ASK FATHER: More people go to Father than to the EMHCs

From a reader…

Quaeritur:

Father usually has 10-15 people waiting in his line for Holy Communion while there is no one left for the two EMHCs to do but stand and wait.

The priest then waves away (nicely) those waiting to receive from his hands, indicating we should give the EMHCs some business. He then returns to the altar to carry on with Mass.

Does it come under the category of wrong (disobeying the priest) or just rude for me to return to my seat because I choose not to receive from the EMHC.

This opens up some issues.

First, let’s start phasing out EMHCs for Novus Ordo Masses as much as possible.  A priest’s hands are consecrated to handle sacred things, and the most sacred of all is the Most Holy Eucharist.

“But Father! But Father!”, some of you are screaming, “Communion would take too long that way!  And what difference does it make if Joe and Mary Bagofdonuts receives Jesus from?  It’s not more Jesus because It comes from a priest’s hands.  You are clericalist!  You hate Vatican II!”

Okay… so Communion takes a little longer.

Yes, yes, I know that some priests are infirm and can’t distribute.  I said “as much as possible”.

And, yes, I am a clericalist.  I think that priests are special.  I think that priests have their proper role in the Church.  I think that priests are ontologically changed by the Sacrament of Orders.  I think that we should not blur the roles of priests and lay people.

And, yes, yes, I include deacons too. One of the things deacons are ordained to do, is to distribute the Eucharist.  Operative word in that last bit?  Ordained.

Moreover, bishops could install men to the ministry of Acolyte, which would help solve this difficulty.  But that’s another pot of borscht.

Also, if we really want to speed up Communion in a reverent way, then install Communion rails and distribute Communion on the tongue to people who are kneeling.  Communion distribution goes much more efficiently that way and it is more reverent by far.*

I think that the priest does wrong to try to shift people away from himself (the only priest present) to lay people.  If communicants want to receive from a priest, they should be able to.  It’s not like the set of remaining communicants is that large.

On the other hand, it seems to me not unreasonable to encourage people to even out lines if all the distributors are clerics.  Yes, yes.  Sometimes a bishop shows up, or sometimes people don’t like Father X, or really adores Father Y (though everyone loves Father Z).

But … I don’t think the moment of Communion is the best time to be sorting these matters, especially when it is a matter of very few people.  Bring it up in a bulletin note.

At the same time, the Most Holy Eucharist is the Most Holy Eucharist is the Most Holy Eucharist….  You don’t receive more Jesus just because you receive from the most wonderfullest ehvur Pope Francis, recently on the cover of Rolling Stone and TIME and… you know.

Finally, you are not obliged to go to Communion at all, much less to Father A or B or Mrs. D or Mr. E.  If you choose to return to your seat for any reason that is troubling you, feel free to do so.  If you are disturbed or distracted enough that receiving at that moment would be less than what it ought to be, then don’t receive.

*Some will say that Communion via the conga line method on the hands of people who are standing is “just as reverent”… blah blah blah. No. I think that’s wrong. The law of the Church permits this right now, and I will observe the law, but I think it should be overturned.  That’s my position and I am sticking to it.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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137 Responses to ASK FATHER: More people go to Father than to the EMHCs

  1. midwestmom says:

    Bravo, Father! Regarding the matter of time, I think it takes longer for the herd of EMHC’s to swoop in, trip over each other and take their places than if the priest would distribute only the Host by himself.

  2. anilwang says:

    Again, I’d like to ask, has this person actually talked to Father, with non-accusatory charity?

    Sure you can probably guess why he shooed you away, and some of those guesses might be correct. But he might simply not understand the impact of what he’s doing and simply think that people in his line are just driven by worldly concerns (e.g. status, elitism, stubbornness, etc). Returning to your seat without confronting this perception will only confirm in his mind that he has work to do.

    Alternately, he might be under worldly pressures (e.g. it’s a daily mass and people have to get back to their jobs within 1 hr; or free parking is only available until a certain time and he doesn’t want to have people leaving the mass early to get to their cars; or some loud parishioners might constantly nag him about long masses). Whatever those worldly pressures are, there are solutions. But they won’t be consider, much less implemented unless it’s brought up.

    Also, buy him a copy of “Spirit of the Liturgy” and type out some of the relevant parts relating to receiving the communion from that book, and some popular saints. Talk to him with a summary, showing your joy, humility, and reverence at being given the privilege to honor Christ the way he desired. You might change his mind…or at least think twice about shooting away people from his line.

  3. wised says:

    As a long time EMHC, I prefer to receive the Holy Eucharist from a priest too. EMHCs are overutilized in many parishes. Reducing the role of EMHCs in many parishes is fraught with danger. In many parishes, women predominate the EMHC ranks and pastors are too intimidated to act. In one liberal parish, the women ran everything and even prohibited me from training the altar servers. I am male and served for years at a Cathedral Parish and was trained by the monsignor who instilled a sense of honor in our role as altar boys. Needless to say, the servers needed some attention here.
    Men need to step forward at their parishes. How many former altar boys are sitting in the pews? We need role models.

  4. Ben Yanke says:

    “On the other hand, it seems to me not unreasonable to encourage people to even out lines if all the distributors are clerics. Yes, yes. Sometimes a bishop shows up, or sometimes people don’t like Father X, or really adores Father Y (though everyone loves Father Z).”

    I see what you did there…

  5. ClavesCoelorum says:

    I don’t go to our EMHCs. We have at least four of them at every Mass, and to my mind it wouldn’t be necessary. Although I do try to sit as far as possible to the front so I can receive from the priest without causing a fuss, it doesn’t always work, in which cases I have changed lines. Don’t understand this as some sort of bragging, but I would like to note one thing: The only people in our parish who kneel for Communion are one guy I wearing some sort of red cape (I have yet to figure its exact purpose out) and I. Many others could, none will. No Communion rails anymore, mind you.

  6. Thank you for this. We once had a deacon excoriate from the pulpit those who prefer to receive Communion from a man in Holy Orders, accusing us of sinning against the Eucharist.

  7. Uxixu says:

    What really makes me cringe is when there are more than enough clergy but there are still. I’m in a most blessed parish that has the fortune of 3 priests and the retired pastor emertius (4 total) along with 3 deacons. They were all present for the most sacred of holidays (midnight Christmas Mass as well as Easter) over the last year but on both occassions, they still had no less than a dozen EMHC. Every week I find myself longing for kneeling Communion on tongue (to say nothing of the EF) as they still have the beautiful marble altar rail (with non-folding padded kneeler under it), though the gates have unfortunately been removed.

  8. The Theology of the East accompanies standing for Holy Communion. The Roman Church should go back to it’s practice of kneeling for Communion.

  9. Mike says:

    Excellent post, Father. I agree whole heartedly. As for me, I don’t actively refrain from receiving Holy Communion if it has to be from a layperson, but I do try as much as possible to receive from the priest himself (being in a wheelchair, though, it would be rather difficult to change or get out of a line; and to make matters worse, many extraordinary ministers, well meaning though they might be, see it as their duty to bring me Communion from where I am, so I have to receive from a layperson in such cases…I like when they ask if I need It brought to me for that reason, so I can politely say, “No thanks, I can go up myself”).

  10. Uxixu says:

    I remember the same thing for January 1st. Apparently wasn’t a day of obligation this year, but I had it off so went anyway. The other 3 priests were there concelebrating with the pastor, but unfortunately they didn’t minister communion at all while the pastor, deacon, and EMHC did. And worse yet, and worse yet there was an elderly lady parishioner, who is very active in the parish… but she was in an alb, no less. In my youth, I used to always make it a point to go into the priest’s line but now I arrange the seating so I usually get the priest or deacon who always do the main aisle while the EMHC go to the sides.

  11. Eugene says:

    @midwestmom says:
    “Bravo, Father! Regarding the matter of time, I think it takes longer for the herd of EMHC’s to swoop in, trip over each other and take their places than if the priest would distribute only the Host by himself.”…this important point brought to mind how in my Jesuit run parish that offers communion under both species, it takes a very long time for the priest to communicate the EMHC’s and then have them partake of the precious Blood, its actually turned into a ceremony which I have never liked and I try my best to say my act of contrition and other prayers while not looking at the event as people scurry up to the altar for this…the only positive change is that under our new pastor and with the introduction of the changes to the OF Mass, the EMHC’s are communicated AFTER the priest partakes of the sacred species whereas before they were given the Eucharist to hold (ugh!) in their hand until the priest partook of it..to use Father Z’s saying “reason number ### to enhance the OF and or institute the EF everywhere”

  12. Geoffrey says:

    I recently became a commissioned (non-instituted) acolyte and extraordinary minister of Holy Communion in my parish, with the hopes of one day becoming a properly instituted acolyte.

    Just this past weekend, I was distributing Holy Communion and a young woman knelt to receive. It was a very moving experience. Christ is Christ, no matter how unworthy the minister.

  13. OrthodoxChick says:

    Wow. This reader is so much nicer than me. I ignore hints. I stay in the priest’s line and refuse to budge. It’s to the point now that if I find I’m not sitting on the priest’s side, I line-jump. Our pastor tends to alternate left side vs. right, week to week, so people on either side get a turn to receive from him at least every other week. Although if they didn’t act like there’s assigned seating and no one can sit in “their” pew, father might not have to alternate, but that’s another story.

    No EMHC’s & no receiving in the hand – period. I usually don’t give a flying frog if everyone else in the pews shoot the death stare my way, although it does bother me once in a while.

    Too bad there isn’t a support group for communicants who avoid the EMHC’s hands (as well as their own) like the plague.

    “Hi. I’m OrthodoxChick. I’m a line-jumper and tongue-receiver.”

  14. acardnal says:

    “First, let’s start phasing out EMHCs for Novus Ordo Masses as much as possible. A priest’s hands are consecrated to handle sacred things, and the most sacred of all is the Most Holy Eucharist.”

    I agree . . . as did the Servant of God, Fr. John Hardon, SJ who once said:
    “Behind Communion in the hand—I wish to repeat and make as plain as I can—is a weakening, a conscious, deliberate weakening of faith in the Real Presence.”
    –November 1st, 1997 Call to Holiness Conference in Detroit, Michigan

  15. Magpie says:

    Thank you Father for posting that beautiful line illustration of the Mass and Calvary.

  16. acardnal says:

    Not only are EMHC’s hands not annointed, neither are the communicants’ hands.

  17. Absit invidia says:

    “or sometimes people don’t like Father X, or really adores Father Y (though everyone loves Father Z)”

    . . . one of the reasons I keep returning

  18. Priam1184 says:

    I totally agree with wised and his viewpoint. At most of our parishes women run the show and magically seem to predominate among the EMHCs, the lectors, and the music ministries. And most often these tend to be women of a certain age, or extremely feminized and/or easily intimidated men. This is the root and core of why it is so difficult (difficult but not impossible) to change things at a parish level. And it is at the parish level that so many things need to change. Better parishes will produce more faithful parishioners, more faithful parishioners will produce more and better vocations, better vocations will produce better priests, and better priests will produce better bishops.

  19. Bea says:

    For me, when I see anyone, but a priest, handling the Blessed Sacrament is an excruciating heart-felt pain.
    All-Powerful, All-Knowing, All-Mighty God, Himself, being handled as someone (or something as some seem to (un)believe) that is common-place and ordinary, the same as you and me. I would tremble in my boots if I dared to place my hands on Him.
    Like John the Baptist said: “Whose sandal strap I am unworthy to loose”
    and yet we see men in street wear and female EMs in pantsuits going right up to the Tabernacle as if they had a “right” to be there.
    Soiled by sin, we all are, but a priest’s hands are consecrated, just like the Holy Vessels that hold Our Lord’s body and blood on the paten and chalice.
    I see the priest’s hands as an extension of that consecrated paten and chalice, an extension of Our Lady’s womb.
    Not always, but sometimes a second priest comes out to distribute Communion and it is a joy to see that such devotion in honoring Our Lord’s Body still is still seen here and there and some wonder why people have lost their belief in the True Presence. They need look no further to wonder. And so it continues.
    It was a sad day when EMs and Communion in the hand were allowed.

  20. tcreek says:

    I long for the day when no one at my parish volunteers to be an EMHC.

    In my younger days, the altar was a sacred space, the holy of holies. No lay person, except the servers, would dare go up to the altar, much less touch the Host. When it came time to clean the altar area, the Blessed Sacrament would be removed and the ladies of the Altar Society, with their head covered and in their Sunday best, would do the cleaning.

  21. Filumene says:

    “Yes, yes. Sometimes a bishop shows up, or sometimes people don’t like Father X, or really adores Father Y (though everyone loves Father Z).”

    LOL!
    Ok….that was too cute. And the rest of the post was good too :) Anyway, just keep rock’n what the Good Lord gave you. Not everyone has the name Zuhlsdorf.

  22. catholiccomelately says:

    My question is this … we have one priest and 600 people per Mass. How are we to receive both bread and cup, as the Lord Jeses commanded, without extra hands? We have only 2 deacons and yet have 4 Masses per weekend. I know the whole of Christ is graciously contained within each species, but can we not then receive in both kinds?

  23. tcreek says:

    I suspect that long lines for communion would not be a problem if everyone receiving were in the State of Sanctifying Grace, as used to be the “criteria”, for want of a better word.

  24. Supertradmum says:

    At the NO, people get mad at me when I switch lines to receive from the priest….but I do it anyway.

    I never take the cup at the NO.

  25. Imrahil says:

    That said…

    there was once an occasion when I made sure to receive from the EMHC (female).

    I had heard that the rev’d Father was replacing the liturgical formula for “the Bread of Life”.

  26. frjim4321 says:

    If a person defers the reception of communion because she or he does not like the person who is distributing communion, you’d have to wonder two things:

    (1) Does this person really understand what the Eucharist is and what the reception of communion means?

    (2) Is this person properly disposed for the reception of communion anyway?

    So, while my knee-jerk reaction is to say it’s just plain stupid for said person to return to her/his seat without receiving, on second thought it’s probably just as well because that person is either not properly prepared or not in an appropriate state to receive communion.

    It’s probably time for said person to get a refresher of basic Eucharistic Theology or make a good confession including the sin of pride and arrogance.

  27. Robbie says:

    The scene at my parish is a travesty. The EMHC’s (about 12 or so) all join the priest on the altar and stand behind him. He then proceeds to pass out communion and the wine in a very showy process that makes the EMHC’s the star of the show. It’s just awful to watch because our attention is drawn to the people in jeans, rather than where it should be. In the last year, things have gotten worse. Now, recently confirmed eight graders are acting as EMHC’s. I guess once one is confirmed it matters little, but it really aggravates me because it’s yet another diminishment of the priest and the Mass.

  28. Robbie says:

    It’s probably time for some priests to get a refresher on what solemnity and reverence are.

  29. jacobi says:

    Well said Father,

    If I may add, lay distributers of Holy Communion are not “ministers” in any sense of the term and are to be used only in exceptional circumstances, not routinely

    Since their hands are not anointed to handle the Host or sacred vessels, any lay person who receives from them by hand, whatever the current temporary relaxation of ancient custom, is breaking that custom of the Church, so soundly defended by St Francis of Assisi, twice. Once, by handling the Host, and Chalice, if taken, and again by being complicit in another doing so.

    One further point.

    If the priest were to remind the congregation that we may only receive if in a State of Grace, properly disposed and having observed the proper fast, which would forbid casual Mass attenders, contraceptors, re-married and divorced, co-habitors, etc., I suspect there would be no queue problem.

  30. Uxixu says:

    @catholiccomelately said
    My question is this … we have one priest and 600 people per Mass. How are we to receive both bread and cup, as the Lord Jeses commanded, without extra hands? We have only 2 deacons and yet have 4 Masses per weekend. I know the whole of Christ is graciously contained within each species, but can we not then receive in both kinds?

    Can? Sure. Supposed to? Maybe. Obligated? NO. In fact, I believe you’re obligated to Communion once a year. I seem to remember reading in my Barious Press EF Missal (with an Imprimatur) recommending spiritual Communion if you’re not fully absolutely focused and reverent). That said, when I attend daily Mass, I almost always do.

    Still, you’ll hear from many of our honored elders that before Vatican II, the majority of the congregation usually did not go for Communion, though the reasons may be debatable. Historically, I’ve read that before Pope St Pius X (so for the vast majority of the centuries of tradition), daily Communion by the laity was rare, though perhaps Father Z or another poster could elucidate on the reasons. Remember also that around the same time (turn of the 19th-20th century) the pious Eastern layman only Communicated 4-5 times a year. I hope one our Eastern brethren can share if that’s still the case or not.

  31. Uxixu says:

    @frjim “If a person defers the reception of communion because she or he does not like the person who is distributing communion, you’d have to wonder two things”…

    Is it disliking the EMHC or more reverence to the ordained, much less the practice of our (grand)fathers? Isn’t it a jump to assume the former more than the latter?

  32. OrthodoxChick says:

    frjim4321,

    Why would you assume that a communicant is refusing to receive from an EMHC out of pride or arrogance? That does not seem in keeping with the “Whom am I to judge?” of our Holy Father.

    Would you not at least leave open the possibility that the communicant prefers to receive Our Lord only from consecrated hands so He is not profaned? There’s a difference between reverence and arrogance. If anyone can “handle” Our Lord once the priest has consecrated Him, then we’re reducing the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus to the equivalent of a potato chip. Why have a communion line at all if we can all touch the Host? Instead, the priest might just as well hand the ciborium to the person in the front pew and announce, “Hey y’all, everybody just take one and pass it around.”

  33. benedetta says:

    I generally do not have an issue about receiving from EMHC when I attend NO Masses. What is off putting, to me, is their smiling and making strained eye contact in a moment which is not really about them, or me and them, at all, and their general difficulty giving communion on the tongue.

    I think for me what has become more of a concern after attending the EF is the awareness that the EMHCs go off in some dark corner or recessed room and consume the Precious Blood but that there are maybe particles of the Lord on their hands and maybe or maybe not the vessels are properly purificated? Fr. Z could speak to this surely however I just have a general uneasiness with great troops of EMHCs attempting to distribute communion with no patens these days. It just seems that the sacred rites are now being altered in order to accommodate the having of a lot of EMHCs distributing. I just don’t feel that would be an organic change for the Holy Sacrifice.

  34. frjim4321 says:

    OrthoChick – - -

    True, which is why I was careful to use the words “wonder” and “probably.”

    If a person ” prefers to receive Our Lord only from consecrated hands so He is not profaned” there is a serious issue of misunderstanding of profanation of the Eucharist, and if a person persists in such ignorance after correction it certainly is a matter of arrogance.

    The nature of the Eucharist is determined by what the Eucharist is, not by who “handles” it. If, horribly, the consecrated host should fall on the floor, it is still a consecrated host.

    The documents are clear enough about the meaning of the procession and the method of distributing.

    – - – Fr. Jim

  35. DavidJ says:

    I vastly prefer to receive from an ordained man who has been suited to the task, but I don’t balk at receiving from an EMHC. The Jesus I’m receiving is the same from either, and I am blessed to be able to receive Him.

  36. rbbadger says:

    I think it is time to consider what damage extraordinary ministers have done to the priesthood. Towards the end of his life, the late Cardinal Basil Hume, O.S.B. stated that from his experience, removing the Blessed Sacrament from the sanctuary and communion in the hand have done much to erode faith in the Real Presence. Cardinal Hume was no traditionalist, but he was at least smart enough to realise, albeit belatedly, the fruit of all these experiments had been.

    In Gyesan Cathedral in Daegu, South Korea, the resident priests are expected to assist with the distribution of Holy Communion, no matter whether they are concelebrating or not. Also, communion under both kinds, at least insofar as Sunday Masses go, is non-existent in the country. Because communion is given only under one kind, it eliminates the need for most extraordinary ministers and in some cases, all extraordinary ministers.

  37. The Cobbler says:

    It recently occured to me that one might describe the apparent need felt by most modern parishes for a squad of EMHCs even in typical circumstances, when they are prescribed for extraordinary circumstances, as a perceived long-term “state of emergency”.

    Which is funny, because that would put the average parish and the SSPX on the same page in some respects… although the same page in totally different books, since they have no agreement at all as to the nature of the emergency.

  38. benedetta says:

    I guess in some ways our fast food, minimalist, brutalist, throwaway culture regards particles as just so much blobs of tissue. Not worth caring about…

  39. Imrahil says:

    Dear @jacobi,

    one little annotation, as your comment too much had the sound of accusation-of-sin to it (which we are not talking about; maybe you did not mean that, but language such as “complicit in” has somewhat a ring to it) etc.,

    that custom has been “broken” in that sense by the Church’s authority. Whether or not we would it rather reestablished*, it is in the O.F. not now the custom of the Church. And whether or not EMHC may be termed ministers (they are “extraordinary ministers” after all – one thing is clear, though; they are only and can only be used as substitutes and not “to make room for more participation of the faithful” or the like) – a deacon certainly is, as is an acolyte, neither of whose hands are consecrated.

  40. Uxixu says:

    @catholiccomelately Oh yeah, wanted to add that Vatican II , Ch2 55. intended that receiving both species be relatively rare (“when the bishops think fit” and gives examples for ordination, professed in religious profession, and newly baptized in the Mass following their baptism). What we have with both species on all Masses and every Masses isn’t what Vatican II intended.

  41. LadyMarchmain says:

    Thank you, Fr. Z, for this post and the emphasis on the ontological change in the ordained priest.

    Cobbler, interesting point!

    FrJim: With respect, I don’t believe the person posing the question disliked the Eucharistic Ministers, or felt the host was in any way diminished by the potential open to profanation through accidents. In the Extraordinary Form, the priest says the most beautiful prayer and blessing to each communicant as he places the host on their tongue. When I am waiting in the aisle, I sometimes gaze at the communion rail as the priest says this prayer and places the host on each communicant’s tongue, and it so caring and moving, I always remember Our Lord’s words to St Peter: “Feed my lambs.” The host is the host even if we are directed to pick it up ourselves from a styrofoam plate (as I once saw in a nightmare), but there is something about the pastor and his parish that is lost in the use of Eucharistic Ministers.

  42. benedetta says:

    Apropos of today’s discussion on the other post about Notre Shame, wasn’t it Fr. McBrien (prayers for his healing) who mocked Eucharistic Adoration? Though his schtick is rooted in the crazy 70s, it is still vociferously ascribed to as settled dogma even today in certain places, and serves as a foundation for other notions spiraling out. Undeniably though, the movement to persuade laity to disbelieve in the Real Presence has not been successful. Certainly as a means toward practicing a coherent faith, the Real Presence is/has been exponentially more powerful and effective than the strange adventures of those who have tried to deny it through unusual liturgical embellishments.

  43. Sword40 says:

    I haven’t received communion at an OF Mass all this past year. But I receive almost every Sunday at the EF Mass. In fact I’ve only attended the OF twice this last year. I know the OF is valid; no argument. I just don’t like it. Particularly when the EF is available.

  44. robtbrown says:

    I prefer to receive Communion from a priest rather than a layman because it is more appropriate–it has nothing to do with the possibility of profanation. I have noticed, however, that women giving Communion think they have to smile every time–I can do without that.

    And there have EMHC whom I have personally liked more than the celebrant, but the principle perdures.

  45. HobokenZephyr says:

    I prefer to receive from Father or one of our Deacons. Our usual Extraordinary Monster of Holy Communion is a member of the same gym as me. We share a locker room. Need I say more?

  46. frjim4321 says:

    “I prefer to receive from Father or one of our Deacons. Our usual Extraordinary Monster of Holy Communion is a member of the same gym as me. We share a locker room. Need I say more?” – Hoboken

    What does going to the same health club and sharing a locker room have to do with this? I think you would find it growthful to reflect on that.

  47. Vecchio di Londra says:

    “because she or he does not like the person who is distributing communion”
    Neither Fr Z’s correspondent, nor anyone else on here so far has made such a scandalous suggestion or implied it, as far as I can see. It is the practice that is not approved of: and understandably so. It desacralizes the sacred.
    EMCHs are an administrative adjunct, and have nothing to do with ‘Eucharistic Theology’. The relevant documents allow – NB only ‘allow’ – the use of extraordinary ministers, who may be instituted only ‘for reasons of real necessity,’ and who ‘may administer Holy Communion only when the Priest or Deacon are lacking, when the priest is prevented by weakness or advanced age or some other genuine reason, or when the number of faithful coming to Communion is so great that the very celebration of Mass would be unduly prolonged.’ (RS, 158)
    What is ‘real necessity’? It would surely need to be something pretty unusual beyond the wish of Fr A to abbreviate the proceedings, and/or the reluctance of Fr B and Fr C (present at the same church or in its presbytery during Mass) to help out with Communion.
    As for the wish to ‘involve the laity’ – that is no necessity at all. They are already involved by being actively present at Holy Mass.
    What is ‘unduly’? Maybe, more than 20 minutes? But surely an ‘undue’ length of time for communion is a highly unusual and very occasional occurrence in most churches. Our worldly impatience to collect our cars and be off and away to lunch does not count for much. God waited patiently for many thousands of years to be Incarnated. The least we can do is to wait patiently to receive Him, using the blessed time of silence during Communion as a heaven-sent opportunity for private prayer.

  48. Dienekes says:

    It’s only fairly recently that I’ve begun thinking about the overwhelming changes in the Mass since 1963, and how it was done. Some months ago a comment about EMHCs made on this blog made me ponder the meaning of the word “extraordinary”. In my parish there is nothing more predicable and certain than aspiring “priestesses” tromping around the sacristy during Mass.

    I did a little EMHC-ing long ago, and the first time I distributed Holy Communion I was overwhelmed by the magnitude of what I was doing. At no time did I really feel qualified or worthy to do what I felt (then and now) to be the proper function of a priest. I drifted away as I felt there was really no need for that sort of thing. Apparently there were sufficient women available to replace me, so I was not missed. For my part, I first started serving Mass back in the early 1950s so that sense of awe has stayed with me. I’m just not confused about my place in the scheme of things.

    And yes, I am a very recent line-hopper, and I think I will continue to be one.

  49. OrthodoxChick says:

    Fr. Jim,

    I may be persisting in my own ignorance here, but I’m just thinking of the miracle of the fishes and the loaves as being a precursor of Holy Communion. I mean, Our Lord was physically feeding the people who had come out to hear Him, but because He is God, He was also feeding them spiritually at the same time. And I’m sure that He could have looked out at the size of the crowd that had gathered and decided to Himself, “These poor folks will still be here tomorrow if I leave it to only my apostles and disciples to distribute fish and bread to five thousand people. It will be quicker if I choose some folks from the crowd to join my disciples in distributing this food.” As I recall the biblical account of this miracle though, I don’t think that’s how Our Lord chose to distribute food to the crowd. I believe that He restricted distribution to His disciples only and instructed them Himself.

    Isn’t one important part of consecration the fact that the act of consecration takes something as common as bread or wine and through the words of consecration prounounced by the priest, holding the common bread and wine in his ordained hands, by the power of the Holy Spirit, what was common becomes Sacred. And if this is true, then isn’t it a form of profanation to take Our Lord and then separate Him from The Sacred by returning Him back to the common of a layperson’s hands?

  50. Our parish is blessed to have Altar rails, no EMHCs, & no Altar girls. We have two wonderful Deacons,who assist the Pastor. My parish is Heaven on earth.

    And, there are many vocations that have sprung and are still springing from our Parish, Brother Francis, who is the brew-master at the Benedictine Monastery in Norcia is one of them. :)

  51. Lori Pieper says:

    I don’t often agree with Fr. Jim, but here I do. I can’t imagine what reason anyone in a state of grace and otherwise properly disposed would refuse the Body and Blood of Our Lord, especially because of . . . what? A disagreement with what the Church herself has permitted? According to the Church, a lay person’s hands are fit to administer the Eucharist, or the Holy See would not have said so. Reception in the hand was in fact a custom in the early Church, so there cannot be any serious question that this is doctrinally wrong – but even if you disagree with it as a discipline, is this really a reason to refuse Our Lord?

    And then there’s the whole thing about “we’re not actually obliged” to receive the Eucharist more than once a year. Are you really going to suggest saying to Our Lord, “Sorry, but I’m not actually obliged to receive you today, so I’ll skip it”? If I were Jesus, I’d feel a bit hurt by that. And I know there are a great many fans of Pope Pius X here — don’t forget that he urged daily reception of the Eucharist, because it was intended by Jesus to be our daily manna and daily bread. In Quam singulari he pointed out that even fear of profanation was not an excuse to keep children from receiving. Didn’t our present Pope say just recently that the Eucharist is a spiritual medicine, not a reward for those who are (or think they are) spiritually strong? As for me, I’d never say I was too well off spiritually not to need the Eucharist.

    I do understand that some people might be upset enough by encroachment, even abusive – of EHM’s, that they might enter a state of sinful anger and be spiritually unfit for Communion; I take it that is what Father Z was speaking of and why he gave that advice . . . otherwise I don’t see how this can be a good idea.

  52. Lori Pieper says:

    P.S. I don’t know who among the commenters declared that they refuse Our Lord when there are only EMHC’s available – maybe it was only one person, and I don’t want to single anyone out personally. I know that several people on this blog have said it in the past though.

  53. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Lori Pieper — Actually, finding yourself in a state of strong disagreement with something going on in your parish church is the perfect reason not to receive Communion. If you find yourself not properly disposed, you don’t go. If you can turn an open heart and a blind eye to things or people that torque you off, then you do.

    Now, I’m very well practiced in ignoring everything but Our Lord, as my brothers trained me to do. But I know when I’m not disposed, as my brothers trained me to do; and sometimes a hot-tempered person like myself finds prudent reason not to go to Communion, even in the short moment between the kneeler and the aisle. (If this sort of thing doesn’t happen to you, I commend your felicity of life.)

    So it’s certainly true that forcing people to swallow less-than-optimal liturgical practices could easily be the sort of thing that would force some of the potential communicants not to be well disposed for Communion. Since one cannot force others to stop these practices without becoming irreverent, it’s clear that sometimes reverence demands that one not receive; and one should not meddle too much with a Catholic’s individual prudence of judgment in these matters.

  54. Suburbanbanshee says:

    * as my brothers trained me to do: By being little jerks when they were little, just like I was myself. We squabbled a lot less in church than elsewhere, but an eye’s flicker or a finger’s flex were often enough to cause bad feeling right before Communion.

  55. romanrevert says:

    Start attending the Traditional Latin Mass. Problem solved… and not just this problem, but most issues raised on Fr Z’s blog.

  56. Iacobus M says:

    I serve as an EMHC at my parish fairly often – never volunteered, but I guess I’m not good at saying no. I agree that they should really be EXTRA ordinary (there is rarely a true need in most parishes). Also, the resulting feminizing of the sanctuary confuses the priest’s iconic role of Father in an age where fatherhood is already diminishing rapidly. I’m all for patens, altar rails, and only ordained ministers and male servers beyond the rail.
    -Iacobus M
    http://vitafamiliariscatholica.blogspot.com/

  57. frjim4321 says:

    In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that even with proper training there are E.M.’s that just don’t get it. I once went to the tabernacle to find that it was EMPTY! An E.M. doing a home visitation took the last remaining hosts! So even though I find E.M.’s necessary I will agree that they are an imperfect solution.

  58. Absit invidia says:

    Fr. Jim,

    “I will agree that they are in imperfect solution.”

    . . . solution to what?

  59. JacobWall says:

    Our priest (and the last two we had) patiently wait for those in his line to come to him, and I appreciate that! The parish is very practically-minded people so there’s a lot of shifting between lines as one line gets shorter than the other. If the EMHC’s line gets shorter, I just stay in the priest’s line, and focus on prayer and Christ.

    For me, it is definitely not an issue if I like the people or not; in fact, as people, I like all the EMHC’s I know – they are friendly, pleasant, hard working and dedicated to the parish. It’s just the concept of having EMHC’s in a communion line of 50 people that I have a problem with.

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; my first parish in Mexico had approx. 750 people at any given Sunday Mass; communion is given by the priest, a nun and a deacon (that’s 3), and they do just fine. In this case, I can see completely why a bit of help is needed. In the “smaller” parishes in the countryside, with attendance of several hundred, only the priest gives communion, even if if the Mass goes over time, pushing back the beginning of the next Mass; EMHCs would be pointless because no one would go to them. People would simply rather wait in line 20 minutes if they have to.

    So, why does a parish that gets 100 people on a good day (Christmas, Easter) and 50 – 75 on average need 3 people distributing communion? Yes, on a personal level I like these people. But that is simply not the point.

  60. Incidentally, the idea of the Sacred Species being handled by laymen was called for by the disciples of Martin Luther, as St. Thomas More pointed out in his Dialogue Concerning Heresies.

  61. Nan says:

    @catholiccoelately, my parish deliberately distributes both species only at some Masses; we have 5 Sunday Mass times, including Vigil Mass. Sometimes people forget that either species contains the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ, and feel entitled to receive both when they’re not missing anything by receiving only the Host.

    Count me in on the communion migration and strong preference to receive from the priest. One of my tiny sacrifices sometimes is not to migrate and to receive from whoever is at the front of the line I’m in. It may not seem like a sacrifice at all but truly is.

  62. paulbailes says:

    Dear romanrevert,

    re your “Start attending the Traditional Latin Mass. Problem solved…” – not quite “solved”. You also have to stop attending the NOM.

  63. Cathy says:

    I do wish this would stop! It’s just weird and I can’t help but thinking Invasion of the Body Snatcher’s every time multiple members of the laity come forward and gather in the Sanctuary behind the Altar. As regards the distribution of both the Host and the Precious Blood at every Sunday Mass, I often wonder how many communicants could be easily trapped in the theological error of utraquism.

  64. Priam1184 says:

    Incidentally the parish I attend regularly for Sunday Mass just discontinued offering Holy Communion under both species. The number of EMHCs running up to the altar has been cut in half and it does make a difference in the optics. They are no longer completely surrounding the altar anymore and the priest distributes Holy Communion to everyone on the altar rather than handing off the Precious Blood to a layperson to distribute it to all of the EMHCs and altar servers as in the past. Of course all there are still two or three lectors and musicians running up there but now everyone can just stand to one side rather than surrounding the altar. Not perfect by a longshot but a major improvement. Brick by Brick.

  65. Gratias says:

    Definitly a line hopper here. If the priest is not on our side of the conga line wife and I let everyone pass and go to the back of the Priest’s line. Very importantly we make a reverence while the guy in front communicates and then say amen and receive on the tongue. Cannot kneel at my NO parish, I do not want to disrupt others. But I have not received a host touched by lay hands for many years. As for the wine I leave it for Lutherans. In Mexico I once received by intinction, which forces the priest to give the host on the tongue. Pope Francis did that in a Roman parish too.

    The solution of course is to attend Latin Mass, but here in Los Angeles it is only allowed regularly every Sunday in two churches in the northern peripheries (Alhambra 1pm and Camarillo 10am) and that is a one hour drive each way for us so we can only do the trip once or twice a month.

    This matter of receiving communion is very important in my view; I encourage you to receive on the tongue.

    Thank you Father Z for this forum.

  66. StWinefride says:

    Lori Pieper said: P.S. I don’t know who among the commenters declared that they refuse Our Lord when there are only EMHC’s available…

    I am one of those commenters, but not on this thread. I am not refusing Our Lord, I am purely refusing to accept the abuse of Communion in the Hand. I very rarely go to the Novus Ordo in any case. As Michael Davies says in the document I link to below: Communion in the hand is an abuse fostered by disobedience and deceit.

    Also, Bishop Schneider’s two books, Dominus Est – It is the Lord! and Corpus Christi are very interesting and informative reads. Available at Amazon.

    http://www.catholictradition.org/Eucharist/communion6.htm

  67. jacobi says:

    @ Imrahil,

    You make fair comment.

    What is at issue here, I believe, is that there has been a sustained effort on the part of various Relativist factions in the Church, who seized upon the laxness in the post-Vatican II period to attack some Catholic doctrines, in this case, the Real Presence.
    Their attack is indirect, usually much more effective. Allow people to treat the Host as just a piece of bread and sooner or later they will think it is a piece of bread.

    And how successful they have been. I have read somewhere that as many as 80% of “Catholics” in the US of A do not believe in the Real Presence.

    Being complicit implies partnership in an act. Therefore, I suggest that by adopting the option, under temporary indult, recently withdrawn in the Philippines for instance, of receiving by hand, and of taking the chalice, one is knowingly or unknowingly taking part in this attempt to diminish belief in the Real Presence.

    The Protestant minister, (note I have not used a capital M), who said sometime in the 1950s that if Catholics really believed what they said they did, they would crawl into church on their bellies, must be laughing his head of now – wherever he is!

    ps, surely Deacons do have anointed hand?

  68. APX says:

    On a personal note, I will just say this: communion is an ineffably intimate moment in which I am united with my Beloved. Quite frankly, that’s a personal moment that I have no desire to share with an EMHC. Fortunately, God has always provided when there was a chance I might have to receive from one.

    And yes, I wish we’d return to communion rails and COTT kneeling. I find it revolting when I see CITH.

  69. markomalley says:

    For the life of me, I do not understand why, in a parish with 3 priests and 4 permanent deacons, an EMHC would be needed to distribute Holy Communion at Mass. Perhaps the odd occasion that could come up as the result of vacations and illness, but that would be an “extraordinary” situation, then, wouldn’t it?

  70. Imrahil says:

    Dear @jacobi,

    thank you for your answer.

    A deacon has an anointed soul of course, he has the character of ordination (to his degree, the deaconate). But if I am not terribly misinformed, there is nothing in the liturgy about anointing of hands. (Is there anointing at all? or only imposition of hands?) This is done precisely to the priest because the priest handles the Sacred Species; because back in the day deacons did not handle the Sacred Species. St. Thomas of Aquinas distinguishes nicely between the priest who handles the Body of Christ, the deacon who handles the Chalice containing the Blood of Christ, and the subdeacon who handles the empty sacred vessels.

    As for your suggestions, you are of course at liberty to suggest. I’m also at liberty to suggest, and I suggest rather other things.

    Precisely because being complicit implies partnership in an act, one who communicates by hand is not complicit in any sort of anti-Catholic attempt – if only because otherwise the Church’s indult you cite would be morally void. One who takes the Chalice even less – communicating from the Chalice has nothing to do with irreverence or lesser reverence at all. It was once forbidden, and is still the normative practice not to distribute It, but for another reason, namely to get it into people’s heads that Christ is present completely in either species alone; not because to receive from the Chalice would be irreverent.

    (Though… self-intinction is irreverent, at least because it breaks a liturgical law.)

    As we were suggesting things, I suggest that when you make the customary genuflection versus the Tabernacle (if you found the Tabernacle, but that’s another story), you made it somewhat clear to any observer that you believe in the Real Presence.

    And as to the Protestant minister, we could not have satisfied him anyway. “crawl into Church on our bellies” or better not go to Church at all – this is surely a fitting Protestant idea of God – they only have awe for God, and say that men are utterly depraved. (I do not know whether he realized that once in the year, on Good Friday, there really was a ceremony with some fitting crawling-on-the-belly.) It is not in general the Catholic idea, though: Catholic is the “ego vos autem dixi amicos” in spite of all our unworthiness, Catholic is the place where God has deigned himself to be at home, though we did not deserve it. And thus, good Catholics treat God with reverence, yes, but not with what this Protestant minister would judge to be reverence. Not quite unlike soldiers treat an amiable, wise company commander of theirs, living always under the same roof.

    I might say to this Protestant minister: no, Mister; if we really believe in the Real Presence, and we do, we do not crawl on our bellies. What we do is have in our midst, e. g., student corporations with a somewhat military past (stemming from the Wars against Napoleon) who, in the Corpus Christi procession, do not even genuflect. They do not genuflect; but whenever the Eucharistic blessing is given, or the Body of Christ is raised, or It passes immediately by them, one hears sotto voce: “Attention! Salute – up!” and afterwards “Salute – down! At ease!” and see them act accordingly.

    We* do believe in the Real Presence. Only we do not share the Protestant awe – nor should we, at least as far as practical comportment is concerned. [* I mean those who do.]

  71. Heather F says:

    @Priam1184
    “I totally agree with wised and his viewpoint. At most of our parishes women run the show and magically seem to predominate among the EMHCs, the lectors, and the music ministries. And most often these tend to be women of a certain age, or extremely feminized and/or easily intimidated men.”
    Magically? I don’t know, at my parish most of the volunteers are women as well (although about 3/4 of the altar servers are boys), and it’s not because there is some kind of feminist conspiracy going on, it’s simply because we are chronically short of volunteers and they are the only ones who step up. Father has made appeals for help at various times asking for men in particular. It doesn’t help much.

  72. Imrahil says:

    Dear @markomalley, good point.

    As for me, I can’t understand EMHC on weekdays (assuming normal-sized or slightly well-visited Daily Masses.)

  73. Mike says:

    “If a person defers the reception of communion because she or he does not like the person who is distributing communion . . .”

    May I respectfully observe, frjim4321, that your compulsion to couch your argument in such defensive terms exposes its weakness better than any retort Fr. Z or any commenter could offer. You are in my prayers.

  74. MichaelBoston says:

    I’ve noticed that the pastor in my parish distributes communion side by side with a EMHC. He takes the line to his right which fakes out those who expect that the priest to distribute on the opposite side (and sit in the pews on that side). A bit of passive-aggressive behavior to prompt the “reactionaries” to take communion from the EMHC?

  75. Andrew says:

    It has been my experience – I am talking of decades here – that the line tends to be always longer in front of the priest and that communicants tend to switch lines away from the EMHC’s. Some priests distribute always on the same side, thus people line up predominantly on that side of the church even before Mass begins. Other priests like to surprise you and they randomly choose left or right side for distributing communion in which case you can observe a number of communicants shifting sides to line up with the priest. I have observed this in a number of different parishes and I am convinced that good many communicants prefer receiving communion from the clergy. Sensus fidelium?

  76. Vecchio di Londra says:

    Heather, In some cases men do not respond to these appeals for EMHC volunteers because they do not believe there really is a chronic need that cannot be supplied by the ordained priests and deacons of the parish, with the co-operative patience of communicants.
    Of course these matters are all different from parish to parish. Out of curiosity, and without pre-judging the issue, roughly how many people would you estimate present themselves for Communion at an average Sunday Mass at your parish church? And is there a second priest who could assist with Communion if the numbers are great enough? This is what happened routinely until 20 years ago.

  77. wmeyer says:

    frjim, the documents–including one from my own archbishop–are also very clear that EMHCs are to serve at the discretion of the celebrant. Yet in the two parishes of which I have been a member, the EMHCs clearly believe that they have a right to serve.

    Aso to the need for them, I have seen a case at my former parish when, at a Mass with fewer than 150 people in the pews, 12 EMHCs came forward to serve. Now I am sorry, but the time needed to prepare for them, to distribute to them separately (which appears to be a violation of what the documents instruct), to send them out, and to clean the vessels after was greater than would have been the time needed for priest and deacon to serve that modest number of communicants.

    I cannot help but wonder whether some of the EMHCs, especially among those who incorrectly believe in a right to serve, the sin of pride is a factor.

  78. midwestmom says:

    @ catholiccomelately…the answer to your question is Communion by intinction. The priest, with a chalice attached to a plate specifically designed for this, can dip the Host in the Precious Blood and place it on your tongue. This is rarely seen in the US but it eliminates practices which are easily abused (EMHC’s and Communion in the hand).

    I never receive the Precious Blood from the EMHC’s in my tiny parish for one reason: I don ‘t want to help create a need for them.

  79. dans0622 says:

    An instituted acolyte is also an extraordinary minister, although he has a bit of precedence over the run-of-the-mill e.m.h.c (canon 910.2). The decision to receive Holy Communion, or not, has to left up to the individual. I don’t see myself ever refraining only because of who might be distributing the Host but…. On the other hand, it is clearly a dereliction of duty for a priest who is able, and was actually doing so, to simply stop distributing Holy Communion so that an extraordinary minister has something to do.

  80. incredulous says:

    @heather,

    Why don’t men sign up? There is a reason that does not come down to the fact that women are the virtuous overachievers and men are hapless slackers.

    I’m quite active as a parish volunteer. I’ll never forget our festival night where we volunteer 20 hours over a weekend. I wanted to help out my wife at a concession. The concession was being run by a large, boisterous woman who is also an EHMC. As I walked in, she immediately started yelling at me in front of a crowd that men weren’t allowed in the booth. Of course, that didn’t dissuade me from continuing my festival volunteering, but I can see how men are sick and tired of dealing with loud, obnoxious, man-despising women. They have no home in the leadership of the Church, nor do any other bigots and should be kept clear away from influencing anybody or being an ambassador for the Holy Bride.

  81. LarryW2LJ says:

    If I might add my .02 cents (much of it has already appeared here), and I apologize if it becomes a rant.

    I do NOT like receiving Communion in my hand, or from an EMHC (although I reluctantly will, if presented with no other choice). Sorry, but that’s just the way I was brought up. I received my first Holy Communion in 1964. We studied the Baltimore Catechism, we knelt at a Communion rail and we received on the tongue. There was something eminently more special, reverent and sacred about receiving the Host in that manner.

    I mean, c’mon ….. you are taking the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of your Creator into yourself! Does anyone (besides all of you who are here, who obviously do) get that anymore? You are taking the Person Who made you, Who knew you before you were born, Who created the entire universe – into your body! Even though I believe that with every ounce of fiber that is in me, I still have trouble wrapping my mind around that sometimes. The very thought of Who I AM about to receive still brings me to tears every now and then.

    Taking Communion is a sacred act. It may be one of the most sacred things a lay person can do. This is not McDonald’s, the Host is not a snack to be grabbed and swallowed while walking back to your pew. That we have gotten to this point is such a sad, sad thing. Every time I hear the “it takes too long” argument, I really get annoyed. You can’t wait a few more seconds or minutes to receive your Savior?!?

    I’ve said this before in this forum, too. I have been asked to become an EHMC. Each time I have refused. As Fr. Z stated, the Priests and the Deacons are ordained. I am not. This is their job, why they were ordained. Period.

    Sorry for ranting, but this is one issue that I really feel strongly about.

  82. Midwest St. Michael says:

    To LarryW,

    Keep ranting, good sir. Well said.

    MSM

  83. Heather F says:

    @Vecchio:

    The church seats probably about 350ish and we often end up with some folks standing at the back at my usual mass. So probably 300-400 on a given week per mass. Less crowded for the Italian masses but I’m not sure how they have their communion logistics. Five masses per weekend, and Sunday goes 8, 9:30, 11, 12:30 followed by baptisms etc. so mass really can’t run late or else there will be carnage in the (poorly designed and undersized) parking lot. We have communion under one species, one priest and three EMHCs, and it’s the same three every week (actually I think we now have one alternate who moved from a different mass time). Every so often one of the other priests does get the chance to help with distribution and the EMs are happy to step aside and let him. They would also be thrilled to have enough people volunteer that they don’t have to do it every single week, and would be utterly delighted to have enough priests at every mass that they didn’t have to do it at all.

    I have known parishes that do have liturgical ministry cliques, dictatorial matriarchs, and folks who otherwise seem to think it their sacred right. I’ve seen parishes where just getting the horde of EMHCs sorted out and sent to their stations takes an entire hymn. Mine is not one of them. Then again, no one at my parish is offended by the handful of folks who switch lines to receive from the priest either.

    It’s possible, perhaps, that everybody who ignores the repeated pleas for volunteers (especially men) to help at mass as an usher, reader, chorister, EMHC, etc., does so for the pious reasons you describe.

    I’m quite certain that at my parish at least, though, the men aren’t kept away out of fear of the Harpies with their Conspiracy to Feminize the Church/Liturgy. I’ve known Liturgy Harpies, and they drive women as well as men away, though women tend to be more tolerant of harpydom so aren’t driven away as thoroughly.

  84. tcreek says:

    No “handling” of the Eucharist at this Mass. See at 34 seconds.

    http://youtu.be/TQEzm5bleGE

  85. tcreek says:

    Correction to my post above. the clip is only 35 seconds long. See at 9 seconds.

  86. Imrahil says:

    Coming to think of it, even if there should be EMHCs – for Sunday Masses with large Communion as intended by St. Pius X, or for distibution of the Chalice provided this is to be wished for in the first place, it is not at least completely irrational –

    why women?

    Restricting the EMHCs to men (possibly excluding the hospital service and, for the sake of peace and quiet as a matter of politics, those women already functioning in the office) would, it seems, solve a lot of problems. Wouldn’t it?

  87. Vecchio di Londra says:

    Dear Heather,
    Thank you for replying so helpfully: actually 400 is rather less than the number of communicants at most Sunday Masses in my own church, where there are no EHMCs. Even if all the Mass attendees are communicating, Father plus one or two other priests assisting is a perfectly adequate solution.
    You do have other priests in your own parish: so rather than one of them being just ‘given the chance’ every now and then, perhaps they could be asked to make a rota among themselves to help with the distribution of Communion? something every resident priest of a parish would have expected to do as a matter of course before EMHCs were instituted.
    Then the EMHCs can relax, keep their places in the pew, and use the time gained for prayer.

    One or two Fathers, slowly but surely feeding the lambs. This is how it all went for hundreds of years, with congregations far larger than we can imagine today. Nobody ever complained that it took ‘too long’, any more than any musician complains about the ‘heavenly length’ of Schubert’s Great C Major Symphony.

  88. dholwell says:

    Does anyone know of a diocese in the US that institutes acolytes who are not seminarians?

  89. Bea says:

    rbbadger says:
    “I think it is time to consider what damage extraordinary ministers have done to the priesthood. ”
    I think I might add: “I think it is time to consider what damage some priests have done to the priesthood”

    frjim4321 says:
    If a person defers the reception of communion because she or he does not like the person who is distributing communion, you’d have to wonder two things:
    (1) Does this person really understand what the Eucharist is and what the reception of communion means?
    (2) Is this person properly disposed for the reception of communion anyway?
    So, while my knee-jerk reaction is to say it’s just plain stupid for said person to return to her/his seat without receiving, on second thought it’s probably just as well because that person is either not properly prepared or not in an appropriate state to receive communion.
    It’s probably time for said person to get a refresher of basic Eucharistic Theology or make a good confession including the sin of pride and arrogance.

    frjim, frjim, you have been derailing the original intent of this posting.
    Your accusation of the sin of pride and arrogance is a tool of satan to defuse the reverence of the laity.
    Your judgmentalism as to the laity’s understanding of what the Holy Eucharist is and the disposition of the receiver of The Very Body and Blood of Our Lord was not in question here.
    What was in question was the disregard that the original “from a reader” mentioned about the priest leaving his post and unnecessarily turning over the distribution of Our Lord to a lay EM, as if it were a matter that was unimportant as to WHO distributed communion.
    It is of GREAT importance who distributes, precisely because Our Lord is Important.
    When Our Lord is demeaned in such a manner, the layperson has a right to not participate in the demeaning of Our Lord that was initiated by an unthinking priest.
    It is NOT Pride and arrogance, it is precisely Love of Our Lord in the Real Presence that prompts some of us to not participate in making Him unimportant.
    Perhaps it is time for “some” priests to get a refresher course on Eucharistic Theology before they begin to judge.
    We are not that stupid, you know. Who are you to judge?

  90. Uxixu says:

    The problem isn’t just men, but laity. Laity itself should cross the line. Women is just more egregious by conflating it with the modern “women’s rights” issues (many of which, such as abortion and artificial contraceptives are morally abominable). It’s a symptom of a larger issue. Even lay servers “actively participating” in the sanctuary seems a step in that direction as opposed to the minor orders that used to do the job. Instead of ‘alter boys’ having Acolytes to bear the crucifix, and candles, sub-deacon with the cruets and the Epistle, etc. Pope Paul VI was undoubtedly right about the minor orders status as mere stepping stones in seminary being an anachronism, but the solution to throw the baby out with the bathwater was just as wrong. Instead of their suppression, actually give the minor orders tasks that will always need doing in the parishes and also help foster vocations at the same time. Young men instituted by their Bishop with a responsibility to guard the doors and ensure access to veneration of the Blessed Sacrament at near any moment of the day. Lectors/acoltyes/subdeacons in cassock/surplice/alb/tunicle reading the Lesson and Epistle from the Ambo. Acolytes in the procession and the ancient tradition of only those so instituted and/or ordained in the sanctuary reserving it as a place for the sacred. Even if the smallest percentages of these all chose vocations to the major orders, it should more be fruitful in producing vocations than current mechanisms alone (which could/would still be used, of course).

    I do actually like the idea of Communion in both species, though in the ideal “Mass of Vatican II” I would much prefer Communion in both species to be kneeling with the deacon having his traditional responsibility over the chalice, giving the precious blood of our Lord while the priest gives His body. Which is what makes Vatican II’s opening of both species being a somewhat rare and precious event for the laity make more sense since it makes the possibility of accidental irreverence possible that a bowl analogy of the paten (enlarged chalice/ciborium?) might need to be considered.

  91. LarryW2LJ says:

    If I could please add one more reason as to why there should only the most reverence and the highest respect and love for the Holy Eucharist – one of my all time favorite quotes (from the Patron Saint of Amateur Radio operators, no less!):

    If Angels could be jealous of men, they would be so for one reason: Holy Communion- St. Maximilian Kolbe

  92. THREEHEARTS says:

    you must be joking when Fr when you publish that It takes too long to receive communion. The priest did it rather well with us kneeling at the altar rails. WE received as the Council of Trent says the host containing both the Body and Blood using the phrase under either kind alone. We accept the converted evangelical sects into the Church and those who have never believed as we were taught. The host is enough another example of bad catechesis on from Bishops and priests who go along to get along. and do not use their intelligence to answer the liberal progressives who have barely changed their beliefs when summarily converted. These also see no problems with unanointed hands hold the Most Precious Body and Blood. The best defender of this dogma was William Shakespeare in the Merchant of Venice. The Doge (The Venetian Judge) allowed Shylock to collect the pound of flesh but was not to spill one drop of blood.

  93. Geoffrey says:

    “Does anyone know of a diocese in the US that institutes acolytes who are not seminarians?”

    I know of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston in Texas and the Diocese of Lincoln in Nebraska. I believe Bishop Robert Vasa, when Bishop of Baker in Oregon, established the instituted ministries (and took some heat for it). There are a few more dioceses, but I am not sure which ones. I pray more and more dioceses establish the instituted ministries. It would go a long way in the “reform of the reform”.

  94. Uxixu says:

    I believe the Archdiocese of Los Angeles institutes candidates in diaconate formation to first lector and then acolyte in their last year (currently 4 years of formation after a year of discernment).

  95. avatquevale says:

    I’m the OP who opened this can of worms. All of the comments have been instructive and sometimes, surprising.
    Father Z, thanks for showing me how to think about this:
    Sometimes there are fewer than six left waiting to receive the Eucharist from the priest’s hands, and as it is the last Mass of the day (6pm) it is unlikely that it is time pressure. Father is young and enthusiastic. He will take his final (Jesuit) vows this week and I am reluctant to rain on his parade.
    I think perhaps he wishes to encourage the EMCHs. He has recruited two new ones even though every week, the old EMCHs are left with no communicants in their line. They just stand awkwardly waiting…

    @Aniwang: To clarify:
    I was not shooed away, I had already received (from Father) and was back in the pew when I noticed the seven waiting on line for Father being shooed to the EMHCs.
    As it is Sunday Mass, pressure to get back to jobs was unlikely. Moreover most of the congregation have no jobs. Many do not have cars either, but walk or take the bus to Mass. So free parking was hardly the motive for shooing people to the EMs.

    I doubt that Father thought the people in his line are, in your words, just driven by “status, elitism or wordily concerns.” On the contrary, the majority of this Mass attendees are immigrants– political or war refugees from Africa, Asia and the M.E. It is the least elitist/status conscious Catholic congregation I have ever had the joy to be part of.

    If anyone anyone is driven by status or prestige that would be the handful of fine upstanding members of our local community who serve as EMs.

    @frjim4321. “It’s probably time for said person to get a refresher of basic Eucharistic Theology or make a good confession including the sin of pride and arrogance.”
    Well that certainly answers my original question unambiguously.

    Now tell me please– mortal or venial?

  96. robtbrown says:

    FrJimr4321 says,

    It’s probably time for said person to get a refresher of basic Eucharistic Theology or make a good confession including the sin of pride and arrogance.

    From what I’ve seen of priests ordained in the past 40 years, their knowledge of Eucharist Theology isn’t even basic. It is a sad situation.

    It is underwhelming that this has turned into personal attacks either on EMHC’s or those who prefer to receive from a priest.

  97. Vocatus says:

    Very helpful pastoral advice! Gratias tibi Pater.

  98. Vocatus says:

    “And, yes, I am a clericalist. I think that priests are special. I think that priests have their proper role in the Church. I think that priests are ontologically changed by the Sacrament of Orders. I think that we should not blur the roles of priests and lay people.” Amen!

    I especially appreciate this (I needed to here it from a priest): “Finally, you are not obliged to go to Communion at all, much less to Father A or B or Mrs. D or Mr. E. If you choose to return to your seat for any reason that is troubling you, feel free to do so. If you are disturbed or distracted enough that receiving at that moment would be less than what it ought to be, then don’t receive.”

  99. Imrahil says:

    If you suffer another comment of mine, coming a bit to think about the matter… encouraged by the thoughts of the dear @Heather F and others… I don’t see how it is possible to totally abandon the idea of non-priest Communion distributors.

    I too am a clericalist; but, forgive me, I am also a theoreticist. Who favors that altogether, hic and nunc, all should be distributed by the priest may probably say that in practice it will work out just fine. But, being a theoreticist, a constructible problem is not very different from an actually occurring problem, to me. So…

    A realistically sized parish has 5000 Catholics. Assuming (unrealistically) that they all fulfil their Sunday obligation, that there is one Sunday Mass, and that all Communicate, we have some 4000 communicants or so (roughly accounting for the young, the ones excused, and the ones who choose not to for reasons of conscience). Assuming (this part is realistic, again) that there is only one priest in the parish and that a priest cannot reverently give the Blessed Sacrament for Communion in a minute to more than ten people, we’d be have with a Communion service of over six hours. – Theoretically. But if a If we say that there is perhaps more than one Mass, and that the 3rd commandment fulfilment rate is in realistic areas, we may have the 400 communicants which have been mentioned: say, 40 minutes. And if there is to be distribution of the Chalice, you need double time and, more importantly, at least two ministers, because the priest cannot do all by himself.

    Holy Communion is worth waiting, yes. But I do think that six hours are certainly too much, and that 40 minutes are at least touching the edge (in a Mass of otherwise 40 minutes /OF or 60 minutes /EF, sermon included).

    Of course, one thing is clear: having an EMHC while a priest present, whether or not concelebrating, remains seated, is an outright abuse. But that one argument about “priests are there, after all” is not correct imho. Around here, a priest serves some 2 years as vicar and is then assigned a parish. Thus most parishes have exactly one priest; except for retired priests and for the new-style bigger-organized parishes due to the priest-shortage, which however have more churches than one where masses are said. The other priests of the parish are likely either saying a Mass elsewhere; or have said a Mass (possibly twice or thrice) elsewhere on the same day and are not willing to show up, whether being occupied with some other part of their pastoral work or with their well-deserved repose. Especially if, which I think we’d agree generally is a good thing, they prefer to say their own Masses instead of concelebrating.

    The answer which present Canon law seems to give is: deacons and acolytes.

    Good points can be made that it would better to use deacons and acolytes than to have EMHCs (who seem to be basically substitute-acolytes, just as the “readers”, incorrectly called lectors, are substitute-lectors). However, that too is untraditional so far as the acolytes are concerned – and even deacons were once prohibited to touch the Sacred Species otherwise than with their mouth or with a sacred vessel in between.

    Why (dear @Uxixu) did I suggest “no women” (in a certain sense)? Because assuming that we think we need EMHCs, it still is a limited, substitute post – other btw. than altar boys are seen today (there may just finely be 25 of them if so many come, Mass looks so much the more festive – whether that be a good or a bad development, now). In my view, if the posts of (lector and) acolyte are exclusively assigned to men – and they are -, then if there are any men available at all, the posts of substitute-lector (“reader” or unofficially lector) and substitute-acolyte (EMHC) should be male as well.

    And if the absence of lectors and acolytes does not mean that women can be employed, then perhaps, perhaps some might begin to ask why have this absence at all.

    On the aside to the dear @Uxixu,
    there’s some problem with the minor orders. I too think that when Paul VI thought about reviving lectorate and acolytate – which can be called a total failure by now -, he should at least have let the other two in the same state they had hitherto (and why not ordain male sacristans ostiarians).

    But at least if we want to stick to the traditional practice connected thereto, I think it’d mean reserving the minor orders for married people plus those who at least at the moment plan to live celibately, illicitating a marriage without dispensation (?) (dispensation connected with removal from office?); and it I know it’d mean reserving the subdeaconate and deaconate for the celibate, constituting a diriment impediment. [There has been a Vatican II allowance made for the latter, pace Prof. Peters, but that again concerns only people already married.] The vocations thing thus will not work out.

    You are probably right, though, that making the altar boy organization quasi the organ of youth pastoral seems, at least from the logical view, a misdevelopment.

  100. Polycarpio says:

    “If you choose to return to your seat for any reason that is troubling you, feel free to do so. If you are disturbed or distracted enough that receiving at that moment would be less than what it ought to be, then don’t receive.”

    I have always disliked receiving Communion from EMHCs. But it’s not right to boycott the Eucharist in order to undermine the EMHCs or the priest who may be overly reliant on the EMHCs. This is a moment of GRACE, and such ‘strategery’ will take you out of the moment.

  101. When the Church encouraged more frequent reception of Communion, nowhere did the Church teach that there also should be a reduction in frequency of confession, or the removal of the Confiteor and general absolution immediately before Communion, or increase in lack of reverence and preparation, or change the teaching on what constitutes a Mortal Sin.

    So just because we have been encouraged to receive more frequently, perhaps creating more recipients at Communion, the laws of reverence still exist. We still should strive for utter cleanliness of soul, as the Church has always taught.

    Yea, too many people feel entitled to receive and are oblivious to the sense of sin they should have.

  102. Mr. Green says:

    OrthodoxChick: Why have a communion line at all if we can all touch the Host?

    But of course we can and must touch the Host — it is impossible to eat something without physically touching it with some part of your body. So touching the Body of Christ with your hands cannot be immoral in and of itself, or it would be just as wrong (or moreso!) to touch Him with your tongue or stomach. We are unworthy to touch Him in any way; we only dare to receive Communion at all because Christ commanded us: Take and eat. We should indeed be shocked that it is not sacrilegious to touch God even (especially?) with our tongues; we should be amazed every single time that the almighty God condescends infinitely to let Himself be touched by sinful creatures. Some other comments here seem to suggest that receiving in the hand is flat-out wrong, but if it were, the Church could never have permitted it, nor could she permit it now. We must always be careful to understand these things correctly, and not confuse the reasons. And as I have noted before, there are many good reasons to prefer communion on the tongue. But those good reasons cannot make it wrong per se to do what the Church allows.

  103. Mr. Green says:

    Bea: Your accusation of the sin of pride and arrogance is a tool of satan to defuse the reverence of the laity.

    Hm, I think you may have misinterpreted Fr. Jim’s comment. He didn’t accuse anyone — he said “if” — and he was responding to points raised by Fr. Z himself.

  104. OrthodoxChick says:

    Mr. Green,

    Of course we are unworthy to touch him in any way. That goes without saying. You noted that, “it is impossible to eat something without physically touching it with some part of your body.” Not exactly as precise of a statement as it could be, if precise is what you were going for. But it is certainly impossible to eat something without physically touching it with your mouth, which invariably includes the tongue. There are people who are double amputees of both arms. They still eat, even if they must be fed.

    I know that the Magisterium of the Church cannot be wrong or err in matters of doctrine. Does manner of receiving Communion fall under doctrine, or is it considered more of a prescription of behavior? And if it is the latter, I have no idea if the Church can err in such matters or not.

  105. Vecchio di Londra says:

    “to boycott the Eucharist in order to undermine the EMHCs or the priest ”
    Polycarpio, there is no mention anywhere in the words you quote of any such motive. Anyone is wise to hesitate before receiving the Sacrament if there is ‘any reason that is troubling’ them or if they feel ‘disturbed or distracted’.
    I cannot see how any lay EMCH would feel belittled – or even be aware – that a layperson present in church has privately decided not to receive Holy Communion because he/she wants to receive the Body and Blood of Our Lord from an ordained priest, and not from another layperson, however well-intentioned.

    OTOH – if EMHCs are aware that parishioners are trying to avoid them in order to receive from a priest, perhaps they should be moved to ask themselves why their activity has such a disturbing effect on so many parishioners.
    Indeed, they might ask themselves, why are EMHCs are there at all? In most parishes, however ‘urgent’ an appeal for helpers (by the PP or the lay organizer) there is rarely any ‘real necessity’ to justify EMCHs – and ‘real necessity’ is the only possible justification in church law. The very fact that large, populous parishes continue to manage perfectly well without any EMHCs at all demonstrates their redundancy.
    Like many other liturgical accretions since 1970, if it was not there, nobody would ever miss it, and the compensatory peace and stillness would be experienced as a blessed spiritual benefit.

  106. ncstevem says:

    I have never received Holy Communion from a layman and I never will. I have always got in the line where the priest is distributing regardless if I have to walk to the other side of the church.

    It’s not an been an issue for the last 10+ years because most Sundays I assist at the TLM , but on those occasions when I go to the new Mass, I receive kneeling and on the tongue. Could care less what others think.

  107. Vocatus says:

    Vecchio di Londra,
    Amen! Excellent points: we must not shift the focus from where it properly belongs–proper reverence to our Lord and the good of souls–to the red herring of “attacking” or hurting the feelings of the EMHC’s. I believe that in not receiving communion from the EMHC’s we are only helping the Church at large, including, as you implied, the EMHC’s themselves, who should be in line with the rest of the laity to receive communion rather than distributing it. It is painfully obvious, I know, but the word “extra-ordinary” says everything: they are not to be used except in extraordinary circumstances. Sadly, they are treated almost everywhere I have attended Novus Ordo mass as an indispensable liturgical norm. The time has come to stop feeding this scandalous abuse which has grown into a monster with a life of its own. Some priests are just too nice to tell them you’re not needed for this purpose (hence my great appreciation for Fr. Z’s directness and clarity on the matter); it’s up to us starve the monster by not feeding it anymore. I know this sounds harsh but I can tell you that the rampant use of EMHC’s–the clericalizing of the laity–is a potential vocation crusher, both priestly and religious.

  108. Lori Pieper says:

    Suburbanbanshee: (don’t know if you’re going to scroll down this far): That’s pretty much what I said. I do respect everyone’s individual judgment on this. My one difference is that I don’t get exactly why the whole thing should upset people so much that it derails their devotion and spoils their potential Communion. To me the conflict is puzzling.

    I know you didn’t say anything at all that would suggest this, but I get particularly tired of hearing intemperate criticism from some people of those who receive Communion in the hand as I do, or who say that the only possibly devout and reverent way to receive is on the tongue. Or suspect that we don’t really believe in the Real Presence. They may not always mean to criticize individuals personally when they launch into their rants, but it certainly feels as if that is what they are doing.

    Many of us think this is unfair. I have always believed in the Real Presence, and starting to receive in the hand when the Church started allowing it has not changed that one bit. I have always done my utmost to show my reverence exteriorly while receiving, including bowing my head. (I am grateful for the ability to receive standing, since because of physical problems with my legs, I would be unable to kneel anyway). I see great devotion in many of the EMHCs. I’ll never forget the time at my hometown church at Christmas midnight Mass, when my leg was particularly bad, and one of the EMHCs saw my pain and came to give me Communion in my pew. The presence of this ministers can actually be a blessing.

    The REAL problem in our Church the last fifty years has been the disastrous state of catechesis. I escaped by the skin of my teeth, since I received my primary-secondary catechesis during and just after the Council, before things got really crazy. Fix catechesis and have Catholic Schools and CCD actually teach the Real Presence and you will get reverence, even though expressed in different ways bodily. Insisting that everyone kneel when many don’t understand why will fix nothing.

    Once again, I don’t say you think this way. Just my personal rant, mostly.

    St.Winefride: Yes, I think you are the one I remember. Sorry, but while I sympathize with you wanting to express your sincere views, I find it hard not to think that you are holding Our Lord hostage to your “protest” against EMHCs. I just don’t see it as enough of a reason to refuse receiving Jesus.

  109. Polycarpio says:

    I agree with Lori Pieper. Really my point above had nothing to do with “the feelings of the EMHCs” (as misconstrued by a couple of subsequent posts), but with YOUR state of grace in the Communion line.

  110. LadyMarchmain says:

    Tina, thank you, what great points. I miss the second confiteor! The revised translation helps a bit.

    Lori Pieper, I really understand what you are saying. I am sure that no one on this thread means to criticize individuals and I apologize if anything I have said about decrease in faith in the Body, Blood and Divinity of Our Lord as a result of communion on the hand might have seemed as though I felt those receiving that way necessarily had less faith. I know that isn’t true.

    I think Tina’s points are important, because she reminds us that is to more to our concerns than communion on the hand or altar girls. Removing the altar rails, having a table instead of an altar, churches in the round, poor catechesis, relocating the tabernacle away from the altar, minimizing availability for confession, the list is long.

    But as RJHighland said on another thread, the Mass is the catechesis.

    If you tell everyone, “this is a valuable gem,” but then toss it carelessly to one side or stick it in a drawer where you keep plastic cutlery and old restaurant menus, it doesn’t matter how many speeches you give about its value, I am not likely to believe you. If you keep this gem in a special velveted box that is locked away in a safe and you wear the gilded and elaborately shaped key on a velvet ribbon around your neck, and only open the safe once a week when all the outer doors are locked and the windows secured and the blinds down, I will believe you about its worth.

  111. robtbrown says:

    Mr Green,

    So touching the Body of Christ with your hands cannot be immoral in and of itself, or it would be just as wrong (or moreso!) to touch Him with your tongue or stomach.

    The sense of touch is an active sense. The tongue is not active . . . unless you’re a lizard.

    The host touches the tongue, not vice versa.

    We are unworthy to touch Him in any way; we only dare to receive Communion at all because Christ commanded us: Take and eat.

    The command “Take” was given to the Apostles who were present.

    We should indeed be shocked that it is not sacrilegious to touch God even (especially?) with our tongues;

    The tongue is not concerned with the sense of touch but of taste.

    Some other comments here seem to suggest that receiving in the hand is flat-out wrong, but if it were, the Church could never have permitted it, nor could she permit it now.

    Why couldn’t the Church permit it?

  112. StJude says:

    I go to the Priest line. …. all the cool people do. ; )

  113. Bea says:

    Mr Green:
    frjim said “IF” …….you’d have to wonder 2 things…….
    then he enumerated the 2 things

    In a separate paragraph he said while his knee-jerk reaction is to say it’s just plain stupid…..and… on second thought probably just as well … and…. in the last paragraph says it’s probably time for a refresher course by said person or make a good confession including sin of pride and arrogance.

    So at the last 2 paragraphs he is no longer “wondering if” but actually passing judgement on the person’s reason for not receiving communion. I would certainly hesitate to pass a judgement of the sin of pride and arrogance on anyone , for only God, Himself can read hearts.

    I consolidated his entire statement for easier reading which I probably should have left intact.
    We cannot judge why a person resumes his seat without receiving, which is what he has done here.

    I have a great respect for the priesthood. You cannot imagine. But I have no respect for error and bad catechesis. Through no fault of his own and of many of us, we have been misled into erroneous thinking that can be a danger to our souls and the proper respect due Our Lord and Creator, who made these immense heavens and earth with such tender love for man that He gave Himself up for us.
    I shudder when I become more fully aware of WHO it is we are receiving in communion. It is so sad to see Him received so casually and unthinkingly.

    As to the indult of communion in the hand I have found an excellent book by Emeritus Bishop of San Luis Argentina Most Rev. Juan Rodolfo Laise.

    He cites SACRA CONGREGATIO PRO CULTO DIVINO
    text of instructions Memoriale Domini article 1281:
    The Pope (Pope Paul VI in 1969) made the definitive decision to NOT allow communion in the hand
    This was after consultation with bishops. There was a clause IF it was already being done an indult could be requested from the Holy See.

    The Church would not permit it (except by indult)

    This book is very well documented and makes note of “modus operandi” and also how some bishops misrepresented the practice to the Bishops’ Conferences. I believe you can google the book title and name of the bishop emeritus/writer. If you know Spanish it has some excellent quotes from the book.

  114. St. Rafael says:

    All the resources against the practice of Communion in the Hand, including Church documents, articles, quotes, and videos:
    http://communion-in-the-hand.org/index.html

  115. Lori Pieper says:

    Polycarpio – thank you for the support. :-)

  116. southern orders says:

    I completely endorse the return to the use of the altar railing. We are restoring one to our church (a more beautiful new one, compared to the older one removed in a 2004 renovation of our historic church). But while I prefer Holy Communion to be received kneeling and on the tongue and by way of intinction to reduce the need for extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, I would not completely exclude Holy Communion kneeling and in the hand as the Anglicans historically do it which is more in compliance with how it was taught by St. John Chrysostom, especially in bringing the palm with the Host up to one’s mouth and consuming the host and any particles on the palm.

  117. Pingback: The Priest Who Would Not Get It. | Mundabor's Blog

  118. JuliB says:

    Wised: As a long time EMHC, I prefer to receive the Holy Eucharist from a priest too. EMHCs are overutilized in many parishes. Reducing the role of EMHCs in many parishes is fraught with danger.

    Me too. But I will go up to the EMHC as well without frowning over it. In one Mass, we’d have 3 EMHCs distribute the Body, and 2 distribute the Blood. However, we now have a deacon who usually stands next to Father. Lately, we don’t have the 2 additional people distributing the Body. But when I did it, I could usually predict who would come out of the line to receive from me. Personally, if people stayed in Fr’s line, than all the better, and they would cut the number of us in that Mass. And it appears that it has happened – hurray!

    I think we are superfluous, but perform this duty because of the need communicated by my priest and our bishop.

    Regardless, if I can receive on the tongue (which I do), I don’t care whether it’s an EMHC distributing or a priest.

    jacobi I use the phrase ‘distribute’ because I do not think that I am a ‘minister’, extraordinary or not.

    As to the person who criticized the eye contact and smile, I’ve noticed that most people look at me when receiving, whereas I say the words and gaze at the upheld host.

  119. ocleirbj says:

    JuliB says: “As to the person who criticized the eye contact and smile, I’ve noticed that most people look at me when receiving, whereas I say the words and gaze at the upheld host.”

    I used to look right into the eyes of the person giving me the host, whether priest or EMHC, with the intention of creating a personal moment of community in the exchange of the words “The Body of Christ” – “Amen.” It felt like I was making a public act of faith that needed another person as my witness. I still feel that way, but since the new translation, and its direction to make an act of reverence before receiving, I have begun bowing as the person before me is receiving, and then I find that I just focus my eyes on the host and don’t look at the person giving it to me even as we exchange those words. My “Amen” is directed to Christ now, and He is my witness. So, I don’t know whether or not the EMHC is attempting eye contact or smiling – and I don’t care. I think if one’s focus is on receiving Christ, who gives himself fully to us regardless of the human hand that holds the host, all these other things will just fall away. Yes, it might be better if things were done differently, but in the grand scheme of things, what is better than receiving Christ?

  120. Mr. Green says:

    OrthodoxChick: Not exactly as precise of a statement as it could be, if precise is what you were going for. But it is certainly impossible to eat something without physically touching it with your mouth, which invariably includes the tongue.

    Well, that’s as much precision as I intended. If our mouths or tongues were anointed in some relevant way that our hands are not, then that would be a reason to allow the Host to come into contact only with our mouths and not our hands; but this is not the case. Representations of humility, or eliminating chances to drop the Host, and so on and so forth, do apply, and so those are the reasons we should be arguing for.

    Does manner of receiving Communion fall under doctrine, or is it considered more of a prescription of behaviour?

    I don’t think there’s “infallibility” about prescribing the best possible disciplines in every case, but whether it is sacrilegious to take the Eucharist in one’s hands would fall under faith and morals, so I don’t think the Church could be wrong about that. Or as Pope Benedict said (as Cardinal), “we have to say that the Church could not possibly have been celebrating the Eucharist unworthily for nine hundred years”.

     

    Lori Pieper: I have always believed in the Real Presence, and starting to receive in the hand when the Church started allowing it has not changed that one bit. I have always done my utmost to show my reverence exteriorly while receiving, including bowing my head.

    Exactly. I have also seen accusations that go too far, and while I don’t doubt that such people are motivated by the best of intentions, we have a responsibility not only to be charitable but to be correct. I agree that horrible catechesis is a very grave problem, and no particular method of receiving Communion will magically fix that. Nor is it possible that disciplines have no effect at all. All these things contribute in their own way, and within their own limits. (Which is why, e.g., kneeling may in certain ways be preferable, but not mandatory — such as for people who have trouble with their legs.)

     

    Bea: So at the last 2 paragraphs he is no longer “wondering if” but actually passing judgement on the person’s reason for not receiving communion.

    But he was only referring to a hypothetical person who fit the given description. I don’t think we can insist on reading more into it than that.

    This book is very well documented and makes note of “modus operandi” and also how some bishops misrepresented the practice to the Bishops’ Conferences.

    True, and I don’t think there’s any denying that illegitimate abuses led to the reintroduction of communion in the hand. But of course now that the Church has officially allowed it (for certain conditions and places), neither can we contradict that allowance.

    I shudder when I become more fully aware of WHO it is we are receiving in communion. It is so sad to see Him received so casually and unthinkingly.

    With that I most certainly agree.

     

    Robt. Brown: The host touches the tongue, not vice versa.

    The tongue may not be “concerned” with the sense of touch, but it certainly possesses it nonetheless. Nor was my point concerned with touch as a sense but simply as a form of contact. But if you have an argument that rests on the distinction, I’m interested to hear it.

    The command “Take” was given to the Apostles who were present.

    Obviously. As the command “eat” was given to the Apostles who were present.

    Why couldn’t the Church permit it?

    Why couldn’t the Church permit something intrinsically immoral? Is that a trick question?

  121. OrthodoxChick says:

    Mr. Green,

    I’m sorry, but I still disagree with you. You said, “If our mouths or tongues were anointed in some relevant way that our hands are not, then that would be a reason to allow the Host to come into contact only with our mouths and not our hands; but this is not the case. Representations of humility, or eliminating chances to drop the Host, and so on and so forth, do apply, and so those are the reasons we should be arguing for.”

    Neither our hands, nor our mouths are annointed – obviously, but the priest’s hands are. There is significance in this case that is being lost on many lay people by widespread use of this new-fangled practice. The fact that the practice of an altar boy holding a patten under a communicant’s mouth has been obliterated is one reason why a layperson may be using their hands as a subsititute patten. But doing so is not at all the same thing as then making the leap to the practice of receiving Communion in the hand in the first place.

    “Or as Pope Benedict said (as Cardinal), “we have to say that the Church could not possibly have been celebrating the Eucharist unworthily for nine hundred years”.

    Exactly. So why mess with it so drastically in certain places only within the last 4-5 decades?

    And you know, we’re all overlooking something else that I think is very important. In this present time, when some of us (too many of us) can literally count on one hand the number of times during the liturgical year that a priest leads an N.O. congregation in recitation of the Confiteor, we are truncating, or even eliminating, the penitential rite. And, we are no longer being prayed for by the priest immediately before receiving Our Lord. In the EF, before I receive kneeling and on the tongue, I say nothing – not even an Amen. But the alter Christus prays for me and says, “Corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam tuam in vitam aeternam. Amen.” (“May the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve your soul unto life everlasting. Amen”), which is the same prayer that he prays for himself during the consecration. But in the N.O., what we have now is the priest saying this prayer for himself and no one else, right before he plunks down our Lord in someone’s unconsecrated hands, which the communicant receives standing in line as though at a grocery store. The communicant may/may not remember to even say “Amen” for themself. And by the way, what are they saying “amen” to anyway? Not a prayer necessarily, but a declarative phrase, “The Body of Christ”.

    The whole process offers much less reverence than is due the King of kings and Lord of lords. When you throw EMHC’s in there, it just furthers the commonality of what should be anything but common. Sacred and commonplace do not and should not go together.

  122. OrthodoxChick says:

    Mr. Green,

    I’m sorry, but I still disagree with you. You said, “If our mouths or tongues were anointed in some relevant way that our hands are not, then that would be a reason to allow the Host to come into contact only with our mouths and not our hands; but this is not the case. Representations of humility, or eliminating chances to drop the Host, and so on and so forth, do apply, and so those are the reasons we should be arguing for.”

    Neither our hands, nor our mouths are annointed – obviously, but the priest’s hands are. There is significance in this case that is being lost on many lay people by widespread use of this new-fangled practice. The fact that the practice of an altar boy holding a patten under a communicant’s mouth has been obliterated is one reason why a layperson may be using their hands as a subsititute patten. But doing so is not at all the same thing as then making the leap to the practice of receiving Communion in the hand in the first place.

    “Or as Pope Benedict said (as Cardinal), “we have to say that the Church could not possibly have been celebrating the Eucharist unworthily for nine hundred years”.

    Exactly. So why mess with it so drastically in certain places only within the last 4-5 decades?

    And you know, we’re all overlooking something else that I think is very important. In this present time, when some of us (too many of us) can literally count on one hand the number of times during the liturgical year that a priest leads an N.O. congregation in recitation of the Confiteor, we are truncating, or even eliminating, the penitential rite. And, we are no longer being prayed for by the priest immediately before receiving Our Lord. In the EF, before I receive kneeling and on the tongue, I say nothing – not even an Amen. But the alter Christus prays for me and says, “Corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam tuam in vitam aeternam. Amen.” (“May the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve your soul unto life everlasting. Amen”), which is the same prayer that he prays for himself during the consecration. But in the N.O., what we have now is the priest saying this prayer for himself and no one else, right before he plunks down our Lord in someone’s unconsecrated hands, which the communicant receives standing in line as though at a grocery store. The communicant may/may not remember to even say “Amen” for themself. And by the way, what are they saying “amen” to anyway? Not a prayer necessarily, but a declarative phrase, “The Body of Christ”.

    The whole process offers much less reverence than is due the King of kings and Lord of lords. When you throw EMHC’s in there, it just furthers the commonality of what should be anything but common. Sacred and commonplace do not and should not go together.

  123. robtbrown says:

    Robt. Brown: The host touches the tongue, not vice versa.

    The tongue may not be “concerned” with the sense of touch, but it certainly possesses it nonetheless. Nor was my point concerned with touch as a sense but simply as a form of contact.

    My point was and is that to touch the host is active. That activity concerns the substance, i.e., we try to touch something. On the other hand, when we taste something, we taste the accidents.

    But if you have an argument that rests on the distinction, I’m interested to hear it.

    You’ve got it backwards. You were saying that having the host on the tongue and in the hand both concern “touching” it. I’m saying that’s wrong.

    The command “Take” was given to the Apostles who were present.

    Obviously. As the command “eat” was given to the Apostles who were present.

    Correct, but it is not that command that is the basis for Communion by the laity. For that, see the 6th Chapter of John.

    Why couldn’t the Church permit it?

    Why couldn’t the Church permit something intrinsically immoral? Is that a trick question?

    That was answered above.

  124. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Fr. Z said:

    “Finally, you are not obliged to go to Communion at all, much less to Father A or B or Mrs. D or Mr. E. If you choose to return to your seat for any reason that is troubling you, feel free to do so.”

    I disagree with the addition of the phrase “at all” and that “any reason that is troubling you” should impel a communicant to abandon the reception of Communion. It does not seem to me to square with the strong exhortations given by Pius XII in the encyclical “Mediator Dei” where he writes:

    “119. May God grant that all accept these invitations of the Church freely and with spontaneity. May He grant that they participate even every day, if possible, in the divine sacrifice, not only in a spiritual manner, but also by reception of the august sacrament, receiving the body of Jesus Christ which has been offered for all to the eternal Father. Arouse Venerable Brethren, in the hearts of those committed to your care, a great and insatiable hunger for Jesus Christ. Under your guidance let the children and youth crowd to the altar rails to offer themselves, their innocence and their works of zeal to the divine Redeemer. Let husbands and wives approach the holy table so that nourished on this food they may learn to make the children entrusted to them conformed to the mind and heart of Jesus Christ.

    120. Let the workers be invited to partake of this sustaining and never failing nourishment that it may renew their strength and obtain for their labors an everlasting recompense in heaven; in a word, invite all men of whatever class and compel them to come in;[109] since this is the bread of life which all require. The Church of Jesus Christ needs no other bread than this to satisfy fully our souls’ wants and desires, and to unite us in the most intimate union with Jesus Christ, to make us “one body,”[110] to get us to live together as brothers who, breaking the same bread, sit down to the same heavenly table, to partake of the elixir of immortality.[111]“

  125. Uxixu says:

    With respect, Fr Sotelo, that’s recommended but not the law.

    CIC (1983):

    Can. 920 §1. After being initiated into the Most Holy Eucharist, each of the faithful is obliged to receive holy communion at least once a year.

    §2. This precept must be fulfilled during the Easter season unless it is fulfilled for a just cause at another time during the year.

  126. robtbrown says:

    Uxixu says:
    With respect, Fr Sotelo, that’s recommended but not the law.

    Actually, the recommendation is in the law (919)

  127. Uxixu says:

    Hmm, 919 robtbrown? I may be doing it wrong, but looks like 918 to me and still says “highly recommended?”

    Can. 918 It is highly recommended that the faithful receive holy communion during the eucharistic celebration itself. It is to be administered outside the Mass, however, to those who request it for a just cause, with the liturgical rites being observed.

    Can. 919 §1. A person who is to receive the Most Holy Eucharist is to abstain for at least one hour before holy communion from any food and drink, except for only water and medicine.

    §2. A priest who celebrates the Most Holy Eucharist two or three times on the same day can take something before the second or third celebration even if there is less than one hour between them.

    §3. The elderly, the infirm, and those who care for them can receive the Most Holy Eucharist even if they have eaten something within the preceding hour.

  128. robtbrown says:

    You’re right–it is 918.

    But your point above set the law in opposition to recommendation: ” . . . that’s recommended but not the law.” As I said, the recommendation is in fact in the law.

    Whether law should contain recommendations is another matter.

  129. Uxixu says:

    Interesting… my interpretation of 918 was procedure of having Communion at the Mass it was consecrated in (IOW explicit prohibition against the lady who put it in her purse to mail it or have it later or whatever, though granting potential exceptions as long as they’re done with proper observation of the appropriate liturgical rites – not Vitaticum as that has it’s own entry), not that it’s mandating the recommendations of Pius XII and overruling the following 920.

  130. Uxixu says:

    Oops, meant Pius X

  131. robtbrown says:

    Uxixu,

    The recommendation that someone receive Communion during the Mass itself (rather than outside the celebration) is a corollary of the general recommendation to receive Communion. Further, it could include someone not wanting to receive from an EMHC but asking the priest afterwards for the host.

    And I don’t understand why you use the word “mandate”. The jist of a recommendation is that it’s not a mandate.

  132. Mr. Green says:

    OrthodoxChick: There is significance in this case that is being lost on many lay people by widespread use of this new-fangled practice.

    Well, I don’t disagree that the significance (and many other significances) are lost on many people — that’s why certain practices in certain contexts are preferable to others. In fact, it’s one of the main fallacies of the modern age that meaning and symbolism are considered worthless; we’ve exchanged idiosyncrasy for poetry (which is to say, self-centredness for beauty).

    Exactly. So why mess with it so drastically in certain places only within the last 4-5 decades?

    I suppose people could have said the same thing when communion on the tongue was introduced long ago. As for me, I don’t call the decisions of the Church “messing”.

    And by the way, what are they saying “amen” to anyway? Not a prayer necessarily, but a declarative phrase, “The Body of Christ”.

    Yes, they are acknowledging the declaration that the consecrated Host is not just some bread, but truly is the Body of Christ. I think it’s good for people to confess the Real Presence they are about to receive (though alas, for some people even this apparently does not sink in).

    The whole process offers much less reverence than is due the King of kings and Lord of lords.

    And I certainly don’t disagree that there should be a lot more reverence in how people receive Communion.

  133. Mr. Green says:

    Robt Brown: On the other hand, when we taste something, we taste the accidents.

    Sure, but taste isn’t at issue here. One can eat even without a sense of taste.

    You were saying that having the host on the tongue and in the hand both concern “touching” it. I’m saying that’s wrong.

    Except that the tongue does touch food when it’s eaten, both feeling it and manipulating it.

    Correct, but it is not that command that is the basis for Communion by the laity. For that, see the 6th Chapter of John.

    Hm, OK. The “taking” wasn’t part of my point there, so I’m happy to substitute John 6 for the command to eat.
    (That does raise an interesting side-question: the priesthood was instituted on Holy Thursday, but at exactly what time did the Apostles become priests? One plausible answer is when our Lord said, “Do this in memory of me”. That would mean they were not priests when they received His Body.)

  134. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Uxixu:

    The words I quoted were from Pope Pius XII, but while we are splitting these hairs between what is legally required by the letter of the law and what has merely been “recommended” by the Pope and the Church, I will add here another quote from St. Pius X, spoken in the Allocution “Vi Ringrazio” on November 18, 1912:

    “Therefore, when we love the Pope, there are no discussions regarding what he orders or demands, or up to what point obedience must go, and in what things he is to be obeyed; when we love the Pope, we do not say that he has not spoken clearly enough, almost as if he were forced to repeat to the ear of each one the will clearly expressed so many times not only in person, but with letters and other public documents.”

    The mind of the Church is quite clear. On matters which are merely “recommended” there are many quotes from the saints which tell us that what is recommended by the Church should not have to be legally commanded in order to be followed, but should be considered part of Christian duty unless we are impeded by carrying it out (e.g. a person in mortal sin is impeded, as are those who are interdicted by the Church).

  135. robtbrown says:

    Mr. Green says:

    Robt Brown: On the other hand, when we taste something, we taste the accidents.

    Sure, but taste isn’t at issue here. One can eat even without a sense of taste.

    You said that the host touches the tongue. That which touches the tongue engages the sense of taste.

    You were saying that having the host on the tongue and in the hand both concern “touching” it. I’m saying that’s wrong.

    Except that the tongue does touch food when it’s eaten, both feeling it and manipulating it.

    Once again: The tongue doesn’t touch food. It is touched by it. Active vs passive. When we reach out to take something, it is active by definition. When something is put on the tongue, it is passive by definition. As I said above, the first concerns the substance of the thing, the latter the accidents.

    Correct, but it is not that command that is the basis for Communion by the laity. For that, see the 6th Chapter of John.

    Hm, OK. The “taking” wasn’t part of my point there, so I’m happy to substitute John 6 for the command to eat.

    Actually, it was. See above, your comment: Take and eat. My point still is that the command to take and eat was given to the Apostles.

    (That does raise an interesting side-question: the priesthood was instituted on Holy Thursday, but at exactly what time did the Apostles become priests? One plausible answer is when our Lord said, “Do this in memory of me”. That would mean they were not priests when they received His Body.)

    Some Sacraments were instituted by Christ by His actions, others by Him manifesting His will. The Eucharist was instituted on Holy Thursday. Thus, by His command to Do it in memory of Him the ministerial priesthood was instituted– though not by actions, bu rather by the manifestation of His Salvific will.

  136. Mr. Green says:

    Robt Brown: You said that the host touches the tongue. That which touches the tongue engages the sense of taste.

    I said the tongue touches the Host, which it does, though not qua organ of taste. The tongue takes food and actively moves it around as a normal part of eating.

    >The “taking” wasn’t part of my point there, so I’m happy to substitute John 6 for the command to eat.
    Actually, it was.

    Actually, I’m confident I know what my point was. Perhaps you meant you don’t think I expressed it as clearly as I might have.