On Defects That May Occur In The Celebration Of Mass
Pope St. Pius V
16th Century A.D.
- Defects of the Missing
The priest who is to celebrate Mass should take every precaution
to make sure that none of the things required for celebrating the
Sacrament of the Eucharist is missing. A defect may occur with
regard to the matter to be consecrated, with regard to the form to
be observed and with regard to the consecrating minister. There is
no Sacrament if any of these is missing: the proper matter, the
form, including the intention, and the priestly ordination of the
celebrant. If these things are present, the Sacrament is valid, no
matter what else is lacking. There are other defects, however,
which may involve sin or scandal, even if they do not impair the
validity of the Sacrament.
- Defects of the Matter
Defects on the part of the matter may arise from some lack in the
materials required. What is required is this: bread made from
wheat flour, wine from grapes, and the presence of these materials
before the priest at the time of the Consecration.
- Defect of Bread
If the bread is not made of wheat flour, or if so much other grain
is mixed with the wheat that it is no longer wheat bread, or if it
is adulterated in some other way, there is no Sacrament.
If the bread has been made with rose-water or some other
distillation, the validity of the Sacrament is doubtful.
If the bread has begun to mold, but it is not corrupt, or if it is
not unleavened according to the custom of the Latin Church, the
Sacrament is valid but the celebrant is guilty of grave sin.
If the celebrant notices before the Consecration that the host is
corrupt or that it is not made of wheat flour, he is to replace
that host with another, make the offering at least mentally and
continue from where he left off.
If he notices this after the Consecration, or even after having
consumed the host, he is to put out another host, make the
offering as above and begin from the Consecration, namely from the
words Qui pridie quam pateretur. If he has not consumed the first
host, he is to consume it after taking the Body and the Blood, or
else reserve it somewhere with reverence. If he has already
consumed the first host, he is nevertheless to consume the one
that he has consecrated, because the precept of completing the
Sacrament is more important than the precept of fasting before
If this should happen after the Blood has been consumed, not only
should new bread be brought, but also wine with water. The priest
should first make the offering, as above, then consecrate,
beginning with the words Qui pridie. Then he should immediately
receive under both species and continue the Mass, so that the
Sacrament will not remain incomplete and so that due order will be
If the consecrated host disappears, either by some accident such
as a gust of wind or by some animal's taking it, and it cannot be
found, then another is to be consecrated, beginning from the Qui
pridie quam pateretur, having first been offered as above.
In the cases referred to in paragraphs 5-9 above, the elevation of
the Sacrament is to be omitted, and everything is to be done so as
to avoid, as far as possible, any scandal or wonderment on the
part of the faithful.
- Defect of Wine
If the wine has become mere vinegar, or is completely bad, or if
it has been made from sour or unripe grapes, or if so much water
has been mixed with it that the wine is adulterated, there is no
If the wine has begun to turn to vinegar or to become corrupt, or
if it is souring, or if it is unfermented, being made from newly
pressed grapes, or if it has not been mixed with water, or if it
has been mixed with rose-water or some other distillation, the
Sacrament is valid, but the celebrant is guilty of grave sin.
If the celebrant notices before the consecration of the Blood,
even if the Body has already been consecrated, that there is no
wine in the chalice, or no water, or neither wine nor water, he
should immediately put in wine and water, make the offering as
above and consecrate, beginning with the words Simili modo, etc.
If after the words of the Consecration he notices that there was
no wine in the chalice, but only water, he is to pour the water
into some vessel, put wine and water into the chalice and
consecrate, starting again from the words Simili modo, etc.
If he notices this after consuming the Body, or after drinking the
water in question, he is to set out another host to be
consecrated, together with wine and water in the chalice, offer
both, consecrate them and consume them, even though he is not
In the cases referred to in paragraphs 13-15 above, the elevation
of the Sacrament is to be omitted, and everything is to be done so
as to avoid, as far as possible, any scandal or wonderment on the
part of the faithful.
If he finds out, before or after the Consecration, that the wine
is completely vinegar or otherwise corrupt, he is to follow the
same procedure as above, as if he were to find that no wine had
been put into the chalice, or that only water had been put in.
If the celebrant remembers before the consecration of the chalice
that there was no water added, he is to put some in at once and
say the words of the Consecration. If he remembers this after the
consecration of the chalice, he is not to add any water, because
the water is not necessary to the Sacrament.
If a defect either of bread or of wine is discovered before the
consecration of the Body, and the material needed cannot be
obtained in any way, the priest should not continue any further.
If after the consecration of the Body, or even of the wine, a
defect in either species is discovered, and the material needed
cannot be obtained in any way, then the priest should continue and
complete the Mass if the defective material has already been
consecrated, omitting the words and signs that pertain to the
defective species. But if the material needed can be obtained with
some little delay, he should wait, in order that the Sacrament may
not remain incomplete.
- Defects of the Form
Defects on the part of the form may arise if anything is missing
from the complete wording required for the act of consecrating.
Now the words of the Consecration, which are the form of this
Sacrament, are: HOC EST ENIM CORPUS MEUM, and HIC EST ENIM CALIX
SANGUINIS MEI, NOVI ET AETERNI TESTAMENTI: MYSTERIUM FIDEI: QUI
PRO VOBIS ET PRO MULTIS EFFUNDETUR IN REMISSIONEM PECCATORUM. If
the priest were to shorten or change the form of the consecration
of the Body and the Blood, so that in the change of wording the
words did not mean the same thing, he would not be achieving a
valid Sacrament. If, on the other hand, he were to add or take
away anything which did not change the meaning, the Sacrament
would be valid, but he would be committing a grave sin.
21. If the celebrant does not remember having said the usual words
in the Consecration, he should not for that reason be worried. If,
however, he is sure that he omitted something necessary to the
Sacrament, that is, the form of the Consecration or a part of it,
he is to repeat the formula and continue from there. If he thinks
it is very likely that he omitted something essential, he is to
repeat the formula conditionally, though the condition need not be
expressed. But if what he omitted is not necessary to the
Sacrament, he is not to repeat anything; he should simply continue
- Defects of the Minister
Defects on the part of the minister may arise with regard to the
things required in him. These are: first of all the intention,
then the disposition of soul, the bodily disposition, the
disposition of vestments, the disposition in the rite itself with
regard to the things that may occur in it.
- Defect of Intention
The intention of consecrating is required. Therefore there is no
consecration in the following cases: when a priest does not intend
to consecrate but only to make a pretense; when some hosts remain
on the altar forgotten by the priest, or when some part of the
wine or some host is hidden, since the priest intends to
consecrate only what is on the corporal; when a priest has eleven
hosts before him and intends to consecrate only ten, without
determining which ten he means to consecrate. On the other hand,
if he thinks there are ten, but intends to consecrate all that he
has before him, then all will be consecrated. For that reason
every priest should always have such an intention, namely the
intention of consecrating all the hosts that have been Placed on
the corporal before him for consecration.
If the priest thinks that he is holding one host but discovers
after the Consecration that there were two hosts stuck together,
he is to consume both when the time comes. If after receiving the
Body and Blood, or even after the ablution, he finds other
consecrated pieces, large or small, he is to consume them, because
they belong to the same sacrifice.
If, however, a whole consecrated host is left, he is to put it
into the tabernacle with the others that are there; if this cannot
be done, he is to consume it.
It may be that the intention is not actual at the time of the
Consecration because the priest lets his mind wander, yet is still
virtual, since he has come to the altar intending to do what the
Church does. In this case the Sacrament is valid. A priest should
be careful, however, to make his intention actual also.
- Defects of the Disposition of Soul
If a priest celebrates Mass in a state of mortal sin or under some
ecclesiastical penalty, he does celebrate a valid Sacrament, but
he sins most grievously.
- Defects of the Disposition of Body
If a priest has not been fasting for at least one hour before
Communion, he may not celebrate. The drinking of water, however,
does not break the fast.
The sick, even though they are not bed-ridden, may take
non-alcoholic liquids as well as true and proper medicine, whether
liquid or solid, before the celebration of Mass, without any time
30. Priests who can do so are earnestly invited to observe
the ancient and venerable form of the Eucharistic fast before
- Defects Occurring in the Celebration of the Rite Itself
Defects may occur also in the performance of the rite itself, if
any of the required elements is lacking, as in the following
cases: if the Mass is celebrated in a place that is not sacred, or
not lawfully approved, or on an altar not consecrated, or not
covered with three cloths; if there are no wax candles; if it is
not the proper time for celebrating Mass, which is from one hour
before dawn until one hour after noon under ordinary
circumstances, unless some other time is established or permitted
for certain Masses; if the priest fails to wear some one of the
priestly vestments; if the priestly vestments and the altar cloths
have not been blessed; if there is no cleric present nor any other
man or boy serving the Mass; if there is not a chalice, with a cup
of gold, or of silver with the inside gold-plated; if the paten is
not gold-plated; if both chalice and paten are not consecrated by
a bishop; if the corporal is not clean (and the corporal should be
of linen, not decorated in the middle with silk or gold; and both
corporal and pall should be blessed); if the priest celebrates
Mass with his head covered, without a dispensation to do so; if
there is no missal present, even though the priest may know by
heart the Mass he intends to say.
If, while the priest is celebrating Mass, the church is violated
before he has reached the Canon, the Mass is to be discontinued;
if after the Canon, it is not to be discontinued. If there is fear
of an attack by enemies, or of a flood or of the collapse of the
building where the Mass is being celebrated, the Mass is to be
discontinued if it is before the Consecration; if this fear arises
after the Consecration, however, the priest may omit everything
else and go on at once to the reception of the Sacrament.
If before the Consecration the priest becomes seriously ill, or
faints, or dies, the Mass is discontinued. If this happens after
the consecration of the Body only and before the consecration of
the Blood, or after both have been consecrated, the Mass is to be
completed by another priest from the place where the first priest
stopped, and in case of necessity even by a priest who is not
fasting. If the first priest has not died but has become ill and
is still able to receive Communion, and there is no other
consecrated host at hand, the priest who is completing the Mass
should divide the host, give one part to the sick priest and
consume the other part himself. If the priest has died after half-saying the formula for the consecration of the Body, then
there is no Consecration and no need for another priest to
complete the Mass. If, on the other hand, the priest has died
after half- saying the formula for the consecration of the Blood,
then another priest is to complete the Mass, repeating the whole
formula over the same chalice from the words Simili modo, postquam
cenatum est; or he may say the whole formula over another chalice
which has been prepared, and consume the first priest's host and
the Blood consecrated by himself, and then the chalice which was
If anyone fails to consume the whole Sacrament aside from cases of
necessity of this kind, he is guilty of very grave sin.
If before the Consecration a fly or spider or anything else falls
into the chalice, the priest is to pour out the wine in a suitable
place, put other wine into the chalice, add a little water, offer
it, as above, and continue the Mass. If after the Consecration a
fly or something of the kind falls into the chalice, he is to take
it out, wash it with wine, burn it after the Mass is over, and
throw the ashes and the wine which was used for washing into the
If something poisonous falls into the chalice after the
Consecration, or something that would cause vomiting, the
consecrated wine is to be poured into another chalice, with water
added until the chalice is full, so that the species of wine will
be dissolved; and this water is to be poured out into the
sacrarium. Other wine, together with water, is to be brought and
If anything poisonous touches the consecrated host, the priest is
to consecrate another and consume it in the way that has been
explained, while the first host is to be put into a chalice full
of water and disposed of as was explained regarding the Blood in
paragraph 36 above.
If the particle of the host remains in the chalice when he
consumes the Blood, he is to bring it to the edge of the cup with
his finger and consume it before the purification, or else he is
to pour water in and consume it with the water.
If before the Consecration the host is found to be broken, it is
to be consecrated anyway, unless the people can see plainly that
it is broken. But if there may be scandal for the people, another
host is to be taken and offered. If the broken host has already
been offered, the priest is to consume it after the ablution. If
the host is seen to be broken before the offerings however,
another complete host is to be taken, if this can be done without
scandal and without a long delay.
If the consecrated host falls into the chalice, nothing is to be
repeated on that account, but the priest is to continue the Mass,
performing the ceremonies and making the usual signs of the Cross
with the part of the host that is not moistened with the Blood, if
he can conveniently do so. But if the entire host has become wet,
he is not to take it out; he is to say everything as usual,
omitting the signs of the Cross that pertain to the host alone,
and he is to consume the Body and the Blood together, signing
himself with the chalice and saying: Corpus et Sanguis Domini
If the Blood freezes in the chalice in winter time, the chalice
should be wrapped in cloths that have been warmed. If this is not
enough, it should be placed in boiling water near the altar until
the Blood melts, but care should be taken that none of the water
gets into the chalice.
If any of the Blood of Christ falls, if it is only a drop or so,
nothing need be done except to pour a little water over the
spilled drops and dry it afterwards with a purificator. If more
has been spilled, the corporal or the altar cloth or other place
is to be washed in the best way possible, and the water is then to
be poured into the sacrarium.
If, however, all the Blood is spilled after the Consecration, the
little that remains is to be consumed, and the procedure described
above is to be followed with the rest which has been spilled. But
if none at all remains, the priest is to put wine and water into
the chalice again and consecrate from the words Simili modo,
postquam cenatum est, etc., after first making an offering of the
chalice, as above.
If anyone vomits the Eucharist, the vomit is to be gathered up and
disposed of in some decent place.
If a consecrated host or any particle of it falls to the ground or
floor, it is to be taken up reverently, a little water is to be
poured over the place where it fell, and the place is to be dried
with a purificator. If it falls on clothing, the clothing need not
be washed. If it falls on a woman's clothing, the woman herself is
to take the particle and consume it.
Defects may occur in the celebration of the rite itself also if
the priest does not know the rites and ceremonies to be observed,
all of which have been fully described in the above rubrics.
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