Saturday, November 13, 2010

THE USE OF EXTRAORDINARY MINISTERS OF HOLY COMMUNION, DOES IT BUILD FAITH AND REVERENCE IN THE ONE RECEIVING?

I saw this photo concerning another topic altogether. It appears to me that these are teenagers receiving Holy Communion in a high school setting. It also appears that one of their peers, a teenager himself, is distributing Holy Communion.

My question, and I ask it legitimately, is, does this increase or decrease the teenager's appreciation of the priesthood and the communicants' belief in the real presence of Christ and the reverence and respect that the moment of Holy Communion should elicit?

Or is it just another attempt to indicate that there should be no unique roles for the clergy in distributing Holy Communion, representing Christ in "persona Christi" even in the distribution of Holy Communion?

Let me know.

25 comments:

pinanv525 said...

I have never liked the Extraordinary minister/quasi- protestant phenomenon. I always make sure I am in the line where the Priest or a Deacon is administering. For the same reason I receive on the tongue, I believe that only a Priest should touch the Sacred Body. I have experienced protestant communions and we need to scrupulously avoid that kind of casual, matter-of-fact approach to this most Blessed of events. So, bring back the kneelers and altar rails.

Mackja said...

Extraordinary ministers should be used only under extreme conditions. Seems that here in the U.S. there has been this idea that laity have this right to be involved at the altar. The Church teaches clearly what circumstances a lay person may distribute Holy Communion. This has been and is being abused, only a validly ordained priest should distribute Communion, and only when a priest is not available should a layperson even be considered. I personally don't like receiving Communion from anyone other than a priest, because it is Christ Himself through the priest that is calling me to receive Him, that cannot be done with a lay minister. Laity can diminish the reality of the Eucharist by making it seem commonplace, harms the reverence due. When it is only the priest that can distribute, it accentuates the uniqueness, and reverence due.

Templar said...

I am in agreement with Pin and take it a step further that i will rarely even agree to receive from the Deacon because they lack the consecrated hands of the Priest. EMHC should be rarer than EF masses in my humble opinion.

Col Mustard said...

"They lack the consecrated hands of a priest..." As if that had anything to do with the real presence of Jesus under the forms of bread/wine.

Try living in a country where the priest comes only three or four times a YEAR, for pity sake. Then you'll know what matters.

Don't you have anything REAL to worry about?

Althea Gardner said...

As an EMHC myself, I agree with Col. Mustard. I think that it is irrelevant who distributes the actual host. I always try my best to be very respectful and reverent when I am distributing the Body of Christ. Regardless of how the host is received, it is still the actual Body and I do not feel that the reality of that is diminished just because it is not being administered by a priest. I am truly blessed and humbled to be a EMHC. Whether distributed by a priest, deacon or laity, or whether received on the tongue or in the hand, you are still receiving the actual Body of Christ. So what is the problem with that? It is a gift that other faiths and countries are not blessed to have.

Althea Gardner said...

As an EMHC myself, I agree with Col. Mustard. I think that it is irrelevant who distributes the actual host. I always try my best to be very respectful and reverent when I am distributing the Body of Christ. Regardless of how the host is received, it is still the actual Body and I do not feel that the reality of that is diminished just because it is not being administered by a priest. I am truly blessed and humbled to be a EMHC. Whether distributed by a priest, deacon or laity, or whether received on the tongue or in the hand, you are still receiving the actual Body of Christ. So what is the problem with that? It is a gift that other faiths and countries are not blessed to have.

Mark said...

Ironically, in the Lutheran Church (which I served as a pastor for a number of years) there are no "extraordinary ministers" of Holy Communion. Only the pastor distributes the consecrated host, the people receive kneeling at the rail, and there is a very strong presence of the real presence of Christ in the sacrament.

pinanv525 said...

Althea, I am certainly not questioning the devotion and humility of EMHC's, neither am I questioning the efficacy of the graces contained or conveyed in the Holy Eucharist when served by an EMHC. The Church has seen fit to allow the laity this role, so we know that Christ blesses us with his Presence through their ministrations.

But, it is part of a much larger issue regarding the de-construction of the Mass, the attack on the role of the Priest, and the gradual secularization of the Church through deliberate egalitarian actions on the part of the progressives in the Church. This is, indeed, something very "real" to worry about.

Mackja said...

The following is from the Congregation for Divine Worship "Iaestimabile donum" on the subjest:

The non-ordained faithful already collaborate with the sacred ministers in diverse pastoral situations, since "This wonderful gift of the Eucharist, which is the greatest gift of all, demands that such an important mystery should be increasingly better known and its saving power more fully shared." Such liturgical service is a response to the objective needs of the faithful, especially those of the sick, and to those liturgical assemblies in which there are particularly large numbers of the faithful who wish to receive Holy Communion.

§1. The canonical discipline concerning extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion must be correctly applied so as to avoid generating confusion. The same discipline establishes that the ordinary minister of Holy Communion is the Bishop, the Priest and the Deacon. Extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion are those instituted as acolytes and the faithful so deputed in accordance with Canon 230, §3.10 A non-ordained member of the faithful, in cases of true necessity, may be deputed by the diocesan bishop, using the appropriate form of blessing for these situation, to act as an extraordinary minister to distribute Holy Communion outside of liturgical celebrations ad actum vel ad tempus or for a more stable period.11 In exceptional cases or in unforeseen circumstances, the priest presiding at the liturgy may authorize such ad actum.

§2. 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. It is thus useful for the diocesan bishop to issue particular norms concerning extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion which, in complete harmony with the universal law of the Church, should regulate the exercise of this function in his diocese. Such norms should provide, amongst other things, for matters such as the instruction in eucharistic doctrine of those chosen to be extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, the meaning of the service they provide, the rubrics to be observed, the reverence to be shown for such an august Sacrament and instruction concerning the discipline on admission to Holy Communion.

To avoid creating confusion, certain practices are to be avoided and eliminated where such have emerged in particular Churches:

extraordinary ministers receiving Holy Communion apart from the other faithful as though concelebrants;
association with the renewal of promises made by priests at the Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday, as well as other categories of faithful who renew religious vows or receive a mandate as extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion;
the habitual use of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion at Mass, thus arbitrarily extending the concept of "a great number of the faithful."

Enough said.

Templar said...

Do I have anything REAL to worry about? Oh yes, I worry most about Clergy, especially Bishops, who continue to bring scandal to the Laity by their actions, and preach Heresy in their parish or Diocese. And I shall root them out and shine a light upon them whenever and where ever they can be found, because they are the smoke of Satan.

As for the faithful who only have access to the Eucharist 3 or 4 times a year; if it is offered in a manner that is truly reverent and worthy of Him, then I would be happy to receive but 3 times a year. A person properly disposed for communion would be happy to crawl towards it and kneel on glass to receive, but today in the Diocese of Savannah (which is all I can comment on, not to single them out) we have Parishes where 17 EMHCs and 1 Priest distribute communion to roughly 400 parishioners on the pretext that we don't want anyone to have to wait too long. I'm sorry but that is just lame. Even in our lovely Parish of St Joseph they rarely use more than 1 or 2 EMHCs and to be quite frank, even that I feel is an abuse of the guidelines laid out in Redemptionis Sacramentum. One Priest alone can distribute Communion to 400 people and I doubt it would take more than 10 minutes. We can't wait 10 minutes for the greatest gift known to man? It's all just more of the focus on Man and not on Our Lord.

For centuries no one touched the consecrated host but the consecrated hands of the Priest, but 40 years ago we changed the rules and now it's just supposed to be okay? No I refuse to accept that. This is not part of the infallible teaching, I do not have to accept it. I have leery of the teaching because it coincides with so much other wrong teaching which has contributed to lose of faith. My conscious tells me that I can not receive in the hand because my hands are not consecrated, and therefore it is illogical to assume that the host can be distributed by unconsecrated hands.

Oh yes I have greater things to worry about, and the continual efforts of Modernist Priests and Bishops whose every waking moment is spent undermining the Catholic Faith is foremost among them, of which the destruction of believe in the Real Presence is but one of many important aspects.

And Althea, I am sorry if any of this makes you feel uncomfortable, my Father served for years as an EMHC. I get why the Faithful would want to serve in that capacity. I just believe that anyone who spends as much time thinking about where the Church was, and how it came to it's current position of Communion in the Hand and EMHC use, as I have done, can only come to one conclusion, and that the practice is misguided.

With respect, well for all but Pater Felix Mustard for whom I hold only slight regard.

SqueekerLamb said...

I've got a thing or two to say about EMHC.

While interiorly they are humbled and honored to serve in that capacity, so many I have personally witnessed have other issues that should either get corrected if they're going to be allowed to continue, or they should be rooted out.

One said out loud after Mass that she doesn't like people to recieve on the tongue, because they 'lick my fingers'...I say learn how to administer correctly.

One is bothered be Catholicas actually acting like Catholics, namely wearing a veil, genuflecting before approaching Communion, or kneeling for Communion..I say get an attitude adjustment.

One, just today, while dressed nicely perfectly and of a revernt comportment, held the Host low over the other Hosts and looked each person in the eye saying 'the Body of Christ'..I say hold the Host up where you're supposed to for the Communicant to adore before receiving.

I see EMHC's give Blessings to those who cannot recieve...only Ordained are allowed to give a Blessing in the context of the Mass.

It seems that just about anyone who 'qualifies' is allowed to be a EMHC. Perhaps they get training once in a lifetime only.

Hard marble is a callin' my knees...

SqueekerLamb said...

If there have to be EMHC's they should have to don some sort of garb, veil, or something to remove some of their'selves' and allow the Host to be most prominent.

Altar girls should have their hair tied back so as not to be a visual distraction.

There is entirely too much 'me' going on with the laity who serve in various capacities.

Althea Gardner said...

I think the real issue here is whether this is a man-made rule or a Biblical law. Jesus does not say "take this all of you, from a priest only, and eat". Think not about yourselves, but WWJD? Since Jesus fraternized with sinners, I am sure he wouldn't mind being distributed by ther lowly laity. Putting the ordained on a pedestal is asking for trouble. we are all sinners, includung the Priests. (sorry Fr. McDonald! now put the lid back on this can of worms!)

Mark said...

What I meant to say in my response is that in the Lutheran Church there is a strong belief in the real presence of Christ in the Sacrament.

pinanv525 said...

Althea, Jesus did not pass the bread and wine to Peter and james and ask them to distribute it. "What would Jesus do...?" That sounds like something straight from a total immersion-dinner on the ground-King James version- hopping up and down Baptist preacher. We do not know what Jesus would do...we know what he did and what he did not do. He has spoken and acted through the Holy Catholic Church for,lo,these many centuries, and Mack posted above the Church's take on the EMHC's.

BTW, you have a disturbingly egalitarian view of the Priesthood.

SqueekerLamb said...

Althea said, "I think the real issue here is whether this is a man-made rule or a Biblical law."

I know people who think all organized religion is man-made. As a matter of fact, I used to think that too.

If Althea and other EMHCs are as truly Catholic as they believe they are, they read so as to understand the Church's teachings instead of brushing them off as 'man-made'. To say or infer that a teaching of the Church or a capital T Tradition of the Church is saying that the Church is not really the work of Jesus Himself. Which sounds like the blasphemy of cafeteria Catholicism.

What a sad sad state...even the EMHCs are protestantized.

Templar said...

With respect Althea, it is not a choice between Man's Law and Biblical Law. Precisely what ensures Holy Mother Church contains the "full and complete truth" and not just the "partial truth" of Protestant denominations is that we are not a solely Scriptural Church. Your question implies that if something isn't in the Bible it's not valid, yet the Bible itself tells us this is not so:

2 Thessalonians 2:15
Therefore, brethren, stand fast; and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our epistle.

St Paul is reminding us that the Traditions of the Church are as important as Sacred Scripture.

And some examples of those Traditions:

"To safeguard in every possible way the dignity of so august a Sacrament, not only is the power of its administration entrusted exclusively to priests, but the Church has also prohibited by law any but consecrated persons, unless some case of great necessity intervene, to dare handle or touch the sacred vessels, the linen, or other instruments necessary to its completion. Priests themselves and the rest of the faithful may hence understand how great should be the piety and holiness of those who approach to consecrate, administer or receive the Eucharist." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"The dispensing of Christ's body belongs to the priest for three reasons. First, because...he consecrates as in the person of Christ. But as Christ consecrated His body at the supper, so also He gave it to others to be partaken of by them. Accordingly, as the consecration of Christ's body belongs to the priest, so likewise does the dispensing belong to him. Secondly, because the priest is the appointed intermediary between God and the people; hence as it belongs to him to offer the people's gifts to God, so it belongs to him to deliver consecrated gifts to the people. Thirdly, because out of reverence towards this sacrament, nothing touches it, but what is consecrated; hence the corporal and the chalice are consecrated, and likewise the priest's hands, for touching this sacrament. Hence it is not lawful for anyone else to touch it except from necessity, for instance, if it were to fall upon the ground, or else in some other case of urgency." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"There is nothing which belongs more to the Church and there is nothing Jesus Christ wanted more closely reserved for its shepherds than the dispensation of the sacraments He instituted." (Pope Gregory XVI, "Commissum Divinitus", 1835 A.D.)

"To touch the sacred species and to distribute them with their own hands is a privilege of the ordained" (Pope John Paul II, 1980 A.D.)

I could go on, but I don't believe it's necessary. The use of EMHC was the fruit of rebellion and foisted upon the Church dissenters working from within. No good can come of it, no matter how well intended.

Frajm said...

The Church allows EMHC's, so that shouldn't be the issue as long as proper protcol is observed. I see this privilege as so impoertant that there should be an age limit and those called should have a course of study on sacramental theology especially echaristic spirituality. I think the age allowed should be 35 and older and only those gifted with pastoral skills to bring Holy Communion to the sick and homebound be chosen and thus be part of the certification process. I see distributing Holy Communion at Mass leading to bringing Holy Communion to those unable to attend Mass. That's why I posted picture, I don't think children, teenagers or even very young adults should be chosen. Just my evolving opinion. Also candidates should be known for their goof lives and deep love for Christ and His Church.

Frajm said...

The Church allows EMHC's, so that shouldn't be the issue as long as proper protcol is observed. I see this privilege as so impoertant that there should be an age limit and those called should have a course of study on sacramental theology especially echaristic spirituality. I think the age allowed should be 35 and older and only those gifted with pastoral skills to bring Holy Communion to the sick and homebound be chosen and thus be part of the certification process. I see distributing Holy Communion at Mass leading to bringing Holy Communion to those unable to attend Mass. That's why I posted picture, I don't think children, teenagers or even very young adults should be chosen. Just my evolving opinion. Also candidates should be known for their goof lives and deep love for Christ and His Church.

Anonymous said...

It just comes off more as a gimick to stay relevant when there is not really a need for such ministers. I think the issue of self importance must come up sooner or later within the individual. There are so many other ways to serve the Church.

Anonymous said...

To the individual who is a EMHC, of course you see nothing really wrong with it and feel humbled to do it. Otherwise you wouldn't. But think of the many, many people who even if they make no fuss and stay quiet, do not wish to receive from a lay person's hands. It is not meant as disrespect, but simply as desire to clearly distinguish roles. Roles of lay people and roles of Priests. You may be of kind heart and intentions good, but many others are not. As lay people we are always questioning that when approaching. Personally, I switch lines. I just believe in supporting the role of Priests. With every piece of the ministry that is taken away or diminished I think the Priesthood suffers for it. For centuries the role of distribution was that of the Priest. Because the abuse is so widespread I don't think it can ever be curtailed any longer. Simply done away with and re-defined as to what Extraordinary is, and sticking to it.

Anonymous said...

Since so many are on the "What Jesus wants" or "What Jesus would do" , do you think Jesus would want the Church using lay people just to get us out in a hurry or home 10 minutes faster? Or do you think he might want people to stay in Church a few moments longer, ponder a little, contemplate what they just received, and pray a few more minutes. A few minutes taken from their busy lives unselfishly. I would bet my dollar on the latter.

SqueekerLamb said...

If the Church allows EMHCs, the the Church allows EMHCS. Period.

Frankly they are poorly trained and then not retrianed, obviously.

If a pastor is going to allow their use at Mass, then does he not have the responsibilty to continually reinsure their training?
Apparently some catch-up may be due...
Perhaps the institution of a systematic retraining schedule would go a long way.

No offense to any party intended...just my repeated observations.

Anonymous said...

What an eliteist bunch of blowhards! If you weren't Catholic already, would you want to be after reading these comments? These attitudes are why people are leaving the Catholic Church by the thousands. QUIT TRYING TO ONE UP EACH OTHER AND JUST GO TO MASS!!

SqueekerLamb said...

What did I write that sounds like I'm an elitist blowhard?

I ask sincerely..