Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bad idea amid the H1N1 frenzy

I pray that I never see one of these in a Catholic church.

A company called Purity Solutions has developed a hands-free communion dispenser to cope with the H1N1 panic. While I can appreciate their good intentions and the practicality of this tool for Protestants who don't believe in the Real Presence, this would certainly be a no-no in a Catholic Mass.

The first picture on the right shows the device, which comes in gold, silver and "white" (whatever substance that is). Or maybe the "gold" and "silver" on their website only refers to the color of the device, not the metal it's made of.  Now gold and silver would certainly be suitable precious metals for a Catholic paten or ciborium, but if they are made of stainless steel and simply coated with gold or silver paint, that's a non-starter.  

Even if they were made of gold or silver, it gets more complicated.  As you can see by the second picture, the hosts are not directly placed inside the metal device. They are placed in plastic cartridges, much like Pringle potato chips, which are subsequently inserted into the aforementioned communion dispenser.  There they will remain remain throughout the consecration and during the distribution of communion. Somebody refresh my memory:  does plastic qualify as a valid precious material for the sacred vessels?  The company also sells hosts that are pre-soaked with wine, so that you can
receive communion "under both species" by just consuming the host.  Whaaaaaah!!!!

Now this company is quite ingenious.  They have created a demo video that also serves as a training guide for sacristans and clergy.  You can see the video below.  I found it quite amusing, assuming that this would never be used in a Catholic setting. 

At the beginning of the video, they show some ladies preparing the bread and wine before the worship service. You can see how she loads the cartridge of hosts into the device, just like ammo into a gun.  Lock and load, baby.  Click click.  I can almost visualize Schwarzenegger in the background:  "I'll be back."

One woman pours wine into some dinky disposable plastic glasses. Eeeeeeeeek!!!!!! I won't even go there! Makes me wanna scream!

As you watch the video, the worship service looks eerily like a Catholic Mass, albeit with some ad lib adaptations. Maybe this is an Anglican service? 

At the end of the video, the instructor explains that consecrated hosts that were unused after the celebration are to remain in the plastic cylinder until next time. Not sure that would fit into most Tabernacles.  I hope we never need to find out.

How would one go about purifying the dispenser after a Mass? It doesn't look like an easy-open device, so we would never know if particles of the consecrated host remained stuck in there. You could pour water down the top, but it would probably get messy.

All this to say that the device may come in handy for Protestants, but it sure doesn't make the cut for a Catholic Mass.  However, that doesn't mean that Catholics couldn't make good use of it.  Heck, if I had one, I wouldn't hesitate for a second to use it to distribute the Ruffles at my Superbowl party, if it makes my guests feel more secure about the whole germs thing. Go Eagles!!