QUAERITUR: Told I can’t receive on the tongue as a EMHC

From a reader:

Dear Father,

I am a student at a university, where I am an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion in the chaplaincy. I prefer to receive Holy Communion on the tongue.

When commissioned by the previous chaplain, after Mass I was asked very gently for me to receive in the hand when ‘being’ an Extraordinary Minister.  [Which probably violates your rights as described in Redemptionis Sacramentum.]

The reasons for this were:

1) Not to confuse the faithful  [Because they are that stupid?]
2) We sin more with our tongue than our hands  [Something you would tell a 9 yr old.]
3) I would have to handle the Host with my hands anyway (so stop being fussy about the crumbs on your hands)  [Then maybe the non-ordained shouldn’t be UP THERE AT ALL!]

I have been an extraordinary minister in other parishes, but this has never been brought up, and I always felt uncomfortable with it. So I only receive in the hand at the chaplaincy.

That Chaplain has since left to become a Cistercian and has been replaced.

Is it wise to speak to the new chaplain about this, asking to receive on the tongue in this capacity, explaining why I do not do that now? Is there a rule against extraordinary ministers receiving on the tongue?

I have just applied for priestly formation in this sparsely populated, liberal diocese, and feel many more such questions will come up in the future, where I will have many problems with reconciling my own ‘spirituality’ with everyone elses.

Thank you for any time you can spare, and thank you for your blog and podcasts, for which I am very grateful.

Sorry about all this.  This is part of growing up in the Church of What’s Happenin’ Now, I’m afraid. 

If you are interested in trying your vocation, the first thing you will need to learn is to suffer in slience.


Otherwise, I don’t no what to say.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Brian Day says:

    First, I will say a prayer for the reader who is discerning a priestly vocation.

    As for speaking to the new chaplain, what is his disposition to ordinary laymen who wish to receive on the tongue? If he is favorable to Holy Communion on the tongue for the faithful, then it should be “safe” to receive the same way as a EMHC. (my $.02)

  2. sacredosinaeternum says:

    I don’t think you need to ask the chaplain first. The next time you receive Holy Communion, do so on the tongue. This will show you his dispositions, and if he is not confused nor has ulterior motives, everything will be fine!

    As for priestly discernment in a liberal atmosphere, stay very close to Our Lady. She’ll make all things possible for you, although, as Fr. Z said, it will entail suffering in silence. Who else but her knows what that is all about? God bless you!

  3. Geoffrey says:

    I have seen many Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist receive on the tongue, which tells me “they get it”.

    If I were the reader, I would politely cite the relevant documents from the Holy See, and/or quit being an Extraordinary Minister. However, in my opinion, these are the kinds of people we need!

  4. GH good boy says:

    I recommend that you simply receive on the tongue and don’t say anything to anyone. You are in your right and it is an abuse that the Church has condemned for anyone to pressure you to do otherwise. It is better to please the Lord than men. You might also send your guardian angel on a mission to the guardian angels of anyone that might give you a problem. I do this all the time when I have to deal with difficult people and it seems to help. All things can be obtained through prayer.

  5. Chris says:

    Stop playing priest and your problem is solved.

    I wish I could be more compassionate. But no one is holding a gun to your head. Go back in the pews and you’ll be fine.

    You could even kneel for Commmunion if you want to then …

  6. Jim Dorchak says:

    Fr Z

    You are so right about the:

    “Sorry about all this. This is part of growing up in the Church of What’s Happenin’ Now, I’m afraid.

    This is why my Wife and I have chosen to only attend Mass where they provide we can be part of:

    “The Church of what happend back then, and still happens exactly the same now”

    Consistent Truth, Quality Sermons, and Sacraments, and equally important, others who attend are looking for the same thing. It is a community where everyone is looking to be closer to God like the saints of old. No novelty is needed. No need to entertain. No need to introduce “New” or “Improved” anything.

    Why risk your soul and that of your children?

    Jim Dorchak

  7. Woody Jones says:

    Was that the University of Dallas?

  8. Woody Jones says:

    Oh, sorry. I missed “sparsely populated”.

  9. No one of consequence says:

    “Thus we should not forget that not only our hands are impure but also our tongue and also our heart and that we often sin more with the tongue than with the hands.”

    -Cardinal Ratzinger, God Is Near Us, p. 71.

  10. TNCath says:

    This incident is an almost verbatim conversation I had with a priest 25 years ago. Soon thereafter, the priest left the active ministry and has since married and divorced.

  11. Anthony says:

    I’m with Chris on this one, wait until you’re hands are consecrated then start handling the Eucharist.

  12. BCatholic says:

    The question isn’t so much, in my mind, about whether or not we should use our hands to touch our Lord and worry about particles but whether or not it is appropriate to receive with full openness, emphasizing how He comes to us. It’s not just about particles.

  13. Geoffrey says:

    While the entire ministry of Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist is abused just about everywhere, Holy Church has decreed it a legitimate ministry for now. We should be thankful that there is such a minister as this reader, who obviously takes it very seriously, unlike the vast majority. And believe me, I used to be one, and I’ve seen it all.

  14. W. Schrift says:

    No one of consequence“: Regardless of who said it, it’s still a cop-out if it’s going to be the only reason given for a prohibition Communion on the tongue. Anyway, it’s a patently obvious fact that Cardinal Ratzinger (gloriously reigning) is no fan of in-the-hand (so much for an appeal to that authority).

    The real operative issue isn’t about how we may be ourselves guilty (besides, sin stains our souls, not our hands, in any way of speaking aside from the metaphorical). That’s something about US. The real issue in in-the-hand is the probability of the profanation of the Blessed Sacrament, and a lack reverence shown to It; that is, something about HIM.

  15. Central Valley Catholic says:

    Jim: “Why risk your soul and that of your children?” After waisting our money in th eFresno diocese on so called Catholic education, my wife and I have home schooled and love it. Parents are the primnary teachers of their children and they bear the responsibility for their well being. At a so called “catholic” school, communion in the hand was near mandatory. When we objected and we told the administration we attend the extraordinary form of Mass, the reply was “oh, you go there.” So is life in our diocese.

  16. Jeff Pinyan says:

    “Not to confuse the faithful”

    Confuse the faithful about WHAT?!

  17. Nicknackpaddywack says:

    What should be bothering your conscience, if anything, is whether your service as an extraordinary minister under these circumstances is in accord with cannon law, which states that such ministers should be made use of only when there are insufficient consecrated persons to handle the demand for communion. Are you really necessary here? If not, then desist from your service as an extraordinary minister, leaving it to the priests and deacons. Problem solved. In place of it, you could do something useful like feeding the poor.

  18. jennifer evancho says:

    Most definetely you are where you need to be for your own growth. Suffer in silence but offer the fervent sacrifice of your desires unto the Lord. If you must be an EM of holy Communion then the suffering is offered continuosly and never wasted.

    Be firm and stead fast in your joy for the Lord, He does know your love for Him and your suffering and forgive and intercede on the behalf of those around you.

    I know what I say – I have seen the hand of my Lord in places I thought most obstinate. You must watch and pray and rejoice for He has won and at least you can receive Him!

    Perspective young one!

    (I saw clay pots be gone and fine metal chalice and paten brought in – boy were they mad – have no idea who did it. Just prayed – alas they still danced)

    Mother and just as obstinate lover of God may I cease to be distracted this advent and refocus!
    God bless you
    Jenn in CA
    (forgive my spelling)

  19. JD Carriere says:

    If lay people would refuse to receive from lay people, except in cases of true need, more priests might possibly get the message that they are something special, and a few more might even try living up to it. Imagine.

  20. TNCath says:

    JD Carriere: “If lay people would refuse to receive from lay people, except in cases of true need, more priests might possibly get the message that they are something special, and a few more might even try living up to it. Imagine.”

    Imagine, indeed. To get the masses to do the same, now that Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion have become so commonplace the last 40 years, would be an almost impossible task. This young man, like so many others, became a Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion because he truly believed he was doing the Church a service. I don’t blame them as much as I do the priests and diocesan officials that encourage their use.

    All of this begs the question: what constitutes “true need”? In a one priest parish where there are, perhaps, three Masses on a weekend of 100-200 people at each Mass, would this constitute a “true need” for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion? Where does one set the bar?

  21. Margaret says:

    Perhaps he should investigate applying to the seminary in a different diocese. He may not survive the vetting process in his home diocese, and then face further difficulty applying to a more orthodox seminary because of this perceived “black mark.” It would be a shame to lose a potential vocation due to the biases of some feminist nun/priest-wannabe.

  22. michigancatholic says:

    So why are you trying to be a Eucharistic Minister anyway? Just asking.

  23. A Random Friar says:

    I agree with Geoffrey, that if there were going to be Extraordinary Ministers, make them the best ones we can get. I also urge caution in judging the motives of EMHCs, or of priests who use them. I understand that feelings run strong on this issue, and I’m actually on the side of preferring not to use them, but to use them is a perfectly orthodox and permitted option, when needed.

  24. michigancatholic says:

    There are no “best ones we can get.” To say that is to “judge the motives of the EMHCs,” which you say you’re against.

    We don’t need EMHCs in 99.99% of parish settings. They’re superfluous no matter what their intentions are, even according to the current legislation. We simply don’t need them.

  25. St. Rafael says:

    The Vatican put out a document a couple of years ago calling for the end of the abuse of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. They were only supposed to be used in cases of extraordinary circumstances, which means they should not be seen every Sunday at Mass.

    An Extraordinary situation would be in the mission lands were there is one priest and many villagers or villages, and not in everyday parish life.

  26. jan says:

    Stop the problem at it’s source, stop being an EM, I have made talking people out of being EM’s a sort of personal mission of mine, you’d be surpised how many people (especailly young people) get into it because they love the Church and Jesus but have an unspoken sense of unease about it, when I mention to them how in other countries/in earlier eras, only the Priest’s hands touched the sacred body of Christ, the lightbulb goes on and they take themselves out of the rotation.

  27. Mark M says:

    It is with no small irony that your post arrived in my reader with this, an interview with Cardinal Cañizares Llovera on the subject…

  28. A Random Friar says:

    michigancatholic: I’m not sure how you’ve tied those two statements together in the first part of your 11:59 PM post. Picking out the best EHMCs, like anything else in Church life, should be a process of discernment. As you know, to discern and to judge are distinct, and yes, motives can enter into the equation. I would hope that the people who ordained me and approved me for vows discerned my motives were good enough (no man has “pure” motives), and did not fail to do so for fear of being “judgmental.” But assigning values to their reasoning beyond what can be reasonably discerned and observed is not good for anyone’s spiritual health. E.g., the “stop playing priest” comment. I do not think or can imagine that most EHMC’s are “playing priest.”

    As to St. Raphael’s comment, I point to “Redemptionis Sacramentum”: [157.] If there is usually present a sufficient number of sacred ministers for the distribution of Holy Communion, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion may not be appointed. Indeed, in such circumstances, those who may have already been appointed to this ministry should not exercise it. The practice of those Priests is reprobated who, even though present at the celebration, abstain from distributing Communion and hand this function over to laypersons. [158.] Indeed, the extraordinary minister of Holy Communion may administer Communion only when the Priest and 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. This, however, is to be understood in such a way that a brief prolongation, considering the circumstances and culture of the place, is not at all a sufficient reason.

    (Emphases mine). IOW, I believe that EMHCs are not the optimum, but may be necessary in certain cases. Thus, as a general rule, they are to be avoided. However, they may be necessary. I know there are abuses here. But I’ve been in Masses where communion takes an hour… and that’s WITH some extraordinary ministers and three priests and deacons. So I hope that clarifies my position. I am not going against my principles in using EMHCs when necessary. We can argue about when it’s necessary or not, but I don’t think we can make a blanket ruling against them, when the CDW permits them for just cause.

  29. A Random Friar says:

    To anticipate the argument, “But Friar, they’re never absolutely necessary!” I would say “Yes, few things are absolute. However, I’m sorry, but I have seven packed-to-the-rafters Masses on Sundays, and we already start early in the day and end late. I can’t lengthen the Mass much more, I’m afraid.”

    In order to, practically speaking, do the Masses without EMHCs, I would need to drop 2 Masses, at my guesstimate. Again, there’s no room for them in other Masses. I would offer that this is part of the reason R.S. allows them. Stretching Sunday Mass 10 minutes is not a real need, I would agree, personally. 30 minutes is more quibbable (um, my spellchecker hates that — “easily disputed,” say). 45 minutes to an hour? I know people will disagree, but that’s what I imagine R.S. would allow.

  30. St. Rafael says:

    A Random Friar,

    Communion under one species would go a long way to ending the need for EMHC even in large Masses. The laity for many reasons should only be given the Sacred Host, with the priest alone, receiving the Precious Blood.

  31. Victor says:

    I live in Eastern Germany, in a city which has a vibrant Catholic community and two parishes, but still, about 70 percent of this city’s population state having “no belief”. Catholics are a minority within the minority of Christians, which means that children going to mass at Sunday mornings are a HUGE exception. While our mass is “novus ordo” and not perfect, it is still very reverend and mostly “say the black, do the red” (except sometimes when our deacon, who is an Ordinary Minister of Holy Communion, is in charge). As a result, our normal Sunday morning mass lasts 70 to 75 minutes, sometimes longer. On Sunday mornings, we have usually the priest, once a month the deacon and one or two additional EMHC’s. In our parish, people receive under one species only.
    Now take away the EMHC’s, and mass will last AT LEAST 15 minutes longer. Personally, I wouldn’t care – I can perfectly live with long-lasting, glorious, incense-smoking High Mass (I used to attend Greek Catholic liturgy regularly when still living in Vienna). But for a 12 year old boy or girl hitting puberty, this is a huge problem. I am not in favour of shorting everything down at “the people’s pleasure”, but sometimes the old “pastoral” argument makes sense.
    While certainly a lot of the EMHC’s are superfluous, a number of 99.99%, as michigancatholic stated it, is heavily exaggerated. I have no insight in all the catholic parishes in the world, but I am quite sure neither does michigancatholic.

  32. Andrew says:

    Mother Teresa on occasions acted as an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist, in the motherhouse of the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta.

    However, she and her sisters always took communion on the tongue.

    Mother Teresa, acting in this capacity (which church discipline allows albeit under circumstances) did not stop her from practicing her profound reverence for the presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament by taking it on the tongue.

    That is something you could have pointed out to your old chaplain, and certainly to your new one.

    Best of luck, and prayers for the success of your time in the seminary.

  33. Nicknackpaddywack says:

    Well how did the Church handle this problem of the time it takes for everyone to communicate in centuries past when many more people attended Mass than do today yet without “extraordinary minister”?

    Among other things, they taught that only those worthy to receive should receive. Doing that would cut back on your number of communicants big time.

    Maybe our friend should devote himself to the ministry of spreading the word about worthiness to receive communion – as well as feeding the poor.

  34. I don’t see the need for EMHC’s (I refuse to be one) in the majority of parish situations.

    If we get kneeling for Communion back in the Roman Rite (I know it’s the norm, and standing is the exception by indult) it would truly help. As the time to get the EMHC’s stationed (not to mention they have to receive) and then the person has to walk up, consume the host…In that time period if they were kneeling instead there could have been much more communicants than there would have been standing up.

    But even before that if we restore the sense of sin, that will reduce the number of communicants, which will reduce the time factor (not that it should be important as Calvary is being made anamnesis in front of us, time that is anyway)

    Communion under one kind would help as well…(something I\’m assisting in promoting at my parish)

    As to the situation at hand, continue to receive on the tongue it’s your right as that is the norm for the Church. I never receive in the hand even if I\’m politely asked to do so.

    And if that person is trapped in LA, Holy Trinity, St. Therese, St. Peter Chanel, St. Joseph (La Puente) are good places to be for reverent Liturgies…even Our Lady of Guadalupe for Daily Mass in El Monte

  35. No one of consequence says:

    No one of consequence“: Regardless of who said it, it’s still a cop-out if it’s going to be the only reason given for a prohibition Communion on the tongue. Anyway, it’s a patently obvious fact that Cardinal Ratzinger (gloriously reigning) is no fan of in-the-hand (so much for an appeal to that authority).

    Well …

    1. I agree that Communion on the tongue shouldn’t be prohibited. I receive on the tongue myself.

    2. However, if one is going to insist on receiving on the tongue – put differently, if is going to criticize the arguments made for the legitimacy of receiving in the hand – I think one should make sure that one’s own arguments are in order. And I don’t think that rejecting an argument as somehow not worthy of adult conversation is in order when that same argument is made by Ratzinger.

    3. It isn’t at all patently obvious that he’s so opposed to Communion in the hand as a matter of principle, anyway. From the same source previously quoted (pp. 70-71):

    “Well, here again, we know that until the ninth century Communion was received in the hand, standing. … But, on the other hand, we have to say that the Church could not possibly have been celebrating the Eucharist unworthily for nine hundred years. … Anyone who reflects on this will recognize that on this point it is quite wrong to argue about this or that form of behavior. We should be concerned only to argue in favor of what the Church’s efforts were directed toward, both before and after the ninth century, that is, a reverence in the heart, an inner submission before the mystery of God that puts himself into our hands.”

    Or, from God and the World, p. 410:

    “I wouldn’t want to be fussy about that. It was done in the early Church. A reverent manner of receiving Communion in the hand is in itself a perfectly reasonable way to receive Communion.”

    Now, yes, as Pope Benedict, he has now decided to administer Communion on the tongue (as the faithful who receive kneel). And I think there are perfectly good prudential reasons for this. But that’s far from the same thing as thinking that receiving on the hand is the abuse that some think it is. One might note that there are often lots of ministers of Holy Communion at papal Masses, and Benedict – who hasn’t been reluctant to make moves in the direction of improving the way these Masses are celebrated – certainly hasn’t mandated that they all administer Communion on the tongue. In any case, in his only comments (of which I’m aware) about the more general question of how Communion should be administered/received (i.e., going beyond what he himself is going to do at papal Masses), he indicates very clearly and explicitly that Communion in the hand is fine, and he himself makes the argument about how we most often sin.

  36. Andrew, UK and sometimes Canada says:

    Being frequently called upon to be EMHC at my chaplaincy I have found a very effective solution. I resolutely refuse to extend my hands. Being in front of the whole congregation the priest always decides not to kick up a fuss at the altar and gives me Communion on the tongue.

  37. Rompicollo says:

    If one receives on the hand, doesn’t the Blessed Sacrament touch the tongue anyways? You still have to place the Blessed Sacrament in your mouth, which (correct me if I’m wrong) the tongue is located.

  38. Oremus says:

    Why are you an (probably 99% unnecessary) EMHC anyway?!

  39. Paul Haley says:

    I would have to handle the Host with my hands anyway (so stop being fussy about the crumbs on your hands)

    My pre-Vatican II formation taught me that even one small particle of the host contained the Body and Blood, Soul & Divinity of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, Jesus Christ Our Lord. Not to be fussy about such crumbs…has this changed in the rubrics for Mass? This is one of the reasons why old people like myself mistrust these new order chieftains. I cannot believe a Catholic priest would say such a thing. What say you, Fr. Z?

  40. Amadan says:

    Rather than being a line jumper, I simply don’t go to communion when there are Unnessary Ministers of Communion. Often, I’m the only one left behind. I’ve even had them try to coax me up there- usually the usher/cattle herders or the tactless “would you like to come up and receive communion with us?”

    I can make it up with another daily mass at a more comfortable venue, but if more people did this- after a couple of weeks of standing up there by themselves with no one to hand Our Lord to — the EMHCs would get the message.

    More disturbing than the contracepting EMHCs (which is seldom known for sure) is visiting protestant “clergy” serving in this role at mixed marriages.

  41. Gravitas says:

    Going back to the oldie but goodie since this seems to have run its course:

    Even if you have to travel a couple of hours to do so, go to the Traditional Latin Mass and you’ll never have to worry about personally going through this again.

  42. toomey says:

    One less check to the Cistercians.

  43. No one of consequence says:

    One should certainly be “fussy” about the “crumbs.”

    That said, however – the hosts these days don’t seem to produce crumbs when handled as they would normally be handled at Mass – other than perhaps at the moment of the fraction (obviously I wouldn’t know whether they do or don’t at that moment since as a layman in a pew I’m nowhere near close enough to the altar to see what’s on the paten).

    There have been occasions on which the following has happened: (1) The Communion line I’ve gotten into (i.e. the one for the section in which I’ve been sitting) is being administered Communion by an extraordinary minister – who I suspect wouldn’t know how to administer on the tongue. Therefore – contrary to my usual/preferred practice – I’ve received in the hand. (2) The Host placed in my hand has happened to be one of the broken pieces of the large (priest’s) Host – placed in that extraordinary minister’s ciborium (or other vessel) by the priest.

    Even in such a situation – when I’ve received a broken piece of a Host in my hand – I’ve never noticed even the slightest evidence of crumbs.

  44. Fr. BJ says:

    the hosts these days don’t seem to produce crumbs

    Yes they do. I can feel the crumbs on my fingers as I distribute holy communion, and am constantly rubbing my fingers together to shed the crumbs back into the ciborium and avoid the possibility of their falling onto the floor. The common brand of hosts that most church supply places sell nowadays — and which many convents now repackage and distribute — seems to be Cavanaugh. These hosts produce plenty of crumbs when they are fractured. I especially dislike the “pizza hosts”, which produce tons of crumbs and can also leave particles in the hand, since they end up having somewhat jagged edges after being fractured.

  45. A Random Friar says:

    St. Raphael: It may help, but believe me, we have a lot of communicants, most of whom do not partake of the Precious Blood. If it’s just me with the Body of Christ, then we’re still pushing an hour-long communion.

  46. 1) THe argument over crumbs concerns the principle that once the substance fails to appear as bread then it ceases to be the substance of Jesus’ body and blood. Some have a wider definition of what appearance entails, however, simple prudence demands a respect for the crumbs even if one doubts they hold the appearance of bread, precisely because the when is unknown–so one should be fussy about the “crumbs” no matter what side of the debate one falls.

    2) The Church usually allows for prudential judgments in pastoral situations by those involved in the actual situation, so is reluctant to give numbers or set limitations for EMHC. For example 100 people for a normally healthy priest is nothing, while for an aged infirm priest who has difficulty standing, it is something else entirely.

    3) To the original poster: If you are entering priestly formation, do not treat your formators as if they are completely devoid of Christianity. As St. Paul said “test everything and hold onto what is good”. Learn from the good things they have to offer and discern what is contrary to the church.

  47. Amy P. says:

    I’m a convert, raise Lutheran with a mother who was a lifelong Catholic. I attended Mass with her, and was always fascinated to watch how the Eucharist was distributed since – at my Lutheran church – we only had communion twice a month, and we received it kneeling and on the tongue.

    When I converted, I did as pretty much everyone else and received in my hand. But I grew uncomfortable with that practice and now receive on the tongue. I *am* an Extraordinary Minister, and I take that role seriously, but I’ve NEVER had a problem receiving on the tongue and being an EM. And – maybe I just pay attention more, or maybe I’m hoping that I actually have an influence – but I see many more people receive on the tongue than I remember, even when I was a new member at my parish. I like to think, as humbly as I can, that seeing EMs receive on the tongue encourages that.

  48. GH good boy says:

    “the hosts these days don’t seem to produce crumbs”

    Yes they do. I see it everyday when I celebrate Mass. There is not a single day that I do not see a spinkle of particles on the bottom of the ciborium, even if there were only two or three hosts there. I believe that if the faithful could see what I see everyday and they had a lively faith in the true presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist, that no one would dare to receive on the hand.

  49. Jackie says:

    Random Friar- My parish has the exact problem. There are on average 400-500 people per mass and 5 masses on Sunday (not including 2 vigil masses) literally back to back. If communion took an extra 20 minutes it would be impossible for the next mass to be ready in time. Although I dislike have EOMHCs, I think in some parishes it is neccessary. We dont receive from the Chalice and the two priests assigned to our parish both distribute at all the Masses most of the time. Other than insalling altar rails (which wont happen) there is no other option for our parish.

  50. Baron Korf says:

    To quote his Eminence Cardinal Arinze: if someone wants to receive on the tongue and/or kneeling “you leave them in peace and not in pieces!”

    I’ve had a few EMHCs that look at me funny when I don’t hold out my hands. A better catechsis for them would be useful for the Church as a whole.

  51. No one of consequence says:

    Re: crumbs:

    Okay. And I’m telling you that on the (less common) occasion that I receive in the hand – even if I receive a piece of the fractured Host – I feel (and see) no evidence whatsoever of crumbs in my hand. So respect for these particles (which I agree still have the appearance of bread – hence are still the Eucharist) should still be a matter of concern for those administering Communion – fine. But I don’t agree that – in practice – there’s an issue here for the average person who receives in the hand – which I thought was the point I was addressing.

  52. JDH says:

    This is a very interesting thread. I have often wondered about this. I am an EMHC and receive communion on the tongue, but I believe I am the only one who does (the only EMHC; several parishioners do it). I’ve often wondered about receiving on the tongue, since we receive in the front of the church with everyone watching. But, I just do it as a sign of reverence and no one has ever mentioned anything to me.

  53. “We sin more with our tongues than with our hands”!

    Well, I’ve never heard of anyone weilding a meat cleaver or machete over people’s heads, or pulling the trigger of an automatic rifle with their TONGUE. I suppose it’s just possible – for a lizard type, but even without these extreme examples, what a stupid argument. It is typical of the 1970’s style liturgical gobbledegook (I have some more even crazier examples but you probably know them all!)
    As Tiny Tim said, “God bless us, every one!”

  54. Coletta says:

    [Then maybe the non-ordained shouldn’t be UP THERE AT ALL!]
    I second that.

  55. Jason Keener says:

    Regarding your future priestly formation, I would seriously recommend that you look into a traditional society of priests like the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. In the Fraternity’s seminary, you will receive a solid formation in Thomistic philosophy (metaphysical realism), Catholic dogmatic theology, Catholic spirituality, Latin, Gregorian chant, etc. Who knows if you will receive any of this in your liberal diocesan seminary? Why take a chance? Priests need solid formation.

    The Fraternity celebrates the Traditional Latin Mass exclusively, but we need priests who will bring about a restoration of traditional Catholic spirituality and liturgy.

    Please think about it if you are at all inclined to the Ancient Liturgy. I’ll be praying for you.

  56. St. Rafael says:

    Random Friar and others,

    With many large parishes that need help with distribution, Acolytes can be a good alternative to the EMHC.

    Even when all the parish priests and deacons are not enough, a parish could have two or three official acolytes.

    Acolyte is an official liturgical office that can be held by lay MEN (emphasis on purpose) that wear robes or liturgical vestments.

  57. magdalene says:

    “for priestly discernment in a liberal atmosphere, stay very close to Our Lady. She’ll make all things possible for you”

    VERY good advice here!
    I was a ‘communion minister’ for over 20 years, beginning in my 20s. I came to a place, when frequent adoration and daily Mass were a part of my life, when I could no longer ‘serve’ at Mass. My knees would get shaky. My place is not at the altar. I still serve in taking Holy Communion to the homebound and hospital though.

    There are crumbs! I would be careful to not give any of the broken Host in the hand but there would be, as one commented, always Crumbs in the ciborium. As an EMNC, I received on the tongue. There have been times when a priest or other ‘minister’ would let me know of thier dissatisfaction with this. So what?

    Stop being an EMHC. One day they will run out of older ladies to do it and there will be Holy Communion under one species which is fine or you will not need 3-4 EMHC at a daily Mass with 20 people.

    There is a parish in my town that uses bread chunks. They use extra oil in the recipe. I do not know for certain if it is valid or not but there are sure crumbs. IF it is valid, then it is sacrilege still. I know a priest who found moldy bread stuff in a tabernacle.

    Lets just follow the norms shall we?

  58. EJ says:

    St. Rafael – That is a very good idea, but most dioceses in the United States frown upon the idea of instituted acolytes precisely because (as unbelievable as this sounds) it would cut down on the need for(or the excuse for) regular lay EHMCs, in particular WOMEN (with all due respect). This issue is about a misguided sense of service and about power, it has been allowed to get completely out of control, similar to Communion in the hand, and most bishops, chanceries and priests don’t want to touch the problem with a ten foot pole, let alone correct it. In some dioceses only seminarians are instituted by their bishops as acolytes, mine included. When I was in my early 20’s and my parish’s MC, a visiting priest suggested this to me – so I took his advice and approached the diocese’s Director of Worship (a priest) and he very kindly but very directly shot the idea down, telling me that this was “very very complicated in this diocese.”

  59. Ave Maria says:

    the new Prefect of Divine Worship, Cardinal Cañizares Llovera, had this to say on an important liturgical matter:

    [Cañizares:] – No, it is not just a matter of form. What does it mean to receive communion in the mouth? What does it mean to kneel before the Most Holy Sacrament? What dies it mean to kneel during the consecration at Mass? It means adoration, it means recognizing the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist; it means respect and an attitude of faith of a man who prostrates before God because he knows that everything comes from Him, and we feel speechless, dumbfounded, before the wondrousness, his goodness, and his mercy. That is why it is not the same to place the hand, and to receive communion in any fashion, than doing it in a respectful way; it is not the same to receive communion kneeling or standing up, because all these signs indicate a profound meaning. What we have to grasp is that profound attitude of the man who prostrates himself before God, and that is what the Pope wants.

  60. jarhead462 says:

    O.K. this stuff makes me pazzo. I am officially volunteering to help implement Summorum Pontificum by force. ;)

    Semper Fi Smackdown!

  61. Dominic says:

    I think that one of the easiest things is to stop distributing Holy Communion. If you stop then there will be absolutly no worries about confusing intentions. Priestly hands = Our Lords Hands. It is an act of humility to recieve on tongue. Self-communication is absolutly foreign to our Liturgy. Ordinary ministers are the ones that should be the only ministers. It worked for the Church for 500+ years. Don’t ever think that you are going to cause problems by doing what the Church wants.

    I went to seminary and it wasn’t the most pleasent experience of my life. But what I had to do was remain faithful to the Sovereign Pontiff as well Holy Mother. I also attended The Holy Mass often (Extraordinary Form). Though I am a little confused, if the Extaordinary Form were as common place as Extraordinary ministers of Holy Comminion, I think that Our Church would be in a much better place.

  62. Charivari Rob says:

    Well, to address the question you actually asked, instead of piling-on about the concept of EMHC’s…

    I see no reason why you need to even bring it up with the new chaplain, especially at this time. You simply present yourself to receive the Host in a respectful and prayerful manner in a form that is (supposed to be) universally acceptable or a form that is permitted in your diocese.

    If the chaplain has some issue with it, he will let you know. Then (after complying for the immediate occasion) you can figure out whether or not it’s something where you would continue to acquiesce in the future, leave, or question/contest the issue further (privately and respectfully).

  63. W. Schrift says:

    To “No One of Consequence“:

    The historicity argument is much more convincing than the “how we sin” one; in-the-hand proponents would better to emphasize those.

    In any case, it was nice to know the (probable) provenance of the “how we sin” quote – for that and the other +Ratzinger quotes, thank you!

  64. Jim says:

    I agree that communion on the tongue is more reverent, although communion in the hand is not necessarily irreverent.

    What I haven’t heard anyone talk about with all this EMHC stuff, is the manner in which the chalice is most often administered. In every parish I have ever been, except for the EF of course, the chalice is passed from EMHC to the communicant and then back to the EMHC, and so on. Unless I am incorrect, this is a violation of the GIRM. I was exclusively EF before moving a month ago to a diocese where there is no EF and this manner of administering the chalice is most disturbing.

  65. JD Carriere says:

    All this quibbling over what constitutes a real need is quite unnecessary. A dozen back to back masses with five hundred people at each. Well blah blah blah.

    How’s about Father try a little forceful preaching about unworthy reception, and see if that doesn’t do something to cut down his communion line. At least until something of a line forms at his confessional, I question any true need for extraordinary gropers of the Sacred Species.

  66. “I question any true need for extraordinary gropers of the Sacred Species.”

    Now there is a quote for the memory books!

    On a more constructive note, why doesn’t the Latin West simply restore the Minor Order of Subdeacon and commission them to serve as Extraordinary Ministers of the Holy Eucharist? This Minor Order could be open to either married or celibate men after a period of formation, and would be under the direction of the deacon, if the parish has one. Subdeacons could then assist with the distribution of Holy Communion in the event that the numbers of communicants are too excessive.

    Also, I will only point out that it is proper and ordinary for the DEACON to distribute Holy Communion. All this sacerdotalism, while neglecting any mention of what is proper to the ministry of the deacon, tells me that we still have a way to go in re-educating Catholics on the ministry of the deacon.

    In ICXC,

    Fr. Deacon Daniel

  67. Paladin says:

    Just for my own reference: when people (above) talk of “hour-long Communion”, are you referring to the idea that an extended Holy Communion extends the entire *Mass* to one hour, or do you mean that the reception of Holy Communion by the *lay faithful* takes one hour in and of itself? If it’s the latter, then… well… I’m boggled! I’ve been in parishes with well over 3000 families, and–granted, there were 4 EMHC’s–the entirety of reception of Holy Communion never lasted longer than 10 minutes…

  68. John says:


    If expediency is their argument. …. Bring back the RAIL!

    It’s faster, I’ve timed it. Especially in the Ordinary Form where there’s a lot less to say!

  69. A Random Friar says:

    Paladin: our Sunday Masses right now are generally about 1-1.25 hours total (leaning to 1.25), with a full complement of EM’s. That’s about 20 minutes of communion time. We tend to keep our Sunday homilies to about 10 minutes maximum. The other half hour plus is for any extra homiletic windedness on the part of the priests, and the rest of the Mass. The Mass is closer to 50 minutes for a Sunday Vigil and the early riser Mass.

    Communion at Holy Days of Obligation tend to push 30-40 minutes, because we have the “daily Mass helpers,” but not the Sunday battalion strength.

    What can I say? It’s a nice problem to have — too many people at Mass. :)

  70. Penitent says:

    As many others have commented, this is why I have politely declined many invitations to serve as a Eucharistic Minister. If the Church currently permits lay people in that function, fine, so be it, but I choose not to serve in that capacity.

    I must also point out … in these Masses that run 1-1.5 hours long where there is “not enough time” for Communion from a priest, etc. How much of that time is taken up by music? Where are our priorities? I think 10-20 minutes of contemplation at Communion time would be a welcome addition to what has too often become “Mass! The Musical!” at some parishes …

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