Guest Post: A Few Questions about the Sacrament and Single Sisters #CopingWithCOVID19

By Maren C.

Recently President Russell M. Nelson caused quite a stir when he—or whoever administers his social media accounts—posted a few photos to Facebook, along with a lengthy quote by Sister Wendy N. Nelson, describing how they prepare for and hold home church during the pandemic. As might be expected, the post garnered a lot of attention, most especially for the photo depicting the Prophet vacuuming. However I would like to draw attention to another aspect of the post. President Nelson said, “I am especially concerned for those who desire to partake of the sacrament but do not have a worthy priesthood-bearer in their home. They should let their bishop know that they would like to have his delegated representatives come to their home to administer the sacrament. If they wish to provide their own bread and water, based on their specific needs, they may do so.”

This is an enlightening statement, and certainly more specific instructions then we have yet heard regarding those members (read: general women) without a priesthood-holder (read: always a man) in the home. And yet it brings up a plethora of further questions for me.

If the “specific needs” of the single sister include not exposing herself or anyone else to a potentially deadly virus, than yes, she may provide her own bread and water. Given the high degree of importance we can presumably attach to the above-stated need, then may we presume that the word “provide” in this instance can be extended to also mean “prepare?” Are single sisters authorized to break their own bread into little pieces and pour their own water into a cup, in preparation for it to be blessed as sacrament bread and water? Also, assuming the single sister had contacted her Bishop and arranged to have his delegated representatives come to her home to administer the sacrament, we might there run into another problem. What if the delegated representative of God’s priesthood on earth does not want to come into the single sister’s home, for fear of contacting or possibly spreading a potentially deadly virus?

President Nelson’s statement said “to their home” not “in their home,” so this may provide us with a loophole that will allow the single sister to partake of the sacrament while also keeping everyone safe. Allow me to explain:

The single sister would remain in her home and hold the non-blessed but prior-prepared bread and water up to her front door. The priesthood-holder would then say the sacrament prayers (perhaps a bit more loudly than usual) while standing exactly on the other side of the door.

Of course this raises another questions: Can the power of the priesthood travel through solid surfaces? I do not know, so just to be on the safe side, I will present an alternative that I thought of.

The single sister, having already completed the non-priesthood job of *preparing* the sacrament bread and water, could then open a window somewhere in her home. She could place the plate containing the bread and water on a table right next to the open window. The priesthood-holder would then stand on her front lawn, at a safe distance of at least six feet away, and say (again, perhaps slightly louder than usual) the required sacrament blessings.

This should work, right? The single sister can partake of the sacrament in her own home, without putting anyone’s life in danger. But again, more questions arise.

What if there is a screen on the window? What if it’s one of those really old screens that can’t be removed? What if the woman lives in an apartment complex several floors up, and the priesthood-holder is reluctant to enter and expose himself to the aforementioned potentially deadly virus? Can the sacrament prayers be shouted from the street facing her open window? Perhaps through a bullhorn?

Come to think of it, maybe there’s a reason President Nelson declined to get into the specifics on administering the sacrament to single women during a pandemic . . .

Maren C. is an ESL teacher by training and an aspiring poet, currently trying to survive the pandemic with her husband and two kids in the Utah suburbs.

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9 Responses

  1. Rachel says:

    Clever post! Maybe sisters should just bless their own sacrament.

  2. Em says:

    I know they’ve already forbidden reading sacrament prayers over zoom or comparable platforms, but perhaps your ward could designate a specific time at which the prayer will be read out the window by a priesthood holder and everyone should place their sacrament on the verandah or by a window by that time and consume it within ten minutes. Though you wouldn’t hear the prayer (as perhaps one might not, say, in a mother’s lounge if the volume is off etc.) you would know it was said. Perhaps there could be a text that would go out that would say “bread is good to go!” and you’d eat your little piece.

    I’m being facetious obviously. But it does sort of beg logistical questions — exactly how far does the blessing go? Does the bread itself need to be proximal to the speaker for it to count? How close? If you don’t hear the blessing is it sanctified? It seems the answer would be yes, because someone could be in the bathroom and return to the foyer in time to partake even if they didn’t hear the prayer, and of course people with hearing impairments can still partake. Certainly you don’t have to see the blessing happen because you can be in the foyer, and people with vision impairments partake.

    Or, you know, maybe we could make worthiness and desire to serve God the necessary precursor to holding the power of God.

  3. Allie says:

    Thank you for fleshing out the absurdity of it all–and making me laugh until I cried.

  4. Autumn says:

    The question I asked myself last week was, is it appropriate to feed sacrament bread to the birds? My stake president insisted that the breaking of the bread has to be done by a priesthood older. It’s a waste to bring a whole slice of bread just for myself, though, so I broke a small piece of bread and left it on my porch while a man I’d never met before who was apparently in my ward broke it into 3 even smaller pieces and blessed it.

    It seems unnecessary to me. I put the other 2 pieces in my bird feeder after they left. I haven’t tried blessing it myself yet, but I might next week.

    • Dianna says:

      Luke 12:24
      Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them.

      The birds are already fed by God, all the better that they are fed blessed bread.

  5. Hedwig says:

    My husband has been throwing away the extra bread. Maybe that’s what the teachers do after sacrament meeting is over? I’ve never been involved in that.

    I recently learned that in churches where the bread and wine are considered to be the actual body and blood, the priest and deacon consume whatever leftovers there are (or it’s saved for bringing to the sick, etc). I feel like letting the birds eat it is more reverent than throwing it out.

    • Joni says:

      The teachers take the leftover bread to Sunday School, and gorge on it during the lesson, even if it’s Fast Sunday. At least, that’s what they did when I taught Sunday School.

  6. Seri says:

    They could have addressed these questions. They could have given the members info on how the sacrament works, so we could come up with workable solutions.

    But they didn’t. Because the members in question are mostly single women, and who gives a crap about single women? Just deny them the sacrament for three months. They probably did something or other to deserve it.


  7. Ellen Patton says:

    You had me at BULLHORN.

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