Liz asked:

When I'm at Mass I wonder when the priest breaks the host into pieces, I know it's scripturally significant that Christ's bones weren't broken so shouldn't we avoid breaking a consecrated host?

Jimmy Akin replied:

"...His body can be spoken of as being broken because it was damaged in the crucifixion that's why he died...that damaging...can be spoken of as a breaking of his body.

In the case of a host the real presence works in such a way that the entire Christ is present not just in the host under the appearance of bread but in every part of the host. And so if you break the host you're not breaking Christ's body in half. His whole body is still present in both halves and in every part of both halves, and so you could continue to break the host into as many pieces as you want and as long as those pieces still retain the appearance of bread, the entire Christ is present under each piece of the host. So consequently you're not breaking His bones.

What the priest is doing is a couple things in this...fraction rite. One of the things he's doing is he is symbolically representing the breaking of Christ's body on the cross. Not the breaking of his bones, but the breaking of his body in the more general sense...The other thing he's doing is obtaining a piece of the host that he can put into the chalice of the consecrated blood. And that's a very old custom that goes back to the early church...the significance of it was that different churches would send a piece of the eucharist from their church to a nearby church and the bishop would put that piece into the chalice in his church as a way of symbolizing the communion between the two different local churches, the fact that they exchange part of the eucharist with each other. Over was deemed somewhat impractical to do that...the priest would just break off a piece and do it right there and as a result of that change in the liturgy it came to have a new significance and so now the breaking off of that piece and the placing of it in the precious blood symbolizes the reuniting of Christ's body and blood. Even though they are literally both present under the bread...and present under the appearance of wine...and thus symbolizes the resurrection."


Catholic Answers, "Open Forum" (San Diego: Catholic Answers, 2015)

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Show air date: October 20, 2015

Name of show: Open Forum

Guest comments by: Jimmy Akin

Question appeared in show: 41:18

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