Recently someone, who came to make the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) asked me two questions: “Why do we retain the remaining hosts in the Tabernacle, after distributing the Holy Communion; and is it necessary to receive It? what would happen if I don’t receive It?” Well, I could not answer in detail at the confessional for lack of time. Nevertheless, I can answer the questions, now, not only for the one who asked me but also for the sake of those, who may have such questions in mind.

Why do we retain hosts in the Tabernacle?

During the Holy Mass, the bread and wine are consecrated, when the priest imposes his hands over the gifts on the altar and invokes the Holy Spirit to come down and transform the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Once they are consecrated, we believe that Jesus is substantially and truly present in the consecrated hosts. Hence, after distributing the Holy Communion, the remaining hosts are reserved in the Tabernacle. The reasons for reserving the Blessed Sacrament in the Tabernacle are:

  • To give Holy Communion to the sick and other faithful who cannot come physically for Holy Mass.
  • That we may offer adoration to Our Lord, present in the Blessed Sacrament, particularly during exposition, benediction, visits and during the Eucharistic procession on the feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi Sunday).

Here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:

“…in the liturgy of the Mass, we express our faith in the real presence of Christ under the species of bread and wine by, among other ways, genuflecting or bowing deeply as a sign of adoration of the Lord… but also outside of it (Holy Mass), reserving the consecrated hosts… exposing them to the solemn veneration of the faithful…” (CCC #1378).

Necessity of Holy Communion:

Here is what Jesus Himself says with regard to this query: “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him” (John 6:53-56). Just as the food, that we eat for the body gives strength, the Eucharist is the divine food, that strengthens the life in Christ, which we have received through Baptism.

God bless you

Fr. Arul Joseph V.