From a reader…
Our priest has asked the two laypersons who attend the last hour of Adoration if they would be willing to repose the Blessed Sacrament if he cannot be present to do so. I am one of those persons and do not believe I’m qualified to do this. In fact, I’m concerned about profanation of the Eucharist. Should I decline the request or acquiesce?
I can’t answer that for you. As a priest, I am not a fan of this practice. However, I can imagine a few situations in which it could be tolerated.
That said, we can consider the legislation. There is a document called Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist Outside Mass (par. 82-100) that covers this situation. This document provides that laypersons may under certain conditions – expose – and hence repose – the Blessed Sacrament in the absence of a bishop, a priest or a deacon.
The ordinary minister for Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament is a bishop, a priest or a deacon. They are also the only ones permitted to give Benediction (Blessing) of the Blessed Sacrament.
However, in the absence of a bishop, a priest or a deacon (or I suppose if the cleric present is physically unable to do so – “lawfully impeded”) the following lay people are permitted publicly to expose publicly expose and publicly to repose the Blessed Sacrament:
- an installed Acolyte
- an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion
- a member of a religious community or of a pious association of laymen or laywomen dedicated to Eucharistic adoration who has been appointed by the local Ordinary
These people may open the tabernacle and put a ciborium on an altar or put the lunette with a Host in a monstrance. They may then, consequently, repose the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle.
So, if you are going to be involved in this, meet with the pastor of the parish where this chapel is or contact the local bishop (who will probably refer you back to the parish priest).
You cannot be an Acolyte, for only men are admitted to that ministry, but you could be an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion.
Becoming an EMHC has a process. The pastor will know what it is.
And never… never… just assume that you can do this without checking with the pastor, just to be clear and sure.
It is not right for just anyone to do this.