From a reader:
I am a Candidate for Holy Orders as I prepare for ordination to the diaconate in 2015. We are being told that as deacons we are ministers of the Cup. For our formators this means when there are EMHC we should distribute the Precious Blood. Here is the question, how far do we take this phrase within the Liturgy? It seems odd for an ordinary minister to be set off to the side with the chalice while an EMHC distributes the Body of the Lord next to the priest.
Oh, that phrase… “minister of the cup” makes my eyes and ears bleed. It’s better than “minister of the wine”, I guess.
I once wrote about Archbishop Sample’s letter on the diaconate (HERE) and his pertinent comment that the primary role of a deacon is not a liturgical one.
That said, a deacon is an ordinary minister of Holy Communion. If present at Mass, the deacon should assist with the distribution unless there are enough priests or there is no need for a second minister other than the priest (probably the case most of the time).
Some liturgists talk about the deacon as “minister of the cup” but it is hard to see good reasons for that other than aesthetics (priest with the hosts, deacons with the Precious Blood). Holy Communion is Holy Communion.
Whether one is distributing front and center where everyone can see, or off to the side, anyone is privileged to be administering the Sacred Body and Blood of Christ. Where a person is standing, or which accidents in which Our Lord has hidden his substance one is chosen to distribute does not alter that reality.
Since you seem to be preparing to be ordained as a transitional deacon, your liturgical role ought to be emphasized. (That is not to suggest that permanent deacons are not as much deacons.) Yet, a transitional deacon’s role is ancillary to the priest,’s. It seems to me appropriate that – if Holy Communion is being distributed under both species – you (transitional deacon, that is) be positioned near the priest… if for no other reason than to observe and learn.