QUAERITUR: Can a pastor/liturgist force servers to receive Communion under both kinds?

Vote for Fr. Z!From a reader with my emphases:

Our parish liturgist has sent out the following to all Altar Servers and Acolytes who assist at the Novus Ordo mass.

Servers at Saint Mary receive both Species if they receive at all.  If you receive the body, you receive the blood.  Some servers are refraining from receiving the blood.  Servers receive both so as to show by our actions that both are Christ.  If anyone would like to have a longer conversation with me on this issue, I am happy to do so, but so long as it is morally permissible to receive both, we will.”

From my reading and formation I find his statements contrary to Church teaching, tradition, and practice. What do you think?

Let me get this straight.  Servers are being told that if they wish to receive Holy Communion when they serve they must receive under both kinds?

Also, what is this about “morally” permissible?  It is permissible under the Church’s law for Holy Communion to be offered under both kinds under certain conditions.  It is permissible for people to receive under both kinds, if they so desire, when it is offered.   What the writer (and I assume the pastor) are trying to do here is put head pressure on servers to receive in order to put head pressure on the congregation to receive under both kinds.

No.  You cannot force any communicant, server or not, to receive under both kinds.  The only person there obliged to receive under both kinds is the priest celebrant.  Every one else, server and congregant alike, is free to receive or not to receive Communion even under one kind when both are offered.

I think this sort of head-pressure is irresponsible and oppressive.  It violates the individual’s freedom and constitutes an intrusion into their personal, spiritual life.   If the server is a minor, it may also violate the rights of the parents of the servers as to how the child should receive Communion.

I think the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments would be interested to read a bulletin with that printed in it.  Perhaps a copy should be sent to the local bishop and to the congregation.

I can see that a priest and/or liturgist might be so convinced that everyone should receive under both kinds that he might want to persuade people.   But to force or oblige them?  The implicit message to the servers here is, “Receive under both kinds or you can’t be a server.”

I wonder if there is such attention paid in that place to people receiving Communion regularly in the state of mortal sin.

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36 Responses to QUAERITUR: Can a pastor/liturgist force servers to receive Communion under both kinds?

  1. This priest must not have any EMHCs with wheat allergies, gluten intolerance or celiac disease, or for that matter whatever allergies or issues associated with the fruit of the vine. I have celiac disease. Very occasionally I can tolerate the wheaten host without ill effects, but 95% of the time, I receive only the Precious Blood. Dear priest, please do not make me eat the Host! My guess though is that he is trying to stop people from avoiding the Precious Blood. If people remembered to reverence (bow) as they passed the chalice, maybe he wouldn’t be so annoyed.

  2. Precentrix says:

    I can see that a ‘parish liturgist’ (whatever that is) might want all the servers to be doing the same thing at Holy Communion…

    …What I don’t understand is why that ‘same thing’ isn’t to receive kneeling, on the tongue.

  3. Nordic Breed says:

    Typical of the ham-handed Modernists with their political agenda. I am appalled that this pastor does not know the teaching of the Church on the Holy Eucharist, nor of the laws – or does he? If I were a server I would henceforth quit serving. Actually, if possible, I’d be at the nearest Extraordinary Form and not at this parish at all. There is a lot more wrong here than presents itself.

  4. Sixupman says:

    Parish Liturgist? What that!

  5. Sister H. says:

    I must say that I would decline further service. Perhaps if all of the people did this, we’d actually see in the end that there is no need for a “liturgist”?

  6. Katherine says:

    Typical of the ham-handed neo-trads with their political agenda. I am appalled that this pastor does not know the teaching of the Church on the Holy Eucharist, nor of the laws.

    Altar Servers are a lay ministry and therefore like any member of the laity can decide for themselves. They are not mini-priests that need to mimic the celebrant. This could be better witnessed by vesting them in albs, symbols of the baptismal dignity all Christians share than a clerical cassock, given that they are not clerics.

  7. Bryan Boyle says:

    Implicit in this is somehow a denial that each species, in and of itself, is the complete body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ, and that in only desiring to receive one or the other, you are somehow NOT receiving Communion.

    That certainly goes against Catholic theology and understanding of the Eucharist. And is also a protestant belief (at least those that are liturgically-based, rather than evangelical/fundamentalist/storefront/etc sects).

    @sixupman: a parish liturgist is someone who knows better than you what you need to do to say you are at Mass, and imposes their/his/her will on a weak-willed, over-worked priest in the guise of being community (yes, my tongue is firmly planted in my cheek) and relevant…

    Unfortunately, due to bad catechesis, there are many in our Faith who believe that you have to receive under both species (I had one justify it once by saying they needed ‘something to wash the bread down with’) or you don’t really receive Holy Communion. That’s just wrong on so many levels, the mind reels at even beginning to plumb the shallowness of THAT statement.

    So, something that was reserved for extremely limited circumstances (reception under both species) has become commonplace and banal, and with it, the understanding of just who you are receiving.

  8. benedetta says:

    Just curious, to be an EMHC are there guidelines as far as what should be done in the case where an EMHC is assigned to serve at a particular Mass however the server is not in a state of grace and ought not receive along with others at the special time when all convene around the altar as if a special class of persons apart from the congregation? If they are authorized to give out blessings to other lay folk then are the laity then right in concluding that they are somehow “more holy” than the rest? I would assume that EMHCs receive some sort of spiritual and theological formation in their preparation. What is the guideline, weekly confession, then?

  9. Tina in Ashburn says:

    My experience is that Catholics from these kinds parishes have the impression that they are not getting “all” the Eucharist when the Cup is not offered. When visiting another parish, they become quietly indignant because they are thoroughly used to receiving the cup and insist this is the way Communion is supposed to be practiced.

    Its not so much that both species cannot be offered, but in today’s environment of terrible catechesis, the emphasis on both species teaches a confusing lesson. Gosh, there are many other lessons on the Eucharist that are more worthy of teaching than this [confession, proper fasting, recollection, manner of dress, how to receive on the tongue…].

    Of course if you receive either Species, you receive the full Eucharist.

    The worst part of offering the Cup is the liability of spills on self, clothing and the floor. I have witnessed it all! Picking up a dropped Host is bad enough – purifying after the spilled Blood is a lot more complicated.

  10. Servers receive both so as to show by our actions that both are Christ.

    How about this: servers who do not receive under both kinds show by their actions that they believe the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ are fully present under either kind, and there is no need to receive both in order to receive fully.

    It’s the new Pharisees: burdening people with traditions of men. Even worse than the Pharisees, since the Pharisees at least had some real authority.

  11. Precentrix says:

    @Katherine,

    It’s very unlikely that you’ll see servers dressed in cassocks without surplices/cottas. The surplice is an alb. Therefore, servers wearing cassock and surplice = servers wearing albs.

  12. Afaik there is only the rule, that if you want to receive the Holy Blood, you have to receive the Holy Body of Christ first, except a cause i’ve read once, where a nun had an indult or dispense, because she was suffering severe problems with allergies (gluten a. s. o.) that even gluten-free hosts where not secure enough. The church’s law was always wise to have the possibility of exceptions for health reasons.

    In Germany under child protection laws it is prohibited to offer a teen under 16 fermented alcohol and under 18 destilled alcohol. So if you have ministrants fresh from the First Holy Communion on and you force them to drink, it would possibly a case for prosecution.

    To deny them the communion of the Holy Body of Christ, because they are too young to receive the Holy Blood, well… this would be imho a conflict with canon law, because the ministrants are asumably in correct disposition to receive communion, and a denial of this would imply to the congregation, that the have to abstain from communion under the presupposition they are in the state of mortal sin.

    A priest/liturgist can’t force or oblige anybody to recieve communion even under one species, so he can’t enforce it for both species. In any case he would create a grave scandal.

  13. Supertradmum says:

    benedetta,

    I hate to disappoint you, but the training for being a Extraordinary Minister is woefully inadequate preparation. In our diocese, there is a three meeting prep, one hour each. The last hour is all on the utilitarian parts. The information is from handouts, with quotations from References for Extraordinary Ministers of Communion in the General Roman Missal. In many parishes, women and men consistently wear blue jeans,even on Sundays. As to the Blood and Body of Christ, I have not seem any EM insist on taking both, but when I go to the NO and never receive from the Chalice, I am asked why by some people in the Church. I do this to emphasize that Christ is fully Present in each, not both together, the great heresy of the Hussites, and the Utraquists, before the latter joined with the Church. I am sure there are some Neo-Hussites among us.

  14. SonofMonica says:

    benedetta: an astute question…. I wonder, too, if anyone has an answer to your question?

    I also wonder, where are the EMHCs supposed to receive communion? At my parish, they come up and stand in front, facing the altar, during the Agnus Dei, then kneel before the altar as the priest takes communion, then they go up into the sanctuary and receive with the deacons and altar servers. Is that what is supposed to be happening?

  15. Supertradmum says:

    Son of Monica,
    The latest directive from Rome regarding where the EMs receive was posted in our bulletin for a few weeks at least 18 months ago. The rule is that the EMs are not to stand in the same line as the priest, behind the altar, but to the side, where they receive Communion. In no way are they to pretend to stand in the place of the deacon and they are not allowed to pour the Blood into the chalices.

    If the priest is asking them to kneel between the altar and the nave, I have never seen this, but it begs the question as to why we threw out the altar rails and kneelers.

  16. Frank H says:

    Supertradmum:

    Isn’t it interesting that people ask why you do not receive the Precious Blood? It means they are looking around, watching what others do and are not, evidently, praying.

  17. Supertradmum says:

    I admit, that sometimes I look at those receiving, but I am usually praying for those in line. It is too noisy for my thanksgiving prayers until I get home, especially with the post-Communion hymns, usually Protestant new, weird stuff, and the talking after Mass. Also, I go to the NO to take my aged uncle and bless him, he is deaf and won’t wear his hearing aid, so I end up not praying much in the church, having to repeat things. One tell a family member near 80 to be quiet. Thankfully, my parents,even older, can hear.

  18. Supertradmum says:

    oops, one does NOT tell a an aged family member not to talk…bless them all and I hope there is someone there to take care of me at that age :)

  19. Philangelus says:

    So, no recovered alcoholics need apply for the EMHC position?

  20. Tim Ferguson says:

    I think I would inform the liturgist that yes, I agree, and will, at every Mass at which I am capable of receiving Holy Communion, receive both the Body of Christ and the Blood of Christ. However, as is my choice, I will only be receiving the Body and Blood of Christ under the form of bread.

  21. robtbrown says:

    Katherine says:

    Typical of the ham-handed neo-trads with their political agenda. I am appalled that this pastor does not know the teaching of the Church on the Holy Eucharist, nor of the laws.

    I think the word you’re looking for is neo-cons, not neo-trads.

    Altar Servers are a lay ministry and therefore like any member of the laity can decide for themselves.

    Strictly speaking, it is not a lay ministry unless someone has been installed as a acolyte.

    They are not mini-priests that need to mimic the celebrant.

    Completely agree.

  22. APX says:

    In Germany under child protection laws it is prohibited to offer a teen under 16 fermented alcohol and under 18 destilled alcohol. So if you have ministrants fresh from the First Holy Communion on and you force them to drink, it would possibly a case for prosecution.

    In Canada, this issue is legislated by each province, and allowances are made under such circumstances. However I did run into one little snag in the driving laws for new drivers in my home province on my way home from Saturday evening Mass at a Check Stop. New drivers are under a zero tolerance for consuming any amount of alcohol before driving. I was confronted by a police officer who was a little over-zealous with this, and made me take a roadside screening test, which I blew a fail. (Any alcohol, evening gargling mouthwash will make you fail if you don’t wait 20 minutes for the alcohol to dissipate in your mouth.) I almost had my licence suspended for this.

    Thankfully it was all straightened out with his supervisor, but these zero tolerance laws are becoming quite popular in Canada. New drivers really are at the mercy of the police officer to use proper discretion when dealing with these situations. I stopped receiving under both species on Saturday evenings after this.

    Unfortunately I hadn’t learned yet that one isn’t supposed to receive at all if they’re in a state of mortal sin. I would love to see a priest preach on this during his homily at Christmas Eve Mass when all the Christmas Catholics (something which my home parish priest makes jokes about every year at Christmas, rather than addressing the issue) are there too. It would be interesting to see how many heed his teachings and abstain. It would also relieve the pressure ill-informed family members put on those who do try to abstain, but are shamed into not being a good Catholic if they do not receive communion. Okay, now I’m just disgressing.

  23. Fr. Basil says:

    \\This priest must not have any EMHCs with wheat allergies, gluten intolerance or celiac disease, or for that matter whatever allergies or issues associated with the fruit of the vine\\

    You took the words right out of my mouth.

  24. robtbrown says:

    I have never been asked why I don’t receive under both species, but if I am, the reply will be that I reserve it for special occasions.

  25. Gaz says:

    Anathema sit!

    “If any one denieth, that, in the venerable sacrament of the Eucharist, the whole Christ is contained under each species, and under every part of each species, when separated; let him be anathema.” (Council of Trent session 13 canon 3).

  26. Young Canadian RC Male says:

    Katherine says:
    1 February 2011 at 12:10 pm

    “…. Altar Servers are a lay ministry and therefore like any member of the laity can decide for themselves. They are not mini-priests that need to mimic the celebrant. This could be better witnessed by vesting them in albs, symbols of the baptismal dignity all Christians share than a clerical cassock, given that they are not clerics.”

    Katherine I understand your point and see the pro of having the server dressed in an alb. The negative point on this though it that it detracts from the original powers that the minor orders had with traditional cassock and surplice garments: Providing a medium by which vocations from the priesthood could be inspired or obtained in the young men that served. They were in a certain sense “mini-priests” though they didn’t do what the celebrant, deacon, and maybe sub-deacon roles did.

    To add my persoanl experience, it’s kind of dressing down the whole altar server thing to me. I attend a parish where when I served, we wore traditional cassock and surplice when we served, and the cassocks were red. There was another tidbit tied to that too: Only confirmed servers wore that and they were red as well, tying into that sacrament. The last pastor to be at my parish got rid of them and now all servers, pastroal assistants and other laypeople who aren’t lector or cantor wear the alb. It’s a real letdown when you had the traditional garments.

    As per the main topic: Our servers even when I served, and those currently serving, only receive the eucharist in Body. Only the priest drinks from the chalice. The only exception was (is?) Holy Thursday as a once a year occurence.

  27. Young Canadian RC Male says:

    APX, If the priest did that, I guarantee that those C & E Catholics will stop coming to Mass at all and leave the Church for good.

  28. Precentrix says:

    Dominican parish in London, all the boys wear albs. But they also fix their rosary beads to their cinctures to look like the friars. Kind of cute :)

  29. Stephen Matthew says:

    Is there any possibility that some doubt has crept in regarding the chalice containing the Real Presesnce of Christ in the Eucharist? The entire things seems completely unreasonable, but that one part stood out.
    “… so as to show by our actions that both are Christ”
    If something is happening to casts doubt on the nature of one of the species, then I could understand why they would want to try to do something to reinforce this point. I think this is doing it the wrong way, and is imposing an unreasonable requirement on the servers, but I am willing to allow there is a remote possibility this was done out of a legitimate concern.

    All this being said, there is no right to serve at the altar or in any other capacity. Anyone doing any of these functions does so at the will of the church and the pastor. If a priest wishes to impose a dress code, or a particular hair style, or a way of tying ones shoes, or any other such thing that is not itself immoral, he can do so. If the priest wants the servers to put their hands in their pockets at all times when not using them, this would be a bad decision, but his to make. He may be making a wrong choice, but so long as he neither demands anything immoral or forbids anything morally required, then there isn’t much to be done other than obey or bow out, obvioulsy retainint the right in either case to try to talk some sense into the dim bulb responsible for this not so bright thinking.

    Back when I was a server it was not unheard of for the servers to sometimes be offered the chalice even when the congregation in general was not. It was looked upon as a rather high honor and it would have been unthinkable for anyone to refuse it, the idea would never have entered our minds. We also wore the traditional cassock and surplus (black cassocks most days, but there were a few red ones for certain days). Later we switched to albs at the same time girls started serving, needless to say the girls soon made up most of the servers. Now thankfully the boys have at long last returned and the girls remain, too. I saw a televised mass, I think maybe the one marking the completion of the diocese phase of the process for Fulton Sheen, where the male servers wore cassock and surplus and the females wore albs, I rather liked it but I have never heard of that being done anywhere else.

    In any case, these servers in question will be receiving the Body and the Blood in either case, as both are contained under either appearence. This is a very common mistake however, that one form is the Body and the other is the Blood. In my opinion this is made worse by never quite teaching what the church believes about the Eucharist, what with 2nd graders not being quite up to speed on the philosophy of substance and accidents and then never revisiting the topic ever again. Also, the acclamation “The Body of Christ” and “The Blood of Christ” unfortunately reinforces this incorrect thinking. It is one of the reasons I like the option of communion by intinction even in the Latin rite, though I have only ever been to one mass where it was done.

  30. APX says:

    Young Canadian RC Male says:

    APX, If the priest did that, I guarantee that those C & E Catholics will stop coming to Mass at all and leave the Church for good.

    Not necessarily. The priest at my parish back home does have the gift of the tongue, and is a good speaker. Being a good speaker makes it possible to win people over to your side of thinking without people resenting you.

    We used to have a very conservative priest and when he arrived the congregation started to diminish. He was very condescending, and seemed rather full of himself. Whenever speaking of the congregation, he referred to us specifically as “spectators (which by definition means someone who watches, but does not participate).” He literally pulled the plug on the guitarist’s amp (it wasn’t an electric guitar either; it was an electric acoustic guitar) when he decided he didn’t want a closing hymn. He would single people out in the congregation if their children weren’t behaving. Little things like that drove the people away. When he left, many came back.

    The point I’m getting at is there are positive ways to deal with certain matters, and negative ways to deal with them. If you do the latter, you will likely have more success.

  31. RichardT says:

    “He literally pulled the plug on the guitarist’s amp”

    Huzzah!

    My one experience of prayer being immediately successful was one Mass during post-Communion “music” when I prayed very very hard for a guitar string to break.

  32. RichardT says:

    But on the original matter, who would want to serve Mass under a priest like that?

    Yes, I saw that this came from the Parish Liturgist, but even worse of the priest to let it happen.

  33. Young Canadian RC Male says:

    APX, thanks for the reply. Too bad not all areas/parishes can have a priest like yours. However your points for reply are indeed correct! btw you’re a young male too right? Canadian also?

    Precentrix: Is this just a Dominican tradition for the altar servers?

  34. APX says:

    Young Canadian RC Male says:
    APX, thanks for the reply. Too bad not all areas/parishes can have a priest like yours.
    Eh, I wouldn’t go that far. He’s a good speaker, but he’s very liberal and leaves me confused as to what’s Church truth and what isn’t. (Ie: During one of his homilies he was talking about marriage and young people co-habitating with eachother, and how it was okay because it was a step to marriage. I always thought co-habitation was a sin. )

    Now he lets his deacon say the homilies, but the deacon likes to incorporate his guitar and his renditions of mainstream music into his homilies. I thought people were going to whip out their lighters at Christmas Eve Mass when I was home for Christmas. Apparently everyone there loooooves him. He’s a great person and speaker, but I’m not fond of his song-laden homilies. Think Fred Penner turns homilist.

    [This doesn’t have much to do with the subject of this discussion.]

    btw you’re a young male too right? Canadian also?
    Negatron. I’m a young Canadian woman.

  35. JaneC says:

    This is just awful. Most liturgists are a blight on the Church.

    Please don’t blame the pastor in this circumstance without any details on how much he may or may not know or support what this liturgist is doing. If this happened in my parish, the pastor likely would not know. The liturgist does a lot without the pastor’s knowledge, and these kinds of things are easy to slip past a priest unless someone mentions it to him. I would start by calling the pastor, and explaining that you are sorry you (or your children) will not be serving anymore, but you find this kind of pressure to receive under both kinds to be irresponsible and oppressive. The pastor may be totally surprised to hear about this.

  36. Brian says:

    If someone is to be a EMHC in our parish, it is expected that they receive both species. Of course, there are exceptions, but the norm is to receive both. If one doesn’t want to receive both, they don’t have to serve in that ministry. Too often, people downplay the importance of receiving both, as if one is better than the other. Jesus said, “take and eat, take and drink.” We feel as though it’s a more complete sign, so those who exercise liturgical ministries should lead by examples.