QUAERITUR: “Nice to see you!”, during Communion

Say The Black - Do the RedFrom a reader:

While about to receive Communion today I was told by a Eucharistic minister “nice to see you” immediately after she had said “Body of Christ,” to me. I had not even responded, “Amen” yet. Is this permissible? I was trying to be as solemn as possible as this just threw me off. What do you think.

I am sure that the person who did that had good intentions.

However, the way Holy Communion is to be distributed in the Latin Church is laid out in the books.

The minister of Communion says: The Body of Christ.
The communicant responds: Amen.

In the traditional form the minister says: Corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam tuam in vitam aeternam. Amen.
The communicant responds:

That “The communicant responds:” was a trick.  The communicant doesn’t respond.

There is no indication in the Novus Ordo or traditional books that, at Communion, the minister and communicant should have a little chat about what’s nice or what isn’t.  There is no directive to editorialize.  There is nothing about the minister expressing observations or feelings of any kind.  Ministers of Communion are not the center of attention at Communion.

“Gosh, how I feel right now is so important that, even though I’m holding a consecrated Host in my hand, and there is a person wanting to receive the Body of Christ in front of me that, I think I’ll just make what I think and feel the center of our attention.”

There is plenty of time to talk after Mass or in another occasion.

In most places there should be a review to determine whether or not extraordinary ministers are truly necessary.

If they are, they should be properly trained.

After that, if they can’t do fulfill their role properly, if they can’t say the black part and do the red thing – they should be replaced.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Does nto surprise me to read that this has happened.
    I think the time has come that Eucharistic ministers are no longer required,That the Priest or deacons should give out communion, if be only under one kind.
    This would send a real message that the benedictine reforms actually exist in the life of the Church and not just at papal masses.

  2. Marcin says:

    And how about a Franciscan priest, who starts Mass with “Good morning everyone”, only then proceeding to “In the Name of the Father”, and likewise after a final blessing, having kissed the Altar saying”Have a good day” when navigating around the Altar to leave the Sanctuary.

    Day in and day out.

    And I still don’t know how to talk with him and turn his attention to the books.

  3. shadowlands says:


    I am not sure of the correct terms etc, as I am still learning how to ‘act’ properly at Mass, so to speak. If this priest does these things that offend you day in, and day out, I would personally stop looking at him. You wonder what to say to turn his attention to the books? Start bowing your own head and praying for him, thereby becoming a good example to others present at Mass, and also allowing God’s Spirit to work, through your prayers. The time you spend feeling ill at ease at Mass, will then be turned into something fruitful, both for yourself and others. It also gives you a sense of purpose rather than a loss of how to handle this situation. God bless.

  4. Man, I’m even distracted by an extraordinary minister’s friendly and knowing smile, which says, “Nice to see you!” Not that I mind the friendliness or the fact that some is happy to see me. However, it does immediately take the focus off of Communion with our Lord and places it squarely on communion between human beings whose connection in that moment should be totally expected and not a pleasant surprise at all.

    Even the N.O. response by the communicant puts the focus on a human to human interaction, like we’re having a little conversation. Granted, with enough practice and the right attitude, the “Amen” could become a natural and visceral response to the declaration, “Body of Christ.” When I attend that form of the Mass, that is what I try to do; I also close my eyes if at all possible (when my kids are well behaved, for instance), so as to keep it as non-conversational as I can on my side. But so often it seems more like a religious version of “Would you like fries with that?” – “Yes, please.”

  5. ExHic says:

    This is why I like my parish. Even in the OF Mass, we do not use EM’s. Of course it is communion via intinction while kneeling.

  6. aod33 says:

    The minister of Communion says: The Body of Christ.

    The minister of Communion does not say: (insert first name), the Body of Christ.

  7. Ioannes Andreades says:

    “I am sure that the person who did that had good intentions.”

    My high school French teacher used to say that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

  8. kradcliffe says:

    Shortly after the birth of my youngest, I had a priest ask me if I’d had a boy or a girl just after I’d received on the tongue.

    That was awkward.

  9. Andy Milam says:

    Innovation, Innovation, Innovation….ya know, this whole concept of “We are Church” just drives me batty.

    I think that it is important to understand the nature of what is going on. The nature is demonic and these innovations undermine the Church at her foundations. We really have got to get militant about this and make a difference in our parishes. We have to talk to our pastors and we have to help educate them, if they don’t know. Ignorance has to be the answer, right, the pastor just doesn’t know? (Notice the sacrasm dripping from the question mark.)

    We have the tool, Redemptoris Sacramentum, we just need to use it.

  10. Ossus says:

    I once had a priest chastise me when coming up for communion. After receiving, he growled and me to say Amen, 3 or 4 times (apparently I said it too quietly).

    I always thought that it was an inappropriate place to do that sort of thing.

    But it was all OK because he took me to task in the Narthex directly after Mass.

    Got to love how liberal priests are so pastoral and caring.

  11. danphunter1 says:

    There is one foolproof way to avoid this if it troubles you: Assist at the Traditional Latin Mass.

  12. TNCath says:

    I’m not surprised at all. When priests and Extraordinary Ministers starting calling people by name (“Jim, the Body of Christ”) I knew it wouldn’t take long before conversations would ensue. How about communicants in line waving to people in the pews as they prepare to receive the Lord? That happens every week at our parish. How about the communicants in line waving at the Eucharistic Minister, and the minister waving back to the communicants in line with the Sacred Host in the minister’s fingers? That happened often as well. When someone complained to our pastor, his response was, “I’m sure God couldn’t care less what they were doing, so why should I?”

  13. chonak says:

    So I guess I shouldn’t bring up the elderly priest who tells a joke every week after the distribution of Communion, during the time for meditation. After I asked the Archdiocese about this, someone wrote back to say what a good priest Fr. V. is, and I should “accept his ministry in the spirit in which it’s intended.”

  14. Re: calling somebody by name when giving them Communion

    This is another example of bringing over customs from other sides of the Church, without paying attention to what they mean. My understanding is that this is an Eastern tradition. However, what it means is, “Yes, X, I know you, I baptized you and your family or I know what parish did, I know you’re not a heretic, I know you went to Confession, I know you aren’t some Muslim guy sneaking into church to cause trouble or some pagan or Satanist who is here to get magical items, and therefore I know I can give you Communion without any worry.”

    It’s not a friendly “Hi”, in other words. It’s an ID check and approval. It is solemn.

  15. kradcliffe says:

    That’s interesting. A friend of mine in Philly converted to Greek Orthodox before she got married, and her fiance told me that when she receives communion, if it’s a priest they don’t know, he will ask her if she’s Orthodox. She didn’t *look* Greek, so I assumed it was because of that, but perhaps it’s something they do for anybody they don’t recognize?

  16. AnAmericanMother says:


    The exact same thing happened to me at a very liberal (not to say loony) downtown parish. I probably mumbled “amen” quite softly if I said it at all, but I didn’t expect to be growled at by the priest and I stared at him uncomprehendingly so he growled “Amen” even louder 2-3 more times. I was a fairly new Catholic at the time and completely nonplussed. I guess I should be grateful he didn’t bawl me out in the narthex, but at that point I had recovered my equanimity and he might have gotten something he didn’t expect. I’m not the daughter of a Combat Engineer fer nothin’ . . .

    I don’t go there any more unless I must, the temptation to look the priest right in the eye with my “go ahead, drop dead” look and say “Amen” in a rather loud and ostentatious voice is too great. I would be thinking about how annoyed I was rather than my Lord and Saviour.

  17. Faith says:

    After receiving Communion I’ve had a priest tell me, “Come see me after Mass.”

  18. We have one of those too. But he’s old, he was ordained in the early 70s, and well….at this point, he’s not likely to change.

    So I just wince, say a prayer for him, and let it go. I mean, he’s retired… he chooses to help out…. Sometimes, it’s just not worth the fight. It’s like when old uncle Ambrose embarrasses everyone at a family gathering. It happens every time. You know it’s coming. But you can’t stop it…. so you just offer it up….

  19. MikeM says:

    When I was trained as an EMHC, I was told not to get too worked up over the “amen,” as people often either whisper it very quietly or honestly think it and are sufficiently wrapped up in the moment that they don’t realize that they didn’t actually speak the word.

    Plus, demanding an “amen” from people (when their demeanor obviously indicates the importance of what’s going on) seems to disrupt the reverence of the moment.

  20. Seraphic Spouse says:

    Recently I had a look at the (a ?) sacramentary for 1975, and the rubrics for greeting the people seemed very vague. Could it be that “Good morning, everyone” and “Have a good day” are okay by the rubrics? At any rate, surely Mass proper begins with “In the Name…” and ends with “Thanks be to God.” If I went to a daily N.O. and the only deviation the priest made from the rubrics was “Good morning, everyone” and “Have a good day,” I’d be delighted.

  21. xgenerationcatholic says:

    How’s this: “Say hi to your Dad for me.”
    well he and my Dad were boyhood friends so I can’t be too mad.
    I’d rather he did that than yell at me for genuflecting before receiving which is what happened once with another priest. Unfortunately I had just had a long customer service day and was used to saying, “I apologize” over and over, so that’s exactly what I did before running from the church crying. Lots of comfort at Mass after another long day at a stressful job. I never went inside that parish again.

  22. darcy-wi says:

    So if they were to allow the return of the Communion rail at an ordinary form Mass in a parish where there is only one priest and it’s a full congregation, would it be permitted for a lay person to distribute Communion at the rail? It seems an odd image in my mind.

  23. Mashenka says:


    The custom I’ve observed in Orthodox Churches over many years is:

    When one approaches the chalice for communion, one pronounces one’s Christian name clearly – parishes may be large and the pastor may or may not remember everyone’s Christian name right away–it depends on how well the pastor knows you. Some of them are unusually good at remembering names, others aren’t, so the practice of pronouncing your name is essential because, as he is about to administer Holy Communion, he will say, “the servant (or handmaid) of God [_______ name] receives the Body and Blood of Christ.”

    If one is questioned re: whether one is Orthodox, it’s probably because the person is somewhat new or a recent convert whose name the priest (or the dear little man who helps to hold the houseling cloth) just doesn’t know one all that well yet. I would (if it happened to me) simply say “Yes” (in whatever language that parish happens to use).

    Orthodox churches usually have a clear announcement somewhere that Holy Communion is to be received only by those who are Orthodox and have properly prepared to receive Holy Communion..

  24. robtbrown says:

    I am reminded of a story about Hilaire Belloc. He liked to stand in the back during mass. At the consecration, an usher said, “Sir, we kneel at this point.” When Belloc replied, “Go to hell!”, the usher answered, “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t know you were Catholic.”

  25. PomeroyonthePalouse says:

    The aisle side of the first couple of rows in our church are “reserved” for older people because the priest can easily get to them and they can receive without standing in line. Our family is in the pew just behind them (we moved there so our daughter (who was about 5 at the time) could see the priest and pay attention without resorting to cheerios, raisins or electronic games). Some of the older people are in the late 80s and early 90s and there is a constant stream of people in the Communion line saying hi to them, waving, shaking hands, etc. It’s as if the people going by in line are amazed that the old people made it to yet another Mass without having died during the week and so they have to comment on it. It is an enormous distraction for those who have received communion or are preparing to yet our priest (who is standing less than 10 feet from where we are kneeling) says he doesn’t notice it. (I’m gonna start a hearing aid fund for him then. )


  26. Ioannes Andreades says:

    We actually had that in my parish in the ’80’s. In addition to the communion rail where communicants knelt, there were two stations half-way back where communicants stood. The EMHC’s were usually in the front, since it was thought that distributing communion to those kneeling presented less of a risk that the host would fall or at least a better chance that a dropped host would fall on a paten. There were servers with patens at all stations.

  27. SGCOLC says:

    What I want to know is: is the person who posted this question a man or a woman? If a man, then the comment of the female EMHC was even more inappropriate because it could give the impression, at least, that there might be a romantic interest of the EMHC toward the communicant, depending on the relative ages of the two.

    If it’d been me, and the woman was close to my age, I’d be worried about my wife’s reaction to the comment, if she were close enough to hear it…

    There is also a suggestion of an implied judgment: “It’s nice to see you, because it has been so long since you’ve been seen at Mass.

    Too much here that distracts from what ought to be the focus of communion.

  28. Stephen Anthony Gregory says:

    I was at one time an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. I don’t have any desire to return to that for the obvious linguistic and theological reasons. One part of our training though relates to this as a question. If it is clear that the priest has consecrated more hosts than necessary and there is no Tabernacle around or for one reason or another they do not like to keep too many hosts in the Tabernacle (poor attendance at daily Masses because of poor catechesis?) the hosts should be consumed, could an EMHC distribute two of three hosts to a single communicant? If so would it constitute an abuse for them to say something like, “There are # hosts there.” so that the communicant isn’t startled? That was the recommendation of my parish at the time but, as I said before, I haven’t been an EMHC for a while, Deo Gratias!

  29. mvhcpa says:

    It’s nice to be able to sign in and post from my iPhone again.

    In a vein related to the growled “Amen,” I was admonished (in fairness, even that is too strong a word) by our retired “helper” priest for kneeling to receive Holy Communion; he mentioned that “the bishops don’t like it because it causes confusion.”

    I am going to call him and invite him to lunch to speak further with him on this, all in a spirit of charity. I remember there was a topic here on “kneeling and on the tounge” just recently–can anyone offer a link to that topic, as well as other information to support my position that I am not disrespecting the bishops, but simplybtrying to increase reverence for the Lord?

  30. robtbrown says:

    Why would you assume that the nature of what is going on is demonic? An entire generation of priests has been trained to think that’s it’s better to be friendly than reverent.

  31. Kradcliffe,

    Orthodox Christian priests are very careful not to give Holy Communion to those who are not Orthodox. If an Orthodox Christian is going to be attending an Orthodox church other than his own and wants to receive Holy Communion, it is considered a common courtesy to telephone the priest at that parish beforehand to introduce oneself and request permission to receive Holy Communion. The priest may ask whether the Orthodox Christian has recently been to confession, and if he has not, may ask to meet the person for confession at Great Vespers on the evening before the Divine Liturgy or before the Divine Liturgy the next morning.

    The Christian name of each person is used when the priest gives Holy Communion. The words are as follows: “The servant [or handmaid] of God, [Christian name], partakes of the venerable and holy Body and Blood of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ, unto the remission of sins and life everlasting.”

  32. TJerome says:

    At least the EM didn’t say “Have a Nice Day!”

  33. yatzer says:

    And I had a priest hold the Host up and away from me so I could not receive it while I ran thru my mind what reason he might have for denying me Communion. I finally guessed that maybe I had not said “amen”, or said it too softly and tried again. Then he gave me Communion as tho I were a pet who had performed correctly. A very bad experience.

  34. nanetteclaret says:

    Our pastor does all of the above.

    Before Mass begins: “Good Evening, Everybody.” And of course everyone replies in unison, “Good Evening, Father.”

    After Mass: “Have a nice weekend, Everybody.” “You, too, Father.”

    At Communion: “____(name), The Body of Christ.”

    And we have 2 EHMCs, even though there are not more than about 25 people in attendace at the Saturday Evening Vigil Mass.

    Our Lady of Fatima, Pray for us!

  35. Thomas S says:


  36. AnAmericanMother says:

    Oh, yeah, this priest did that too. I didn’t think until you mentioned it that it was exactly like my holding up a liver treat for one of my dogs until she sat . . . but yeah, that was sort of the general vibe.

  37. Juergensen says:

    My friend, who is a holy single man and EMHC, says to me, when I receive Communion from him, “The Body of Christ, [my name].” I reply with a simple “Amen,” and cannot bring myself to tell him that what he does is liturgically wrong.

    Worse, and far more upsetting to me, is one of our lectors, who recently obtained a PhD in Theological Arrogance from Notre Dame. Without exception, he reverses “brothers and sisters” every time it appears in the Mass readings and pronounces it “sisters and brothers”. What drives a man to do that?

  38. grhone says:

    This may well be a symptom of the finding, recently reported, after a Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life survey, which found:

    “Forty-five percent of Catholics did not know that their church teaches that the consecrated bread and wine in holy communion are not merely symbols, but actually become the body and blood of Christ.”

    What a shame. We need better catechesis, and we need to pay heed: Lex orandi, lex credendi. TLM for me and my family!

  39. Debbie says:

    We were taught to simply say “Amen” for them if they do not respond.

  40. pattif says:

    The first time I got the “The Body of Christ, pattif” treatment, it was from the Episcopal Vicar who had come to confirm the group my son was in. I was so knocked sideways by it, it is only by the grace of God that I refrained from responding, “Amen, Fred”. I found myself wondering how the person behind must have felt when the Great Man failed to address him/her by name.

    As a rule, I try very hard to avoid receiving from the Exraordinary Muppet, but, on the occasions when it is unavoidable, I make an extra effort to focus on the Blessed Sacrament; this has the added advantage of filtering out any comments, facial expressions or whatever.

  41. Mashenka says:

    Many thanks, Timothy Mulligan! Your answer to kradcliffe’s question is excellent, fuller and far better than mine below– somehow I failed to see yours before posting. Sorry!

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