QUAERITUR: Priest complains about people not receiving from EMHC

From a reader:

We have a priest celebrating a NO mass in Latin (for a month now). Two weeks ago he was agitated and asked that people receive also from the extraordinary minister (who’s line was much shorter). This week he distributed the blood, not the body (which was distributed by emhcs.)

No one doubts that one doesn’t receive “more Jesus” when receiving from a priest, or deacon, rather than a lay person.  The Eucharist is the Eucharist is the Eucharist.

That said, the priest’s hands are consecrated to handle the Eucharist.  The lay person’s are not.

Furthermore, it strikes me that people have the right to get into whichever line it pleases them to get into.

Moreover, perhaps the priest ought to take the hint and stop employing EMHC‘s at Mass.  A significant number of people seem troubled by their presence.

I have no thoughts about the priest distributing the Precious Blood instead of Hosts other than to wonder if he is trying to make sure that no “mistakes” happen.  In that case there is some risk of profanation and it probably shouldn’t be done at all.

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46 Responses to QUAERITUR: Priest complains about people not receiving from EMHC

  1. Mary M. says:

    I am very orthodox in my beliefs but I my thoughts on this issue are this. Jesus does not ask us if our hands are consecrated. [I believe He does. We have, after all, the consecration of the priest’s hands during his ordination.] In fact we say before receiving, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive You but only say the word and I shall be healed.” Jesus humbles Himself so profoundly and freely gives Himself to all of us without reservation. [And some people abuse that by receiving Communion in the state of mortal sin.] I am also an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist [No, you aren’t,] and my husband is a Deacon. [You might ask your husband about the proper terminology.] I have seen people refuse to receive from my husband. I am very hurt by that and I know that he is as well. As a Deacon he is ordained and I say this in all sincerity, he loves Jesus with his entire heart and is a holy man. [BTW.. loving Jesus isn’t what allows us to do things in the Church. Loving Jesus is what we should do no matter what.]

  2. Nathan says:

    Oh, dear. Why is it perceived, in some quarters, to be bad faith on the part of the laity who would rather receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist at the hands of the ordinary minister of that Sacrament? Why are the Faithful browbeaten over seeking what is rightfully theirs? Could that be, well, un-pastoral?

    Of course, it may be unrelated to that question, and Father may simply be interested in getting Holy Mass over more quickly. I don’t think that’s a good excuse for denying the Faithful the Sacrament at the hands of its ordinary minister, though.

    In Christ,

  3. APX says:

    @Nathan

    Perhaps the priest was concerned the EMHCs’ feelings fight have been hurt by so much rejection of the laity as if they thought the EMHCs had cooties or something.

    I agree with Father Z about the priest taking the hint and not using EMHCs. Unless the priest is really dense, this makes the use of EMHCs seem more for the purpose of laity participation in the Mass rather than serving the supply and demand in X amount of time reason.

  4. heway says:

    I have seen this one in other churches, but I believe in our diocese the EMHC is restricted to offering the chalice with Precious Blood. Only the priest may offer you the Body of Christ.
    It may be understandable in a very large parish, but they usually have deacons to assist.
    Universal? Not!

  5. jflare says:

    I never thought I’d see the day when a priest would decide to provide the blood at all, never mind for this reason. It’s true enough that we don’t receive more of Christ from the priest than from laity, BUT…
    On occasions in which two lines seem about the same length, I’ve been known to change lines to receive from the priest myself. I know, we gain not a lick more grace that way, but it seems more appropriate somehow.
    I think quite highly of the method our parish uses, both for distributing the Eucharist AND for confession:
    Our pastor appears to have made a priority of offering Confession before each Mass since before I began attending at this church. We have both a pastor and his associate, so both men may be found in a confessional 30 minutes before Mass. Roughly 10-15 minutes before Mass, the celebrant for that Mass will depart the confessional, politely request any remaining penitents to seek the other priest, then he’ll go into the sacristy to prepare. The other priest will hear confessions until penitents have completed; sometimes this means he’s hearing confessions while Mass goes on. Perhaps not the best–it can make communication between priest and penitent..challenging–but it beats the alternatives.
    Upon reaching communion, the priest who didn’t celebrate that particular Mass usually will help with distributing communion. Keeps Mass to a reasonable length most times. A good thing, too: Our parish building serves a fairly diverse community, so there’re five separate Masses offered on the average Sunday..in three langauges! (Well, technically four, because our’s is both English and Latin…)
    Did I mention we use communion rails too?

    OK, I guess I should conclude now. I know, my parish is VERY lucky!
    Perhaps this sort of thing happens when priests are sticky about “doing it right”?

  6. TravelerWithChrist says:

    If 2 extra-ordinary ministers are distributing the body of Christ, what is so extraordinary about them, and what are the ‘ordinary’ ministers supposed to do if they themselves are NOT distributing the Eucharist? Without the priests, Christ would not be present. So why shouldn’t the priests be the ones distributing Him?

    Without priests, Christ would cease to exist in this world.

    I felt as if the priest was playing games with us, during the Mass…

  7. Ben Trovato says:

    I never receive from an EMHC, only from a priest or deacon. My reason is that I believe that the proliferation of EMHCs is against both the letter of the law and the mind of the Church; they are meant to be for emergency (extraordinary) use; moreover, I believe the proliferation is supporting an agenda which is inimical to the Benedictine reform (and I think this anecdote hints at that); so why should I collude?

  8. MichaelJ says:

    Father, you must be prescient. This coming on the heels of your recent “QUAERITUR, Participation in the sins of other people.”
    Yes, I recognize that EMHC’s are allowed in extraordinary circumstances, but we all also recognize that this limited exception to the rule is often abused, and EMHC are used when they should not be. We also know that EMHC’s often, through lack of education, act inappropriately by dispensing Priestly blessings , for example, or (another recent post) purifying the Sacred Vessels.

    So, knowing all of this, how could a person receive the Eucharist from an EMHC and not think that they were paricipating in another’s sin, desipite that the EMHC may not be culpable?

  9. MJ says:

    *Amen*, Fr Z! Whenever I am at an Ordinary Form Mass (not often, since my parish is EF only, so I’m usually only at an OF when I’m traveling and can’t find an EF or I’m at a baptism or something), I always make a point of getting in the priest’s line.

    It seems to me that the big reason for EMHC’s (at least in circles I’ve run into) is that “lines are so long and it’ll take forever to distribute communion”. In my parish (a large one…very large…) we have two priests distributing communion (one is in the confessional throughout Mass but leaves at the Agnus Dei to help distribute communion) and it takes oh maybe 10 minutes to get everyone through the line…not long at all. Plus it gives us folks up in the choir loft time to sing some polyphony. :-D

  10. MissOH says:

    I am blessed that when I can attend daily mass at our parish, there is no EHMC at the early mass and when I do attend the latter one our priests always go to one side so everyone who wants to receive from the priest knows where to sit.
    I generally try, out of obedience, to not switch lines when I am at another parish that uses EMHC. At one, I tend to switch more because, aside from the fact that the ladies all squirt their hands with hand sanitizer that is on a table by the stairs to the altar, one of the EMHC well under 5′ tall. I receive standing (so as not to impede the flow), but on the tongue and I really don’t like having to do a semi squat to receive.

  11. Dr. Eric says:

    I’ve been to Mass recently with about 50 people in the congregation and we still had 3 extraneous Eucharistic Ministers who were scheduled for that day.

  12. ecs says:

    Extraordinary ministers of holy communion in my mind is one of the greatest indictments of the Novus Ordo Church. Few things offends my Sensus Catholicus more than EMHC or its twin sister abomination, communion in the hand. Every time I have the displeasure of attending an ordinary form liturgy the sight of EMHC and communion in the hand pains me more than all the other silliness I had to endure during the preceding forty-five minutes combined. When I tell people that I for the most part cannot attend the average ordinary form liturgy because it is damaging to my faith, EMHC and communion in the hand is tops among the five to ten basic reasons why that is the case. I don’t know if I belonged to this parish if I could restrain myself from letting this priest know exactly how I received his comments and actions. And I say that as a person who gives the utmost deference and respect to every priest I come across, traditionalist or modern.

  13. Brad says:

    Dr. Eric, I regularly witness 4 or 5 EMHC, not counting the priest distributing, at weekday morning Masses attended by ~20 regulars. My parish is liberal and becoming an EMHC seems to be almost literally de rigueur. The scheduling committee (or whatever) liberally employs this army.

  14. Tina in Ashburn says:

    Just another illustration of the bad formation of our clergy. This priest just doesn’t ‘get’ it, but can you blame him? This is the Holy Trinity, the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Don’t they know?

    I don’t know how one would tell a priest to change or open his mind. Laity has no authority to tell a priest anything, although there have been rare cases where charitable laity can affect a priest through kind discussions, prayer, and example. But hey, why make it so hard? This is a question of broken, silent and irresponsible hierarchical authority. Why are the burdens so heavy on the laity?

    Communion in the hand and communion distributed by unconsecrated hands are the same abuse. It needs to stop. It upsets me to receive from unconsecrated hands, as I see it as receiving a Host after It has been desecrated. How long must we endure this heartbreaking daily tragedy, enforced by twisted authority?

    For over 40 years, clergy has been allowed to overlook the history and traditions of reverence for a consecrated Host. If only they would read about miracles of the Eucharist, martyrdoms over protecting the Eucharist from profanation, all the stories of reverence for the Eucharist over the centuries. But along with poor formation, clergy and laity are taught contempt, yes, contempt for any old reverences as irrelevant.

    In addition to the utter irreverence and desecration, this abuse allows for terrible risks as people drop the Host, put It in their pockets, leave It in pews or take It for more nefarious and evil desecration. This should never happen.

  15. Ef-lover says:

    My former pastor also felt that not enough people were going to the EEM’s for Holy Communion
    ( we only have communion under one form). At communion time 2 lines were formed down the center aile with 2 priest in the center and 2 EEM’s on either side most people would remain in the center and recieve from the priest , since the priest was the first they came to , instead of moving to the side to the EEM .So eventually the pastor changed the order and had the 2 EEM’s stand in the center and the 2 priest were put on the sides so then most people were recieving now from the EEM’s . The EEM’s in my parish are not extra ordinary but ordinary, they are assigned to every Sunday mass ,the present pastor or one of the assistent priest who may walk into the church during the Pax stand in the back and watch as the EEM’s give Holy Communion and then head out the door to greet those who can’t stay till the end of mass, visiting priest who are in the sanctuary are not allowed to assist with communion , they sit and the EEM’s distribute Holy Communion.

  16. DisturbedMary says:

    I wonder if Father prefers giving the Precious Blood rather than Communion on the tongue? I never go to one of the priests in our parish because by his facial expression he does not like to put the Blessed Sacrament on my tongue.

  17. jacobi says:

    Personally I do not receive from extraordinary distributers of Holy Communion. One possibility, if you are at the altar rails and a priest is not available is to make an act of Spritual Communion and return.

    I think that under the circumstances, the Good Lord would understand.

  18. Mike says:

    A elderly–and holy– priest recently said in a homily–how different the Church is today, with all these wonderful ministers of the Eucharist, at Mass, for the sick, etc., not realizing that they “subsidize” the lack of priestly vocations.

  19. Jordanes says:

    I make it a point whenever possible to receive Communion from the priest celebrant. Unfortunately sometimes I cannot avoid receiving from Unnecessary Ministers of Holy Communion, but since they are unnecessary I try not to encourage them.

  20. Larry R. says:

    I was present at the Mass in question. There is much going on that is troubling here. First, this Mass is referred to as “an experimental Latin Mass.” Or, it was in the church bulletin, where it was ‘advertised’ for 3 weeks prior to the first NO Latin Mass (ever, in the history of this parish, going back to 1970). The advertisement was tiny and buried in the ‘family and adult ministry’ column. The Mass is not presently listed in the bulletin with all the other Mass times. So, you could say that support for this Mass is not strong among the priests at the parish, but the Bishop, I understand, insisted, due in part to repeated requests on the part of the laity. This particular parish got chosen to have the ‘experimental Novus Ordo Latin Mass’ because it has the only priest fluent in Latin in the entire deanery! It is called an ‘experimental’ Latin Mass, I surmise, because the interested parties are trying to determine how popular it will be. We have about 100+ each Monday night at 7p, not a great time for a Mass, but we’ll take what we can get.

    The unpleasantness started 2 weeks ago. The people attending had figured out which side the priest always distributed Communion on, so they all started sitting on his side, at about an 80-20 ratio. During the distribution, the EMHCs line ran out well before the priests, so he basically ‘ordered’ people to receive from the lay person. Many in the line looked very uncomfortable. I had already received, but saw the expressions. Some did switch lines, reluctantly.

    Last week, some letters were sent to the priest asking if he alone would distribute the Host, with EMHCs used for the Precious Blood. The folks who contacted him made great pains to explain that they knew the Sacrament was valid either way, but that they preferred receiving from a priest for many of the reasons cited already in this post and the comments. His response was to continue to assert, rather testily, that he “knew” the people were not receiving because they denied the validity of receiving from a lay person. That assertion is simply false.

    So, at Mass last night, with only two EMHCs in attendance, the priest elected to have them distribute the Host, while he stood off to one side with the Chalice. I took this to mean that he was determined to ‘force’ people to receive from the EMHCs. Some refused to partake, and one smart guy just marched straight to the priest and received the Precious Blood alone. BTW, the two poor EMHCs looked mortified at what the priest had them do.

    It’s a mess and a shame. I have no idea what to expect next week. I’ve never seen a priest do that before – hold the Chalice while lay people had the ciboria. Since there is opposition to this form of the Mass from the parish ordained leadership, perhaps this is an exercise to make sure the Mass is unsuccessful. I can only guess, I really don’t know.

  21. L. says:

    “I’ve never seen a priest do that before – hold the Chalice while lay people had the ciboria.” I recall seeing this in Morgantown, West Virginia twenty-five years ago. The parish church had been wreckovated multiple times, with the old altar replaced by some sort of wooden screen with what looked like some sort of African squiggles on it, the altar rail removed, the holy water font replaced by a jacuzzi (the water jets were turned on for Mass) and a Priest who would take a chalice and go to the side aisle to distribute the precious blood, forcing communicants to receive the host from the extraordinary ministers. At the consecration, the Priest used to elevate the host only to eye level stare at it for a moment, as if he was not willing to elevate it higher than himself. I referred to the place as “The Church of What’s Happening Now!” and avoided it whenever I could.

  22. jflare says:

    Regarding Holy Communion:
    Ordinary Minister – A bishop, priest, or deacon
    Extra-Ordinary Minister – Any other baptized member of the faithful who’ve received catechesis and/or training regarding the Eucharist and how to distribute it

    I generally understand that Blessed John Paul II addressed this matter in 2004. Essentially, he wished for bishops, priests, and deacons, the ordinary ministers of communion, to distribute communion as much as possible . Lay faithful should be recruited and trained to assist with distributing communion, but only to fit the needs of reasonably “quick” Mass. Such lay faithful were/are not to distribute communion if a visiting priest might happen to be available instead.

  23. LorrieRob says:

    I attend a large church serving 2000-3000 people in 4 Sunday Masses + Sat. Vigil Mass. I also attend the daily early Mass which is attended by perhaps 50-100 people. There are always multiple Eucharistic Ministers. I certainly prefer to receive from a Priest and where I can readily do so without changing lines, I do. But I also will change lines to receive from the Eucharistic Minister if they are lefting standing without the opportunity to offer whichever of the Eucharistic elements they have been asked to distribute by the Priest. I made the decision that since the participation of Eucharistic Ministers is occuring at the direction of the Priest in charge, I should support that decision as it is not mine to make. The practice is defensible in our Parish because of the numbers though it wouldn’t really be needed at the early daily Mass except to honor the need of working people, such as myself, to keep the Mass to about minutes. I’ve also changed lines to receive from the Bishop when he was left standing there:-)

  24. What should be done here is to get permission from the bishop (let’s not argue about whether this is required– it’s a good idea either way) to have everyone kneel for Holy Communion, even if there is no altar rail (a rail makes it easier, but it is definitely not essential, any more than kneelers are required for one to kneel for the consecration). Don’t offer the chalice. One priest should easily be able to distribute Communion to 100 people without unduly prolonging the Mass.

    In any case, this is a very, very difficult situation. Make too much of a squawk or boycott the Mass, and it will be discontinued “for lack of interest” with nothing better to replace it. Say nothing and the priest essentially gets to be a bully, ruining the thing so that no one wants to attend it. Perhaps the ideal situation would be for large numbers to attend but not receive Communion (which would be a shame).

  25. TravelerWithChrist says:

    Andrew – the bishop is opposed to kneeling, and frankly, to the Latin Mass. It feels like a no-win situation.

  26. JKnott says:

    In a particular monastery of observant contemplative nuns, there is a custom during Holy Week to choose from a number of penances. One of those choices is to lie face down on the floor at the entrance of the refectory. The nuns entering the refectory for colation carefully step over their sister lying on the floor. I don’t know which is more humbling, lying there or stepping over. This comes to mind in regard to females distributing Holy Communion. I would prefer to have people steping over me a million times over than participating in an EMHC “ministery” which is partly responsible for eroding a delicate understanding of the essence of the priesthood and reverence and belief in the Real Presence.
    Hurt feelings are more important these days than correcting the reasons that 70% don’t believe in Who it is they are receiving. The comments here are very consoling.

  27. cblanch says:

    Slightly off topic, but have you ever tried to quit being an EMHC? In my parish it was like quitting the mafia. Before I discovered this blog, I was an EMHC for a very short time. It felt wrong, I was distracted during Mass because of it, and I had an undiagnosed anemia condition at the time and felt like passing out while I was up there distributing. Anyway, I called the Deacon in charge of the program to explain my health concern to him and that I’d like to be excused from my obligation. His wife, whom I spoke with instead, assured me that the best place to pass put was in the church so I shouldn’t worry about it! (I was always assigned to the cup, so I was stunned by her nonchalance). The Deacon returned my call a few weeks later, and I felt overly grilled about why I couldn’t do it anymore, like he was probing for orthodoxy on my part or something. The whole situation was incredible! We have an army of EMHCs, not like we have a shortage. Ridiculous.

  28. Mike says:

    “Hurt feelings are more important these days than correcting the reasons that 70% don’t believe in Who it is they are receiving.”

    Bingo. We have nice old ladies distributing Communion left and right; poor reverencing of the Tabernacle in the parish at large. Could be worse; could and therefore should be much better.

    These EMHCs should be abolished tomorrow.

  29. TKS says:

    Dr. Eric, Brad: same situation (30 people at daily Mass with full contingent of EMHCs) but add a couple of deacons sitting in the pews who, well, just sit there. Grrrr!!!!!

  30. APX says:

    @jflare
    I generally understand that Blessed John Paul II addressed this matter in 2004. […] Lay faithful should be recruited and trained to assist with distributing communion, but only to fit the needs of reasonably “quick” Mass.

    I don’t know anything about fitting “the needs of [a] reasonably ‘quick’ Mass,” but according to An Instruction on Certain Questions Regarding the Collaboration of the Non-Ordained Faithful in the Sacred Ministry of the Priest :

    “Extraordinary ministers […] may also exercise this function [distribute Holy Communion] at eucharistic celebrations where there are particularly large numbers of the faithful and which would be excessively prolonged because of an insufficient number of ordained ministers to distribute Holy Communion.”

    “To avoid creating confusion, certain practices are to be avoided and eliminated where such have emerged in particular Churches:
    […]
    the habitual use of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion at Mass thus arbitrarily extending the concept of “a great number of the faithful”.

    I think the last point is important. What’s considered “a great number of the faithful” these days? It used to be that churches were full on Sundays, and now it’s not uncommon for me to have almost an entire pew all to myself, yet we still have EMHCs.

    Furthermore, what is considered “excessively prolonged”? It seems to be ingrained into the minds of the laity that there is an absolute rule that Mass is not to last more than an hour and Mass less than an hour is an ideal goal. Anything longer is too long, so an extra 10-15 minutes of Mass is “excessively prolonged,” thus creating “a great need for EMHCs” (yet how many priests have no problem eating up time by talking about things that have nothing to do with Mass, or dragged out introductions, and long-winded whatevers, etc??) .

    If we just left out what doesn’t belong, as well as what someone elses mentioned, communion under both species (when did this become s regular Sunday thing anyway??), there would be ample time to get through communion without EMHCs.

  31. Andrew says:

    I’ve observed communicants skipping lines to make sure that they receive from the priest. It happens all the time. I do it myself if at all possible without creating some unpleasantness. It can’t be a coincidence that the priest’s line is usually longer. I think of it as a manifestation of the ‘sensus fidelium’.

  32. Tom Ryan says:

    Every so often, Benedict Groeschel will go after the line jumpers, a group I used to belong to.
    Now, I just don’t receive communion at all if there are EMHCs present and I think this could be a more effective tactic to have them eliminated. A parish with a lot a EMHCs usually has very few people not receiving and you will get noticed, and sometimes questioned..

  33. Will D. says:

    Are we receiving Christ or the Minister (Ordinary or Extraordinary)? I, too, look forward to the days when EMHC’s are truly and literally Extraordinary, but the host is the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of the Lord.
    If you are otherwise properly disposed to receive, and willing to receive, I don’t see the point in turning one’s nose up because the priest’s line is too long and/or he abdicates in favor of the EMHC.

    And, Fr. Z., while fisking Mary M.’s comment, you fail to address her concern about people refusing to receive from the Deacon. Deacons are absolutely Ordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. Where’s the catechism there?

  34. michelelyl says:

    This just isn’t a problem at my NO parish…you get in line, you receive the most Holy Body of Christ and the most Holy Blood of Christ if you choose to do so and are worthy to do so. The lines are pretty even on both sides of our older parish. (built in 1905) I’m not understanding the problem. Are you worried about the minister, or the Sacrament? Some receive on the tongue (primarily at the Spanish Mass), some kneeling and on the tongue, some kneeling and in the hand, most standing, in the ‘temple’ of the hand.

  35. Peter in Canberra says:

    I am always left uneasy when the species of Holy Communion are referred to as: ‘the Body” and “the Blood”. I wonder if that plays into the problem we already have – the perception that one has not received Our Lord whole and entire under one species.

  36. Genna says:

    My problem is with the pp patting people’s heads with his purified fingers as well as EMHCs who have been shaking hands at the sign of peace. If I can’t get to another parish I make a spiritual Holy Communion on that day.
    I think a lot of solo priests may be somewhat browbeaten by the mostly female EMHC who consider it an equal “right” to distribute and, having won the “right”, won’t easily give it up. I know several women of a certain age who are affronted by my stance on EMHCs.
    It could be in this case that the priest was getting a lot of earache from the laydeez.

  37. Mary M. says:

    Fr. Z – Whether a communicant receives from a priest or an EM does not negate the fact that someone could be in a state of mortal sin. Instead of telling me that I am not an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist and directing me to ask my husband (which by the way I find extremely condescending) why did you not tell me why you believe that I am not. I’m assuming it has something to do with the numbers at mass not being sufficient to assume that roll. As one poster also commented, you did not respond to my comment about people jumping the line to receive from the Priest rather than receive from my Deacon husband. As Clergy he is an Ordinary Minister of the Eucharist. Are these people following Church “law” as you admonished me to do or are they deciding for themselves who is “worthy” to give them communion? My husband spent seven years at the Seminary studying and by virtue of his ordination he is an Ordinary Minister of the Eucharist (unless of course you don’t think Deacons should be giving Communion which is why you did not respond to me). I would appreciate a response.

  38. Midwest St. Michael says:

    Mike says:

    “These EMHCs should be abolished tomorrow.”

    Make that yesterday, Mike. (please God!)

    MSM

  39. Tradster says:

    Mary M.:
    I believe Father may have been referring to the terminology you used: “Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist (EME)” rather than the proper title of “Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion (EMHC)”.

  40. TravelerWithChrist says:

    This is one of the 7 sacraments. Sacraments should not be administered by lay people, except in extreme situations. We have taken a sacrament, something very holy, and allowed volunteers (with an hour training) to administer this sacrament. I’m certain that wasn’t the intention of Jesus (who passed on these sacraments to his 12 apostles) or the early church fathers.

    second, lay people haven’t had their hands consecrated to touch, much less to dispense to others, the Eucharist.

    Third, Pope Blessed JPII and Benedict XVI requested that distribution by lay ministers to STOP!!! And bishops and priests are refusing to follow such requests.

  41. Mary M,

    It is not Father Z but the Church that says no one is a “extraordinary Eucharistic minister”, the term itself being proscribed in the CDW Instruction Redemptionis Sacramenteum:

    [156.] This function is to be understood strictly according to the name by which it is known, that is to say, that of extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, and not “special minister of Holy Communion” nor “extraordinary minister of the Eucharist” nor “special minister of the Eucharist”, by which names the meaning of this function is unnecessarily and improperly broadened.

  42. Nathan says:

    Over the years, I have become weary of the tender mercies inflicted by the “liturgically enlightened.” Perhaps that leads me to jump in on the issue of EHMCs themselves–proof positive, IMO, that something is licit does not necesarily mean that it is a good idea.

    There are many good, holy Catholics who are Extraordinary Minsters of Holy Communion, and my remarks are not intended in any way to impunge on them–they are legitimately following their pastors and bishops in the practice. There are also situations where it may be advisable for a layperson to administer Holy Communion, especially outside of Holy Mass in an emergency or extereme hardship.

    That said, the use of EHMCs to distribute Holy Communion at Mass in the Latin Church in the 1960s and afterwards originated in open disobedience that was given allowed by Rome to continue in the places where it had already started (a discussion we’ve had here many times). In my opinion, this practice, along with Mass said versus populum, have been the two most important causes in the widespread disbelief (among Catholics) in the Real Presence.

    One only has to think of the evangelical Protestant critique of the Church’s teaching on the Real Presence: “If you Catholics actually believed what your Church says about the Holy Eucharist being the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, you wouldn’t have what resembles a school cafeteria line with people coming up to grab Him from Joe the lawyer or Mary the accountant.”

    Bishops, priests, and deacons are consecrated–set apart for God–to administer the sacraments, especially in the context of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and Holy Communion. When they choose to not fulfill their office in the administration of the Sacrament of Holy Communion, it necessarily diminishes the laity’s belief that the Church really means what it says.

    From the comments associated with the particular practice in the original post, it seems that we are experiencing a replay of the 70s and 80s where some priests and their liturgist allies appeared to have the attitude of “ok, you stupid people in the pews, you better get with the program and go along with my disobedience and my dislike of all things that smack of traditional piety and devotion or I’m going to make you suffer.” That is truly unfortunate , though thankfully much rarer than in those decades.

    In Christ,

  43. Leonius says:

    Clearly the EMHC is not necessary.

  44. AnAmericanMother says:

    Sort of apropos of this in a glancing way. I receive on the tongue and because not all the EMHCs are able to deal with that (at least not without that deer-in-the-headlights look), I usually sit on the priest’s side. Well, the priest went to the opposite side today and I didn’t want to hurt the EMHC’s feelings so I stayed in the line on my side . . . . but as I got up to the front I realized that the EMHC was about 4 foot 2 – and I’m no Amazon but I’m not a small girl, and there was no way . . . . so I knelt. First time I’ve ever knelt to receive at the OF.
    Good news is that nobody made a fuss at all, no funny looks or anything. I noticed that several teenagers/young people knelt also.
    There are usually about 50-60 people at daily Mass, the chapel was pretty near full today. I’m not sure an EMHC is really needed . . . if they would bring back the altar rail, the priest and one chalice bearer could easily manage with no loss of time. It’s the stopping and starting to reach a single point that causes the problem — if an entire rail is filled and the priest simply walks down the rail rather than the people waiting one at a time, anybody’s desire for “efficiency” ought to be assuaged.

  45. Sixupman says:

    At a beautiful unre-ordered church in Menton, France, I recollect the only duty for the priest was The Consecration [if that is what it purported to be] the laity gave out Communion under both kinds, whilct the cleric sat on his behind. Then one asks, why SSPX; FSSP;ICKSP; at al.

  46. Panterina says:

    Will D., amen to that.
    I find it sad that, every time this topic comes up, people who object to receiving from EMHCs and Deacons, or do the line-hopping thing, get more distracted by who is doing the distribution as opposed to focusing on He who is waiting for us. Although it would be my preference to receive from the consecrated hands of Father, at Communion time I don’t really care if I end up receiving from Joe or Mary: I’m receiving Jesus, and that all that should matter. IMHO.

    Mary M., I’ll say a prayer for your husband. His sorrow could be turned into a small act of mortification, and offered back to Jesus, who had to endure much worse suffering for us.