ASK FATHER: Does the humeral veil contradict in the use of Eucharistic ministers?

From a reader…


When the humeral veil is used does it not show a contradiction in the use of Eucharistic ministers? I’m really interested in trying to form an argument against Eucharistic ministers, by way of something everyone seemingly has no issue with, that being the instances where the humeral veil is used and what it shows us by it’s use. Does this make sense? Am I incorrect in my theory here?


Hmmm – let’s clean up the language a bit – Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.

I’m not sure that the humeral veil’s use in either the current Missal or the previous ritual provides a strong argument against the use of Extraordinary Ministers. It certainly speak to the reverence we should have for the Eucharist, but since the priest who uses the humeral veil also gets to touch the vessel (and the Sacrament) with unveiled hands, I’m not sure it could be used to de-justify extraordinary ministers, except in a broad, symbolic way.

I was reflecting, the other day, that the use of gold vessels exclusively for the Holy Eucharist might be a stronger (albeit still symbolic) argument. Gold, which has been tested in the crucible of fire, can symbolize the (ideal) purity of the priesthood (let’s not talk too much about the crucible of seminary)

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Fr. Kelly says:

    Perhaps the questioner has in mind the use of the humeral veil by the subdeacon in the Solemn Mass?
    The Subdeacon uses the humeral veil both to carry the chalice to the altar at the offertory and afterwards to hold the paten during the canon. In both cases, its use prevents his hands from touching the sacred vessels.

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  3. khouri says:

    I was always taught that the use of the humeral veil was worn at Benediction to emphasize that it was the Lord and not the priest giving His blessing. In processions it is used for the purpose of emphizing that the priest was not the important one but the important one was Who the priest was carrying. “Humeral” from the Latin, “humilitas”.

  4. khouri says:

    Fr. Kelly, why does the subdeacon use the humeral veil to carry the chalice and stand with the paten?

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