QUAERITUR: another dropped Host, the EMHC delays

From a reader:

Last month you had a post about a priest’s letter to his parishioners about a dropped host.
 
I’m wondering, what was the instruction that he printed on the other side of this letter? [Hmmm.... I don't know.]

I’m upset because yesterday an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist  [actually "of Holy Communion"...] dropped a host on the floor, and when I pointed it out to him (I had received in a different line –from a priest who didn’t see this) he told me "Yes, I’ll take care of it later" and then finished giving Communion to those in his line. When he was done he picked up the host, but no attempt was made to purify the place on the floor or indeed to prevent people from walking there (from the other line).
 
I keep wondering if I should have indeed deferred to his indication that he would "take care of it" — and I can’t find anything that says what the procedure should be! So even in speaking with the priest later, I felt at a loss.
 
Even at the Benedictine Abbey where we often go, and where Communion is given on the tongue to kneeling communicants, occasionally the host will fall. It seems that it should be better known what the procedure is, if there is one!

The problem is that so much was jettisoned after the Council that people don’t know what to do anymore.  Once upon a time (and now happily again) the rule were spelled out for these occasions, instructing priests about what to do.  Of course in those days there were no ministers of Communion, unnecessary or not.  Whatever happened could be witnessed by the priest and handled on the spot. 

In effect, the process of distribution should have immediately halted there. "Whoever" should have picked up the Host and either consumed it or gone to the priest or else gone to the place (altar, credence table, sacristy) where there is a small cup to purify fingers and put it in there to dissolve.  A purificator or paten should have been placed over the spot, to keep in unmolested.  After Mass the priest should have taken care of it.

This is yet another problem with the too frequent employment of Ministers of Communion.  They don’t know what to do.  This is the task of priests and deacons, and perhaps real acolytes.

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48 Responses to QUAERITUR: another dropped Host, the EMHC delays

  1. paul says:

    Father, I have wondered about the manner of distribution of Holy Communion for some time. It seems to me a priest giving Holy Communion at an altar rail with communicants kneeling and on the tongue- is it actually easier and faster for the priest to give Communion that way or the new way with standing communicants in a line. I wonder about this because the frequent argument we hear is the EMHC’s are necessary because it takes to long for a single priest to distribute communion by himself? I think if the priest does it himself at an altar rail it would be quicker than a line formation. Just some thoughts.

  2. Michael Lavey says:

    When I was a “Eucharistic Minister” way back when (for a brief time before I discovered the Extraordinary form), our pastor instructed us to simply pick up the host if it fell. He told us time and time again “Jesus is not in the crumbs, so don’t worry about it.”

  3. Frank H says:

    Paul –
    It certainly would seem logical that the altar rail distribution would move faster, because everyone is in place by the time the priest arrives at each communicant, not having to wait for each person to arrive and depart as in the standing line.

    Only problem I see…so few churches have communion rails these days!

  4. A related problem is the slippery floor (to put it somewhat indelicately) that is sometimes observed afterwards near the stations where EMHC’s have offered the chalice.

    On a related question, someone told me yesterday of recently observing two teenagers receive in the hand, return to their pew with intact Hosts unconsumed, and proceed to treat them quite frivolously (to relate it as charitably as possible).

    In this age of widespread ignorance and disbelief — as opposed to early centuries when hands might actually have served reverently as thrones for Our Lord — this is the inevitable bottom of the slide down the slippery slope that results from any provision for communion on the hand.

    I believe a halt to this insanity and sacrilege can only begin with the restoration of Holy Communion only on the tongue while kneeling (and reception of both kinds only by intinction).

  5. Geri says:

    Father, wherein is the correct procedure to be found?
    And if a priest does not perform whatever purification of the area is necessary, may a lay person?
    I didn’t know purification was called for, and several years ago I noticed, after an elderly and infirm priest had had Mass, a handful of hosts lying on the floor beneath the altar — I had to assume they were consecrated and that the Blessed Sacrament had been dropped in the transfer of some of the hosts to the individual ciboria for the EMHCs, so I consumed Him as reverently as I could.
    I then went and told the pastor, who said he would have the deacon “keep an eye out.”
    I’ve also come across Him slipped in the pages of a hymnal, and in broken pieces on the floor at another church, before Mass (none of these 3 incidents were my home parish.) In those cases I picked Him up and went to a priest and explained where the Blessed Sacrament had been found.
    Fortunately, they seemed upset, so I felt they would treat the matter with some urgency.

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)

  6. Geoffrey says:

    I used to be an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist as well, though they never mentioned the “extraordinary” part. The lack of training was unbelievable. With regards to dropping a Host, they said to pick it up promptly and hold it under the “glass dish” until afterwards. They didn’t say anything about the floor. Thankfully during that brief time I never dropped anything.

    Once I was receiving Holy Communion from an old monsignor. As he was trying to grab a Host, another one fell out. No one was around to help him so I bent down and consumed the Host. I felt it would be weird to give it back to him. I don’t think there is a rule about that one!

  7. RANCHER says:

    Like most problems the best solution comes in a series of simple steps. I vote for eliminating the EMHC’s as step one. Of course that would “deprive lay people of meaningful participation in the liturgy”. Yep, but it might also begin, along with eliminating lay “readers”, in restoring proper reverence for the liturgy as well as respect for the AUTHORITY of the clergy. IMO a big contributor to the decline in actual Church attendance is a lack of respect. Those who serve as EMHC’s, readers, etc. (and I used to be both until I wised up) seem to think of themselves as equals with John–er that is Father John. The Church has operated quite well for several thousand years as a heirarchy. That implies differences in responsibility and authority. When everyone is equal (can’t we all just be friends) it is easy for no one to accept responsibility whether that applies to properly dealing with a dropped host, talking about mortal sin from the pulpit, or voting in accord with true Catholic teaching.

  8. Bring back hand-held pattens. When I was an altar boy in the 1970s in Duluth, altar boys still assisted the priest at Holy Communion by holding a patten under the communicant’s chin or hands. You almost never see that any more. Now, the “servers” sit and twiddle their thumbs during Communion. Re-introducing this practice would do more than protect against dropped hosts; numerous crumbs also fall and without a patten to catch them, they get left behind on the floor, scattered and trampled.

    I suppose if there aren’t enough “servers” for each extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, a parish could start a new ministry: extraordinary ministers of pattens for Holy Communion. LOL.

  9. Nathan says:

    Sean P. Daily: “extraordinary ministers of pattens for Holy Communion.”

    Very amusing. Can’t you see the entry in the parish bulletin: “Looking for Volunteers to be EMPs?” Would this lead to an increase of (I can’t resist) EMP-ish behavior?

    There is some good news. Altar boys attending the distribution of Holy Communion with the Communion Paten are showing up at an increasing number of OF (Novus Ordo) Masses I’ve attended, especially in parishes where priests have learned to celebrate to EF (TLM). Brick by brick.

    In Christ,

  10. Geoffrey says:

    “…extraordinary ministers of pattens for Holy Communion…”

    I like that! Though would they in actuality be “ordinary” ministers? Hmmm…

  11. Brian Day says:

    In regards to eliminating EMHC’s, I wonder if Fr Z or any of the priest readers would care to comment on this situation:

    My parish is big. Between 800-1100 people attend Holy Mass at each of TEN masses (8 on Sunday, 2 on Saturday evening) for Sunday. There are four priests. To eliminate EMHC’s each priest would have to do what has been called the fireman routine – rush in at Communion time, and rush back out when Communion is over. Is being “on call” for each Mass the way to go? [Sure!]

  12. Sean Dailey: Bring back hand-held pattens.

    Aren’t they back now? From Redemptionis Sacramentum (2004):

    [93.] The Communion-plate for the Communion of the faithful should be retained, so as to avoid the danger of the sacred host or some fragment of it falling. (180)

    Footnote (180) here refers to a passing mention of communion-plates in the GIRM. Accordingly, my local parish — a pretty typical large suburban bare round-church parish — reintroduced server-held communion patens a year or so ago.

    Coincidentally (?), a fair number of parishioners now receive on the tongue (whereas few previously did)– without this having been mentioned explicitly (so far as I know), though a generally increased sacralization of our liturgy (tabernacle back behind the altar, altar boys in cassocks, more bells and smells, Latin Sanctus and Agnus Dei, etc.) may also be partly responsible.

  13. Father Totton says:

    Servers with patens do help to restore reverence, and they can also help to reduce the number of incidents where the Host might accidentally be dropped and fall to the floor. Nothing is foolproof however. Ultimately the faithful need to begin receiving on the tongue – wholesale. Priests should encourage the practice, but I don’t see how it can be mandated until the Holy See rescinds the indult. Likewise, most priests need to be instructed in how to give Holy Communion on the tongue. I hope not to scandalize, but when I arrived in my current assignment, where at least half the faithful receive in the traditional manner, it occured to me that I had never been taught how to properly administer Holy Communion on the tongue (so as to avoid touching the tongue of the communicant – which discourages even those who would wish to recieve in this manner).

    To confirm what was stated above, yes, Holy Communion does go faster when the faithful receive kneeling at an altar rail and on the tongue. There is an anecdote told in our parish of one matriarchal character who opposed the restoration of the Communion rail in this parish – she opposed it with all her marrow. Another member of the committee made it know that Holy Communion would be administered in shorter time and she instantly became the greatest champion of the practice. More to the point, it increses reverence and awe, and gives the Communicant more time for preparation, reflection and thanksgiving – consider the metaphor, even if a bit vulgar – better a table with chairs than a drive through window.

    When I encourage the practice, in an explicit way, the number of traditional communions usually rises, but ther are always some who are obstinate, clinging, I guess, to “rights” and this will happen as long as the indult is given.

  14. inquisitive says:

    One other question: A couple of years back, a fly flew into the open chalice during the reception of Holy Communion. I happened to receive in that “line” and the fly was quite visible in the precious Blood as one partook. After making my way back to my kneeler, I couldn’t help but notice each communincant, in turn, noticing the fly just as they were communicating; it was evident, just for a split second, on each one’s face as they raised the chalice to their lips. After a little while, the grimaces stopped and a look of relief came over the face of the “extraordinary minister”. I am guessing someone either purposefully or unknowingly “took one for the team,” so to speak, and consumed the fly along with the precious Blood.

    I am wondering what would have been the proper thing to do in this example. Lord willing, it won’t happen again but if it should, what does one do when a fly becomes trapped in the precious Blood during communion? I know its a terrible thought, but I have been witness to its happening at least this once, so I know it is possible. What to do? Does anyone know?

  15. Midwest St. Michael says:

    Sean Daily,

    Actually, the instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum says that patens are to be used.

    From Adoremus: http://www.adoremus.org/0404Liturgy.html

    This is new: use of the paten in administering Communion to the faithful, which has all but disappeared in the US, is to be restored.

    – “The Communion-plate [or paten] for the Communion of the faithful should be retained so as to avoid the danger of the sacred host or some fragment of it falling”. (RS 93)

  16. Father Totton says:

    Oh, and as far as properly purifying the place upon which the Sacred Host fell, I believe the De Defectibus calls for the surface to be cleaned first with wine, then with water, wiped up with a purificator and said purificator to be processed in the usual manner, rinsed with the contents drained into the sacrarium. This is all well and good, but it presumes a hard flooring surface which is rarely to be found in a Catholic Church in our day. Even my parish church (c.1913) has carpeting all the way up to the communion rail, which has an upholstered kneeling pad upon it. It might not be a bad idea to reinstate “the napkin” which was once held by the faithful as they received (but again, it would require the Holy See to scrap the indult for HOly Communion on the tongue)

    Fr. Z, are there rubrics anywhere as to how one should purify a carpeted or an upholstered surface, apart from picking up any visible particles which may be part of the Sacred Host ?

  17. Fr. Totten: Good question. I think the best solution for this is peremptorily to tear out all the carpeting or upholstery and put in marble.

  18. Ohio Annie says:

    Paul, The “method” of serving on the tongue at the rail is indeed faster. I have been in parishes with both “methods” and my current NO parish serves Holy Communion at the rail by the priests only, followed by altar boys with patens. Communion takes much longer at the other parishes that serve Communion standing (actually walking, when you think about it) because the priests, I think, fail to consider the amount of time it takes to serve the ELEVEN Extraordinary Minsters and get them stationed. I timed it once and it was 7 minutes. In those 7 minutes Father could have served about half of the people there in a double line down the middle as he has no altar rail.

  19. Father Totton says:

    to respond to Inquisitive, Sorry, but I cannot resist this one,

    In the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, Holy Communion is given only under one species, but when I was learning how to say this Mass, the question was raised and there were a couple options. First off, let me say this is why the priest should always use a pall, so as to cover the Chalice whenever possible (also a good reason for not needing to have twenty chalice on the altar at one time). However, we were told that if a fly or a spider should fall into (or fly into) the chalice containing the precious blood, the priest should take the maniple pin (a straight pin used to hold the maniple on the sleeve of the alb), skewer the critter and proceed to burn the carcass in the flame of the nearest candle – which would consume both the fly and the precious blood. I guess the priest would then return the maniple pin to its place and proceed with Mass, being sure that the chalice is covered with the pall. As entertaining as it sounds, I doubt this is very practical (especially with elastics on the maniple, and if one were not saying a low Mass – in which case the flames would be out of reach), but like every other eventuality, it was provided for, at some point in some instruction. I don’t know for sure, but I doubt one would find it even in the last De Defectibus (the one used in conjunction with the 1962 Roman Missal).

    Lacking any further serious instruction, as a priest, I have removed small critters (usually gnats – I know “you strain the gnat and swallow the camel” save it.) from the chalice before. When this is done, I securely enfold the carcass in a fold of the purificator, and then I am sure to purify that purificator in the proper way (draining in sacrarium) immediately after Mass.

    If I am handling this wrong, I would ask my brother priests to let me know.

    BTW, Happy Feast Day

  20. Christopher Milton says:

    Fr. Z or any in the know: How does one become an instituted acolyte?

    Inquisitive: There are several written accounts (though titles and authoers escape me) of spiders or flys dropping into the chalice, at which point it was consumed. I feel that I have also read that a particularly large foreign object (a mouse?) in the chalice may be, after the Precious Blood is consumed, burned and the ashes disposed of properly.

  21. Acolyte says:

    I am an installed acolyte and was wondering what procedure must be used to purify the carpet, tile or marble floor on which the host has fallen. Is it simply a matter of inspection for particles or are we to wash the floor in some way? Thanks.

  22. Pedro says:

    In the De defectibus of the Missal of 1962 there actually is a bit about a fly or spider falling into the Chalice:

    5. Si musca, vel aranea, vel aliquid aliud ceciderit
    in calicem ante Consecrationem, proiciat
    vinum in locum decentem, et aliud ponat in calice,
    misceat parum aquae, offerat, ut supra, et prosequatur
    Missam: si post Consecrationem ceciderit
    musca aut aliquid eiusmodi, extrahat earn, et lavet
    cum vino, finita Missa comburat, et combustio ac
    lotio huiusmodi in sacrarium proiciatur.

    There are also instructions about venomous insects.

  23. Father Totton says:

    Christopher,

    The only diocese in the States, to wit, that institutes acolytes (apart from men bound for Holy Orders) is that of Lincoln, NE. These Men assist Father at the altar, including the distribution of HOly Communion and the purification of the Vessels. They may also be instituted as Lectors (though I am not sure). Most other dioceses do not do this, and the reason I have been given is because it excludes women. If you think you are being called to this ministry and you wish to be properly instituted, you must speak with your bishop. Likely, such a request will not be considered until we have a wide-scale change of heart about the difference between ministry and lay apostolate, and a long talk about what constitutes full, conscious and active participation in the Sacred Liturgy.

  24. Suzie says:

    I once attended a funeral Mass where there were large numbers of EM’s (mostly women), who were also members of the “Bereavement Ministry.” There were also large number of concelebrating priests, and an Episcopalian minister did one of the readings. At communion time there was a large number of communicants (the deceased was very well-known in the community and popular) and when they started to run out of hosts, the EM’s started breaking up what was left. I’m sure there were crumbs flying everywhere. They also left the door of the tabernacle open during the whole of communion. I saw people receiving whom I know for a fact are not Catholic. The vessels used for Communion were clear glass bowls which were then left in a stack on the altar in the Blessed Sacrament chapel until after Mass. No patens were used. I found this to be scandalous and distracting.

    I know I shouldn’t criticize Vatican II, but I was a kid in the ’60s, and when I made my First Holy Communion in 1966, sister taught us that no one should touch the Blessed Sacrament except the consecrated hands of a priest. Now anyone can touch the Blessed Sacrament. I never forgot this, or the concept of “ritual purity” or the priest signifying the pure and spotless victim, that to this day, I will not receive in the hand or when I am not in the state of grace.

    In another instance, my mother was recently in the hospital and a sister came (in full habit) to give Holy Communion to the patients. My mother requested a priest because she had not been to confession. The priest came a couple days later and absolved her of her sins without hearing her confession and then gave her Communion. She was fully able to confess her sins. She only had a severely broken arm which required hospitalization. Is this right? We’ve lost so much and desecration is much to easy. No one seems to get it.

    End of rant.

  25. Mhari says:

    I occasionally attend mass at a Carmelite monastery where a large host is fragmented and distributed, I am tempted to receive in the hand there (although I don’t) as the pieces of the host are large, and the priest clumsy, and I can’t open my mouth wide enough for him not to miss and making fragments. I’ve noticed some of my friends will crouch after he passes and pick up and consume the crumbs. I think this seems the most sensible way to manage it, although I can never see any crumbs.

    My spiritual director tells me he has an arrangement with his guardian angel to take care of any fragments too small for him to see. I’m not sure how theologically correct this is, but it consoles me when at a mass where enough care is not taken.

  26. Paul says:

    Fr. Z

    I was wondering about becoming an Instituted Acolyte as well. I am also curious about yours and others opinions on the Permanent Deacons role within OF and the EF, maybe a podcast on the topic?

  27. Acolyte says:

    Re. How one becomes a instituted acolyte.

    One becomes an installed acolyte by petition to ones bishop. In most places this ministry is reserved to those preparing for ordination (priestly or diaconal), and in all places it is reserved to men. The minor ministries (Acolyte, Lector, and Candidacy) took the place of the minor orders. An acolyte is an ordinary-extraordinary ministry of Holy Communion. In other words, after the priest and deacon the task of distributing communion falls to the acolyte. Regrettably, these ministries are little known and certainly not given very much use. I personally am hoping that our great Holy Father will clarify and set these ministries in line with the minor orders. It only seems fitting given his project of the hermeneutic of continuity.

  28. A Random Friar says:

    The current GIRM only has this, AFAIK: 280. If a host or any particle should fall, it is to be picked up reverently. 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.

    That’s not a whole lot. As others pointed out, there are clarifications floating about.

  29. Fr. BJ says:

    There are four priests. To eliminate EMHC’s each priest would have to do what has been called the fireman routine – rush in at Communion time, and rush back out when Communion is over. Is being “on call” for each Mass the way to go?

    I remember the first time I saw this done — I was visiting a parish in the Arlington Diocese, before I was ordained (before I was a seminarian I think). It was the most edifying thing, to see a bunch of priests show up in cassock, surplice, in stole, to assist with the distribution of Holy Communion. It certainly seemed like Holy Communion was something more important than one perceives when he is receiving from a woman wearing jeans (who perhaps has a “Eucharistic Minister” pendant around her neck to make it official)!!

    I’d say that in any parish where there are multiple deacons/priests, it should be the practice as often as possible to have all the clergy involved in the distribution of Holy Communion, if necessary. This is why many older rectories had a sound system installed that could be played in the rectory as well, so that the Fathers knew how much longer they had before they had to vest up and go over to the church.

  30. All of the standard EF liturgical manuals — such as O’Connell’s The Celebration of Mass have copious and precise instructions how to deal with any conceivable accident with either Precious Blood or Sacred Host — including the possibility of the former freezing in the chalice (as might happen in the Sabine Chapel?).

    So it’s pretty astounding to see priests saying they were taught none of this. What is taught in seminaries about liturgical practicalities these days?

    I assumed it a wild exaggeration when a priest once wrote that his only liturgy course in seminary was a one-semester course taught by a bitter ex-nun using as textbook a slim paperback written by a Methodist laywoman. But now I’m beginning to wonder.

  31. Flambeaux says:

    Father Totten,

    I know Bishop Kevin Vann of Fort Worth has mentioned Instituted Acolytes, and there was some discussion that he would begin doing so, but I’ve not heard anything more in the last several months.

  32. a catechist says:

    On Acolytes–

    We have an instituted acolyte in the Dioc. of Sioux City, a married layman who is not in formation toward ordination. He was installed by Bishop Walker Nickless & serves at the bishop’s Masses; I saw the Rite myself. That acolyte has a reverence for the True Presence I’d be happy to see in every man in the sanctuary.

  33. Jason Keener says:

    Suzie,

    I agree with your sentiments.

    In the Traditional Latin Mass, the servers do not even handle the sacred vessels without a cloth between their hand and the vessel. In the Novus Ordo, on the other hand, we have all sorts of people coming into the sanctuary to hand out the actual Sacred Host and the Precious Blood. The manner of Communion Distribution is another sad rupture in the tale of post-Vatican II life.

    Bring back patens, kneeling, and communion rails. Curtail the use of Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist. Respect for the Eucharist will increase, and things will be better.

  34. RANCHER says:

    A correction. Lincoln NE is not the only diocese to have Instituted Acolytes. My diocese, Diocese of Baker City (Oregon), does as well….of course our Bishop (Vasa) came from Nebraska so that may explain a lot.

  35. Brian Day says:

    To Fr Z and Fr BJ,

    Thank you for you reply. That is my first inclination as well. My only concern was that each priest was offering at least two Masses that day, plus to be on call for another eight! Given the work load many priests face, ten Masses each weekend (up to 13 if count Saturday morning Mass and up to two wedding Masses on Saturday) might be something of a burden. Could you prayerfully prepare to offer Holy Mass under those conditions? It sounds like it isn’t as much as a burden as I assumed.

  36. Altar Boy says:

    Flambeaux,

    How very interesting that you should mention the FW diocese. Yesterday I served a High Mass under Fr. Terra FSSP. Bp. Vann was present, following along with all the responses in his personal ’62 hand Missal.

    Concerning acolytes within the Diocese of FW, I have served personally with two (to my knowledge), both being MCs for the OF. One is a seminarian at St. Mary’s where the TLM is celebrated by Fr. Terra once a week. The other is a lay man acting simultaneously as Sacristan at the Cathedral.

    Last year at the Cathedral, there seemed to be a brief epidemic of hosts being dropped by EMs and Adult Servers. Each time, our Sacristan would take a purificator (or towel, if need be for tile or carpet) and a little bottle of Holy Water. The Host would immediately be picked up, (I think then consumed) and the spot would immediately be cleaned with the Holy Water and mopped up with a purificator. The purificator would be squeezed into the Sacrarium, then put in a hamper marked “Soiled linens only”. Communion continued as normally.

    When I inquired both acolytes on the TLM, each said, in effect, that they didn’t have much reason to concern themselves with the old practices. There was no initiative to reclaim to rails.

    The Cathedral was one of the last in the diocese to stop using the Communion Rail. Even then, there would be EMs at the midway break, giving Communicants the option of receiving up front on the tongue at the rail, or in the back from the Extraordinary Ministers. We had stopped using patens many years before then.

    Unfortunately, I happen to know that our Bishop has no intention to use the communion rail during the Ordinary Form.

    Note: A month or two ago, I was looking at the book of the Cathedral’s history. In 1961 there was celebrated at the then Co-Cathedral a Solemn High Mass. Remarkably, they decided to use a marbleized table as a Versus Populum Altar. They broadcast this Christmas Midnight Mass on TV, so I’m hoping to track down video archives of this.

    Hypothetically, we could celebrate at the current 2.5 ton main free-standing Altar a Pontifical Versus Populum Solemn High Mass with Vernacular Readings. Sounds ludicrous, but any possibility is a few years off. This would probably be better received by the Bishop than an Ad Deum Latin Novus Ordo. Any thoughts?

  37. Timothy Clint says:

    By way of observation I would like to make a comment relative to Hosts being dropped and will explain something which I witnesed. A priest was celebrating the Extraordinary Form Mass on the New Mass Altar. There was nothing to lean the center Altar Card against but perhaps there was a box or something behind it to hold it up. Just before communion the Altar Card moved and fell on to the ciborium full of newly consecrated hosts and literally caused the ciborium to fall off the back of the Altar spilling all of the Host. Please insure that there is something stable to lean the center altar card againts lest this may happen. The congration felt very bad not only for the spilled hosts but imagine how the poor priest must have felt.

  38. Flambeaux says:

    Altar Boy,

    Both to avoid derailing this thread (out of respect for our host), I’ll demur.

    But if you’d like to discuss this further, or arrange a meeting somewhere in the Diocese at some point to discuss face-to-face, feel free to email me at flambeaux_bearer [at] yahoo [dot] com.

  39. Ray from MN says:

    I think that a major point has been missed in this interesting discussion.

    The real probblem is that too many are going to Holy Communion not in the state of grace.

    “If I were in charge”, I would establish a policy that Communion in the hand would not be given until 25% of the members of the congregation go to private Confession at least once a month.

    If a parish had 2,000 communicants, that would be 500 Confessions a month, or about 16 a day. If Father offered Confession daily, preferably before each Mass or after the last Mass so that he wouldn’t be under pressure if the line happened to be long and thus have to deny someone. It seems workable to me.

    Once all 2,000 parishioners are going to Confession once every four months, one would hope that the Confessions would be shorter.

    By the time that that had happened, a change to “kneeling only” would probably not be a controversial decision because they had been already become used to kneeling.

  40. MargaretMN says:

    I recall when I was growing up in the 70s in Michigan our parish had a very by the book Dominican priest who was semi retired and helped as a weekend assistant. I remember clearly when somebody dropped the host because he went through a very thorough series of moves, he picked up the host and consumed it himself and ended up putting a little square linen on the spot. When I was a kid all I remember thinking was “Wow, glad it wasn’t me that caused all that.” When receiving by the hands came into being when I was a teenager I was very glad because I figured that with two crossed palms there was no chance I could drop it. So far, it’s been about 25 years…

  41. John says:

    In The Eastern Orthodox Church, while the priest is giving Holy Communion to the faithfull and the body and blood of Christ falls to the ground the priest will hault distubuting holy communion will place the chalice on the alter, then he will priside to the area where the communion has falling, will fall on the ground and eat the holy communion with mouth, then he will take a communion cloth with warm water the cleanse the area where the communion had fallen and clean very well. This is the reason that only ordained ministers are allowed to give communion the faithfull. The Roman Cahtolic Church should take a not from the Eastern Church

  42. patrick f says:

    Someone mentioned up further about revernce of the eucharist.

    Extraordinary ministers can work.. (more often it is over done, and they do fail to a degree). The challenge is proper training and formation.

    You know people wanted to be oh so involved in the mass, but they really dont understand what it means. You are more then simply “included” You are an extraordinary minister of Holy communion…Exactly as it says, a “minister”. You should act like it, and treat our Lord as is deserved. Too many people I see that are EM’s simply think they are being included. I see people show up late repeatedly for mass, answer their phone halfway through …yet they rush up to be included

    Again, the post can and does work, when its given to a person who is properly trained, and loves the Real Presence

  43. George says:

    Yes, my friend, you should have indeed deferred to the Minister’s indication. After you pointed the matter out to him, it was (primarily) his responsibility, not yours. As there was no rational reason to doubt that he would properly “take care” of the matter, all further discussions did not serve a valid purpose. I am very much in favour of proper decorum and acts/signs of reverence when it comes to the Blessed Sacrament, but let us not create artificial problems where there are none. Laudetur, George

  44. Father Totton says:

    Patrick raises an interesting point. If extraordinary ministers of HOly Communion are necessary, they should be well-trained and few. On the other hand, we have a real need to address the clergy shortage and thus shore up the need for extraordinary ministers. As long as this ministry is being proffered as a way to help lay people be “oh so involved in the mass” we will continue to miss the point. Priests and Deacons are the ministers of Holy Communion. I have known plenty of lay-folk with a great love for our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, most of them demur when asked to serve in this role – for they have a humble and healthy sense or propriety.

    If a parish is blessed with multiple priests (even with deacons) they should be expected to be available on Sundays to assist with Holy Communion at all the Masses – there are always exceptions, but exceptions do not make good law. I don’t think the distribution of Holy Communion would ever break the concentration/recollection of a priest (or a deacon) preparing to celebrate (or assist at) another Mass. When I was a deacon, I was blessed to have been assigned to a parish which always had at least three priests around on Sundays and two permanent deacons (plus myself). At least one priest was in the confessional from before Mass until the Creed – at which point he shut down and went to the sacristy to get ready for Holy Communion.

    When I was an associate the parish ran on a different pace. One priest would take the first three Masses of a Sunday, the other would take the last two (split by a six-hour recess from 1pm-7pm on Sunday afternoon). The non-celebrant was clearly expected to be there after each Mass to greet the parishioners, but clearly verboten was the practice of a non-celebrating priest distributing HOly Communion and thus displacing an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion.

    Ideally, extraordinary ministers should be used ONLY inasmuch is there is a true need (if a parish has multiple well-attneded Masses back to back to back on a Sunday – and therefore timing is a constraint) and then there should only be, say two or three EMHC in a rotation for each Mass. This is not a place for the multiplication of ministers so as to “give everybody a chance”.

    I think I have said more than my fair pence!

  45. Father Totton says:

    Okay, I know I gave the impression I was finished, but let me add the the distribution of Holy Communion under both kinds is not feasible given the current situation. It leads to the unnecessary necesity of having extra extraordinary ministers… It also leads to an extended delay in purifying the vessels. For that reason such practice should cease, unless a parish has sufficient priests (and deacons) to administer Communion under both kinds (this would require at least 4 priests (in a small-medium sizied parish) which is practically non-existent (except perhaps in a parish attached to a religious society or priests)

  46. Frank H says:

    Father Totton, you are so right! Distribution under both species now occurs at my parish every other Sunday, and the fellow who coordinates the Extra-ordinary Ministers of Holy Communion is striving to recruit enough to make both kinds available EVERY Sunday. I have watched with interest (and some annoyance) as the proliferation of EMHCs causes the start of communion for the congregation to be delayed longer and longer. (Usually we get through nearly an entire hymn!) Each Mass with both kinds requires TEN (10) EMHCs, and the parish offers five Sunday Masses. I haven’t counted, but the roster of EMHCs must be a couple hundred, since they average one assignment a month.

    On a positive note, my wife serves as an EMHC, and she recently told me she is noticing more frequent reception on the tongue.