Q: I wish to raise a concern about the validity of consecration in a situation I have observed occasionally in the years since the strictest COVID restrictions were lifted.
Even now, our parish has not resumed the Presentation of the Gifts by members of the assembly. The hosts are still placed on the credence table before mass in two covered ciboria and brought to the altar from there by the servers. My concern is that sometimes the ciboria remained covered throughout the Eucharistic Prayer and were only opened when it was time for the distribution of communion. If the ciboria was covered, were those elements consecrated?
I spoke with our deacons and priest about it and they were unified in the opinion that the consecration was effective since the ciboria were on the altar even if they were covered . Since our conversation I have noticed the deacons have been taking more care to uncover the ciboria before the epiclesis although sometimes they recover them after the memorial acclamation is sung.
I understand the abundance of caution we are taking to ensure that no one could cough or sneeze over the elements before they are consecrated. Even so, it seems most practical to me that the covers of the ciboria should be removed and left on the credence table when the elements are brought to the altar for the preparation of the gifts – that way they are not cluttering up the altar when they are not needed there.
I would appreciate your insight into this question, including any pertinent rubrics I should reference if I need to address it further with our priest and deacons.
Thanks so much,
A: The hosts in this case are consecrated. It is clearly the intent of the celebrant to include them in his proclamation of the eucharistic prayer.
Best practice, of course, is what you indicate: leave the lids on the credence table.
The obvious parallel is to the use of the pall over the chalice. It is optional, but if it is used, the common practice is to remove it for parts of the Mass such as the epiclesis and consecration. The same practice logically would apply to those wishing to use a lid for hosts.