Q: Thank you for your guidance on many questions. I always learn so much! My question is about the handling of the Body and Blood. My priest told me that the consecrated host could be dissolved in water and then returned to the earth. The consecrated Wine -the Blood Of Christ —must always be consumed. Why the difference?
A: He must be addressing two different situations: The dropping of the consecrated host and spilling of consecrated wine, versus the consuming of what remains in the vessels after communion.
GIRM 280 doesn’t give a lot of instruction on fallen hosts. It says if a host falls, it is to picked up reverently. But then what? It doesn’t say.
The custom has been for someone to swallow it unless it has fallen someplace where swallowing it could be risky to the recipient’s health. In that case, the host is customarily dissolved in water and poured down the sacrarium, which in turn goes into the earth. A dissolved host is not to be poured or buried directly in the ground.
If consecrated wine spills, it’s hard for anyone to consume it, so GIRM 280 has us wipe it up with purificators, rinse them in water, pour that water down the sacrarium.
The difference seems not to be theological but practical: you can possibly consume a fallen host; you cannot consume spilt consecrated wine.
If consecrated wine remains in the vessels, it can be consumed, and, in fact, must be consumed. See the Norms for the Distribution of Communion 55. If hosts remain, they go to the tabernacle, not into water to be dissolved.