From a reader:
Whilst on holiday in Bournemouth, UK I called into one of the RC churches to say a few prayers. It seemed as though Mass was about to begin but, to my great shock, a lay woman went up onto the Sanctuary and said that, since the priests were away, they would celebrate the Liturgy of the Word and also receive the Eucharist as the Blessed Sacrament was reserved in the tabernacle. To my increasing shock she led the congregation in all of the opening parts of the Mass including the penitential rite and, when the time came, read the Gospel herself from the pulpit. She did not say the eucharistic prayer but led everyone in the Our Father using the words from the Mass whilst standing at the altar, arms raised in the same fashion as the priest.
I did not participate but knelt at a separate altar of Our Lady somewhat flabbergasted. At this point I had to leave anyway but have been quite thrown by this, so I ask; is this allowed in a Catholic Church?
It is permitted for lay people, in the right circumstances, to have a Communion service in the absence of a priest or a deacon. They cannot just decide to do it on their own and they cannot make it up as they go. There are conditions, an order of prayer, etc.
However, at this point I must confess my ignorance of what is included in that order of prayer. I have never been involved in one of these, of course. Why would I be? And I have been anywhere where these services were necessary. I haven’t delved into what is done. I imagine that the first part is going to be rather like Mass, with a penitential rite and readings of scripture. I simply don’t know if the leader must later stand at the altar or pray with arms in the “orans” position in the manner of a priest.
Readers here will be able to chime in and clear this up.
And before they do, I hope everyone reading this will stop and say a prayer for an increase in vocations to the priesthood.
If there are many Communion services with lay leaders going on, something is deeply wrong and the whole local Church must mobilize and foster vocations.
It isn’t rocket science.
Fostering worthy worship, traditional worship, with male-only service at the altar, is a first and necessary step.