ASK FATHER: Where should Father distribute Holy Communion?

altar communion railFrom a reader…

Is there a certain place the Priest celebrant stands to give out Communion or can he go to anywhere in Church? Yesterday he moved a lay distributor where he usually is and went to side aisle. Just wondering.

Nothing in the rubrics requires the priest to distribute from front and center.

Nothing in the rubrics requires him to wear socks, to comb his hair, brush his teeth, take off the red-rubber clown nose or refrain from dancing and singing show tunes.

Some things are self-evident.

Ideally, Father should walk thelength of the communion rail from the Epistle side (liturgical South) to the Gospel side (liturgical North) – then return to start over – bringing the Lord in His anointed hand to the faithful who patiently kneel to receive on the tongue.

As for why this priest switched places… who knows.  Maybe he wanted to flag someone down.  “Body of Christ… Body of Christ… Body of Christ. See me after… Body of Christ…”. Maybe he thought that, since people usually sit in the same places for Mass, he would have some contact with them that way.  Of course the people might be over there because they don’t want contact with that priest.  I’m just sayin’

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. elijah408 says:

    I personally know of a priest that in the middle of the distribution of communion will move to a different spot just because he knows that the people in his line only want to receive from an ordained minister.

  2. av8er says:

    The priest at my last Parish was quite overweight and diabetic, would go to the side to distribute Holy Communion because the line was shorter and he’d spend less time on his feet.

  3. S.Armaticus says:

    This is off topic, but in responce to your post about the bad day you had. This is from the Dallas Area Catholics blog and should cheer you up!

  4. rtjl says:

    I know a priest who deliberately changes station each Mass. At one Mass he distributes communion at the center aisle. At the next Mass he distributes at the side aisle and at the next from the other side aisle. He probably distributes communion from the center aisle a little more frequently than from the side aisles but only slightly so. His reason for doing this, I believe, is to ensure that all members of the flock entrusted to his care have the opportunity to receive communion from their pastor and from one of the two ordinary ministers of the Eucharst in the parish. There is one deacon assigned to this parish as well. He also rotates communion stations.

    This particular priest, while encouraging the laity to exercise any and all roles permitted to them, is also careful to make it clear that there is a difference between clergy and laity; the roles are not interchangeable. During the communion rite, for instance, and in the way it is performed (the ars celebrandi), it is clear that EMHCs are exercising a role deputed to them and not one that is proper to them. EMHCs, other than those who are actually serving at the altar, are not in the sanctuary during the Eucharistic Prayer. Only the priest, the deacon and/or the altar servers are. EMHCs come forward only at the required time after the Agnues Dei to receive the hosts from the priest for distribution. EMHCs are NEVER referred to as “Eucharistic Ministers” in this parish.

    The use of extraordinary ministers of communion aside, I think the practice of rotating communion stations is commendable.

  5. SanSan says:

    Well in order to receive on the tongue from an Ordained Minister, sometimes I have to travel to different parts of the Church.

  6. Nathan says:

    As Fr. Z eloquently points out, a priest can distribute at various places in the context of the OF. From the other side of the Communion Rail (oh, that priests in the OF would use it more often!), one very minor (and, actually, fairly easily adapted to) quibble. When I go to the Ordinary Form, I would really, really prefer to receive Holy Communion from a priest or deacon (the ordinary ministers of Holy Communion). If there’s only one priest, and Father moves around from station to station, it’s not easy to plan where to sit in order to minimize unnecessary attention drawn to oneself at Communion time by switching lines, bypassing ushers, etc.

    I actually have a little conversation with my family when we go to the OF at a church where we’ve never been or haven’t been in a while. “Do we sit on the left or the right to receive Holy Communion from a priest or deacon?” Sometimes it works, sometimes we do a little wandering around, sometimes it has just worked out to not receive Holy Communion and do so at daily Mass during the week.

    As I said, this is so minor, and happens infrequently to us, and I’ve never run across a situation where (other than a few exasperated ushers) anyone has questioned us on doing a little wandering to get in the line to receive Our Blessed Lord from a priest.

    In Christ,

  7. Imrahil says:

    Ideally, Father should walk thelength of the communion rail from the Epistle side (liturgical South) to the Gospel side (liturgical North) – then return to start over.

    And while returning, not distribute Communion.

    I guess you have to have seen that done for once (many in the OF who, as it were, start the traditional possibly kneeling way of distributing Communion apparently haven’t), but this avoids the shuffling, gives those who have Communicated a decent moment to remain kneeling, and then a comfortable space to go back, and those behind still a comfortable time to kneel down, all-the-while the celebrant distributes on the other side: it’s kind of a hustle, on the other hand, and thus actually – if anything – slower also, if he distributes Communion on his way back too.

  8. gracie says:

    I always go to the priest for Communion because I receive on the tongue and EM’s don’t always know how to do it and some make it clear they don’t want to do it. Some of the EM’s are okay but others are very clumsy and have even tried to put it into my closed hands, which I keep at waist level to get the message across. When the priest moves to a different aisle my heart rate goes up – I’m serious – because I know I may have to deal with the EM’s reluctance/poor training/clumsiness. I once saw an EM who refused to give Communion on the tongue to a young man. She absolutely refused. When he put out his tongue she lowered the Host; when he closed his mouth she raised the Host. This went back and forth several times. Finally he gave up and received it in the hand. There may be priests who disdain giving Communion on the tongue but they’re better at hiding their feelings and they know how to do it properly. So please, Fathers, stand at the same place at each Mass to help us out. If people are going to the EM’s it’s because it’s okay with them so why should you care?

  9. Sixupman says:

    Mid-week Mass at my parish church; ‘supply’ priest confected the Sacrament and then offhandedly left it to the EMCHs to distribute Communion. Not for me. Another local church two priests on the altar, only one distributed with EMCH!

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