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Phillip Shifflet wrote:

Hi guys,

I have two questions:

  • Did Jesus have brothers and sisters, meaning siblings?

When I was altar serving the Good Friday Mass, after Holy Communion, the priest was putting the consecrated Hosts back in the ciborium and he accidentally spilled the contents all over the altar. Thankfully, only one consecrated Host fell on the floor and I instinctively picked it up and ate it.
When this has happened in the past, I had previously seen many people do this. It wasn't until after Mass, that the priest told me I had done something called self communication, which is an act that only an ordained priest or a deacon can do.

  • Is this a sin that I should confess during my next Confession or is it something much bigger, like being excommunicated?

Thank you for your time.

Yours in Christ,


  { Did Jesus have siblings, did I sin in picking up a consecrated Host, and is OK? }

John replied:

Hi Phillip,

You said:

  • Is this a sin that I should confess during my next Confession or is it something much bigger, like being excommunicated?

First, you were acting in good faith and you were not aware of any prohibition so you did not sin.

Secondly, my understanding is self communication entails taking the Body or Blood of the altar and serving yourself. I don't know that taking the consecrated Host off the floor constitutes self communication, but I could be wrong.

At any rate, your action was motivated by reverence and not rebellion. That said, now that you know, you shouldn't do it again. Next time just make the priest aware of the situation.

Hope this helps,


Eric replied:

Hi Phillip,

You said:

  • Did Jesus have brothers and sisters, meaning siblings?

You can find a good write up on this at:

To better explain the Catholic position addressed by this page, they also identify James and Joseph as the sons of the wife of Clopas.

Hope this helps,


Mike replied:

Hi Phillip,

I just wanted to chime in on the site you have been visiting:

When I chatted with them a few years ago, they did not appear to be very open to the Catholic Church or Her Teachings at all. In my opinion, going to that web site looking for unbiased Catholic Christian answers is a waste of time. It was my strong impression that they tended to distort what Catholic Teaching truly is.

I also wanted to add on my colleague John's answer on what to do when a consecrated Host falls on the floor.

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal, Chapter IV: The Different Forms of Celebrating Mass — The Purification: No. 280 states:

280. If a host or any particle should fall, it is to be picked up reverently; and if any of the Precious Blood is spilled, the area where the spill occurred should be washed with water, and this water should then be poured into the sacrarium in the sacristy.

It is unclear from the context of this text who should take this action. For that reason, I would say if the priest accidentally drops a consecrated Host on the floor, either one of two things should be done:

  1. the celebrant should stop and pick up the consecrated Host reverently and continue distributing the Blessed Sacrament, or
  2. the communicant should pick up the consecrated Host reverently, consume the Host, and return to their pew. One should not worry about germs or hygiene.

Before Vatican II, the priest would stop and pick up the Blessed Sacrament with a white blessed cloth. This still may be done, but I'm not sure.

Hope this helps,


Phillip replied:

Hi Mike,

Thank you for your help in this matter. Everyone at AskACatholic is so knowledgeable, which leads me to the question:

  • Why don't you become priests?

Anyway, thank you for your time.

Yours in Christ,

Phillip Shifflet

Mike replied:

Hi Philip,

Thanks for the kind words. I'm sure our team appreciates them.

The priesthood [and/or] becoming a priest is a calling. It is one of those things that the Holy Spirit would tell you inwardly if you were being called by the Lord.

We also have to remember that no man has any right to the priesthood; rather they follow that calling and test the waters. Ultimately, the Church makes the decision of whether the man has a calling to the priesthood of Jesus Christ, the man.

Finally, we have to remember, we are already priests. All baptized Christians share in Jesus' priesthood. We call this the universal priesthood in that we offer all our good works up as priest, prophet, and king. Some baptized male Catholics are called to an additional, sacramental priesthood where they act in the person of Christ, the man. We call this the ministerial priesthood.

If you are at a family gathering with both men and women, and if it is appropriate, you can ask them:

  • How many priests are in the room?

Phrased that tricky way, all should raise their hands because they all share in the universal priesthood of Jesus. The difference is none share in the ministerial priesthood, unless some in your family is a Catholic priest by vocation.

Hope this answers your question.


Eric replied:

Hi, Phillip —

Another point I would like to make is that you don't have to become a priest to be an apologist.

There is frankly somewhat of a clericalist attitude in Catholicism that makes people automatically assume that the priesthood is the right place for anyone with a modicum of interest in the Faith ... as if the priesthood were for real believers, and the people in the pews could safely delegate the real stuff to the priests. Not so; as:

  • all of us are called to holiness, and
  • all of us called to evangelize and to give an answer for the hope which lies within.

    (1 Peter 3:15)

Lay people need to be more involved in activities such as apologetics.

Eric Ewanco

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