From a reader…
This morning at Mass, I observed two or three people receive the Host in the hand, and then walk over to the extraordinary minister of the chalice, dip the Host in, and then put it in their mouth. I was cantoring at the time, and at our church the cantors have to stand up front, so this is why I noticed this so clearly. I have always understood that, even in parishes which practice intinction, it’s not allowable for communicants to do it themselves. I was obviously unable to say or do anything in the moment it happened, but do you have any thoughts on this? Should I let my pastor know? Should the EMHC’s [Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion] be trained in how to avoid this situation in the future?
Self-intinction is wrong because the Church does not permit it. That should be sufficient argument, but we can go a bit deeper.
Self-intinction contradicts the Church’s understanding of what is being done at Holy Communion. We are being fed by Our Lord with His Sacred Body and Precious Blood. We receive Holy Communion. Reception is a passive thing, not an active thing. In a position of humility (best exemplified by kneeling, in my opinion), we allow the Lord to feed us. Holy Communion is given to us, we do not take it. We do not take the host from the ciborium. We do not take the Precious Blood from the chalice.
If there is to be intinction (and it is one of the acceptable forms of distributing Holy Communion according to the General Instruction), the minister takes the host, dips it in the chalice, and places the dipped host directly on the tongue of the recipient. That’s it.
It is worth noting that the General Instruction limits the distribution of the sacred species by intinction to the priest. Another minister holds the chalice, but it is the priest who intincts the host in the chalice and places it in the mouth of the communicant.
“287. If Communion from the chalice is carried out by intinction, each communicant, holding a Communion-plate under the mouth, approaches the Priest who holds a vessel with the sacred particles, with a minister standing at his side and holding the chalice. The Priest takes a host, intincts it partly in the chalice and, showing it, says, The Body and Blood of Christ. The communicant replies, Amen, receives the Sacrament in the mouth from the Priest, and then withdraws.”
Yes, I think you should let your pastor know about what you saw. Put it into his hands.
Yes, I think that EMHCs should be TRAINED.
That said, I think we should move away from
- the dreadful practice of Holy Communion in the hand,
- the risky practice of Holy Communion under both kinds,
- and also the exaggerated emplyment of EMHCs.
Soooo many problems could be avoided. Moreover, I believe that returning to traditional practices will also foster greater reverence for… heck, at this point… BELIEF in the Eucharist.