From a reader…
I’m an EMHC [Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion] in our Parish. At yesterday’s Mass, I was sitting a pew or two behind a woman who was chugging what I can only assume was a coffee beverage throughout Mass (it was in the cup-size that rhymes with “plenty” from a major coffee chain). She later presented herself to me for communion. As an EMHC, do I have the authority (or responsibility) to charitably refuse to administer communion, since I had reason to believe that she violated the fast? Should I, or should I leave it between her and God?
If I should refuse to offer communion to her and I fail to do so, am I in a state of sin, which should be confessed?
I had pondered this during Mass, and in this situation, I DID administer communion to her because I realized I DIDN’T know the answers to these questions (or even if it was just water in the cup) and, in any case, I DIDN’T know how to charitably do this. [Water doesn't break the Eucharistic fast.]
I’m asking you, rather than my Parish priest, because based on his previous track record on other, more serious issues, I don’t trust his judgement in this.
First, those occasions wherein EMHC’s are utilized to distribute Holy Communion ought to be rare.
EMHCs should not take upon themselves any determination of whether or not to admit someone to Holy Communion, unless the priest has instructed them to do so, and unless the situation is obvious, e.g., the person is chewing gum, wearing a rainbow sash during a protests, etc.
Ideally the pastor (parish priest) should regularly remind the flock of the necessity of observing the (paltry) 1-hour Communion fast. He should take pains to know his flock so that he can take people aside and remonstrate with them as needed (and also praise them for their fidelity and piety – a good shepherd does both).
In such a situation, you should probably give the woman Holy Communion. Then you should go to Father after Mass and explain the situation, offering the polite suggestion that it might be time to remind people about the fast. That will also give Father the opportunity to explain the situation to you saying,
“Oh, that was Mindy. She has a rare condition that entails a dangerous lack of caffeine in her blood and commercialism in her psyche, so she has permission to drink the forbidden nectar during Mass…”
If you drink only Mystic Monk Coffee, you get special permissions in the Church, but only if you use my link!
For example, did you know that the drinkers of Mystic Monk Coffee (bought exclusively through Fr Z’s link) have the right to wear the now abolished papal tiara while receiving Holy Communion? True fact! Did you know that, when drinking Mystic Monk Coffee, you are granted the privilege of receiving Communion – within a week and under the usual circumstances – on the MOON? Did you know that Mystic Monk Coffee drinkers using K-Cups are granted an indult to receive Communion in two locations simultaneously when they bilocate?
What are you waiting for?
Mystic Monk Coffee!