Pastor of two parishes ends use of Extraordinary Ministers of Communion

VOTE FOR WDTPRSFor your “Brick By Brick” file.

I found this, thanks to a reader, on the site Knights of Divine Mercy, by Fr. Rick Heilman, pastor of St. Mary Catholic Church in Pine Bluff, WI.

My emphases and comments.

Extraordinary Ministers No More *Gulp*

Fr. Rick Heilman | Feb 14, 2011 |

This past weekend I made one of those decisions in my two parishes that was very difficult, only in the sense that my own silly pride seems to forever inclined to seek the approval of others. It was one of those decisions that I could’ve waited on … to see if many other parishes were doing this first, but that stupid “integrity” thing wouldn’t let me wait for that.

This weekend we made the move to refrain from the use of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion[NB] Thanks to this internet age in  which we live, the appropriate teaching on this was hard to escape. [Reverend Fathers, have you read Ecclesiae de mysterio?] Up to now, I hid behind my “ignorance”, but once I received the truth, the culpability of my dissent became more grave. I could no longer cower behind my lack of knowledge. My conscience got the better of me as I realized my dissent would now be direct.

In my larger parish, with the church about 90-95% full, it took only 8 minutes 45 seconds for me to give everyone Communion (also, like the Holy Father, I place a kneeler in front of me to give our people the option kneeling or standing). There just isn’t a case for “unduly prolonged” Communion.

Oh, how I wanted to hang out in my ignorance.  Besides, look what happened to some of the priests who did this? (here) [About Bp. Morlino and the great priests near ultra-liberal Madison, WI.  OOH-RAH!] … I mean c’mon … national news? But, they inspired me to be join our Holy Father’s vanguard in reeling in some of the abuses which have crept into the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Of course, I spent the weekend giving our people the teaching (with love) on this, and the response (so far) has been anything from, “Thank you, SO MUCH, father … we have been waiting for years for this” to “I’m leaving the parish.”

There are wonderful teachings out there in “Google Land,” but this one cuts to the chase pretty well (here).

I’ll humbly take your prayers that I remain strong and full of God’s love and patience as I move from the easy “wait and see” position to the bloody front lines on this issue.

Fr. Heilman, you have my prayers without doubt.  I believe many of the readers here will also want to add your name to their prayers lists for the next weeks.

Friends, I believe we are going to see a lot more of this over time.

WDTPRS KUDOS to Fr. Heilman.

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  1. mparrot says:

    Kudos Fr. Heilman! That takes some real courage!

  2. Legisperitus says:

    May his example inspire many others, Deo volente!

  3. JKnott says:

    I will certainly be praying for Father Heilman
    At a local parish on Holy Thursday the army of EMOHCs all sit in the front and together stand and renew their whatever it is they renew to be true blue passer – outers. This is a very distressing spectacle. It clouds and diminshes the Lord’s intentions for the priesthood, which of course is never mentioned in the homily.
    Father Heilman’s action is a light at the end of the tunnel and hopefully will inspire other priests to do the same.

  4. Flambeaux says:

    Prayers from here. Thank you, Father.

  5. Liz says:

    We will definitely pray for him. God bless him!

  6. Brooklyn says:

    Isn’t it amazing that a priest must dig deep down to find the courage to do what the Church had done for her entire history up until 40 years ago? How far we have come in such a short time. I was gone from the Church for most of those 40 years, so I don’t really understand how the Church has come to such a spiritual state. Maybe someone could enlighten me.

    On another note, I am amazed that even at a daily Mass when there are maybe 20 people, the priest will still use EMOHCs. They have become as much a part of the Mass as the priest himself. Maybe Fr. Heilman is the start of something. I don’t know that I have ever gone to a Sunday OF in which EMOHCs were not used.

    And kudos especially to Fr. Heilman for using kneelers. At least there is one priest following the example of Our Holy Father.

  7. Fr Deacon Daniel says:

    God bless you, Father Heilman! You certainly did the right and honorable thing. God grant you many years!

    If you have not already, perhaps you could encourage a few men to enter diaconal formation and serve in your parish. They could also assist in the distribution of Holy Communion when needed.

  8. Dirichlet says:

    Fr. Heilman: 10/10 padre, keep fighting the good fight. We’ll pray for you.

  9. amenamen says:

    8 minutes 45 seconds

    This is just a few seconds longer than Don McLean’s song, “American Pie.” Not too long at all.
    Perhaps with a little imagination, the choir can think of a nice hymn or motet that can accompany the distribution of Holy Communion, and still have a little time for silent prayer. If Don McLean has not composed any Eucharistic motets, maybe Palestrina has something?

  10. Parochus says:

    One slight editorial comment: the Latin incipit of the document is Ecclesiae de mysterio, i.e., “the mystery OF the Church.”

  11. CarpeNoctem says:

    Without detracting from the significance of such a good move, I think we do need to put this in perspective, though. 8.75 min = 525 seconds. Figuring out 3 seconds per communicant… perhaps more if folks are using the kneeler (1 per 4 sec?), perhaps less if not (1 per 2 sec?), this figures out to a total attendance of about 175 people… maybe as high as 250 or as low as 130 with these marginal numbers, but 175-200 would seem reasonable in this time period per my experience, but that’s not too big of a crowd in some places.

    Oh, for the days that there were four priests who could come down from the rectory when the bell rang, but that’s not the reality. I’m struggling with this, myself, as a pastor. I am willing to take 8 minutes to give Holy Communion by myself, but what of a crowd twice the size? I have a hard time justifying that.

    Again, I don’t want to minimize the courage and integrity it takes to do this. For this parish, I think this is a good choice… and in view of Fr.’s discussion, the right choice. Now, how does this get scaled up to larger parishes in a way that makes sense?

    How about this, just as a couple of I-can’t-think-of-anything-better proposals: Communion and the Homily should be scaled at about the same length? I ‘minister’ (priest, deacon, or otherwise) per 200 people? One full ciborium that can be emptied at one Mass (usually around 200-250) per ‘minister’? Any other ideas? Thanks…

  12. Gail F says:

    Wow, good for him. EMHCs are so accepted that people think they are inevitable — there’s nothing “extraordinary” about them. A few weeks ago, discussing mass with a man I had just met, just such a situation came up. He was telling me something about how, when he distributes communion during morning mass, he is often so overcome with thankfulness that he could barely concentrate on distributing communion. I asked him how many people came to morning mass and he said 15 to 30! I asked him why they even had EMHCs, couldn’t the priest distribute communion and then he could concentrate on praying? You would have thought I shot the man! And I did not ask him in an accusing way, I was just curious. Oh well.

  13. lacrossecath says:

    I continue to hear fantastic things about Fr. Heilman who is very involved with the prolife movement as well. He also does a weekly radio show on Relevant Radio I believe.

  14. Gail F says:

    CarpeNoctem: One good way to start would be not having huge numbers of EMHCs. At my parish, on Sundays we have 8 to 10. We could get by with six, IMHO, and still have a reasonable communion line. My parish would not be happy with 8 minutes, I can tell you that. Fewer people make less of a spectacle.

  15. EXCHIEF says:

    Great move. Thank you Father. When the smoke clears maybe eliminating lay readers would be a good project to undertake.

  16. Patikins says:

    Fr. CarpeNoctem:

    Thank you for considering this issue! I think you should keep the EMHC to the absolute minimum number needed to make it manageable. If you can do it with only one EMHC, do it. If you have a bishop who is amenable to the idea, arrange to have a small group of men become instituted acolytes that would be available to help as needed.

    I am so blessed to be part of a NO parish that does not use EMHC.

  17. albizzi says:

    5 years ago, when our new parish priest Fr Lucchesi was appointed at our Lady of Africa basilica in Carnoux, France, he reduced the EMHC number to two only and cancelled some bad practices such as oneself dipping the Host in the chalice.
    He attempted the TLM once a week for one year but failed due to the low number of attendants.
    Last sunday, I was pleased to notice that there was no EMHC helping him giving Communion though there were a lot of communicants. This took almost 10 minutes but people were patient and nobody complained after mass.

  18. Legisperitus says:

    Brooklyn: It did seem for many years as though the Church had gone from “semper idem” to “semper aliud”!

  19. benedictgal says:

    We have been having a spirited debate in my parish about intinction. My parish has been employing this practice for over a year now, but, with a twist. My pastor is having the EMHCs do this as well. In fact, he wants to recruit more. I called the CDWDS and was told that this was not allowed. In fact, the CDWDS gave me all of the citations, including those found in the Norms for the United States. My pastor decided to write to the USCCB. Msgr. Sherman, who was until very recently, the secretary to the Bishops Committee on Worship, called and told him that he could employ EMHCs, even though the CDWDS specifically told me that this was not an option.

    I will not go to an EMHC for Holy Communion if intinction is being employed.

  20. JKnott says:

    What is the rush anyway?
    Capitulating to the multi-taskers of today’s busyness model is letting the world into the sanctuary.
    Maybe if there were no EMOHCs at all, more people would become accostom to prayer and actually stay after Mass a bit for a proper Thanksgiving.
    At a recent retreat the priest told us that he believed that without serious time given to Thanksgiving after Holy Communion a person cannot hope to grow in their spiritual life, even daily communicants.
    EMOHCs are definately not doing anyone any favors, except the worldly wise and lukewarm.

  21. Fr. Basil says:

    I have nothing against EMHCs when the are truly E.

    Example: When St. John Veniaminov-Popov (known as St. Innocent of Moscow and Alaska now) would be liturgizing at far flung missions that didn’t see a priest for six months at a time, he would leave the Holy Gifts with the village starotsa to give as a Viaticum.

    I knew a priest in Texas who had six missions in two different rites to care for. At his home parish, there was a nun living as a hermitess. During the week, should he be absent, she would lead a Liturgy of the Word, Intercessions, and distribute Communion. (This was in the 70’s when such was permitted on weekdays. I understand now that it is not.)

    During the Spanish Civil War, the last Commuion of the martyrs awaiting execution would be smuggled in by laity–sometimes even by women using compacts. Similar things happened in Greece during the Turkokratia and in Russia during the Communist period.

    These are examples of truly extraordinary circumstances when Extraordinary Ministers would be justified.

    OTOH, my father attended the Funeral liturgy of a Franciscian priest he knew. There were over a dozen priests and bishops sitting in the Sanctuary as laypeople distributed Communion. He was scandalized.

  22. amenamen says:

    Truly unable?
    I wonder if it is ever “necessary” to use Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion in order to provide the option of receving under both species? I do not think so.
    But then, if it is not necessary, is it even “permissible” to use them for this purpose? Is there any official guidance on this question? Is a priest “truly unable” to distribute Holy Communion by himself, simply because he is unable to provide both species?

    Ecclesiae de mysterio says:
    “Extraordinary ministers may distribute Holy Communion at eucharistic celebrations only when there are no ordained ministers present or when those ordained ministers present at a liturgical celebration are truly unable to distribute Holy Communion. They may also exercise this function at eucharistic celebrations where there are particularly large numbers of the faithful and which would be excessively prolonged because of an insufficient number of ordained ministers to distribute Holy Communion.
    “This function is supplementary and extraordinary and must be exercised in accordance with the norm of law.”

  23. jkm210 says:

    Is this the correct document to cite when wanting to complain about being asked to “gather around the altar” during the Eucharistic Prayer? This has been happening at a campus Mass I attend at a Catholic university. There are many priests at the university who have a rotating Mass schedule. It is just one priest who does this, and he seems to say Mass primarily on one day of the week.

    I am glad to say that when he asks us to come up, many people don’t. In fact, this past week, only 5 or 6 of the 30-odd present for Mass went forward. I think people who attend daily Mass have a good sense that there is something wrong this, even if they aren’t familiar with rules against blurring the distintions between clergy and laity. However, I know for a fact that there are a number of seminarians who attend daily Mass on campus, and I worry about the influence that this practice has on them.

  24. Brooklyn says:

    Does anyone wonder whay EHMC’s were not necessary until 1969? Does it have something to do with the way Communion is distributed? Maybe if we still had altar rails and the people could kneel, with the priest going up and down the line as it was done for hundreds and hundreds of years, it would go much faster. Everyone standing in line definitely tends to slow things down. Also, giving people the option to receive in the hand also slows things down instead of just laying the consecrated host on the tongue. And waiting for people to say “amen” is another speed bump.

  25. Hell hath no fury like an EMHC (especially if she is a woman) scorned.

    God bless this courageous priest.

    If (it wouldn’t happen) but if this were to happen in my parish, there would be World War III. I imagine the bishop would order the priest to use them. Can a bishop order a priest to use EMHCs?

  26. But Father, but Father! I think an excellent podcazt project would be on EMHCs… Go on, you know you want to!

  27. To amenamen regarding music during the Communion Rite:

    Currently, at all four Masses at Fr. Heilman’s parishes, the Communion antiphon proper to that Sunday is customarily sung in Latin to Gregorian chant. This is usually followed by an English-language hymn that is either heavily based on Scripture, liturgical texts, or Eucharistic themes. At the 8:30 Mass the choir will normally sing a motet in Latin or English. When those are completed, there is an organ meditation based on melodic themes from any or all of the pieces used for Communion.

    More information is available at the parishes’ music website. (Please note that while Palestrina is certainly a goal of ours in the long term, we also face constraints typical of many Catholic church choirs.) Please pray for the faithful and continued development of the music program — according to the mind and heart of the Church — at our parishes, and at all parishes.

  28. RichR says:

    Altar rails would also allow people a few seconds to reflect on what they have just received, versus having to maneuver through the aisles back to their seat immediately after receiving.

    I think that when a parish has a few deacons (or a few priests), it should not be a big deal for a pastor to require another ordinary minister of HC to be present at least for the Communion Rite. What some parishes have done is have a closed circuit TV camera that they can monitor the progress of the Mass from the rectory. Others will have a sacristan buzz the second priest at the rectory when it is time to walk over and vest in cassock, surplice, and stole (which, I might add, is particularly edifying to see).

    BTW, I hope Fr. Heilman takes solace in the fact that he is doing the will of the HF, not the will of the “lay ministers”. May vocation from his parish soar!

  29. PghCath says:

    Fr. Heilman: Don’t let anyone get your down! You’re doing great work for the church!

    I too think we could get away with having fewer EMHC’s if they are used only to distribute the Eucharist; thus in many churches the Precious Blood would rarely be offered. Alternatively, the Precious Blood could be offered only by only one EMHC instead of in multiple places throughout the church. That said, I don’t usually receive the Precious Blood, as I’m not a fan of the sanitary implications of using a communal cup. Would other people who receive the Precious Blood mind receiving it less often in exchange for having fewer EMHC’s?

    At one OF parish I sometimes attend, there are five EMHC’s. The Eucharist is distributed by the priest and one of the Extraordinary Ministers. The other four EMHC’s distribute the Precious Blood. That’s just unnecessary.

  30. mila48 says:

    Fr. Heilman, congratulations and may the Good Lord bless your work! I was once an EMHC and quit because I felt an army of 9 EMHCs at each Sunday Mass was overdoing it, it distracted me from proper thanksgiving, and I did not see the need, period.

    I have a question regarding the quote from Ecclesiae de mysterio above: “Extraordinary ministers may distribute Holy Communion at eucharistic celebrations only when there are no ordained ministers present…” I am wondering how there can be a eucharistic celebration with no ordained ministers present, since at least the celebrant has to be present in order for there to be one. Or am I misunderstanding the quote?

  31. jfk03 says:

    Making such a change takes conviction and courage. But it is necessary in order to restore the ancient tradition of receiving the Holy Mysteries directly from a priest of God.

    In the Ukrainian Greek Catholic parish that I attend, the priest says the following to each communicant: “The servant of God, N., partakes of the precious, most holy and most pure Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of his/her sins and life everlasting. Amen.” Each communicant is addressed by name. Visitors are expected to say their name before receiving communion. This is something I miss when visiting Latin rite churches.

  32. Breck says:

    jkm210. My family was traumatized when Monsignor X invited all the children to “gather around the altar.” This was about 1973. My wife and I whispered, “Stay where you are.” A number of the children in the congregation went up, however, and some sat with their backs to the altar during the Consecration. We tried a different Mass for awhile, and when we returned to the more convenient time he had given it up. Talk about “innovation without preparation” !

  33. DWB says:

    mila48: I am sure that the reference is to priests (other than the celebrant) and/or deacons that could make themselves available at the appropriate time for the distribution of Holy Communion. I can remember when this used to happen at our own parish – but it was a long, long time ago.

  34. flyfree432 says:

    I will pray for this courageous priest! We always try to sit where the priest will be distributing Holy Communion, but once in a while we have no choice but to refrain or go to the EM. I have never had a positive experience receiving from an EM, the last time they nearly dropped the host on the floor and seem entirely angry that I wanted to receive on my tongue.

  35. ray from mn says:

    Now if we can only convince parishioners that they need to be free of Mortal Sin when they receive Holy Communion, there will even be less need for EMHC’s. Spread that word too, to your pastors.

    More Confession times will be needed then. That is a very good thing.

  36. Well I respectfully disagree with much of this – I think that 9 minutes is proportionately too long in an average Sunday Mass. It – changes the balance of the liturgy. And as one commentator has pointed out, this is only for under 200 people. And it looks overly ideological. We should be respectful and practical, and use the appropriate number of extraordinary ministers. When I was a kid we had four priests giving out communion at every Mass; we don’t have them anymore. And the ideology emerges even more when people start attacking lay readers.

  37. Del says:

    I visited Fr. Rick’s smaller parish last Sunday as he made this announcement. Father read a one-page summary of Church documents and instructions concerning EMHC’s.

    Most striking…. a recent instruction says something like “when the extraordinary occasions requiring Extraordinary Ministers become frequent, then we must also couple these occasions with urgent prayers for more priestly vocations in order to relieve the dire circumstances.”

    On the other hand, this morning at daily Mass in my home parish, the Associate Pastor announced that he needed more volunteers for Eucharistic Ministers, as he would always require two to assist him at daily Mass. (There are typically 40 to 50 people, including our Permanent Deacon who attends daily but does not distribute the Eucharist.)

  38. stpetric says:

    I have met Father Heilman, and worshiped at both of his parishes. He’s a good priest, and they seem to be strong communities. I was pleased when visiting to see the provision of a kneeler for those who prefer to receive kneeling, and I’m glad to see them taking the current step.

    I agree with Father Basil’s comment that he has “nothing against EMHCs when they are truly E,” and I acknowledge the point that Fr Heilman serves two relatively small praishes, so that one minister can realistically administer Communion to all without unduly prolonging the liturgy. With larger crowds, it may not be truly practical, in which case I say, bring on the extraordinary ministers. But at smaller churches — or even at larger churches at weekday Masses — the EM’s really aren’t necessary.

  39. CarpeNoctem—-Oh, for the days that there were four priests who could come down from the rectory when the bell rang, but that’s not the reality. —-

    CN, thanks for bringing that up! About 4 years ago our Cathedral in Corpus Christi revived its tower bells. They toll at the Consecration. Sometimes they even peal, German style! It is a waker upper! Often priests from the rectory or the parish hall do flock in.

  40. ejcmartin says:

    This is a timely post for I had the most horrifying experience at Mass today. Despite the fact that there were maybe 30 people at Mass today 2 EMHC were used to distribute the Most Precious Blood (The priest celebrating is the associate pastor and as much as he would like to change things, he cannot). Given the age that many of the EMHC are I am always nervous with some of them who are a little unsteady. Today one of them spilt a sizable amount of the Most Precious Blood onto a carpeted floor. I was almost in tears at the thought. The priest handled the situation as best he could and took care of things with as much reverence as possible.

  41. kolbe1019 says:

    Fr Z. or any competent person I have a question…

    Today I was reading the Catechism from the Council of Trent and in it of course was the importance of the Sacred Mysteries being handled only by consecrated hands and only in rare/extreme circumstances could a lay person etc… It also promoted recieving under one species for various reasons including preserving the belief that Christ is Whole and Entire in Each Species and to prevent risk of spilling the Sacred Blood…

    Here is my question… Redemptionis Sacramentum… I think par. 101 or around there promotes receiving or offering under both species… Which is more important? Offering under both species and risking the Sacredness of the Mystery or offering only Thr Body of our Lord and… Well I am not sure if there is a negative to that, but it seems like a mixed message. Can you please clarify?

    [Not really the topic here.]

  42. Prof. Basto says:

    Prayers to the good curate!

  43. Martin de Porres says:

    Distribution of Holy Communion is actually much faster if everyone kneels at the communion rail and the only the priest moves, as in the old days. I’ve never timed it, but I’m sure it’s less than 3 seconds per communicant.

  44. MJ says:

    I don’t see 8-9 minutes as being too long. I attend the EF at one of the largest FSSP parishes in the US, and we have two priests distributing the Eucharist (no EMHC’s). Making sure the laity understand how to keep the lines moving can really help cut down on the time (ie, if a space opens up fill it as soon as is possible without running anyone over). But hey, if it does take 9 minutes, that just gives the choir a fantastic opportunity to sing some polyphonic works by the great masters of the counter reformation. :D

  45. AnnAsher says:

    Awesome! Awesome! Awesome! Prayers for Fr Heilman! I was so excited to read this, I read it out loud to husband and son and toddler saying : sshh mommy!

  46. 9 minutes is not long at all – in fact, that’s QUICK! At my parish, the whole pre-communion ritual – getting 7 EMHC’s up to the altar, the priest passing out the various communion vessels, ertc, takes roughly 2 minutes. The receiving of communion by the congregation usually takes 4-5 minutes. And then the priest then has to clean and purify 3 Extra Ciboria and 4 extra chalices, which on average takes another 3-4 minutes. The net time spent for the whole process then being 9-11 minutes. This at masses with average Sunday attendance of about 300 souls. By comparison, last month at an Extraordinary Form Mass – albeit there were two priests – but communion for the same congregation took only 6-7 minutes. That with everyone kneeling at the communion rail.

  47. Bobalouie says:

    Has anyone ever noticed how long it takes for all the EMHC to receive Holy Communion? We often go through one entire hymn waiting for them to come down prepared to distribute Holy Communion to the rest of us. My thought has always been, if we skipped that step, we could be a third of the way through the parish.
    At daily Mass, with as little as 12 people, we will have the priest and 3 EMHC. Since I sit in the back, I literally have to run to keep Father from standing there waiting for me. He also insists on slooowwwlllly and thoughfully saying the prayers, but when it is time for Holy Communion, RUN!

  48. kolbe1019 says:

    Sorry I asked, because it would impact the number of extraordinary ministers.

  49. TKS says:

    Thank you, Fr Heilman. Maybe 30 people at our daily Mass. 4 EMHC giving out Communion and deacons sitting in the pews. And no one here thinks anything about it.

  50. Dennis Martin says:

    I second the comments about the amount of time required for a gaggle of EMHCs to assemble, to prepare That which they are to assist in distributing and so forth. If I were from Mars and I observed a Mass with a dozen EMHCs, I would interpret the solemn ceremony of their assmbling and preparing for their task as undoubtedly the central point of the Mass, since it occurs with such deliberate slow pace.

    IMHO, the persistent use of lots of EMHCs has absolutely nothing whatsoever in any way to do with keeping the distribution of Communion within manageable time limits. Nothing. Zero. Nada.

    It has everything to do with seeking to create an “office” for lay people, especially for laywomen, to de-sacerdotalize the Church.

    In other words, it is an attempt to achieve by the back door what the Council of Trent (reaffirmed by Vatican II) insisted on: the Catholic Church has a mediatorial ministerial priesthood with an office distinct from the office of baptized lay people.

    The abuse of EMHCs is an attempt to destroy Catholic belief in the priestly office, to Protestantize. It obscures the true priesthood of the laity: to be salt and light in their places of work and in their families, to raise families who know and live the Faith, to reproduce themselves as baptized common priests and to be the place of incubation of vocations to the ministerial and mediatorial priesthood. That’s a high calling.

    EMHCs undermine that by implying that “ministry” for lay people is most important (because most visible) when it involves standing up in front of the worshiping congregation and doing Something Sacred and Important.

    The present abuse of EMHCs is a falsehood. For most involved it is an innocent falsehood because, sadly, they do not even know what the office of baptismal priesthood truly is, nor do they understand the mediatorial, ministerial priesthood as office. Sadly, this goes for some priests as well as laypeople.

    For some involved it is a knowing and dishonest falsehood.

    Either way it has nothing, zero, nada, zilch to do with the amount of time it takes to distribute Holy Communion. It’s about ideology, pure and simple. Unwittingly so, for many.

    And that’s the saddest thing about it: that so many don’t even know what’s at stake here.

    I’m drastic actions like Fr. Heilman’s are needed in order to shake people awake from their ignorance. His action, I’d be willing to wager, got the attention of people in his parishes that would never have noticed otherwise. I’m afraid we are going to need a lot more Fr. Heilmans, but if enough step forward, there may be hope for a turnaround here. I have to say that until now, I had pretty much given up nearly all hope. Nearly.

  51. kolbe1019 says:

    Let me try again… Which is more important… Not using EMHC or receiving under both species?

  52. amenamen says:

    Excessively prolonged
    It would seem that providing HC under both species often causes excessive prolongation of the eucharistic celebration.
    It would also seem that receiving under both species would almost always require EMHCs, unless the OMHCs (priests and deacons) are very numerous, and the number of communicants very small.
    At a large parish with several Masses, this would require a large number of EMHCs every week.
    The document, Ecclesiae de mysterio, seems to rule out using EMHCs unless it is truly necessary. The role of the EMHC is “supplementary and extraordinary.”
    Hence, it would seem that the need for providing HC under both species at most parishes should be questioned.
    Is there an authoritative opinion on this?

  53. APX says:

    I don’t think they could get rid of EMHC at my parish. It’s only about 300 people at Mass, and it still takes us around 15 minutes to distribute communion with 4 EMHC. 3 sec/person isn’t even close. It takes that long just for some of them to raise the host out of the paten, another 2 seconds to say “The body of Christ” another second for the communicant to respond and another 3 seconds for the priest/EMHC to place the host in your hand/tongue (I’ve received both ways now, and the tongue isn’t any faster.) It’s like 9-10 seconds/person plus the bottlenecks to get back to the pew that occur because of poor communion distributor placement.

    Back in the early Christian church they used to use tongs before they started using a spoon. Why not bring back the tongs for the EMHC’s? That way their unconsecrated hands won’t touch the host, it will enhance the reverence, thus possibly lead back to receiving on the tongue by everyone.

  54. I just wrote a post on this topic myself, but there is really no need for EMHC’s. They usher in so much irreverence and confusion into the Mass. At our parish, the “head EMHC” (usually a lady) stands behind the altar and distributes the Eucharist to the other EMHC’s as needed from a giant bowl filled with hosts. It’s disturbing. It’s like they’re passing a bowl of Doritos at a tailgating party. After Communion, the “head EMHC” cleans the altar and re-stacks the priest’s chalice (I’m not sure of the theological terms for this process). My wife and I just put our heads down and focus on praying for an increased reverence, awe, and respect for our Lord.

  55. MissOH says:

    Bravo to Fr. Heilman. When the extraordinary becomes the norm it is no longer extraordinary. We could do with few of the hand sanitizer brigade and not add any appreciable time.

  56. frjim4321 says:

    This seems to be more a matter of taste or fashion than anything else. Priests who don’t like EM’s don’t use them as much, and those who don’t dislike them use them more. It’s really a judgment call whether and when they are needed, and the line will be drawn more in keeping with the personal preference of the presider more than any objective criterion. [And then there is Ecclesiae de mysterio…]

    Technically, to those who say that kneeling at a long kneeler and receiving that was is faster, I would like to see a time-and-motion study on that. It really can’t be that much faster than a single EM standing at the end of a double line alternating from left to right. That is much faster and a single line, and it can’t be that much faster than the kneeler route.

    Remember with the kneeler, the EM has to walk back to the other end, and that effectively is time “lost.”

    Though I think the amount of time is really not pertinent. Thinks should take as much time as they need in order to be done reverently. Nevertheless, Christopher McC above is correct when he speaks of the problem of having some parts of the mass being disprortionately longer than other thereby skewing the entire liturgy out of chronological balance.

    The EM’s here get a little bit miffed when we have the communal anointing of the sick, and therefore have three extra priests in the sanctuary. I have explained to them that we only need to EM’s if there are a total of four priests, and after a while they “get it” and go along with it.

    Here we find that two cups are sufficient whereas four ciboria are necessary. I think this is opposite some recommendations that say “two cups for one ciborium,” but we don’t have that many opting to receive under both kinds (although we do have one gluten-intolerant woman who only can only received from the cup, and a dear Down Syndrome boy who for some reason cannot tolertate the texture/taste of the host, but can receive from the cup).

  57. frjim4321 says:

    some obvious typos there due to fat thumbs, dirty contact lenses, and no spellcheck . . .

  58. wmeyer says:

    In my parish, at the 9:00 Mass, there are between 550 and 700 faithful in the pews. 10-12 of those are EHMCs. So that means 6 or 7 pairs of servers, counting the priest and the deacon as one pair. So roughly 100 people per server. At 3 seconds each, that’s about 5 minutes, which may be about right. But there is no reduction in the number of EHMCs when there may be only 4o0 in the pews. We’re there to worship, not to dash out for breakfast. I fail to see a hardship if the EHMCs were fewer, or even absent. I can always benefit from more time to pray.

  59. frjim4321 says:

    I would suspect that the schedule on ministers at most parishes is worked out in advance, and those who are assigned make an effort to show up for their assignment. Telling four out of twelve EM’s “oh, there are 15% fewer people here than predicted, so you can just sit out this time” would not be reasonable. It would certainly make it difficult retaining ministers. Could you imagine six altar servers showing up for their duties and the presider saying, “oh, I really only want four servers for this mass, you two can just sit this one out.” What are the chances all six would show up the next weekend? Also, Sunday morning schedules are often tight in order to accomodate parishioner needs. If our 8:45 mass went 15 minutes late, then one third of the children will be late for PSR.

  60. Fr. Basil says:

    \\That way their unconsecrated hands won’t touch the host, \\

    All of us, including our hands, are consecrated by our baptism.

    While there is an anointing of the new priest’s hands in the Latin rite, it contributes nothing, as Bl. Pius XII decreed that the orders of diaconate, priesthood, and episcopate are conferred by the imposition of the ordaining bishop’s hands, which takes place before the anointing.

    In the Byzantine tradition, there is NO use of Chrism at ordinations. Would you say that Byantine priests’ hands are NOT consecrated?

  61. Gail F says:

    kolbe1019: I will take a stab at your question. I think that the folks saying “no EMHCs ever” might be the “ideological” folks you are talking about. They are just as ideological as the “EMHCs all masses, all the time” folks. The rest of us, I hope, live somewhere in the middle — where, according to many who have written here, more people than necessary are used as EMHCs. This is true at my parish, where there are too many — at the front of the church, for instance, another person stands next to the pastor with a paten, and next to BOTH of them are TWO EMHCs with the Precious Blood, although very few people actually drink it. Two of these people are completely unnecessary, but they are always there. And they are not the only EMHCs. They take a lot of time to assemble, and then to have communion first, and then to walk to their places… It is not, as you imply, a question of either/or. It’s a question of what is necessary and when it is necessary. It has become a “nice thing for people to do,” not a help to the priest.

  62. benedictgal says:

    I am still at a loss as to why my parish insists on having EMHCs distribute Holy Communion via intinction even when the documents specifically state that this cannot be done. It is difficult to try and explain this even after the CDWDS has said “no”.

    As for the time it takes to distribute Holy Communion to kneeling communicants, it’s not that long. I went to an Anglican-Use Mass two weeks ago and all of received kneeling. The time element was not that long and we had a full church. Only the celebrant and the deacon distributed Holy Communion.

  63. Central Valley says:

    Fr. Z, thank you for such a wonderful post. The use of the extraordinary civilians is, in my opinion, a major abuse in the diocese I live in (Fresno, CA). A perfect example of the abuse is the most recent Bishop at a confirmation Mass, with the Pastor, Associate, Priests(s) in residence and 2-3 deacons in attendance, why would you possibly need any extraordinary ministers when you have sooo many ordinary ministers. This is a good topic and negative comments can always be heard in discussions regarding the abuses. So many pastors allow this abuse to let septuagenarian women feel “included” in the church and such pastors are afraid to stop for fear of offending. They need to do the right thing which is not always a nice thing. To this day, when because of scheduling I am forced to a ordinary form Mass, I always hop lines to receive from a priest or deacon and I am not alone in hoping the lines.

  64. CarpeNoctem says:

    I find that to do a ‘good job’ with Holy Communion, about three seconds per communicant is about the right amount of time needed. This allows so much to happen… to conscientiously grasp a host, to position for delivery on the tongue on in the hand (which can a slightly different position in my fingers… on the tips of my fingers from the bottom of the host to go on the tongue, a little more ‘central’, ‘lateral’ position to go into the hand), to say the formula “The Body of Christ” and allow the person to respond (or to add, as some have suggested might seem a bit passive-agressive by some when I correct them with the response, “Amen,” when there is no response or a BS response like “I believe.”) Then to allow the person to step aside and to see the person consume the host, if it is received in the hand. Then to restart the cycle. The couple of times I have timed it and had a good feel for whether I was pacing right and when I also knew how many people received, it turned out to be about 2.5-3.0 seconds per communicant.

    This can be slower for elderly folks or the ‘demonstrably-pious’. It is slowed down a little when people stand farther away than an easy arm’s length. It can be a little faster in ‘bursts’ when the mechanics are consisent. I think, but I don’t have any metrics which show, that ‘on the tongue’ or ‘in the hand’ is neither faster nor slower than the other. In any case, my job is not to be an efficient Communion-distributing machine, but to be a minister of the Body and Blood of our Lord… that doesn’t mean to overly ‘subjectify the experience’ or to ‘make it more meaningful’ by something I say or do, but it means that to do it respectully and recollectedly, a nice, reverent, steady pace and rhythm is appreciated.

    I am not sure that using a communion rail is actually faster. Using the EF formula at a good clip which pronounces every word, moving at a steady pace to allow the server to be in position without rushing, making a fully-formed sign of the cross over the ciborium, and then making a safe and sound ‘delivery’, has got to be longer. There’s usually more steps (at least two or three on the part of the priest to step and ‘set’), more words to be said, more motion in bending and turning, etc… the whole proceudre is probably is about the same, if not a moment longer. Add to that the ‘return’ time from one end of the rail to the beginning again after every 20-30 communicants. I have not tried timing this yet, so maybe I will when I get the chance.

    I know this whole subject seems a bit fussy… I don’t sit there having people time me out all the time, but I am interested in what makes a ‘good’ three-second ‘ministerial contact’. Out of 3,600 seconds in the 1 hr Sunday Mass, with almost 600,000 seconds for the average parishioner between weekly encounters with the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, I have spent some time in considering how to make the most of those moments when the priest consummates his union with the Church by this most imtimate act of ‘feeding the flock’. (There’s an interesting article from the New Oxford Review a number of years ago which describes the ministry of EOMHC’s as being ‘adulterous’ to the union between a priest and his people… perhaps overstated, but not completely wrong.) As a priest, I need to be making sure that I am making the most of that moment, rather than letting my mind wander, or looking down the length of the Church to see how many more are coming, or considering what I am going to do between Masses to rest up for th next one, etc… I try to make an effort, and I urge my brother priests and those who minister as ordinary or extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion to be attentive as possible for those three seconds… not only for the communicant, but for one’s own awareness of the beauty of what is going on… every three seconds.

  65. APX says:

    Fr. Basil says:
    All of us, including our hands, are consecrated by our baptism.

    Then could someone please tell me what the issue is with using EMHC’s if it’s not unconsecrated hands? I’m relatively young compared to the majority of people here and I’ve grown up with them at Mass. I really don’t understand what the issue is then if they’re competent at what they’re doing.

    frjim4321 says:
    Also, Sunday morning schedules are often tight in order to accomodate parishioner needs.

    Aye. My parish consists of three churches amalgamated together with two priests trying to say six Masses on Sundays. Five of them are in the morning starting at 8:00 and going to 12:oo one right after the other giving each priest realistically less than an hour in between to travel. It’s so tight and communion takes so long as it is. I really don’t think we could get rid of all the EMHC, even though there are 3 permanent deacons.

  66. Sixupman says:

    I never realised that so many ‘time and motion’ geeks read “WDTPRS”! What the dickens (english) has time got to do with anything?

  67. jesusthroughmary says:

    PghCath says:
    14 February 2011 at 5:06 pm
    “I too think we could get away with having fewer EMHC’s if they are used only to distribute the Eucharist; thus in many churches the Precious Blood would rarely be offered. ”

    I’m surprised nobody has made the obvious comment that the Precious Blood, so called, is in fact the Eucharist, as the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord is wholly and entirely present under either species individually.

    Christopher Mc Camley says:
    14 February 2011 at 7:02 pm

    “Well I respectfully disagree with much of this – I think that 9 minutes is proportionately too long in an average Sunday Mass. It – changes the balance of the liturgy.”

    You say that as if it’s a bad thing. The balance of the liturgy should be changed if nine minutes out of an hour is too much time to devote to the proper execution of the main end of that hour. Sit down, shut up and pray for a few minutes, for God’s sake (and yours).

  68. Precentrix says:

    Isn’t part of the problem that an ‘undue length of time’ is a purely subjective thing? I mean, it’s not like the documents say ‘if the distribution of Holy Communion is likely to take more than 5min/10min/30min/six hours,’ or something.

    I’m guessing that the 3sec/person timing is about right for ‘Corpus DNJCi custodiat animam tuam in vitam aeternam’ at the rails; it might be less for the modern, shorter formula. The time saving for distribution at the rails is because of better organisation (at least by the time they arrive, not necessarily farther back in the church). Having the double line also saves a lot of time compared to a single queue, but for some reason our local parishioners have managed to forget that lately.

    I am sure it takes more than three seconds for me to receive Holy Communion here, what with waiting until the person before has moved out of the way (delay because of second queue for the chalice), kneeling, priest/deacon realising that I’m kneeling, the actual moment itself, getting up again and moving out of the way of the person behind whilst avoiding crashing into the queue for the Precious Blood and not falling over skirts.

  69. Precentrix says:


    Isn’t the highlight the consecration itself? The priest’s Communion completes the sacrifice, but Holy Communion for the laity is an ‘added bonus’, no?

  70. Anonymous person hiding behind the name “JesusthroughMary”, really there is no need to be rude with people just because you disagree with them.

    Most Sunday Masses where I live are about forty-five minutes. Spending 20% distributing communion imbalances the liturgy in my opinion. As one commentator said, there is a happy medium. If the norm of old was several priests distributing communion and they aren’t available, then it seems reasonable to have a similar number of extraordinary ministers. We usually have the priest and three extraordinary ministers and that’s about right for a Sunday Mass.

  71. Fr. Basil,
    Christ is in our midst!
    Actually in the East the universal priesthood of all believers is imparted by the anointing of the hands, the head, and various other portions of the body. Perhaps that is why the anointings are missing in the Eastern Eucholgion for ordination. The issue of communion in both kinds is easily handled when the priest or deacon in the Western Liturgies uses the ciborium with the small chalice in the middle. I serve in the Wester Rite from time to time, and have frequently employed one.

  72. Correction: I forgot to add in my first sentence the Sacrament of Chrismation!

  73. oddfisher says:

    Christopher: 45 minutes, are you kidding? That looks to me like there’s already an unhealthy focus on time. There probably would be an uprising if communion distribution took longer, but that might be a good thing if it provoked a needed conversation.

  74. Dennis Martin says:

    APX asked, if the issue is not consecrated hands, then what is the issue? “Unconsecrated hands” has been made the issue by some and is widespread understood to be the issue in some traditionalist circles. If unconsecrated hands prevented lay people from ever touching the host, then EMCH would NEVER be permitted under church law.

    But they are permitted, as is reception in the hand. The latter, in my view, should be stopped, but not because of unconsecrated hands, rather, risk of irreverence.

    So what is the reason EMHCs should be used only as an very last resort (Extraordinary)? Why do we say that they are currently being abused?

    Because, as I pointed out above, it’s not at all about making the process of distribution shorter.

    It’s about relativizing the role of the ministerial (ordained) priest and clergy (deacons). It’s about givng lay people an “office” where they feel “ministerial.” It’s about priests afraid of the loneliness of being in a clerical status truly different from lay status. It’s about trying to blur the distinction between laity and clergy by surrounding clergy with the quasi-clerical quasi-office of EMHC.

    It’s about trying to bring the Protestant Reformation in through the back door.

    Catholic doctrine says that clergy and laity have distinct offices. It’s not that one is “better” than the other. If Catholics could just get through their heads that the office of baptismal priesthood with its ministry of raising children in the faith [where do we think priests come from if not from lay families who raise them right] and being Christ’s witnesses on the job, then they’d be awed by the baptismal “office” and ministry and eager to live it out instead of hankering to be pale imitations of clerics.

    In truly extraordinary circumstances lay hands may distribute Christ’s Body and Blood. The Church has said so. Traddies need to accept that. And the great Muddling Middle needs to accept the fact that EMHCs are to be extremely rare and extraordinary and that Catholic lay people need to get a move on it as far as living out their baptismal priestly office is concerned. If they did that, they’d cease hankering after a starring role at Mass. That role belongs to Jesus. Let Him have it. He plays it far better than we can because, quelle surprise, we CAN’T. And even ministerial priests who have the role of Understudy to The Priest, need to take to heart John Paul’s theory of acting: humility before the Word, let the Word rule–don’t get in the way of the Role.

  75. Andrew says:

    8 mins and 45 secs!! Sounds like those iphone confession people should add “did I keep my flock unduly waiting for communion?” to the examination for priests! :P This is great news. Thank you father.

  76. irishgirl says:

    Bravo, Father Heilman! Great news! That decision took guts!
    Thank you, Father Z, for posting this!

  77. jesusthroughmary says:

    You can click on my username and find out who I am.

    45 minutes is too short for Sunday Mass. 20% of the Mass spent in the distribution of Communion is not too much. Your opinion is counter to the weight of tradition and good liturgical sense. I’m not being rude, but I’m unwilling to concede a point to a mindset that has been warped by the anti-traditional milieu of the last 50 years.

  78. jesusthroughmary says:

    Correction – you can’t.

    Tony McWilliams, Pennsauken, NJ. Nice to meet you.

  79. paglia says:

    In practice, at least… EMHCs certainly don’t seem to be implemented to save time. Not in my experience. At our parish there are always three – for every Mass – no matter how many people are present. We are one of those parishes with a schedule for EMHCs published three months in advance. We have been present at ‘severe weather’ masses where there were only 7 people who braved the weather to be there… 3 of them were EMHCs – 2 were altar boys (our sons)… my husband and I were the other two. It was a bit awkward when we both went to our priest to receive. Our priest does not select the EMHCs – nor does he instruct them. The entire ‘process’ is lay-driven.

    I am approached weekly to join the ranks and ‘sign up’ for the schedule. Weekly I state my objections. Sigh.

    My apologies if my comments rarely add much to the discussion. I’m just quite weary and hope you all will pray for us, our priest, and our rag tag little parish.

  80. robtbrown says:

    paglia says:

    In practice, at least… EMHCs certainly don’t seem to be implemented to save time. Not in my experience. At our parish there are always three – for every Mass – no matter how many people are present.

    Exactly. Ask why, and the response you’ll hear is “active participation”, which has become a euphemism for “busy-ness”. And I’ve noticed that most women EMHC think they have to smile when they give Communion, which is why I always keep my eyes down.

  81. The point of the communion rail is that the communicant doesn’t have to keep it moving, keep it moving, keep it moving. You can actually close your eyes and pray, which is a lot harder when you’re standing in line.

    And frankly, a horizontal line is more efficient than a vertical one, because you the communicant can take your own time arranging yourself on the kneeler and getting up again, without significantly delaying anybody else. The greater number of choices for where to go creates an efficiency administered by the congregation, not by the EM. The EM can keep his mind on the business at hand, so can the servers, the communicants can do their business, and everybody is happy. (The line-administered efficiency is also why people in the old days could just wander up the aisle into line whenever they felt ready. Sorta like being able to drive onto a road from any other road, as opposed to hopping on the conveyor belt.)

  82. Tina in Ashburn says:

    fanTAStic Fr. Heilman!!! way to go! May God reward you with courage, perseverance and grace.

    This EMHC stuff is WAY out of hand. This has opened the door to all kinds of irreverence, blasphemy and abuse. The laity is falsely reminded that the laity is just as important as the clergy. [gee, lets just have self-serve Communion, what do we need a priest for?]

    Long Communion lines [i don’t discount that this can be rough] and the priest shortage is not an excuse for flaunting what we can get away with, or for any kind of abuse. Didn’t Catholics in China survive for 100 years without priests or the Sacraments? There is grace that goes along with such punishments.

    Nobody should be handling the Eucharist except for priests and deacons anyway.

  83. MJ says:

    Suburbanbanshee, I don’t believe the point of the communion rail is so the communicant doesn’t have to keep it moving (or to give the communicant time to pray before receiving — although it certainly does provide that opportunity, which is great).

    The point of the rail is so communicants can kneel to receive Our Lord.

    Fr. Basil, you said, “While there is an anointing of the new priest’s hands in the Latin rite, it contributes nothing…”

    Respectfully, then, what is the point of doing this? I was at the FSSP ordinations last May, and it was absolutely awesome. The anointing of the hands was incredible to watch, and very moving. I cannot accept that it “contributes nothing”.

  84. MJ says:

    Tina in Ashburn said, “Nobody should be handling the Eucharist except for priests and deacons anyway.”

    AMEN! :)

  85. Banjo pickin girl says:

    At my OF parish we receive kneeling at the rail, served by two priests. Most receive on the tongue and the Precious Blood is used only for First Communions and those unable to use even low-gluten hosts, which are available. The amount of time for Communion is much shorter than at another parish that I attend which has the more traditional American way of 8 chalices, 4 ciboria and where the serving of Communion to the ELEVEN EMHCs (for about 300 people) takes almost as long as the entire Communion at the “rail parish.” The time of Communion always seems to be the big excuse but I don’t get why people don’t see what it’s really like at a “rail parish.” I suspect it’s because they don’t want the “whole holiness thing” that goes along with kneeling, having the tabernacle front and center, only priests serving, etc. And we only have male lectors and male altar servers. And we have tons of vocations.

  86. robtbrown says:

    MJ says:

    Tina in Ashburn said, “Nobody should be handling the Eucharist except for priests and deacons anyway.”

    AMEN! :)

    Actually, St Thomas thought that a deacon could administer the chalice but was only an EMHC (in the strict sense, i.e., necessity) with the host.

  87. Caro_c says:

    Dear jesusthroughmary, I am sure Christopher Mc Camley has no control over the fact that mass in his church lasts 45 minutes.
    Discussions like this help me grow in my “Love the Tradition, Hate the Traddies” view. Extraordinary Ministers are at times unnecessary but they are not evil. Stop counting how many EMHC there are, and timing them etc. and say your prayers.

  88. Martial Artist says:

    My personal preference would be to use the rail, which is done at my parish for the Dominican Rite Masses held two or three times per year. That having been said, I am not sure that my parish (about 1050 families) could maintain its Sunday Mass Schedule without EMHCs. We have five Masses on Sunday (07:30, 09:00, 10:30, Noon, and 17:45, with a Vigil Mass at 17:00 on Saturday), although my wife and I usually attend either the 10:30 or Noon Mass. The Mass lasts an hour and there are typically about 400-500 people attending the two Masses we usually attend. We have two priests assigned to the Parish, and it is not uncommon for one to preside and the other to preach. Even with 8 EMHCs, distribution of Communion takes about 7-10 minutes (I will actually have to time it a few times to get an accurate average). I am unsure how the Mass schedule could be maintained without our using them, unless the entire celebration of the Mass were rushed.

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

  89. briaangelique says:

    While I do laud not using EMHC when unnecessary, at my parish, even with 8-10, distribution still lasts about ten minutes. We are, however, one of the largest parishes in the diocese. I have been to churches with a fraction of the membership still using the same number of ministers. It is completely unnecessary, and masses aren’t long compared to most protestant services anyways.

  90. Cincinnati Priest says:

    Thanks for this excellent post, Fr. Z. Fr. Heilman: God bless you for your courage and fidelity.

    The tone of some of these posts seems to point out much of what is wrong with having EMHC’s in the first place.

    @FrJim4321. Yours is a common complaint, that one should never dismiss an unneeded EMHC who has signed up in advance, and that we should be concerned about “retention” if you did so. That is precisely the issue: while many EMHCs are humble and love the Church, the many more (probably the majority) that would be “miffed” at being assigned and then not needed are precisely the kind of people we *don’t* want serving the Church. If it is about “me” and not the Church’s needs, then you are not worthy to be a minister of Communion in my book. This argument has always seemed implausible to me. You have an obligation to go to Mass anyway. What difference should it make whether you are called to serve or not? It is different with altar servers who are children and may reasonably be disappointed, but adults should have, well, a more adult attitude about it. The underlying assumption here is, unfortunately, that unless I am assigned to be a minister I have something more “important” to do than go to this particular Mass.

    So many of our minor ministers believe they are not really “participating” in Mass unless they are a minister.

    Several posters have brought up the kind of specious argument that the amount of time receiving Communion should be “relative” to some other part of the Mass. This has no basis whatsoever in liturgical theology. It is a completely made up argument. Please show me where this is written in any Instruction. At a papal Mass with thousands, should we deny people Communion, because the Communion time is so proportionately much longer than the Eucharistic prayer? Preposterous. Communion takes, well, as long as it takes. 8 minutes is not burdensome.

    Seems to me to be a very, very sad sign of the lack of faith of so many of our Catholics in the preciousness of the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist that they would be concerned that 8 minutes is “too long” to wait to receive His Body Blood Soul and Divinity.

    Have we forgotten that many saints have made heroic sacrifices, even of their very lives, just to receive the Blessed Sacrament? Does Communion mean so little to us nowadays?

  91. Yay for Cincinnati Priest! I agree 100%.

    (Father in Cincy, can we borrow you in my diocese? We wouldn’t keep you long…just 30 or 40 years or so.)

  92. wmeyer says:

    frjim4321: As to the last minute adjustment of EHMC head count, the parish finds it no problem to at the last minute solicit for additional EHMCs from the congregation. If an announcement on the PA system is appropriate for that, why not to reduce the head count?

    The real answer is, as others have said, that there is a rationale under the guise of “active participation.” It’s nonsense, but mine is a painfully liberal parish.

  93. Kathleen says:

    Our Pastor has found a use for EMHCs; He has them stand in the aisles and act as guards to make sure people consume the Blessed Sacrament before returning to the pews or worse yet, leaving the Church. As our Parish is the Cathedral, people are sometimes tempted to take home a “souvenir”.

  94. Kathleen: found a use for EMHCs


  95. APX says:

    Kathleen says:
    He has them stand in the aisles and act as guards to make sure people consume the Blessed Sacrament before returning to the pews or worse yet, leaving the Church.

    For the brief time I lived in Ontario I went to Mass at the Cathedral and they did the same thing, except they stood behind looking all intimidating. I don’t know why more parishes do that.

  96. Elizabeth D says:

    Regarding the problem of EMHCs who were signed up in advance and then are not really needed at the Mass, it happened at Christmas Midnight Mass this year at our Cathedral parish, that two EMHCs presented themselves for service even though there were probably half a dozen priests present together with the bishop and I think a deacon also, the EMHCs were sent away, and I’m sure I was not the only one who felt this was a beautiful moment! The joy of Christmas, and of having enough sacred ministers!

    One thing that is especially hard to understand is there is not even a willingness to say no (for instance before Mass) to EMHCs who received dress guidelines but nevertheless arrive dressed in a way unbefitting their own personal dignity and the dignity of the Holy Mass.

  97. CarpeNoctem says:

    Several posters have brought up the kind of specious argument that the amount of time receiving Communion should be “relative” to some other part of the Mass. This has no basis whatsoever in liturgical theology. It is a completely made up argument. Please show me where this is written in any Instruction. At a papal Mass with thousands, should we deny people Communion, because the Communion time is so proportionately much longer than the Eucharistic prayer? Preposterous. Communion takes, well, as long as it takes. 8 minutes is not burdensome.

    The considerations I made are not based in theology, rather, in the necessary practicality of everyday parish life. Of course, ideally and theologically, there would be only one Mass in any place, and 100% of the faithful would be there under the leadership of a bishop. I think ideally that the priest-celebrant himself (and in my not-too-deeply-thought-out hypothesis, perhaps not even any other non-celebrating priest, save maybe a deacon for the Precious Blood which does have significant historical and theological underpinnings) should be the only one serving Communion at a particular Mass (tying in to that ‘adultery’ thing I mentioned above). But let’s face it, we can only do our best. I think that for some as-yet-not-quite-understood ‘greater good’, “the perfect” should not be the enemy of “the good” in this case.

    The papal Mass example is perfect, actually, for making this point. With 50k people out in St. Peter’s square, the pope himself is not going to be able to give Communion to all the faithful, thus enters the army of vested concelebrants who are otherwise unnecessary and usually uninvited except for this particular function. What is the number that the Vatican uses to determine how long Communion should last? 10 minutes? 20 minutes? an hour? all afternoon? Is there a ‘good’ in the pope not taking all day to give communion to all 50k people? While it’s not in any instruction, apparently someone connected with the pope, if not the pope himself, thinks so.

    It’s been a while since I’ve been to a papal Mass in the square, but I don’t remember communion was all that long for the circumstances. 20 mins, maybe? It seems they use the model, I suggested above, of having one minister emptying out a full ciborium at the particular Mass they serve at… it’s just multiplied 200x what we would see in a parish at the hands of lay people instead of priests/deacons.

    What is that decision point? That is the mystery at the heart of this discussion, I think.

  98. PatrickV says:

    It truly has been brick by brick in our parish. Father gradually retired the “ministers of the cup”, has placed two pre dieu for those who wish to kneel at Holy Communion, limited “Extraordinaries” to two, and only one if there are two deacons present at a mass, does not use any extraordinaries at the masses with low attendance, and gave instruction from the pulpit that “Extraordinaries” were not competent to administer blessings to those that came up with hands folded on their chests, or to children.

    Now we are slowly, but surely, restoring the character of our Liturgical Music as well. This is not the time to go into it, but Father Z nailed it, brick by brick.

  99. MichaelJ says:

    It seems to me that if EMHCs aren’t a significant cause of the shortage in Vocations, they are at least a significantly contributing factor. If a young man is beginning to discern a vocation, what is to keep him from saying “Hey, why should I go through the hardship and make the sacrifice needed to become a Priest? Mom gets to do the same things”?

    So I am a bit surprised that anyone would think that increasing the use of EMHCs is a good way to address the “Priest Shortage”

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