Conversations we have to have about Communion under both kinds.

The debate about U.S. bishops making the decision to follow the Church’s laws about Communion under both kinds continues.

We need a conversation about several points.  Let us today limit ourselves to one (which means we don’t need the introduction of “And a different point is….”).  We can have conversations about some other aspects of this debate under different entries.

First, I wonder if the high dudgeon about Bp. Olmsted and Bp. Morlino is less about Communion under both kinds and more about having as many lay people involved as EMHCs as possible.

I am guessing those who object to the decisions of the aforementioned bishops have figured out that by curtailing Communion under both kinds, the occasions and numbers of Extraordinary Ministers will also be reduced.  Some people have the false notion that “active participation” means “doing stuff”.  They want lots of lay people in the sanctuary doing things, stepping into the role the priest is supposed to fulfill.

This is a conversation we need to have.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, I'm just askin'..., Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Our Catholic Identity, The Drill and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Rachel says:

    I think there has definitely been a push toward making laypeople do lots of outward stuff, and I think it’s a bad one, but I’m not sure how to analyze it. They want laypeople in the pews doing stuff too: looking up and reciting the entrance antiphon and Communion antiphon (on weekdays) and singing along with all the songs (on weekends), even if it’s right after receiving Holy Communion. Our church bulletin once excerpted a document– can’t remember if it was from the U.S. bishops or the California bishops– that badgered us about that, saying some people prefer to pray after receiving the Lord but it’s more important to show our unity with each other by joining in song, or some such.

  2. RichR says:

    How can you have these conversations on a diocesan level or parish level when those in charge still subscribe to the theory that if you do more, you are now more “actively participating”, and thereby fulfilling the call of V2?

    Here’s what needs to happen to force the conversation: some bold priests (preferably in areas where people are choosing which of the many nearby parishes to attend) need to have at least one Mass (OF) where they make it a point to have more quiet, meditative options chosen from the GIRM, items such as:

    1) More Latin (or all Latin except readings, homilies, and General Intercessions).
    2) Ad Orientem (so the priest is not a distraction)
    3) more quiet time after the homily and communion (you can shave a couple of minutes off the homily to do this)
    4) No EMHC’s
    5) Altar Rail, if present, is used to allow people time to meditate for a few seconds before and after receiving our Lord

    I’d get into other areas like altar girls, communion in the hand, and music selection, but for the purposes of this thread, I’d limit it to what can achieve the goal of stimulating discussion on “over-active participation”. Hey, I just made that up!

  3. Jeremiah says:

    Recently at my campus parish, we had a visiting bishop from another diocese to say Mass for out “TNL” (Thursday Night Litirgy, @ 9:15 pm). There were four priests present, meaning out of our regular 6 vessels (two body and four blood), we had 5 ordinary ministers. Nothing would have been harmed by only having three chalices, or one body. Everyone could have received the body from the Bishop, for example, and received blood from one of the priests. 5 was a right proper number.

    However, when it was recommended by one of the student’s (sacristan for that Mass, as I recall) that we not worry about the 6th position and not have any EMHC, the campus minister replies, “No, get someone. Get a girl.”

    To this student’s credit, while they did find an EHMC, they got one of the male students.

    Reason #397 for Summorum Pontificum?

  4. dirtycopper says:

    Led by felt banners and marching in lock step to the strumming of guitars, “enlightened” persons across the United States have been complicit in an ongoing campaign to dilute the role of the Priesthood. The current high dudgeon about Bishops Olmsted and Morlino is clearly another step in this campaign and a transparent effort to advance and broaden the use of EMHCs.

    As lay people, our place is in a pew on our knees awestruck by the fact that Almighty God is actually present during the sacrifice of the Mass. God dwells in the Tabernacle. The indispensable element in the Mass creating the nexus between here and the Divine is the Priest. All others need not apply.

    We can all take a lesson from the common sponge that lets water flow through its body to obtain food and oxygen. All we need to do is let the spirit of God flow through us at Mass to provide the necessary spiritual nourishment. See that? Active participation without a tambourine.

    In the bygone days when the Priest was the alone in the sanctuary one developed a sense of the clear and important role that he played. The addition of every Tom, Dick, and Harriet to the equation lessens the dignity of that role and in my opinion does little to stimulate vocations.
    I hope that Bishops Olmsted and Morlino will inspire other Bishops to wake up and smell the coffee [Mystic Monk Coffee of course].
    BTW-It was a pleasant surprise to see Father Guy [keeper of the EF flame in my diocese] in the pictures from the blognic.

  5. Joe Magarac says:

    I don’t think that people who are in “high dudgeon” about the decision to scale back communion in both kinds feel that way because they see it as a pretext for using fewer EMHCs. Rather, I think that people who want to keep communion in both kinds at most Masses do so on the “merits,” as follows:

    – they think that communion in both kinds is a fuller sign that should be retained;
    – they think that communion in both kinds is consistent with VII’s call (sometimes, in some texts) to recover some practices of the early Church;
    – they just don’t like anything being taken away from them.

    My guess is that most people who want communion in both kinds ALSO want lots of EMHCs. But I don’t think the one position causes the other. Rather, the kind of person who wants communion under both species is likely to have views of VII and of liturgy that lead them to want lots of EMHCs, and vice versa.

    For the record, I wish that EMHCs were done away with, root and branch, and I think that communion under both kinds should be reserved for the sorts of special occasions described in the VII documents, the GIRM, and the Missal.

  6. bsjy says:

    The bishops are the teachers of the Church. To teach fully the proper role of the priest, the bishops have an obligation to consider practices that obfuscate or militate against the authentic teaching of the Church. Perhaps the genesis of the use of EMHCs was a general desire to get more people participating, but it clouds the picture for the faithful of what is normally reserved to the priest.

    If the bishops are recovering their role as protectors of the church’s authentic teachings, then we should all sing songs of praise and thanksgiving. It is hard to turn around something as entrenched as the American practice of sending hordes of uncatechised lay people to distribute the Body and Blood while being unable to explain why their title starts with the word “Extraordinary.” Good for the bishops who are taking the first tugs on the steering wheel!

  7. SimonDodd says:

    “First, I wonder if the high dudgeon about Bp. Olmsted and Bp. Morlino is less about Communion under both kinds and more about having as many lay people involved as EMHCs as possible.”

    For some people? Sure. For others? No. I’m in the latter group; I would happily minimize the number—and with some reservations would agree to eliminate the position—of EMHCs. My objection is to the withdrawal of the chalice from the laity, which I regard as a genuinely beneficial development in the postconciliar Church.

  8. SimonDodd says:

    By the by, there’s an unbelievable amount of guff talked about “active participation”—as Father says, “[s]ome people have the false notion that ‘active participation’ means ‘doing stuff’”; I’ve heard people say that the Mass was translated to allow active participation, and examples could be multiplied. But whatever “active participation” meant, it must be something compatible with the usus antiquior—which rules out the above two examples—unless one supposes that Tra le sollecitudini, which also called for active participation, was a misunderstood call for radical liturgical change.

  9. Orlandu84 says:

    I think that the current negative reaction of Bp. Olmsted and Bp. Morlino’s decisions is linked to a theology that misunderstands the Communion Rite. For this theology the Communion Rite is not so much about the Real Presence or God’s awesome and majestic gift to sinful man but about a community celebrating its own existence. Accordingly, anything that reduces the symbol of an ative and vibrant community is unacceptable.

    EMHC’s are now part of the symbol of the Communion Rite for many. This symbol, which really is about active and self-signifying community, needs EMHC’s to represent the assembly in action. Without lay people being active in this sense, the Communion Rite becomes too passive and to much about reception for certain liturgists. Anything that reduces activity and symbols of activity (EMHC’s in this case) must be opposed by certain liturgists.

  10. Ralph says:


    You hit it on the head. The “if we aren’t doing something we aren’t participating” crowd will not sit still for a reduction in the number of EMHC. Never mind that we are essentially participating in a laturgical abuse. “We must not lose the active paticipation of the lay people!”

    Watch and see. If we do end up with communion of only one type, there will be a push for the lay folks to distribute while the clergy sit. I believe that this is already the case in some areas now.

    Dear Lord deliver us from weak bishops!

  11. SimonDodd says:

    Ralph, the problem is that it’s asymmetrical. It follows that if you are a trendy liberal liturgist who thinks that the congregation isn’t participating if a number of them aren’t EMHCs, then you’ll resist moves that threaten to reduce the need for EMHCs, including elimination of regular communion under both kinds. It does not follow, however, that if you are against eliminating regular communion under both kinds, then you are a trendy liberal liturgist who wants lots of EMHCs.

  12. KAS says:

    I’m pleased that the Bishops are handling this situation according to the teachings of the Church.

    I could do without EMHC completely. Rarely is Mass so full of people that we HAVE to have laypersons distributing, and getting rid of the EMHC would certainly curtail the other liturgical abuses that go with them in our parish.

    Since Jesus is fully and completely present in the smallest particle, well, there is no need for reception under both species on a routine basis. It is just fine for that practice to recede into rarity and special occasions.

    Receiving from an Ordinary minister would be so nice.

  13. DeaconDean says:

    Our parish stopped communion under both kinds three years ago, when we were assigned an elderly Irish priest, one who followed the dictates of Rome very closely. We went from two stations for the precious Body and two stations for the precious Blood, to only two stations. When we were assigned a new priest a year ago, he continued the practice but, in order to allow more “participation”, we went from two stations for the precious Body (more than adequate for the number in attendance at any Mass) to four stations.

    I should note, however, that when we originally stopped communion under both kinds I was approached by many parishioners who were not EMHCs who expressed dismay at the change. Once I explained Father’s reasoning behind the change (hinging mainly on proper catechesis about and respect for the Eucharist) they were more understanding.

  14. Mrs. O says:

    “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. (100)”

    What is excessively prolonged? It would take more than 30 minutes for the priest to distribute HC? Or just an extra 10 min? Or if the priest is rushing, yes rushing, to another parish for Mass, he can use them if it will cause him to be late?

    Not all parishes have a priest in residence anymore. There has to be a balance to this especially not to KILL our poor priest. Completely doing away with EMHC in some instances would cause a lot of stress on some, undue maybe.

    I am all for semi closing some of these parishes and providing transportation to another parish to help priests who may be ministering to more than 3 parishes on a weekend, but I am not the Bishop and that is not how he chose to do it.

    So, there has to be a balance, right?

  15. SimonDodd says:

    Another thought: Turnabout is fair play, so I wonder if the high praise for Bishops Olmsted and Morlino is less about Communion under both kinds and more about doing away with EMHCs. I am guessing those who support the decisions of the aforementioned bishops have figured out that by curtailing Communion under both kinds, the occasions and numbers of Extraordinary Ministers will also be reduced.

    Fair to say?

    Would those who support this change be supporting it if every parish ad three priests, a deacon, and no EMHCs? And if this is about EMHCs, why not simply ban EMHCs? The bishops can do that at least as effectively as they can do this.

  16. Having followed this particular discussion from its inception almost forty years ago, it seems clear to me that the original motivation for communion under two kinds–within the liturgical establishment at at staff and administrative levels in the bishops conference–was to increase “active participation” by laity in the role of EMHC’s. All along, Rome has sought to restrict communion in both species to enunciated particular occasions, but the pressure to increase and sustain “ordinary use” of extraordinary ministers has led in this country to universal offering of the chalice–and it might be added, to general opposition in the liturgical community to communion by intinction.

    The “fuller sign” argument was fleshed out after the fact to provide doctrinal underpinning. Of course, in the meantime, some have bought into the fullness of sign, and sincerely object on that basis to restriction to a single kind. Actually, aside from any theological arguments, I myself feel that fullness of sign subjectively on the rare occasions when intinction is available (since I personally abstain from the common chalice).

    However, with few exceptions, I think it’s clear that any widespread and determined objection to communion in one kind only is based on fear that ordinary use of EMHC’s will be curtailed, and that for the great majority of objectors mention of the fuller sign is a smokescreen.

  17. dominic1955 says:

    We need to end Communion under both kinds and go back to our long standing practice. There is no need to distribute Communion under both species to the laity, as Trent teaches, once receives the whole Christ with just a tiny particle of a Host or a tiny drop of the Blood. There is absolutely no reason that they laity need both. The first reason is because the multiplication of kinds lends itself to an increase in the probability of profanation for a number of reasons. The more hands handling the Sacred Species the worse, rightly did the traditional Rite limit the “minister” of Holy Communion to the celebrating priest and maybe one other cleric in major orders in certain cases. Also, the properties of liquid just exacerbate this problem. Rightly also did the traditional Rite proscribe precise care to be taken with the chalice and any droplets that may be along the insides of the cup, not to mention its ablution. The Easterners came up with a different solution, and that is their laudable custom and they should absolutely continue in it. We should not adopt their solution, we should maintain our own practice and end the innovation we came up with in the ‘60’s.
    Secondly, communion under both kinds is akin to going to one side of the rail, receiving, and then going to the other side of the rail and receiving again. Is it really a “fuller sign”? That is just nonsense. We could also proscribe that the wine needs to be red so as to “look” like blood, thus being a “fuller sign”. We could mandate that the priest uses a “real” loaf of bread and leave the wine in the bottle to pass around thus making it more like a real “communal meal” to be a “fuller sign”. This “fuller sign” language is a nouvelle-theologie morass of ambiguity that needs to be cast into the outer darkness.
    Thirdly, the very idea of laymen handing out the Eucharist outside of extreme cases (i.e. war, plague, etc.) is absolutely revolting and a complete affront to our constant practice. Laymen used to not even be able to touch a ciborium or chalice with their bare hands. Now any Joe or Jane can just waltz up there and distribute communion! Absolutely scandalous. It is a kowtow in the worst way to the practice of heretics (i.e. Bucer and company) who purposely used ideas like communion in the hand and thus having the “Bread” handled by mere laymen to show that the “Romish” teaching was just a lying superstition. The issues are separate, but of course, how can most parishes offer Communion under both kinds without having recourse to EMHC? The insanity just needs to be stopped.

  18. SimonDodd says:

    Dominic, it is just as much of an error to say that the Church ended at Vatican II as that she started there. The Church indeed teaches that reception of both is not necessary, e.g. Council of Trent, 13th sess., can. 3, but she also teaches that it is better to receive both, see CCC ¶ 1390. This is exactly where the “hermeneutic of rupture” gets started: The Church says two things, so we can construe those statements harmoniously or discordantly. Some people prefer one teaching or the other, so they cherry-pick from that and discard the other, either because it’s older or newer. But it seems obvious to me that we should construe them as being in harmony, especially when doing so better harmonizes with the words of our savior, see Jn 6:53. And this combox is the very last place I would expect the hermeneutic of harmony and continuity to require defense.

    Is it really a “fuller sign”? Well, the Church says so, and in so saying she echoes the words of Christ, so if you choose to call that “just nonsense,” I think you’re lining yourself up against some tough opposition.

  19. everett says:

    Congratulations Dominic, you’ve just called a teaching of the church “nonsense.” Not exactly a great start.

    As many have mentioned, there are several issues here, one of which is the EMHC issue. I am in full support of limiting EMHCs, but would prefer, where possible, to still have both species offered, particularly in parishes where multiple ordinary ministers are available to distribute.

    I think a major reason people are upset is because they’re confused. They’re wondering why, if the indult expired in ’04, are we just doing this now, particularly when the GIRM is actually relaxing standards as compared to the previous one. There is so much discussion about indults, the GIRM, catechesis, EMHC’s, profanation, that its difficult for many people to parse out exactly what’s going on, so instead they just listen to whatever they’re being told.

  20. thefeds says:

    People should also be aware that the phrase “active participation” was first used decades before Vatican II in reference to the Liturgical Renewal movement. Among other things, it was the impetus for printing personal missals in Latin and English, so that the faithful could read along with the mass, rather than praying the Rosary or other devotional prayers. They were talking about being “mentally” active, rather than physically, like mowing the lawn or washing the car. When we reduce the role of the Clergy on the Altar, we blur the lines between the Priest and the Congregation, and the slow gravitational pull of this country’s democratic ideals begins to make the folks without the active minds believe that all they have to do is take a vote, and then do whatever they want. As the then Cardinal Ratzinger (Benedict XVI) said once upon a time, (paraphrased) Truth is not subject to a vote of the majority!

  21. priests wife says:

    The seeming obsession with lay people being around the tabernacle and altar takes their focus off places it should be- and there is nothing left for the priest to ‘do.’

    maybe I am just being simplistic but for every EMHC, there is one less person to pray (or yes, sing) in the pews, one less person with a mowing lawns for widows/sewing quilts for babies/praying in front of an abortion clinic ministry. We are all called to ministry according to our state in life and talents. An EMHC feels that serving the altar is her ministry- which is just wrong

  22. mrose says:

    I absolutely agree with Fr. Z’s “wonderings” and Mr. Henry Edwards – it seems clear to me that the debate about the laity’s reception of the Chalice has much to do with EMHC’s. We note often on this blog how horrifically uncatechized many are concerning the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist – so it seems to me that either when it comes to the Chalice and reception under Both kinds many folks are all of a sudden perfectly catechized – or, and much more likely IMO, an agenda about participation and fudging the roles of the priesthood and laity is at work.

    There is a long way to go on this though when you have deliberate obfuscation of even the term “EMHC.” The enlightened folks at my parish of registration just call them “Communion ministers” – including the seminarian about to be ordained deacon. 4 at every weekend Mass, and even one for the Chalice on weekdays – all while the other two priests hang out in the rectory, or on Sundays, show up five minutes later to meet ‘n greet.

  23. dominic1955 says:

    Who said the Church ended at Vatican II? I know I didn’t…

    Anyway, Trent and the CCC cannot be put on the same level of authority. Nor can an innovation be lumped with a long standing custom as an equal. Just because the CCC says its a “fuller sign” does not therefore end discussion. Is the CCC right to say it, i.e., does what it says really correspond with reality in the best way? I do not care who says it (outside of the properly defined limits of authority and assent), freely asserted, freely denied.

    The Church, in long standing tradition taught and practiced by saints and doctors, seems to have thought that Communion under one species harmonized with the Lord’s words in John just fine and dandy.

    The whole concept of needing “hermeneutics” for Vatican II and its aftermath also smacks of a nouvelle-theologie outlook (and yes, I know who said it). Sorry, its a hyped up buzzword. We do not need to find a way to accept all the post-Conciliar novelties and somehow make them work. Sometimes, they do not need to be “hermeneutic”-ized into acceptance, they just need to be ditched. Seems that is what got us in trouble with those theologians under the watch of the Holy Office under Pius XII. Let’s just nuance them to the point they can be called “orthodox”, wonderful idea…

    The “Church” (and what I actually mean is bureaucratic pencil pushers that got their work rubberstamped) says its a fuller sign. Well, I’m not going to be beat over the head with that as if its dogma. Those same kind of folks also managed to destroy the Roman Rite and practically all the sacramental rites, etc. etc. etc. This is definitely a subject that can be argued, it cannot be put up as a “Roma locuta est, causa finita est” situation. All that does is try to stiffle the discussion.

  24. ndmom says:

    I recently helped organize a Catholic doctrine class for about half a dozen Catholic moms. None of them have had any real catechesis since grade school or RCIA. They were STUNNED to learn from the (extremely orthodox) young priest that it’s not necessary to receive the Precious Blood in order to receive the fullness of the Eucharistic, since the host contains “all” of Jesus. He had to reassure them that they were not “disrespecting” Jesus by declining to receive under both species. They were further stunned to learn that only the priest is supposed to consume any leftover Precious Blood — at every parish around here, the EMHCs generally do that. (They will also be stunned to learn that the EMHCs are not supposed to be giving “blessings” to their small children, but we haven’t gotten that far yet.) But it was encouraging that their reaction was NOT “Well, these are silly rules,” but rather, “Why isn’t my pastor following them?”

  25. dad29 says:

    At its core, the discussion is about the fact that the ordained priesthood is different from the ‘priesthood of the laity.’ Those who are all dudgeoned up about this are those who would like to erase the difference–or at least, make it far too subtle.

    Christ made it clear with His “Feed my lambs/sheep” commands; it was also clear in His ‘feeding’ of the Apostles at the Last Supper. Fatherhood implies ‘feeding’ the family (at least, procuring the food). Multi-‘ministers’ erode these images and thus, erode the perceived nature of the ordained charism.

    Luther was the progenitor of this movement, although I would not “judge” the committed EMHC’s as Lutherans; many of them just don’t know what’s going on here.

  26. TravelerWithChrist says:

    Priests in persona Christi bring about the transubstantiation, hence their hands are sacred.
    Priests also administer the 7 sacraments (or bishops or deacons). The Eucharist is Jesus. I suspect this is to re-establish the elevated dignity we owe to priests. I see a connection between the two – emhc’s should not administer the sacrament of the Eucharist, nor should we as lay people expect to receive everything the priest does (as the Priest must?) – to receive the body and blood.
    It all goes hand-in-hand (with the removal of ornate altars and vestments, among other things) to reduce the priest to nothing more than you or I.

  27. Supertradmum says:

    The “clericalization” of the laity was the worst thing ever to happen to the Church in the past 50 years. That emphasis diminished the importance of the priesthood in the eyes of most people and I think contributed to the loss of vocations. I got sick and tired of hearing about the “priesthood of the people”, a great term of St. Peter, but used out of context. In addition, this stressing of lay people prancing about the altar confused the laity as to the real vocation of the lay man or woman in the world. As the great Cardinal Arinze has said, the vocation of the laity is to be in the market place, evangelizing the workplace, schools, businesses, politics, recreating the world into the City of God to a certain extent. One reason why so many people will go to hell is that the laity has done very little to bring the Gospel to the people, where the people are. I am convinced that Satan has used the destruction of the minor orders, a move which was the signal for the laity to take over duties and roles previously done by priests and seminarians, in order to halt the real work we have to do–preach the Gospel and bring the Truth into the world.

  28. ContraMundum says:

    I can almost sympathize with those who complain that people won’t understand the big words in the new translation of the Missal, given that so many priests and bishops seem to have trouble with understanding the word “extraordinary”.

    Maybe I should use this the next time I argue the death penalty with someone. “The Pope says executions should be ‘rare’, and they are indeed very rare — even in Texas — by the same standards which say the EMHC is ‘extraordinary’.”

  29. Midwest St. Michael says:

    It may help if we see exactly what paragraph 1390 from the catechism says:

    1390 Since Christ is sacramentally present under each of the species, communion under the species of bread alone makes it possible to receive all the fruit of Eucharistic grace. For pastoral reasons this manner of receiving communion has been legitimately established as the most common form in the Latin rite. But “the sign of communion is *more complete* when given under both kinds, since in that form the sign of the Eucharistic meal *appears more clearly*.”225 This is the usual form of receiving communion in the Eastern rites. (stars added, footnote 225 cites GIRM no. 240)

    I find the last paragraph rather interesting: “This is the usual form of receiving communion in the *Eastern rites*.”

    Assuming the majority who post here are of the Latin Rite – according to this last sentence from 1390, “this is the usual form of receiving communion in the Eastern rites” (i.e. “under both kinds”) – and the second sentence says “as the most common form in the Latin rite” is receiving “communion under the species of bread alone” (first sentence) – does this not bolster dominic’s argument?

    I am not bustin’ on anyone – I am sincerely asking. If the debate is about reception of both species (Latin rite Catholics) – why not do it like the Eastern rites do? Via intinction – from the priest (or deacon).


  30. bookworm says:

    “for every EMHC, there is one less person to pray (or yes, sing) in the pews, one less person with a mowing lawns for widows/sewing quilts for babies/praying in front of an abortion clinic ministry.”

    Um, where did you get that idea? Being an EMHC, in my experience, is NOT a demanding full-time job. If you do it only at Mass, we’re talking maybe a couple hours a month. Even those who take Communion to the homebound, hospitals, nursing homes, etc. only do it maybe a few hours a week at most; and many do it immediately after Sunday Mass. That leaves plenty of time for mowing lawns for widows, praying in front of abortion clinics, etc. If anything, people motivated enough to serve as EMHCs to the homebound, etc. are probably precisely the kind of people who would be more than happy to mow a widow’s lawn, make baby blankets or pray at an abortion clinic.

    Yes, there are plenty of valid arguments against reliance upon EMHCs to distribute Communion. But the idea that it will take them away from doing other works of charity is NOT, in my opinion, one of them.

  31. SimonDodd says:

    dad29 says:
    At its core, the discussion is about the fact that the ordained priesthood is different from the ‘priesthood of the laity.’ Those who are all dudgeoned up about this are those who would like to erase the difference–or at least, make it far too subtle.”

    That’s a borderline calumny. Some of those who disagree with it are that way. Others are not. I can assure you that while I disagree with this proposal, there is nothing in SuperTradMum’s 13:04 comment above that I disagree with, and I somehow doubt I’m alone in that position. I’m not smart enough to have found a novel perch.

    dominic1955 said…
    Who said the Church ended at Vatican II? I know I didn’t…

    No, you didn’t in as many words. But your comments seem typical of a certain mindset that believes the Church made a wrong turn at Vatican II and that everything she’s done since is poisoned fruit to be ignored and discarded. Indicia of that mindset include rejection of things that have been taught by or after the council, and which resists anything from the postconiliar era by citation to, in particular, the Council of Trent. It is the mirror-image of the liberal mindset that sees everything before the postconciliar era as bad, that rejects virtually everything that was done before the council, and which resists anything from the anteconciliar era as “going back.” If I’ve pegged you wrong, my apologies.

    Anyway, Trent and the CCC cannot be put on the same level of authority.”

    Of course they can. Fidei Depositum makes clear that the Holy Father stamped his authority on the Catechism as a “faithful[] and systematic[] present[ation]” of the Church’s teaching—and isn’t the notion that a council enjoys superior authority to the Pope called consiliarism, a heresy condemned (IIRC) by Lateran V? Call me an ultramontane, but do we not fault liberals for suggesting that the last council trumps the Holy Father, assuming dubitante that there’s unresolvable tension? And once you start breaking up the Catechism based on what you like and what you don’t, you are truly on dangerous ground.

    The Church, in long standing tradition taught and practiced by saints and doctors, seems to have thought that Communion under one species harmonized with the Lord’s words in John just fine and dandy.”

    And CCC 1390 doesn’t contradict that. Communion under one species is fine and dandy. It is heresy to deny that Christ is fully contained under either species—so taught Trent. But Trent did not teach, and the Church’s long-standing tradition did not teach, that communion under both kinds is not good; to the contrary, the argument from practice boomerangs, because the priest receives the precious blood at every Mass, but no one claims that this is superfluous or bad; indeed, IIRC a Mass is invalid if he doesn’t. The issue isn’t whether it’s required, which Trent settled and which the Catechism recites. The issue is whether it’s good, which the Catechism weighs in on if not settles. Christ said we should eat his flesh and drink his blood; Trent says we receive all of Christ in either species; the Catechism says it’s not necessary but good to do what he literally tells us.

    The whole concept of needing ‘hermeneutics’ for Vatican II and its aftermath also smacks of a nouvelle-theologie outlook (and yes, I know who said it). Sorry, its a hyped up buzzword.

    Hermeneutics is just a fancy word for a simple concept, for something we do all the time—usually subconsciously, but sometimes more deliberately. Like it or not, everything we interpret—which is everything—requires interpretation and thus rules of interpretation.

    We do not need to find a way to accept all the post-Conciliar novelties and somehow make them work.”

    No, of course not. We do not need to accept communion in the hand; we should probably eliminate it. We do not need to accept the the elimination of altar rails and latin in the liturgy; we should probably get back to those things. We do not need to accept the proliferation of guitars and EMHCs; we should probably eliminate them. But these are all practical things—incidental, instrumental things. We do, however, need to find a way to accept what is taught by the Church today, assuming that what is taught now is consistent with what has been taught before, because we are not confirmed with the words “I believe and profess all that the holy Council of Trent believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God,” or the second Vatican Council, or everything before/after (delete to taste) the second Vatican Council, or all that she teaches except for those reservations and disagreements that I want to hang on to—no! “I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God.”

  32. Supertradmum says:

    For Midwest St. Michael,
    As one who was a regular parishioner at a Catholic Byzantine Church, I can assure you that most Latin Rite people would not want to attend the length of service we loved so much. The Divine Liturgy was never under an hour and mostly one-hour-and-one-half, if not two hours on a Sunday. Daily Divine Liturgy was long as well, and most Latin Rite attenders would probably not take to such a length of time. The reception of Holy Communion under both species in the Byzantine Church is surrounded by a completely different history and custom as well. I do not think the comparison is valid. The Eastern rites do not do “intinction” anyway, but use the spoon-like Lzhítza to put the Body and Blood of Christ in the form of little bread cubes and wine right into the mouth. This is not intinction, and I have never seen an Eastern Rite priest use intinction.

  33. Midwest St. Michael says:

    Thank you for that information, Supertradmum. I really appreciate it. :) (I am humbled)

    Where I am there is an Eastern Rite parish – two hours away.

    This Latin Rite Catholic would love to take the time you say The Divine Liturgy takes to worship Our Lord.

    If only…if only.


  34. dominic1955 says:


    I think his point was that if we are to have Communion under both species, then it should be done in their way (with the spoon), i.e. no “common cup” like Protestants do.

    NB: Actually, some Easterners do intinct (i.e. dip a Host into the Precious Blood). Byzantines do not, but some non-Byzantine Easterners (like the Maronites) do.

  35. LaudemGloriae says:

    Does “active participation” = laity “doing stuff” during Mass? Is this a conversation we need to have?

    I remember being a young girl in Catholic school and hearing a sermon from our pastor who told us that we were to PARTICIPATE during Mass, ie: make LOUD responses and AMENs and gasp SING louder GATHER US IN and that if we weren’t willing to do so we should just stay home. 30 years later I heard another sermon from a very holy pastor whom I adored that V2 gave us a gift and that as a result we had an obligation to participate more fully in the prayers and SING louder GATHER US IN.

    It was not until I found this site serveral years ago that I had ever heard differently, that one might “actively participate” through prayerful silence. What a gift that has been to me.

    So can we have the discussion about what “active participation” is? We can, but I feel like from my experience that the priests are saying the debate is over, we will have felt banners and sing Gather Us In.

    Despite being that 7 year old girl in church, being admonished to belt out gather us in … I remember occassionally glimpsing a nun in a habit, a lacy prayer card, a snippet of Latin, and I remember thinking “I wanna belong to that religion.” (The sight of a nun in habit so rare now that when my son saw one for the first time in person he asked “what is she? an elf?”)

    What I really don’t understand is why having EMs = more “participation” in anyone’s mind. Not everyone is an EM. It is the same 20 or so pious individuals at my parish, and most others I’ve attended. Nor has the concession quelled those advocating for women’s ordination.

    Trying to eliminate EMs piecemeal, first by forbidding them from purifying the vessels, now eliminating communion under both kinds, just feels like death by a thousand papercuts. I would prefer the Vatican clearly state that the EM program is not what the Church intended and issue new guidelines. Otherwise, as others have stated, the EMs will continue and soon be the only ones distributing communion under any kind.

    (I the support use of altar rails. I support clerics distributing communion. I support communion under both kinds – Christ did it twice – this is my body – this is my blood – I believe this is a more complete sign.)

  36. jhayes says:

    My interest is in having the chalice available when I receive Communion. EMHCs are a separate issue as far as I am concerned. .

    My ideal right now is Baltimore:

    1. Holy Communion under Both Kinds…

    The Archbishop may establish norms, within the limits of universal and particular law, for the distribution of Holy Communion under both kinds in his own diocese (GIRM, no. 283). In the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Holy Communion under both kinds is to be considered normative. Parishes that do not currently offer Communion under the species of wine should implement this practice.

    That statement from Baltimore should make clear that there is no requirement from Rome to limit distribution under both forms.

  37. SimonDodd says:

    jhayes says:
    “My interest is in having the chalice available when I receive Communion. EMHCs are a separate issue as far as I am concerned.”

    Absolutely. And this is the problem, because we have now made the precious blood a surrogate for an intramural battle over EMHCs. Everyone seems to recognize that some—some—opponents of the restriction are opposing it because they see it as an attack on EMHCs, and it seems quite obvious that some—some—proponents of the restriction are supporting it for precisely the same reason.

    I still think my hypothetical from above is important: Would those who support this change feel the same way if every parish ad three priests, a deacon, and no EMHCs? If the answer is no, your beef is with EMHCs, not communion under both kinds, and that’s a separate issue. If the precious blood can’t be distributed at a given Mass because no ordinary minister happens to be available and we decide to get rid of EMHCs, that is very different from withholding the chalice from the laity. The two issues are separate and the debate suffers from their being mixed up.

  38. Supertradmum says:


    Thanks for the info on the Maronite Rite, as I did not know that. I have been to Eastern Orthodox Rite Liturgies as well and those also used the Spoon. Thankfully, the Byzantines do not use EMs.

  39. Supertradmum says:

    Simon Dodd,

    There are two different issues here, but, if we did not have Communion under two species, we would not have EMs. Thankfully, they would have nothing to do and could merely be learning what a lay person should do in the Church-evangelize the workplace and the home.

  40. SimonDodd says:

    Supertradmum, I must disagree. EMHCs are not a prerequisite to communion under both species, and communion under both species is not the sole object of the use (and abuse) of EMHCs. They’re independent postconciliar developments, one of them positive, the other not so much. I think that if communion under both species goes away, the parishes with the biggest EMHC problems will continue to use EMHCs, because their use has less to do with actual need than it does with habit, convenience, and the desire of some trendy liturgists to empower the laity, as others have mentioned.

  41. Supertradmum says:

    As I have lived in dioceses for the past twenty years where all the parishes, including the Cathedrals in those areas, have only one priest or only one priest available for Mass, I cannot see how having Communion under both species is possible. Tincture, thankfully, is not allowed in the Latin Rite and until today, I had only thought it belonged to the Episcopalians. Again, Communion rails would end EMs. As to Communion under both species, I do not see the theological or spiritual need. The Latin Rite developed this custom for many diverse reasons beginning in the Twelfth Century, as opposed to the Eastern Rites, but as most of us on this blog are Latin Rite members, I think we can rest in the long tradition of one species as being the norm.

  42. albinus1 says:

    I can almost sympathize with those who complain that people won’t understand the big words in the new translation of the Missal, given that so many priests and bishops seem to have trouble with understanding the word “extraordinary”.

    Well, maybe the adjective “extraordinary” is one of those words whose meaning changes depending on context. Evidently, when “extraordinary” is followed by “minister of holy communion”, it means “strongly encouraged, to be used with great frequency and in great numbers, as much as possible”. On the other hand, when “extraordinary” is followed by “form of the Roman Rite” it means “strongly discouraged, to be used as infrequently as possible and permitted only at inconvenient times and places, if at all.”

    (End of snark.)

  43. ContraMundum says:

    Good catch, albinus1!

  44. jimsantafe says:

    I think it certainly has to do with mistaken ideas about “active participation” and also about “lay ministry.” Ironically, during the years when I was involved in various Novus Ordo “lay ministries,” I was far from fully and consciously participating at Mass — I was too distracted by my own activity to actually worship. I suspect that I was not alone in this.

  45. eulogos says:

    I like communion under both species, perhaps because I began my Christian life as an Anglican. When I was an Anglican, there was no intinction; you received the host in your cupped hands while kneeling at the altar rail, and brought it directly to your mouth. Then you took a sip from the cup. If there was only one priest, he went down the row with the host, and then went down again with the cup. That is what happened at daily Eucharists. On Sunday there were always two priests. These days Episcopalians use one lay person, in a white choir robe (is this an alb?) to follow the priest with the cup. That person may also be the altar server and/or reader at that Eucharist. And some Episcopalians self intinct, which I think has to do with a (silly IMO) concern about germs. Receiving from the cup at the altar rail is not irreverent, and does not require swarms of EMHC’s; at the worst it requires one.
    Also, there is nothing wrong with intinction by the PRIEST. The Anglican Use masses I have attended have the priest go along with a communion set that has a small chalice attached to an edged plate for the hosts. The priest intincts the host and puts it on each person’s tongue as he goes down the line at the altar rail. This is communion in both kinds, is nearly as fast as communion in one kind, eliminates the possibility of receiving in the hand, and dispenses with the need for EMHC’s. It should make us all happy.

    Except those who WANT swarms of lay people up there by the altar.
    Susan Peterson

  46. MJ says:

    albinus1 – love it. :)

  47. dominic1955 says:

    Of course, the issues are separate but not practically speaking. If we nix EMHCs, then Communion under both kinds will pretty much have to fall out of use except in rare parishes with many priests and/or deacons.

    Personally, I have the biggest (theological/liturgical) problem with Communion in the hand and laymen handling the sacred vessels and Blessed Sacrament. Communion under both species (done properly) is then seen my me as irrelevant in the Latin Rite. OK, its obviously not wrong and is a “fuller sign” but we’ve done without it for centuries just fine and obviously lacked nothing without it.

    Communion under both species can, of course, be handled in other ways than is currently practiced in many U.S. parishes (and abroad). However, they (intinction and the Anglican ‘help-you-drink’ style I’ve seen in traditional Anglican circles) are wholly impractical in practically all situations. Even in the tiny Anglican church I visited, the way they did it took far too long considering the 5 or so congregants they had.

    Basically, the threat of profanation increases, long standing tradition of the Latin Rite is ignored, the laity get confused, the Communion rite is considerably complicated and/or prolonged and for what? This “fuller sign”?

  48. Lurker 59 says:

    I live in the Diocese of Madison. In talking about this issues with various people, there are several things that I have noticed:

    *A certain hostility towards the bishop often passive-aggressive.

    *A certain sense that EMHC are different, special, and function in a normative ministerial liturgical roll.

    *The reality of poor catechesis, though certain catechetical elements are strong but in a heterodox way.

    *A misunderstanding of what active participation is.

    The biggest problem that I think underlies all of this is the notion that the Mass is something that people create and it is not rather something that Christ does which we participate in. This notion is everywhere. The CCD materials are outdated by 17 years, are deficient in their theology, and rather present a false understanding of what the Church is. There are lots of problems which together allow there to be a certain lack of devotion to the Christ that is rather than the Christ that we try to make Him be.

    Personally, I don’t know if reestablishing of one Species for communion of the laity is a way to undercut abuses by EMHCs in the Diocese of Madison. That seems a bit of a nuclear option. I doubt it though because it would be too much of a headache for Bp. Morlino what with the flak that he is going to draw from priests that struggle with obedience and EMHCs that think they are a form liturgical minister, and EMHCs that end up very confused because they thought what they were doing was right. I think the easy way to deal with EMHCs would have been to issue a directive saying that EMHCs may not enter the sanctuary and may not approach the altar until after the altar servers have received, along with modifying the diocesan EMHC training to start phasing out EMHCs as normative in the liturgy. This leads me to believe that Bp. Morlino is not limiting to one species to deal with EMHCs but rather he really does feels that the rubrics state that one Species is to be the norm. Remember that Bp. Morlino wasn’t a supporter of the extraordinary form of the Mass until after Summorum Pontificum

    I don’t think that Bp. Morlino is trying a sneak attack on EMHCs here, but rather that these issues go hand in hand.

    However I do think that the outcry against Bp. Morlino is exactly what Fr. Z put forth — its because people think that “activity” and “ministry” needs to be the focus. The Church, for these people is all about what we do rather than what is done for and to us.

  49. heway says:

    I prefer communion under both species. Other parishes in our area have gone to only one. I told my pastor that I will have to bring a bottle of water because at my age you don’t have much saliva to get the Blessed Sacrament off the roof of your mouth. As to the EMHCs, we only have 2 at the Sunday Mass and 1 during the week. One does all the physical, mechanical repairs in our church, another does the books and still another helps the sacristan. We pay no one for anything.
    After all these years, I don’t look forward to more changes.

  50. James Joseph says:

    The whole thing is ridiculous and a red-herring.

    Fact, most folks have absolutely no business whatsoever recieving the most Blessed Sacrament under any circumstances until they clean up their act… and even then nobody, absolutely nobody rates recieving the most Blessed Sacrament other the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Priest.

    This is both Theologically and literally. Only Mary deserves Jesus and only Jesus, and the one standing in His Place at the Altar, deserves Her Flesh.

    There should be no more reception of Communion until there is more Confession. At least, that’s how it would be done if the Pope were also the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps.

    All liberty is hereby secured! (A line I have heard many a time)

  51. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    I’m hard pressed to decide which is cause, and which is effect. Did the widespread use of Extraordinary Ministers cause the widespread lack of faith, or did a widespread rejection of the faith lead to the expectation of the use of Extraordinary Ministers? If it’s the former, then refusing Extraordinary Ministers should allow the faith to return in full flower. If it’s the former, we need a new evangelization.

    I’ll never forget the time I attended daily Mass with 5 other people and the priest. When we somehow needed an Extraordinary Minister, it became clear to me that this wasn’t about the need for Mass not to run too long. If just anyone can distribute Holy Communion, then there is nothing sacred about Him. If there is nothing sacred about Holy Communion, then there is nothing sacred about the one who consecrates. Root and branch.

    Why is it allowed to continue? Poorly catechized lay Catholics continue to receive from the necessary extraordinary ministers. Poorly catechized (or even falsely catechized) Catholics continue to serve as Extraordinary Ministers because they want to help Father.

    All that said, I must relate something which happened to me recently. Someone denounced me for having “a theology of authority” because I reject the mass use of Extraordinary Ministers.
    Is there an underlying cause here?


  52. Banjo pickin girl says:

    Chris, remember, correlation does not imply causation. Maybe there is no cause and effect relationship between the two and that is why your head is turning inside out trying to figure it out.

  53. dad29 says:

    That’s a borderline calumny. Some of those who disagree with it are that way. Others are not.

    No, it’s not. See the comments from “Lurker” of Madison above.

    The confusion over “ministry” IS the subtext which is critical.

  54. Lurker 59 says:


    Right. I would say that there is much confusion. The understanding of “ministry” along with “active participation” is where the problem is in my opinion.

    Normally I am in prayer but today I watched the liturgical action with intense focus. The actions that are going on tell anyone that is watching that the EMHCs at my parish are functioning in a ministerial role that is set apart from the rest of the laity.

    The action of the EMHCs seems rather benign until you start understanding the Eucharist in terms of gift, then the actions become quite aggressive.

    It is very frustrating.

Comments are closed.