From a reader:
Our priest informs the extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion [Indeed, they are not "Eucharistic Ministers". In fact, we need to have the discussion of whether they are techincally ministers at all.] of our parish that, henceforth, they are not to raise the Host as they give it to the faithful, and that they are not to say "The Body of Christ" but rather "Body of Christ", addressing the communicant, because the focus is on the communicant, who embodies the Body of Christ is thereby worthy to receive the actual Body of Christ. [Wow… just… wow.]
The italicised quote from Fr.’s letter is probably rather wrong-headed – one wonders how he squares it with the Lord, I am not worthy we have all just recited. Probably laymen should not, in fact, "elevate" the Host, since that is rather a priestly gesture; but in the Missal I can only find the words and actions of the priest and deacon. Are the proper words and actions of the EMHC specified anywhere?
I frankly don’t know if there are official directives or books issued by the Holy See or the bishops conferences describing in detail the exact manner of distribution of Holy Communion by an EMCH (in church). I suppose we will know about 5 minutes after I post this entry.
Other points to help resolve the situation:
First, have fewer but better trained EMCH’s, or no EMCH’s at all.
Second, follow what the book says.
In Latin, which is the official language of the Latin Church, we say "Corpus Christi". It is always permissible to use Latin and it has the advantage of avoiding the entire debate about the translation.
As far as the translation is concerned, in English you correctly translate Corpus Christi as either "Body of Christ" or "The Body of Christ".
There is also the theological consideration. Do those two versions, one with "the" and one without, mean different things? More on that down the line.
In the "White Book" of the new approved English language translation of the Roman Missal we find an answer to your question. This is what Rome has approved.
134. After this, he takes the paten or ciborium and approaches the communicants. The Priest
raises a host slightly and shows it to each of the communicants, saying:
The Body of Christ.
The communicant replies:
And receives Holy Communion.
I think this issue of EMCH’s raising the Host to "show" it to the communicant probably is done in imitation of the priest when he shows the Host to the whole congregation (see the rubric, above). So, it seems to me that the communicant has already seen the Host at the elevation and the moment before the priest’s Communion. She therefore gains nothing additional from an additional stare. In the meantime, the EMCH is sending mixed signals about her role. (I use her because I am being inclusive.)
Back to the theological point that priest was trying to make in his letter: because the focus is on the communicant, who embodies the Body of Christ is thereby worthy to receive the actual Body of Christ.
The priest is saying that "THE Body of Christ" indicates that the Eucharist, the Host, is THE Body of Christ, whereas saying "Body of Christ" implies a more inclusive way of understanding Christ’s Presence.
The priest is confused – and confusing others – about ways in which Christ is present.
Since the Council many enthusiasts have blurred the distinct ways in which is known to be present to us. He is present in the Word, Scripture, in the assembly of the baptized gathered in His Name, in the symbol of the altar, in the person of the priest himself, and – in a way that is preeminent and unlike every other way of being present, in the Eucharist. No other manner of Christ’s presence is comparable to the Eucharist. You might say that in Scripture the Lord Himself says that when you feed the hungry, you feed Christ Himself. The priest himself might say, the communicant is the hungry one (Christ) coming to be fed on the bread of life (Christ) and so, – wait for the grip of logic’s steel jaw to close around you now – since they are both Christ, the Eucharist isn’t more Jesus than the person in front of you.
This is, of course, rubbish. The communicant is a dignified baptized member of the Body of Christ, the Church. As St. Leo shouts at Christmas, Agnosce O Christiane dignitatem tuam. And he is right to do so. But the Eucharist is GOD, Jesus truly present Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. The Communicant is not divine. And though in heaven we will undergo a "divinization" which is foreshadowed in our proper reception of Communion, the Communicant is not the Glorious Risen Savior, Creator of Heaven and Earth.
The proper action of the communicant should be to kneel before the presence of Almighty God, barely daring to raise her eyes (I’m being inclusive today by using feminine pronouns) and humbly receive the Host. The proper action of the EMCH should be, in most cases, "Father, no… I should not distribute because my hands are not consecrated for this task." (Though I understand that there are genuine cases of need for help when the numbers truly are too great.)
The priest has confused all sorts of terms. The Church is Body of Christ. The communicant is a member of the Body of Christ. The Host is the Body of Christ. But these other manifestations of the Body of Christ are not like the Body of Christ which is the Eucharist.
Get the priest a Say the Black. Do the Red coffee mug and other swag to stimulate his theological reflection.