ASK FATHER: Are Extraordinary Ministers of Communion against the law?

From a reader…

QUAERITUR:

The Congregation for the Clergy’s 1997 “ON CERTAIN QUESTIONS REGARDING THE COLLABORATION OF THE NON-ORDAINED FAITHFUL IN THE SACRED MINISTRY OF PRIEST” [HERE] says that “the habitual use of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion at Mass thus arbitrarily extending the concept of ‘a great number of the faithful'” is “to be avoided and eliminated.” This seems to go against the practice I’ve seen in most every church I’ve been too: the use of EMHCs at every Sunday Mass and often at weekday Masses. Is this against the law of the Church?

I think the questioner is onto something.

Clearly the Holy See wants the widespread use of EMHC’s to be eliminated.

However, it would be a stretch to say that the ordinary use of extraordinary ministers is “against the law”.

In the rubrics (i.e., the “law”) the determination of the usefulness of EMHC’s is left to the priest to decide.  That said, the the local bishop could issue a law restricting or delimiting their use.

Is it wrong to use EMHC’s at a daily Mass with 10 people, or a Sunday Mass with 150? Yes.

Is it against the law? No.

Meanwhile… I have a radical solution for the problem of who distributes Holy Communion.  Why not just distribute hosts to everyone as they come into church?  Then they can just give Communion to themselves!  Right?

“But Father! But Father!”, you are surely fussing, “That’s not right!  You can’t have people self-communicating!  That… that eliminates the all important giving dimension, which Vatican II wants.  But you hate Vatican II.”

True.  You’ve got me there.  Since we are all against self-communication, people can just turn to a neighbor in the pew and give her the host.  See?  All taken care of.

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49 Responses to ASK FATHER: Are Extraordinary Ministers of Communion against the law?

  1. Cantor says:

    We had 4 people at Mass last Thursday, and one functioned as EMHC for purposes of offering the chalice. What is the recommended process for a solitary priest to distribute communion under both specie?

  2. Lepidus says:

    Very similar to Cantor’s experience (6 people). The usual guy who serves as the EMHC for the Precious Blood wasn’t there and father asked me to do it (when he was walking around to shake everybody’s hand at the Sign of Peace – but that’s another topic). Have to say, the look on his face was priceless when I turned him down. Not sure he is really use to people saying “no”.

  3. Lin says:

    I grew up in the day when only the priest could hold the Eucharist in his hands. The church was filled to over flow capacity. And out of 500 at mass only 50 felt worthy enough to go to Communion. There were lines for confession such that you might not get to go to confession in the hour or two before mass if you did not get in line early. We’ve lost the reverence in the spirit of Vatican II?

  4. Vecchio di Londra says:

    The advice that might be given to a solitary priest intending to give Holy Communion under both species would be much the same as Mr Punch’s celebrated counsel to persons about to engage in matrimony: ‘Don’t!’

  5. The questioner didn’t cite Redemptionis Sacramentum, I’m surprised!

    I think line 151 from RS really is the crux of the matter:

    “Only out of true necessity is there to be recourse to the assistance of extraordinary ministers in the celebration of the Liturgy. Such recourse is not intended for the sake of a fuller participation of the laity but rather, by its very nature, is supplementary and provisional.”

    I want to highlight especially that “recourse [to EMHCs] is not intended for the sake of a fuller participation of the laity” in the Mass. Forget the question of the law for a moment; can that theory be reconciled with Catholic praxis? EMHCs have become a regularly scheduled lay-ministry that is often attached to a blurb encouraging lay participation in the Liturgy, the exact opposite *theology* behind EMHCs. They’ve been so badly misunderstood and misapplied as a tool for the heterodox version of participatio actuosa that they need to be eliminated and replaced with acolytes or some other consecrated minor order. In this case, the question is not of ‘what does the law say,’ but rather, ‘how can we change the law to deal with these divergent and contradictory theologies on participatio actuosa and bring sanity to our liturgical worship?

  6. LeeF says:

    Weekly occurrence when I receive communion at my OF parish and where I am one of barely a handful who receive on the tongue: I bow when the person in front of me is receiving and then approach the EMHC, I watch in amusement as said EMHC is looking down at my hands which have not moved from where they are clasped at waist level, and then watch as they finally look up and figure out my tongue is out waiting for communion, while wondering whether they are going to try to stick the host in the middle of my mouth or actually lay in on my tongue. While amusing, it is also very distracting for me when I should be concentrating solely on receiving Our Lord. I can only wonder about the comments among themselves later, especially when they get saliva on their fingers which I know from experience is inevitable, based on my service years ago as an unofficial as (actually) needed EMHC (daily Mass with large attendance with the bare minimum of EMHCs).

  7. Lepidus says:

    Why can’t we just go back to intinction? That would solve the in-the-hand issue too.

  8. Lucas Whittaker says:

    The last picture in your post is just plain frightening. Your point is made loud and clear by that picture alone. This is a crippling problem to the faith of many since Jesus our King should never be handled in such a manner. So I have a question of my own in this regard. “Isn’t it better for priests who are assigned to parishes that rely inordinately on eucharistic ministers to make a sweeping change while explaining the supporting reasons: in opposition to the gradual implementing of such needed changes?” To make gradual changes seems to entrench the priest into a position where making these positive changes will become unlikely to be implemented at all.

  9. The “find a partner method” would never work for me. I would always be the odd man out left standing with a host and unable to receive. If I actually walked into a church that had an odd number of people, someone would leave, and I would be odd again. If they ever implement such a thing, it’s off to the extraordinary form for me.

  10. frjim4321 says:

    … while wondering whether they are going to try to stick the host in the middle of my mouth or actually lay in on my tongue. While amusing, it is also very distracting for me when I should be concentrating solely on receiving Our Lord. I can only wonder about the comments among themselves later, especially when they get saliva on their fingers … Lee F.

    If, as you say, it’s inevitable that communion ministers get saliva on their fingers from communion on the tongue, all the more reason to do away with the practice.

    Fortunately here for every 50 people who receive there may be one who received on the tongue. For my taste, that is one too many.

    We have about 200 communions per weekend liturgy. There are four ciborium stations and two cup stations. I’m the only cleric. The configuration of 5 EM’s plus the priest works fine for us.

    Less than that, the elapsed time of the communion procession would be disproportionate.

    Actually, if we are missing 1 EM it takes about the same time. The fact is that one EM handling a double line (side-by-side) is just about as fast as a single file line.

  11. Geoffrey says:

    “Why can’t we just go back to intinction? That would solve the in-the-hand issue too.”

    I second that, but is intinction something “to go back to”? I don’t believe it was widespread prior to Vatican II; it is no where to be seen in the Extraordinary Form. My grandmother talks about it as something that was done “in the old days”, but I cannot find any specific documentation regarding the origins of intinction.

  12. Dienekes says:

    If it’s done routinely, whether a “need” exists or not, it would seem not to “extraordinary, no?

    Methinks the only “need” involved is for some people to go up to the sanctuary and insinuate themselves into the celebration of the Mass.

    Now I hie myself off to confession for this sin against charity.

  13. mburn16 says:

    I have to say, I have a hard time seeing mass taking place at our parish without EMHCs. Our sanctuary seats at least 850, and a good estimate of 9:00 AM mass on Sunday would probably be 500 or so……and 11:00 AM is even busier. Normal practice is to run the Priest, plus seven EMHCs to distribute the host and another eight to distribute the blood. Now that number might well be able to be reduced…but I expect you’d still need at least one other EMHC for the host and either one or two for the wine, unless you used intinction – but once you’ve established a need for EMHCs, well, when you give a mouse a muffin…

  14. Fr. Jim, any particular reason why consecrating acolytes for such service would be a bad idea? A priest and five acolytes is far preferable to a priest and five laywomen and men.

  15. LeeF says:

    @frjim who said: “If, as you say, it’s inevitable that communion ministers get saliva on their fingers from communion on the tongue, all the more reason to do away with the practice. ”

    So you would be in favor of getting rid of the cup too right? Right???

  16. jacobi says:

    The use of lay distributers is against Church law if used routinely and without exceptional reason.

    More importantly, their widespread use has been very successful, as it was designed to be by those who thought it up, in diminishing, or very nearly eliminating in so many areas of the Church, belief in the Real Presence.

    It’s simple when you think about it. Treat the Sacred Host and Consecrated Wine as bread and wine and in no time at all, people will come to think of them as such.

    A ten year old could think that up and the Reformers were older than that!

  17. jacobi says:

    @ frjim
    @LeeF

    Given today’s methods of analysis, the Sacred Wine received by the last person, let’s say after 30 receptions, would have detectable traces of fungi, bacteria, DNA, saliva, you name it, from those who received before.

    A simple experiment could be carried out – but with unconsecrated elements, I trust!

  18. Fortunately here for every 50 people who receive there may be one who received on the tongue. For my taste, that is one too many.

    Fortunately, it’s not your call. Fortunately, it’s a matter of individual choice, according to the available approved means of receiving Holy Communion. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep, Father, so a little spit won’t hurt ye.

    Less than that, the elapsed time of the communion procession would be disproportionate.

    Disproportionate to what?

  19. iPadre says:

    You just have to wonder what the big deal is with giving Holy Communion to even say 500 people in the Ordinary Form. “Corpus Christi” “The Body of Christ.”

    In the Extraordinary Form, only ordained clerics may administer Holy Communion, and the formula is “Corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam tuam in vitam aeternam. Amen.” while making a small sign of the cross.

    To me, the new formula makes it possible for a priest to distribute our Lord’s body to a much, much larger congregation without the aid of anyone.

  20. iPadre says:

    PS: The problem is, that many priests have a poor priestly identity and “feel” they need to share their duties and obligations with the laity (lay empowerment), even when it destroys priestly identity.

  21. Mike says:

    RESPONDETUR (per me): No, but they should be, along with Communion in the hand. The cavalcade of modern Eucharistic abuses condemns the usage of lay EMHCs beyond a reasonable doubt.

    Necessarily, the practice of casual administration and reception of Holy Communion calls into question one’s disposition toward the sacrament. Until a Eucharistic theology is again inculcated that vividly distinguishes Holy Communion from a Sunday buffet, one can only pray both for the humility to receive worthily (or to decline to receive) and for the courage to resist scruples.

    Attending the Traditional Latin Mass, for those to whom it is offered (in dioceses that choose not to flout Summorum Pontificum), would seem generally to afford the best opportunity for inculcation of the theology. Formation of the disposition is a more subtle thing, which is why we pray to St. Michael for defense in battle against a subtle foe.

  22. “PS: The problem is, that many priests have a poor priestly identity and “feel” they need to share their duties and obligations with the laity (lay empowerment), even when it destroys priestly identity.”

    I agree iPadre – that’s exactly what Ratzinger/John Paul II firmly opposed in Redemptionis Sacramentum. Working for ‘lay empowerment’ or ‘active participation’ in this way is absolutely wrong.

  23. danube-bosphorus-moskva says:

    We have about 200 communions per weekend liturgy. There are four ciborium stations and two cup stations. I’m the only cleric. The configuration of 5 EM’s plus the priest works fine for us.

    In Orthodox practice, only priest is giving communion. Deacon can also give communion, but only when priest is not arround. By oikonomia, if there is really a lot of people , deacon could give communion in presence of priest allready communig people. And in Orthodox practice, communion under both kinds is mandatory thing. One priest is communing hundreds of people. (I was present when thounsands were taking communion, but those cases are usualy when multiple priests are present). Of course, we in Liturgies of Saint John Chrysostome and Saint Basil the Great, have bread inserted in chalice, and Priest is giving communion by spoon (silver or golden one, same as chalice). But same rulles applay for Litugy of Saint James the Just, where bread and wine are given separately. I think same practice is in Pre-Chalcedonian Churches, and it was applied to Liturgy of Saint Peter (Roman Canon of Mass put together with anthiphones and litanies of Chrysostom).

    Less than that, the elapsed time of the communion procession would be disproportionate.
    So what? I refered to Orthodox (and Greek Catholic practice). Byzantine Liturgy is one hour or longer, more offten longer than not. We are never that time savy, despite of our long rite.

    If, as you say, it’s inevitable that communion ministers get saliva on their fingers from communion on the tongue, all the more reason to do away with the practice.
    And what about germs transmited by hands? All 5 of your EMHCs immediatly wash their hands before giving communion?

  24. robtbrown says:

    frjim4321 says:

    … while wondering whether they are going to try to stick the host in the middle of my mouth or actually lay in on my tongue. While amusing, it is also very distracting for me when I should be concentrating solely on receiving Our Lord. I can only wonder about the comments among themselves later, especially when they get saliva on their fingers … Lee F.

    If, as you say, it’s inevitable that communion ministers get saliva on their fingers from communion on the tongue, all the more reason to do away with the practice.

    IME, there are two things that prevent that:

    1. Stay away from the small, dime sized hosts.

    2. Place the thumb rather than the forefinge on top of the host. As the host approaches the tongue, the fingers are withdrawn as the thumb presses it against the tongue.

    Last week after a daily mass I congratulated a visiting priest (older guy, with a previous career as a Securities Trader) on his MO. When I mentioned that most priests put the forefinger on top, he quickly finished my thought “and then they try to throw it in”.

  25. We have an interesting practice at my parish, which I’ve never seen repeated elsewhere: all ordinary ministers who are available distribute Holy Communion at all Masses.

    This began under the previous pastor, and has continued to this day.

    We have three priests and one deacon. Typically, at least two of the priests are usually available to give out communion. (N.B. one also ministers to a foreign language apostelate, and is gone most of the day Sunday; the other is an auxiliary bishop who often has confirmations or special Masses to celebrate elsewhere.) What this means, in practical terms, is that two priests and a deacon give out communion at most Masses. We have six “stations,” so the other three places are filled by EMHCs. We only give the host.

    It would be impractical to eliminate using EMHCs entirely. We typically have 700-800 people at any one of the five Masses on a weekend. Sunday Masses are scheduled every 90 minutes. Using six stations and three EMHCs, we’re still able to get people out the door in about an hour, and clear the parking lot just in time for the next Mass.

    FWIW: My parish also offers the Sacrament of Reconciliation six days a week, at set times. We always have a line. :-)

  26. greg3064 says:

    I attend a daily Mass with about 20 people… I don’t see why EMs should be needed. It would take an extra minute or two to have just one line.

  27. Volanges says:

    200 communicants does not require any more than the priest for the Hosts and 2 EMHCs for the Precious Blood if it is being offered.

    When there as a threat of Hong Kong flu a few years ago and the priest became the only person to distribute Mass only took about 10 minutes more. Nobody complained. As for offering the Cup, I’m not sure where our present Bishop stands on the matter but the former Bishop didn’t want it withheld and made sure to insist it be reinstated after said HK flu scare.

  28. robtbrown says:

    greg3064 says:
    I attend a daily Mass with about 20 people… I don’t see why EMs should be needed. It would take an extra minute or two to have just one line.

    It is Participatio Actuosa on steroids.

  29. Fr. Erik Richtsteig says:

    About the year 2000, I asked our former bishop when we were going to do something about “ON CERTAIN QUESTIONS REGARDING THE COLLABORATION OF THE NON-ORDAINED FAITHFUL IN THE SACRED MINISTRY OF PRIEST”. He gave me a deer in the headlights looks and explain that a committee of the bishops’ conference was going to ‘study’ it. I am still waiting. It is another great Roman document that was ignored and was allowed to be ignored.

  30. Uxixu says:

    My dream “Vatican II Mass” should Communion in the Body from the priest and institute acolytes/subdeacon(s) and the Precious Blood from the chalice from the deacon, all kneeling at the rail only on the highest holidays (Easter, Pentecost, Christmas ) with one species being sufficient the rest of the year.

    Along with complete restoration of chant and a Latin Ordinary and Canon, of course.

  31. acardnal says:

    Deacon Kendra wrote, “It would be impractical to eliminate using EMHCs entirely. We typically have 700-800 people at any one of the five Masses on a weekend.”

    I disagree. Before VII and prior to the creation of EMHCs, there were even larger numbers at Sunday Mass who knelt and received on the tongue, and the the distribution of Holy Communion was quite efficient if not more so particularly since the Precious Blood was not available. Moreover, the Precious Blood should not be regularly distributed except on special occasions, e.g. marriage, ordinations, etc. The common use of the Precious Blood is an opportunity for abuse and sacrilege and has been discussed on this blog previously. My diocesan bishop has prohibited communion under both species at regular Masses for the above reasons.

  32. wbvrjr says:

    The solution to the need for many EMHC’s is to remind the communicants that they must be in the state of grace before receiving. The difference between the number of communicants before Vatican II and now is that pre-Vatican II the faithful knew whether they were worthy, today they do not know what “worthy” means. Just as when anything is given out (ashes, palms) there are crowds. The idea that reception of Communion under one species is complete in itself is unknown by those in the long lines.

  33. benedetta says:

    Priests who do not celebrate the EF would not be aware of this, but of course when one receives while kneeling, on the tongue, there is never this “saliva” thing that frjim4321 references. The height differential makes it a complete non issue. It’s quite graceful as a matter of fact.

    When receiving standing on the tongue it can be awkward and certainly people can be hostile about one’s choice to receive on the tongue, so, when I am in that emhc and by the hand world, I reluctantly and in most cases receive by hand, to avoid a scene and the fumbling or whatever. I let people have it their way and sometimes do worry about particles of our Lord remaining, on, everyone…of course there are so many run ups and then in terms of the ablutions and the cleansing of vessels that one begins to wonder whether there is much faith in the Real Presence at all in these places. Even if one goes through all the correct motions, if one does not believe, truly, well? Yes, of course it’s all “valid” but what do we hold back in terms of our doubt, our dismissal, unbelief, shown by our gestures and the way we treat and handle our Lord, and experience His presence with us.

    This is another argument for the necessity that most parishes have, as VII intended, the old rite with the new, offered so that people may choose on their own. That way, folks who do not believe that particles matter, I guess, or who prefer to distribute or receive in one way may be happy, and, folks who who are entitled to worship as they prefer as is their right and receive our Lord kneeling on the tongue, without any concern about one’s saliva, may do so. The moto proprio said that ministers must be generous about offering the usus antiquior. Perhaps that one they resent who insists every week on receiving on the tongue might like an opportunity to receive on the tongue while kneeling. “For if you love only those who love you…even the pagans do as much…”

  34. acricketchirps says:

    My dream “Vatican II Mass” was enabled by Summorum Pontificum.

    On spit on your hands … never, ever need happen. The spit Leef was wondering about in the guessed-at comments of the EMHCs comes from them not knowing how to distribute communion properly (I was going to say properly on the tongue, but that’s redundant).

    That said, the old hosts that were light and stuck to your tongue were better than the grainy ones they use at a lot of parishes today.

  35. acricketchirps says:

    benedetta, best sentence ever: When receiving standing on the tongue it can be awkward!

    Especially if it’s your own tongue you’re standing on!

  36. Uxixu says:

    frjim, why do you have no deacons? Are there no men with a calling to be discerned from your flock?

    Instituted acolytes is far more of a bishop issue since clearly none are interested in implementing Ministeria Quaedam, but that’s the other solution Holy Mother Church has given us.

  37. Suburbanbanshee says:

    I’ve talked before about the time I visited a Conservative Jewish shul. Most of the people in the congregation didn’t pray in exactly the same positions, because it was their job to preserve the traditions used in the shul back in their family’s little village. A lot of them were the only surviving witnesses to their traditions. Some of them had children to carry it on; some were the end of the line.

    I can’t imagine anybody Jewish, even atheists, thinking that there was only one Jewish guy in the world praying in such and such position on such and such a word, and that was one too many, and he should get with the program. Nobody is anxious that all these traditions should die out so they can forget the village. They think it’s like riches to have all these folks praying in all these traditions.

    I can’t tell you how to feel, Fr. Jim. You’ve got a gift or a problem in your congregation, and it’s your decision what to think about it.

  38. robtbrown says:

    Uxixu says:
    frjim, why do you have no deacons? Are there no men with a calling to be discerned from your flock?

    That sounds as if it’s something to be known using An Official Decoder Ring.

    Instituted acolytes is far more of a bishop issue since clearly none are interested in implementing Ministeria Quaedam, but that’s the other solution Holy Mother Church has given us.

    The less Ministeria Quaedam is instituted, the better.

  39. MarkG says:

    The TLM I usually attend has over 400 Communicants and usually only 1 priest. The TLM Low Mass comes in at just under an hour. The TLM Sung Mass comes in at just under and hour and half.
    I’m not sure why a new Mass would be any longer.

    I’m against laity distributing Holy Communion, but I actually think that even at TLM they should consider allowing sub-deacons and maybe even other Seminarians who haven’t been ordained as sub-deacons to distribute Hold Communion.

    I also think it would be a good idea to get sub-deacons and deacons into the parishes their last year or two of seminary, for the purpose of allowing more Solemn Masses to be said instead of Sung Masses at local parishes. I know the Seminaries send out sub-deacons and deacons for Christmas and Easter for a week or two for this purpose. Just a suggest that maybe they could be in parishes the last year of two of Seminary and remotely take their classes over the internet video rooms.

  40. LeeF says:

    @rotbrown who said:”The less Ministeria Quaedam is instituted, the better.”

    Why?

  41. benedetta says:

    Of course just as it is completely appropriate, quite worthy theologically, and beautiful for priests to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass ad orientem in the Novus Ordo, it would be completely acceptable, and, even, quite worthy, theologically, and, pastorally, a great gift indeed, to the people of a parish, to offer the opportunity to receive at the rail on the tongue while kneeling. It actually goes quite fast. It is not necessary that the Mass be celebrated in the EF for these to happen. Many people experience kneeling at the rail and find such a great joy and peace in this.

    If one saw the great rush hour of people casually receiving while walking, not even stopping to have a moment with the Lord, and was not a Catholic, what would they infer about the belief of the congregation? Whereas if someone stumbles into communion where people are kneeling at a rail (and of course there need not even be a rail as so many have now been removed), in the ordinary form, would they be more likely to conclude that those receiving actually believed Jesus to be coming to them?

    Many places seem to make it about the emhc and not about Jesus…that too is quite problematic. If one is smiling at you, competing for attention with, Him, then, what is that about? I’m not saying, we may never smile…but, again, there should be some decorum. Not everyone is skipping up in the line…some people are quite burdened with numerous things, and, a smile seems to deny their very real sufferings or situations. We insert ourselves and our personalities excessively instead of letting our Lord lead the way for our communion with one another.

  42. JuliB says:

    As an EMHC I think we should be greatly reduced. But as long as Fr. wants it (and the priests at my parish are pretty orthodox guys) I will continue to help out as requested.

    I have no problem with someone receiving on the tongue since I do when I am not EMHC’ing. Of course I would much prefer to have a man stand next to Fr if at all possible and I’ll handle the chalice. Does it make a difference? Not really but still my preference. Not enough men answer calls for help so…

  43. wmeyer says:

    I’m opposed to the use of EMHCs. My observation has been that they are insufficiently trained, and I liken them to a plague of locusts. Although my bishop has published his own guidelines which include that they serve at the discretion of the celebrant, I know that if a priest tries to rein them in, complaints are made to the pastor. There seems to be a sense of entitlement, and try as I will, I can find nothing in the documents to support that. I also must wonder if there is not an unhealthy dose of pride involved.

    As to insufficient training, they routinely dispense blessings, despite what Dr. Peters has written on that score.

    danube-bosphorus-moskva, I see the EMHCs wash after they serve. Never before.

  44. Here’s your cheat sheet:

    Distributing Communion takes about 5 seconds per person, maybe 4.5 seconds if you really are cruising, even if using an Altar rail.

    If only 1 person (the priest) is distributing and he is really fast, here is how long it takes to distribute:

    800 people = 1 hour
    600 people = 45 minutes
    400 people = 30 minutes
    200 people = 15 minutes

    Within the context of a Mass 15 minutes is probably a reasonable limit.

    Therefore, a good rule of thumb is 1 ordinary minister or EMHC per 200 communicants. And of course, don’t offer both species unless you have MANY ordinary ministers.

  45. Uxixu says:

    [b]Robtbrown said:
    The less Ministeria Quaedam is instituted, the better.[/b]

    That’s exactly what we have now, though. You wouldn’t prefer Father be assisted by a deacon or two with the rest of the EMHC replaced with Instituted Acolytes vested in cassock and surplice?

    By ignoring Ministeria Quaedam, and with effectively no instituted Acolytes or Readers other than those in diaconate formation, EMHC are in the sanctuary instead. The minor orders weren’t all suppressed, they were renamed since Pope Paul couldn’t/wouldn’t so blatantly contradict Trent.

  46. robtbrown says:

    Uxixu,

    1. Although MQ didn’t use the word “suppress” for minor orders, it (contra Trent) detaches them from Holy Orders, extending them to the laity (lay ministries), and reduces them to two. It also does away with the subdiaconate.

    2. Once Acolyte and Lector are no longer Minor Orders (thus part of Holy Orders), there is no reason why they shouldn’t be given to women. And so to answer your question: Do I want to see women in cassocks in the sanctuary? No.

    Ministeria Quaedam is another factor that makes reform of the Novus Ordo problematic.

  47. Uxixu says:

    Ministeria Quaedem itself specifies:

    “In accordance with the ancient tradition of the Church, institution to the ministries of reader and acolyte is reserved to men.”

    Similarly, it allows the bishops’ conferences the discretion to designate the institute Acolyte as a subdeacon in accord with seven centuries of tradition of service at the altar in the Latin Church and would go a long way to alleviating the concerns of many in this thread, including FrJim, in being able to minister Holy Communion with ordinary ministers instead of extraordinary-ordinary ministers. It’s only partial adoption by the bishops has gotten us where we’re at.

    We can still have both the minor orders and the subdiaconate today… or tomorrow… but for the will of our bishops over the Holy Father’s intent with MQ. Pope Paul VI was very right that the minor orders were a de facto anachronism as a mere stepping stone. The mistake, I might humbly suggest, was in throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater and discarding the orders that had much more tradition in the Latin Church than a permanent diaconate. Instead of changing their de jure status, hindsight suggests restoring their de facto office to their titles in the parishes is an alternative solution.

    They are tasks that still need doing in the parish much more than the seminary (where I would think the traditions are still useful even so). Nothing stops a future Pope from restoring them not only to their previous state in the seminary, but in service to the parish of more casual and irreverent laity in the sanctuary.

  48. Uxixu says:

    … INSTEAD OF more casual….

  49. Lucas Whittaker says:

    @ Father Jim: Father, you bring up many practical points: some of which I agree with. But you neglect the most practical point of all, that Jesus is our king. As St. Thomas points out, he who receives even the least particle of the host receives the whole Christ. I wonder, then, what consequence does this teaching have for the particles of the consecrated host that end up on the hand of those who do not receive on the tongue? Would you accuse me of being impractical and old-fashioned for bringing this up? Or would you agree that the question of how we receive the Eucharist just might be a reflection of our belief in the real presence? And as Benedetta wisely pointed out, the incidence of saliva on the minister’s fingers becomes much less of a concern when the communion rail is used. Would you be willing to rethink your approach to this question after what I have written here?