Tuesday, December 28, 2010


This only occurs at a Solemn Sung Mass that a bishop celebrates in the Extraordinary Form. To me it cries out for reform. Get some chairs for those servers on the floor!

Now for the Ordinary Form of the Mass that needs some reform:

A reforming document from the Vatican many, many years ago in 1997:
“Instruction on Certain Questions Regarding the Collaboration of the Non-ordained Faithful in the Sacred Ministry of Priests“.
Article 8

The Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion

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”.(95)

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 the Deacon.(96) Extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion are those instituted as acolytes and the faithful so deputed in accordance with Canon 230, § 3.(97)

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. In exceptional cases or in un foreseen circumstances, the priest presiding at the liturgy may authorize such ad actum.(98)

§ 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.(99) 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)

This function is supplementary and extraordinary (101) 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”.


Marc said...

What constitutes "a great number of the faithful" such that extraordinary ministers are needed to avoid the distribution of Holy Communion being "excessively prolonged"?

For example, are extraordinary ministers needed at a daily Mass where there are about 50 people? Are extraordinary ministers necessary at a Sunday Mass where the church is full?

At a parish where there is more than one priest, why not simply have the other, non-celebrating priest come in to distribute Holy Communion? Is that allowed?

It just seems the wording of this document makes the norm the non-use of extraordinary ministers; however, it seems that in every parish they are the rule and not the exception.

I am not an extraordinary minister (and I do not think I would ever accept that honor because I personally don't think that they are necessary - I don't mind the distribution of Holy Communion taking a bit of time because it affords an opportunity for prayer and thanksgiving before and after receiving); but, I understand that those who are extraordinary ministers would be upset at the doing away with their "position."

Templar said...

Dare I say that even our beloved St Joseph crosses the line on this document.

Personally nothing under 1200 people justifies the use of EMHCs. If we can listen to a 12 min homily surely we can spent 15 mins distributing the Blessed Sacrament.

Losing their positions you say? Thsts the problem withEMHCs in a nutshell.

SqueekerLamb said...

Since you brought up the topic of EMHC yet again...
May I add that when they are present in a parish (which is basically always)they need regular, perhaps yearly, retraining.

People forget things, and end up mishandling the Eucharist. Next time I hear or see something inappropriate from or by an EMHC, I may just explode.

It's wrong for EMHC's to be sloppy or ignorant.

An exploding lamb, well that's not a pretty sight, I assure you.

Anonymous said...

Nice document Father. Too bad so many of your brother priests (and higher-ups in the diocese) refuse to follow it.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Templar, the need corresponds to the number of Holy Communion stations there are. If there are four, then you need for people distributing. You begin with the clerics that are at Mass, the priest and deacon and then go to the EMs. We have not yet returned to the common chalice, but in the past we had six chalice stations. The same would apply. Now if I decided that we would have 10 Host stations in our Church just to have EMs distributing, then that would be an abuse.

Templar said...

I understand completely Father, and as the Pastor the choice is clearly yours to make on the number of stations to have, and I question that not for a second. However, I think the document clearly implies that a way should be found to make the use of EMs a rarity, and truthfully, if they are used every Sunday that hardly seems like a rarity. It would be in keeping with the directions to find a way to reduce the number of stations and eliminate the need for the EMs, even if that means a slight increase in inconvenience for Clergy and laity alike.

But you are clearly within your prerogative as you have defined it.

With nothing but respect Father.