fault" that the particle is on the floor, the fact that I KNOW a particle could be there does not seem to entirely excuse me from blame should I step on it. In fact, even if I do NOT step on a particle, the fact that I go to a church knowing I could step on one is also very troubling.

* Regardless of all the "legal" reasons that might excuse me from "blame", if I love Christ, how can I bear to take this chance (even if it is not my fault)? My heart aches knowing that the Sacred Particles may be falling to the floor and getting stepped on.

So it seems that my only options are to (1) risk stepping on (or actually step on) Christ or (2) to attend 'illicit' Masses. How can I be forced to make such a choice?

Please, please help with this question as soon as you can. This has been weighing on my mind and I really need an answer.

Thank you & God bless you.


[Name Withheld]

The Response (From the CDW)...

Response from CDW

And almost as if "adding insult to injury", the following card was paper clipped to the above response...

Apostolic Nunciature Card

The author of the original letter notes that the issue was discussed with two priests prior to mailing the letter. Neither priest could resolve the matter. One of the priests was interested in hearing the Vatican's response when it was disclosed that a letter was being planned. Also, the Bishop in the Diocese "leans heavily left" and "would probably laugh at the idea of discontinuing Communion in the hand."

Commentary: Isn't it nice to see the depths of concern the CDW apparently has both for this person's soul and for the trampled Particles of the Sacred Host - that is, the FLESH & BLOOD OF CHRIST?

"The bread and the wine are not merely figures of the Body and Blood of Christ (God forbid!) but the deified Body of the Lord itself, for the Lord has said: This is My body, not, this is a figure of my body; and My blood, not, a figure of my blood." (St. John of Damascus, Doctor of the Church, 8th century A.D.)

"[O]ur Lord is not in the Sacrament as in a place. Place regards things only inasmuch as they have magnitude. Now we do not say that Christ is in the Sacrament inasmuch as He is great or small, terms which belong to quantity, but inasmuch as He is a substance. The substance of the bread is changed into the substance of Christ, not into magnitude or quantity; and substance, it will be acknowledged by all, is contained in a small as well as in a large space. The substance of air, for instance, and its entire nature must be present under a small as well as a large quantity, and likewise the entire nature of water must be present no less in a glass than in a river. Since, then, the Body of our Lord succeeds to the substance of the bread, we must confess it to be in the Sacrament after the same manner as the substance of the bread was before consecration; whether the substance of the bread was present in greater or less quantity is a matter of entire indifference." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

Related: Communion in the Hand: Why Not?

UPDATE: The author of the above letter has sent a follow-up letter to the CDW. The text of the second letter and the CDW'S response to it (when received) may be published on this site at a later time. Please check back soon.

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