Alcoholism, the Precious Blood, and the Validity of Mass

Dear Catholic Exchange:

Occasionally I attend Mass celebrated by a priest who is a recovering alcoholic. Father only consumes the Precious Body and does not consume the Precious Blood. I am troubled by this in relation to the validity of the Mass. Is the Sacrifice licit? Can you enlighten me?

Raymond Cote

Dear Raymond,

Greetings in Christ. I hope this response will adequately address your question.

An alcoholic priest — or any priest for that matter — not consuming the Precious Blood does not affect the validity of the Mass. In fact, it is liturgically lawful (i.e., licit) for alcoholic priests to abstain from consuming the Precious Blood. The problem for an alcoholic priest is not the Precious Blood, but the “accidents” of the wine that miraculously remain after transubstantiation. Accidents include the wine’s color, taste and potency to intoxicate which remain after the substance of the wine is transubstantiated into Christ’s Body and Blood.

A priest’s bishop may also authorize an alcoholic priest to use “mustum” in place of regular wine. The Church defines mustum as “fresh juice from grapes, or juice preserved by suspending fermentation (by means of freezing which does not alter its nature).” For more information on mustum, please read our FAITH FACT on “Bread and Wine Used in Consecration of the Eucharist.” You may also want to read our FAITH FACT on “Invalid Masses.”

United in the Faith,

Thomas J. Nash

Senior Information Specialist

Catholics United for the Faith

827 North Fourth Street

Steubenville, OH 43952

800-MY-FAITH (800-693-2484)

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