Some relatives told us that this past Saturday night for the Easter Vigil they were allowed to bring home consecrated hosts which then they decided to consume while watching a livestreamed Mass, at the moment when the priest was distributing the holy Eucharist to the people present. They said their priest allowed this because they are extraordinary ministers of the eucharist and therefore trusted. This seems of course very very wrong, however we were not able to argument and document properly why. Could you help us? From the way they described the fact it sounded like their request of having consecrated hosts at home was granted by their priest just because they are known and active in their community and not even to act as ministers of holy communion…which sounds of course even more wrong…but even taking for granted that the people could be trusted (which is also questionable) and assuming they would be in their service as ministers, is an extraordinary minister of the eucharist allowed to distribute holy communion to other faithful how and when and to whom he pleases?
Also, when hearing things like that, are there acts of reparation you would recommend to us lay people?
GUEST PRIEST RESPONSE: Fr. Tim Ferguson
These are weird, but not entirely unprecedented times. The Church has endured through pandemics, and persecutions, and every other calamity that can befall mankind in the past 20 centuries. Weird times frequently mean weird responses and reactions, that should not be used to establish norms.
There are stories, told with a sense of awed reverence, of Christians in the early days of our history being permitted to retain the Holy Eucharist in their homes and even on their person. At that time, the Church lacked church buildings, with their requisite tabernacles, locks, security systems, lighting, sextons, his-n-her bathrooms, baby changing stations, etc. It made a certain sense for at least some of the faithful to retain the Blessed Sacrament for the needs of the sick. After the Edict of Milan, when the Church began building churches, it made much more sense for Our Eucharistic Lord to be enthroned in the buildings built for His worship. It took several centuries, however (because the Church rightly moves slowly) for the practice of private retention of the Blessed Sacrament to be wholly proscribed. It was, however, by the time of the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215, when it was ordered not only that the Blessed Sacrament be retained in parish churches, but that it be done so under lock and key, and the pastor was mandated to keep careful watch over the key, lest it fall into the wrong hands.
Come to today.
The Blessed Sacrament is to be kept in the Cathedral and parish churches and in chapels of duly established religious institutes. It may be kept in other chapels with the explicit permission of the local ordinary (cf. canon 934). Lastly, “No one is permitted to keep the Eucharist on one’s person or to carry it around, unless pastoral necessity urges it and the prescripts of the diocesan bishop are observed.” (canon 935)
Now, these are unusual times. But refraining from receiving the Holy Eucharist, as painful as it may be, for a few weeks or even a few months is not an unheard of thing. Many of our brothers and sisters around the world have such limited access to the sacraments and yet they are not given leave to retain the Sacrament on their person and self-communicate whilst watching the Holy Mass on the TV or internet.
Yet, these are weird times, and weird people are doing weird things. God have mercy on us all…
Fr Z says:
It is possible that the priest, perhaps not very bright, in his pastoral concern, although lacking both historical perspective and common sense, figured that this would make people feel good. And we all know that the first role of the priest is to be nice and make people feel good.
I note that in can. 935 the word “and”. “No one is permitted to keep the Eucharist on one’s person or to carry it around, unless pastoral necessity urges it and the prescripts of the diocesan bishop are observed.”
Has the bishop of that diocese issued some directives?
I don’t know what diocese this is, but a letter to the bishop might be in order. Write to the bishop and let him know what is going on.
(Mostly unnecessary) EMHCs distribute Communion only under 2 circumstances:
1) during Mass, when there is a large number of the faithful present and the distribution of Communion might be therefore excessively prolonged; and
2) taking Communion to the sick and/or homebound at the direction of the pastor when the pastor cannot (or another priest of the parish or a deacon cannot).
There’s nothing official that says, “If your pastor gives you the Blessed Sacrament to take home and distribute to your family members, you are all guilty of grave sin.”
No doubt there are those who will begin to bleat about being pastORal and not being mean.
Write to the bishop.
Meanwhile: Here is a prayer one could use in private only for reparation for offenses against the Blessed Sacrament:
My Lord Jesus Christ, only Way to the Father,
Son of God, Divine Redeemer, Savior of the world,
I bless, adore, and glorify You.
I offer to You infinite praise for the sublime gift
of the Most Blessed Sacrament –
the Sacrament of Your Sacred Body and Precious Blood.
I beg of You mercy, grace, and peace upon this unworthy world,
and especially upon Your Holy Catholic Church.
I offer to You, O Eucharistic Lord,
my adoration, prayer, study, and good works,
my hardships, humiliations, temptations, and daily crosses.
I accept them and offer them up to You
in reparation for countless offenses against the Holy Eucharist.
I offer them for irreverent bishops, priests, deacons, and lay people,
for heresies, apostasies, and schisms,
for errors, trivialities, and novelties
preached in place of Gospel truth,
for deliberate violations of Church laws,
for countless liturgical abuses,
for illicit additions and omissions,
for reluctance to bend the knee,
for negligent familiarity with the sacred,
for scandalous behavior at the altar,
for perfunctory devotions and unworthy communions,
for unbelief and lukewarm faith,
for immodest dress and profane music,
for talk and laughter before the tabernacle,
for the neglect that is sacrilege and the laxity that is blasphemy,
for the ignorance that is indifference to revealed truth,
and for every evil assault upon the sanctity
of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
In reparation for all such godlessness within Your Church,
I offer to You, my Lord Jesus Christ,
all the difficulties of my life,
and most especially the anguish I feel
at the sight and sound of irreverence before the Holy Eucharist.
All that You have given to me I accept and offer up to You,
my Eucharistic Lord,
in reparation for countless offenses
thrown at Your Most Holy Presence.