Quite extraordinary

The Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. I am not one myself but there are several in the large congregation at my parish church. It’s an awkward phrase and we simply refer to them as Eucharistic Ministers.

Being familiar with the relevant 1997 document sponsored by no less than eight Vatican congregations and councils, I think an opportunity was missed here. While thanking the volunteers who do the work (not always a light load) the document is at pains to make it clear how second best the ministers must rank. They may only be used in cases of necessity, must never become a habit – and care must be taken lest the impression should be given that they are in any way to be confused with the clergy.

I do not cavil at the substance of this message despite its paranoid air of a group trying cling to its superior status. But how much better it would have been if the document had said: “The large number of communicants and the introduction of Communion under both kinds presents us with a positive opportunity to ask lay people in good standing to assist the celebrant in the distribution of Communion and, in appropriate cases, to bring the Eucharist to the sick. This sign of the priesthood of the laity has much to teach us about the community of the Church”

Same message but different words. At least it might have stopped one priest I observed airily waving away a lady accustomed to assist at early Mass, because a visiting deacon happened to be on the altar. The embarrassed lady was upset, and so was I – to see a rubric trump the law of charity.

A happier memory was an occasion when my wife was ill, and our friend B. brought her Communion. He read us the Scripture of the day, mentioned one or two points from the pp’s sermon, and prayed with us. It was a good and holy occasion.

I would never change queue to get a lay minister, but if I reach one I am glad. It gives me a chance to make the eye contact of two Christians in the act of sacred service.

But you may disagree.

Link to Vatican document.

About Quentin

Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
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97 Responses to Quite extraordinary

  1. st.joseph says:

    Where I worship, we only have Sisters who administer the Chalice.
    If there is a visiting priest, he will administer the Chalice.
    There are exradordinary Ministers from the local parish who attend Mass at the Monastery, and if necessary they will take Holy Communion to the sick, but that is not often,
    The priest or Sisters will takeHoly Communion to the sick, which as I say isn’t very often as it is not a Parish Church.
    As far as the priest you mentionw, was very uncompassionate in his dealing with the situation you say, I would put that down to bad-manners.
    If I was an Extradionary Minister which I am not,I would feel it my place to step down for a visiting Priest or Deacon. We sometimes have visiting married priests and their (wives ex Anglicans)
    and he will Con-Celebrate and administer the Chalice.

  2. claret says:

    Sadly it gets worse because I know of some Bishops in England who have virtually banned all Extraordinary Minister Services ( as commonly called Eucharisitc services,) in their Dioceses even when they have been well established practice over many years
    It is this well established practice that is causing concern because they say ( although not always publicly but within clergy meetings) that they are therefore not ‘Extraordinary’ but are becoming the norm. They also state , so i understand, that they can cause ‘confusion’ among the laity.
    It would seem that to be ‘exrtraordinary ‘ would mean occasions, for example, where a presiding priest was taken ill too suddenly to say Mass.
    I roughly calculate that in any 100 Mass going Catholics something like 80% will never have had a Eucharistic Service more than a couple of times in their lives. Is that not extraordinary enough wonder ? I base my figures on the fact that the vast majority of church going catholics rarely , if ever, go to Mass in a weekday when it is perhaps common for a Eucharistic Services to be held when a priest is on hoilday or away for the day.
    So on the same figures an bout 20 % of catholics are familiar with this type of service but even amomg those there is, as is, quite rightly as a matter of personal choice, a ‘drop off’ when Mass is replaced by a Eucharistic service. For the remainder to have daily communion is still a desire and not one of this 20% is unclear or confused over the difference bewteen the two types of services.
    The net reult of all this is that where there was a daily attendance of parishioners at Eucharistic services that they now have the church doors closed on them.
    This is little more than clergy arraogance by the relevant Bishops and a sad development that at a time of dropping numbers we decide to tell even those that do come , some every day of their lives, that they are not wanted in their Church on those occasions where Eucharistic services used to be held. The awful message to those daily parishioners is: ‘Stay away because you are too dense to understand the differnce between Mass and a Eucharistic service so we will make your mind up for you.”

    • John Nolan says:

      I would have thought that if a priest was not available for a weekday Mass and there was a congregation, they would be better employed reciting the Office together (a liturgical act) rather than relying on a lay person to preside over a non-liturgical ‘service’ of prayers and readings before presuming to raid the tabernacle. There are a lot of ‘long-standing practices’ which are at best dubious and at worst illicit, and if some bishops are belatedly recognizing this and actually doing their jobs, then they have my support.

      • Quentin says:

        I wonder whether a group of Catholics seeking to come together for Holy Communion, presumably with parochial approval, can properly be described as “raiding” the tabernacle. I seem to recall that when the disciples were attacked by the Pharisees for cropping on the Sabbath, Jesus said “Have you not read what David did, when he was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God, and they ate the consecrated bread, which was not lawful for him to eat nor for those with him, but for the priests alone?”

        I don’t think I need spell the message out.

      • Robert Hartness says:

        This comment is mean-spirited and does a great disservice to the many Ministers of Holy Communion who responded to the teaching of the Church as laid out originally in the proclamation of the Sacred Congregation of Service in 1973 – entitle Immensae Caritas

        I served as such a Minister at the James Cook Hospital in Cleveland until I moved house to another district. The only way Catholic patients could receive holy communion was by means of a rota of lay ministers, none of whom thought they were “raiding” the tabernacle in the hospital chapel.
        We were and ,I imagine still are, performing a very useful service that the local priest did not have time to perform (he had two parishes to run also)It seems to be the case however, that there is a world-wide move to curtail the activities
        of this ministry – in regard to parish work. This is not the doing of our Bishops.

        In case you haven’t noticed we now have a Pope who wants to reinforce the fortress mentality of the Church and apparently has little time for the notion of the Church defined as the People of God. So, I’m not at all amazed that there is NO attempt to accept this ministry or indeed to train Lay Ministers to lead (not preside) services of the word and holy communion.
        This is a great pity because days of “Inspiration” for lay ministers turn out to be just the opposite. It is my experience that the views of the laity are not sought or welcomed. They are told quite firmly about the restrictive element of their role and are not encouraged to see themselves as having a holy vacation in this regard.

        All of this is extremely sad and depressing. I expressed the view at a recent meeting of my Diocese that if the Pope/Priests/Bishops want to discourage lay ministers from coming forward, they were certainly succeeding. At a time when parishes are so stretched, it seems incredible to me that despite, the breath of fresh air that swept through the Church by courtesy of Pope John XXIII, Pope/Bishops/Priests are still so backward-thinking.
        No one wants to replace the role of the Priest and, yes, we all prefer to attend a eucharistic service presided over by a priest but do the lay volunteers who distribute Holy Communion not deserve to be treated like thinking adults and not recalcitrant children who are being naughty and cannot be trusted. Why do the clergy imagine that they are the only ones who are capable of respecting the presence of the Lord in the Eucharist?

        If the new policy towards lay ministers is changing, I’d prefer to be told directly and honestly. Instead we have veiled hints released from time to time. I don’t know which organisation operates by stealth and innuendo, more effectively, the Catholic Church or the European Community.

        I believe that the Vatican II documents were the best way forward for the Church in the Modern World, but it seems that current Papal thinking is inclined to jettison that initiative. The recent liturgical changes, for instance, serve only to show that the important thing are choosing words that we imagine God prefers at the expense of helping children to understand the nature of the Mass. The existing liturgy was not liked by those who are not in favour of Vatican II teaching and so it had to go.

        Harking back to the Latin Mass is also a mistake, I think. Are we vainly searching for a mythical golden age?
        Surely, many, many people who might have come back to the Church will simply be turned away by the use of a foreign
        language they don’t understand.

        For me, the attitude of too many clergy who support the Latin Mass was summed up by the priest who told me that offering the sign of peace was “a total waste of time” I just turned on my heel and left. There was no common ground between us.
        This the parish priest of my nearest parish church(different diocese). I never feel uplifted when I attend Mass there, Fortunately, my own parish church is more enlightened, but my diocese is moving in the direction I’ve outlined above.
        My parish Church is in a rural area and the priest is not in residence: he will be retiring soon too. There are two dedicated lay ministers who reside in the presbytery but it is likely that they will not be allowed to lead a Service of the Word and Holy Communion at any time in future. We have parish lay ministers and that’s OK for now but there’s never any feedback from “Inspiration Days” because new policies are on the way directly from Rome. Naturally, this is all guesswork. No one ever commits a change to paper or even whispers about it until it’s a “fait accompli”

        So, to summarise, I’m a cradle catholic being as faithful to my vocation as I can be, but I feel hampered and restricted by an uncomprehending monolithic organisation with its face turned towards the past and not enough vision to capitalise on the talents and faith of its laity, let alone lay ministers. It’s so tempting to just say “Why bother.”

  3. In at least one area the rubric is ignored and the use of “extraordinary” ministers has indeed become the norm. I suspect the attitude is similar to that of a former neighbour of mine towards her mischievous cat – “What the eye doesn’t see, you can’t sock him for.”

  4. st.joseph says:

    Wasn’t Holy Communion under both kinds only to be given when the congregation was small or when it was a special day.
    Many years ago when Holy Communion under both kinds wa allowed (and I think this was only in England) a priest told the congregation that we were insulting God if we didn’nt receive under both kinds, which made me more adamant not to do so!As he said he had come to the parish to educate us and to get rid of our ‘traditional ways’.
    The first day he was there he removed the Altar rails and refused to give Holy Communion kneeling!It was never a problem to stand for those who were unable-they could hold on to the Altar rails! But difficult to kneel without them.
    Claret says it is these things that were established and done for years upset people, over 100 people were upset with the appearance of this priest,who was once a Pentescostal, then an Anglican, then became a catholic priest and upset so many people that to my mind was unforgivable! If it had ended there maybe he could have been forgiven but it didn’t!
    But that didn’t put me off the Church, because to my mind he isn’t the ‘Church.’

    • It is the corrosion of all things traditional that upsets me. I am old enough to remember that receiving Holy Communion was done kneeling and on the tongue; there was silence in church even when the service was not on; it was rare to see an Extraordinary Eucharistic Minister and the priest was someone you could rely on to tell you off when you were sinning.
      Now, Extraordinary Eucharistic Ministers are at every Mass, kneeling is excrutiating for those of us with arthritis and the priest is more concerned with appearing friendly, especially to those with position and power in the parish. The Bishop sits idily by while some priests flout even the most basic of Catholic Church teaching and I fear the whole lot will come crashing down around our ears soon!

  5. John Nolan says:

    I understand that the term ‘Eucharistic Service’ has now been replaced by ‘Service of the Word’ which is good; words are important and the ‘Eucharistic Service’ of the Catholic Church is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Redemptionis Sacramentum (2004) reprobated the term ‘Eucharistic Minister’ and reiterated the restrictions on the role and use of EMHC. The indult for the USA allowing them to purify the sacred vessels was withdrawn about this time.

    The concept of a lay-led ‘mass of the presanctified’ is problematic for a number of reasons. Apart from anything else, since Vatican II the once common practice of distributing Holy Communion outside of Mass is discouraged. I can think of occasions (in the mission territories, for example) where it might be necessary, but these are exceptional.

    Given the shortage of priests, it may well be necessary to enlist the aid of the laity to take Communion to the sick and housebound, provided it is done from motives of Christian charity and duty, but since it denies the recipient the opportunity to make a sacramental Confession it is not ideal.

    Looking at the average parish noticeboard there seems to a veritable army of EMHC, the bulk of them female. Their large-scale deployment at Mass is rarely justifiable, and in the case of sparsely-attended weekday Masses at Westminster Cathedral, inexcusable. If we had more instituted acolytes, who are ipso facto EMHC, they would be at least properly vested and in the sanctuary. They would also have to be male, which is probably why the bishops are, for the time being at least, reluctant to go down that route.

  6. John Lockley says:

    I think some are lacking in education about exactly what is expected of an Extraordinary Minister, not least amongst ourselves (I am one). The word “extraordinary” is important, since the ministry of such people is dependent on there being more recipients than the priest can manage alone – which is normally implicit in Communion under both kinds – and on there being no ordained minister to assist. My own parish normally puts up two lay ministers of the Precious Blood, while the priest distributes the Host alone. Numbers are not sufficient to warrant a lay minster to assist with the Host. However, we often get a visit from two priests who like to holiday in the area, and naturally they concelebrate. Thoughtlessly we still sometimes contrive to put up the two ministers at Sunday Mass. The second priest sits down if this happens, since he too does not rank rubrics above charity, but if Extraordinary Ministers were better prepared then the situations that Quentin and I describe should just not arise.
    On a lighter note, Quentin touches on “rank” of ministry. I am in my seventies and am a lifelong Mass server. When I was asked to be a special minister, as I think they were called then, I was told they “rank” above the server (naturally they receive the Sacrament first). I am aware of the responsibility and privilege of administering Holy Communion, but if I was forced to choose between the two ministries, I would opt to continue as a server. Silly, isn’t it?
    In a world of shortage of priests and merging of parishes into larger units, the key service of the Extraordinary Minister must be in Communion for the sick and housebound, with a Liturgy of the Word, if they want it. It is no substitute for a visit by a priest if at all possible.
    As for lay Eucharistic Services – well I have conducted them myself, and I don’t get mistaken for a priest. In fact they make me feel rather small and inadequate.
    I think what I am trying to say in this long epistle is that there is nothing wrong with lay Eucharistic Ministry conducted according to the “rubrics”. problems beyond that are usually self-created.
    John L

    • Quentin says:

      I am entirely with you, John. I have served Mass since I was knee high to a grain of incense. And I tend to take the view that I am basically in charge of the altar — to which I have invited the celebrant. (Don’t suppose the celebrant always shares that view.) By the way, the linked document makes is clear that the lay Eucharistic ministers should not be differentiated from the congregation in their reception of Communion.

      All of us, from the priest downwards, are so miniscule compared to our great joint work that rank scarcely matters.

    • st.joseph says:

      John I think the name was always Extraordinary Ministers-and I didn’t think it had changed.
      You say that rubics does not rank above charity-why would it be uncharitable for the priest to adminster the Chalice over the Extraordinary Minister! There is no excuse for the laity to be uncharitabe either!
      I ‘disagreed’ with the ‘way’ that the priest which Quentin spoke,used his authority.
      Rubrics ranks over everything and as you say ought to be understood.
      The Holy Father has made the rubrics clear-there is no excuse for ignorance.

      • st.joseph says:

        When I was not too well with my diabetes and not so good in the morning-but went to mid-day prayer.
        Holy Communion was given to a sick Sister and I was asked if I would like to receive the Blessed Sacrament along with her(I go to Mass daily if I can) It never entered my head to refuse Our Lord, I felt very thankful and humble..I didn’t feel it to be wrong,only if I refused the gift of Him. We dont need to receive the Precious Blood as we all know He is Present under both kinds,
        I have been to Eucharist Services with the Sisters when the priest is away-which isnt very often!If I didn’t it would mean travelling to other churches-which isnt always possible.
        Also with the shortage of priests Mass is celebrated with one priest between 3 churches on different days.Elderely people cant always drive and bus’s are not sometimes possible.
        I am not called to that Ministry, we are all called in different ways.And we should respect
        that. From the top down as well as the bottem up.
        This is why I feel sad when lay people priests and Bishops dont respect the ministry of N.F.P. Teachers.Or those lay people who do their best to correct the false catechesis in schools! Or those who try to change the law on abortion.

      • John Lockley says:

        It isn’t a question of charity for an Ordained Minister to administer the chalice in preference to a lay Extraordinary Minister – that is what is expected as the norm.
        What is uncharitable is to publicly humiliate the Extraordinary Minister by making this an issue before a congregation. My point was that a properly prepared Extraordinary Minister should recognise the presence of an additional Ordained Minister, and not to come forward in the first place. Unfortunately there is usually a roster of Extraordinary Ministers, as pointed out by another correspondent, and they tend to come forward automatically without due regard for what may actually be the situation on the sanctuary.
        This indicates a lack of education / instruction / supervision – call it what you will.
        Firstly, the Parish Priest’s duty should be to make sure that the Extraordinary Ministers work in a thinking way according to the rubrics laid down. Secondly, where the Church, or part of it, chooses to ban a “long established practice” it is usually on account of a recognised abuse.
        As for purification of the sacred vessels, some priests leave it to the Extraordinary Minister(s) and some “play safe” by doing it themselves. The key issue is that it is done properly – again a matter of education. Even so, I have to confess, to my bitter shame, to having failed to do this properly one one occasion due to other distractions.
        Nobody’s perfect (even Priests?).

  7. Rahner says:

    I am an EM in my local parish but I always enjoy the apoplexy that EMs seem to provoke on the part of some traditionalist Catholics.

    • st.joseph says:

      Rahner, I take offence at your suggestion that Catholics sticking to the rubrics are traditionalists .These are just the kind of remarks I dont expect to hear from an Extraordinary Minister!! This is the kind of attitude we can do without!

      • Rahner says:

        The apoplexy usually arises not because any particular rubrics have been ignored but because some traditionalists are just opposed to the idea of having any EMs.

      • st.joseph says:

        Also Rahner I didn’t see the need for your enjoyment-does that give you ‘pleasure!’
        It ought to make you sad!Instead of revelling in superiority like so many who think we who were born before Vatican 2 dont like change. We are a moving living Church not stagnent- but we dont like moving in error!

  8. mike Horsnall says:

    Sometimes these threads do seem rather like chapters from Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast trilogy!
    I really like the line about rubrics not triumphing over charity. I take communion round the
    hospital and the roof has not fallen in yet though I have been doing so for about 3 years -it never occurred to me that I might have been raiding anybody’s tabernacle and those wanting to make confession can see the priest on his twice weekly tour. …I like Quentins bit on the miniscule nature of the man compared to the work. I don’t know if I’m a certified anything or if my diaconate training programme gives me some status I’m not aware of…I do know that 80% of people are glad to recieve, 10% are in the shower and 10% tell me to push off….

    • st.joseph says:

      Mike, I can not believe that people would tell you to push off- with the Blessed Sacrament.

      Also I am a little concerned with Quentins remark about ‘an opportunity to make eye contact with two Christians in the act of Sacred Service’,
      Even the person who does the collection is taking part in a Sacred Service..Even the widows mite!

      • Quentin says:

        Yes indeed, st.joseph. But you might agree that the act of giving and receiving the Blessed Sacrament is a specially privileged way for Christians to express their sense of communion.

  9. st.joseph says:

    Rahner-it would have been more appropriate if you had said some ‘catholics’.
    All catholics should be sticking to the rubrics. There ought not to be any difference between so called traditionalist, modernists or whatever one likes to call themselves.
    We are all one family in Christ! No one is more ‘special ‘in the sight of God.

    • st.joseph says:

      Yes indeed Quentin, but there are other circumstances that receiving and giving ,the sense of Communion is not only by the reception of the Blessed Sacrament. More than just ‘eye contact’. Without me going deeper into the subject.

  10. claret says:

    Satisfyingly I hear or read of very little opposition to what is commonly called a Eucharisitc Service. For the most part they are appreciated by those who value Holy Communion and are quite capable of discerning for themselves whether it is for them or not and whether they only want to receive Holy Communion it in Holy Mass or not.
    I am though stunned by some of the remarks on here which verge on the uncharitable. It was not lay people who brought this ministry into being.
    I go back to my main point that the Church doors are being closed in some parishes in this country to daily communicants and this is being actively promoted by certain Bishops.

  11. mike Horsnall says:

    When Pope Benedict came to Cofton Park I was stewarding. We had to stand by the priests with our yellow umbrellas to mark the communion points and presumably to keep the hosts dry if it rained. So, standing behind the Priest I watched as hundreds came up for communion-arms outstretched like beggars. I was quickly reduced to tears by the spectacle which was the most moving-and most ‘biblical’ thing I have ever seen; those hordes of people all hungry for the Bread from Heaven. There is a similar moment when one kneels at church after communion while the rest go forward. One is united in ones common need and ones shared vulnerable trust -regardless of personal circumstance; we sense ourselves as the Body of Christ.
    This is the moment I think Quentin speaks of -and the sense of a sharing in something profound beyond words. I get a similar sense when, as a member of the congregation, being incensed by the thurifer or the deacon -we ritually acknowledge our place in the kingdom of God-with all its mystery and awe, its responsibility and its grace.

    • st.joseph says:

      Mike I think you will find also that the umbrella or Canopy covering the Blessed Sacrament at Papal visits is also for respect. .As also in Corpus Christi Processions.
      I mentioned this before a while back, but I was asked why I dipped my finger in t Holy Water in Church-as she was told at a Extraordinary Minister meeting ‘we dont have to do that any more’! I said we dont do that because we have too!.Also I was asked why do I geneflect? I just asked her why does she go down on both knees when The Blessed Sacrament is in the Monstrance!
      The Tabernacle was move from the centre Altar . to a side Altar and I choose to go there first before Mass, a lady came up to me and said why are you kneeling here ? She then said dont you know God is everywhere . I said to her ‘Yes I know that but Jesus the second Person of the Blessed Trinity is in the Tabernacle Consequently this was about 40 years ago and when I went to that Church for Mass one time she herself was kneeling before the Tabernacle and remained there for the rest of Mass,. I noticed it was always females that questioned my actions!
      During the Swine flu epedemic my Diocesan Bishop stopped us from receiving from the Chalice .Maybe some realised then that they received Our Lord wholy and complete in the Host!Receiving on the tongue was optional- so I went up last. I didnt see anyone washing their hands before they received Holy Communion!They were touching door
      handles-the unconsecrated Hosts tongs Hymn books etc;
      I am just saying this as a passing comment and not as a critcism, but I feel that if people minded there own business and concentrated on the real issue that surround us-there would be less agravation in parish life.

    • Quentin says:

      Mike, you express my thoughts accurately — and with greater force.

      • st.joseph says:

        Yes Quentin, it is very true what Mike has said. But do we have to wait now for another Papal visit!. Wouldn,t it be good if it was like that all the time.
        Why are Churches closing-or 1 priest for 3 parishes, The Poor Clare have just left Woodchester after 150 years also Prinknash Abbey just closed its doors after opening the new one 50 or so years ago. They have gone back to St Peters GrangeThis is just in this area!

  12. Horace says:

    Quentin: “I would never change queue to get a lay minister” :- the word ‘queue’ here worries me.
    I think that the word queue is unarguably a correct description but it reflects a certain lack of the kind of reverence that I think the situation deserves.
    Note: The GENERAL INSTRUCTION OF THE ROMAN MISSAL refers to this queue as a ‘procession’ – which confused me considerably when I read it first – but I think is probably an attempt precisely to restore this reverential aspect.

    This question of reverence has worried me since I was about 10 years old.
    [ At this time myself and two friends declined to join the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary simply because members were rewarded with a ‘good breakfast’ once a month and we felt this kind of material reward inappropriate.]

    Another aspect which worries me is the fact that the majority of the congregation fail to genuflect when approaching or leaving the altar where the tabernacle containing the Eucharist is held – a perfunctory nod (or in the case of ladies a curtsey-like ‘bob’) is probably the commonest response.

    As a lay reader (not a lector) I was instructed NOT to genuflect when going up to the lectern or leaving it. When I protested ( note the GIRM says “Otherwise all who pass before the Most Blessed Sacrament genuflect, unless they are moving in procession.”) I was told that people would simply think “Holy Horace”!
    I have compromised by making a deliberate and profound bow.

  13. st.joseph says:

    I will say this to Mike ‘s remark ‘people coming up with there hands out begging’what I found with the large crowds was their hands were outstretched mostly because they could not reach the priest
    If that was meant to be a criticism towards those receiving on the tongue-that is not very charitable.
    People have the option!

    • mike Horsnall says:

      St Joseph,
      Never entered my mind to criticize those recieving on the tongue-never even really thought about it-I was far to caught up with the moment -what impressed it self on me I think were facial expressions and stances-which normally only those serving would see-perhaps its also my job as osteopaths are trained to read posture and expression almost like you may read a book-whatever!

  14. John Nolan says:

    I used the expression ‘raid the tabernacle’ in much the same way as you might ‘raid the fridge’ if you are hungry – and which you are of course perfectly entitled to do. Interestingly, the distribution of pre-consecrated Hosts is deprecated by some liberal Catholics (and indeed by Protestants), so these unfortunately-termed ‘Eucharistic services’ do presuppose an orthodox view of the Blessed Sacrament. I would not myself attend one, although I not infrequently attend Mass on a weekday. I am therefore unlikely to encounter Rahner in his EM role (and, by the way, it’s not the traditionalists who are now apoplectic at the current direction of the Church) although if I had advance warning that he was going to preach I might be tempted to go along and hurl anathemas at him.

    Mike, the idea of your prowling the hospital wards with a pyxful of Hosts makes you sound like a snake-oil salesman (or have I misunderstood you? – in which case I apologise). I thought Holy Communion was brought to those who have specifically requested it, or are in articulo mortis and require absolution and viaticum from a priest.

    • Rahner says:

      “it’s not the traditionalists who are now apoplectic at the current direction of the Church” You obviously haven’t been reading “Christian Order”.

      • John Nolan says:

        ‘Christian Order’ was fairly sound in the 1970s when it was edited by Fr Paul Crane SJ. It’s now too ultra for my taste. For manifold examples of liberal gnashing of teeth, check out the combox of NCR online and the PrayTell blog.

    • John Lockley says:

      I’m with Mike on this. I’ve had several stays in hospital, and if he prowled my ward with a pyx he would be welcomed with open arms. Lack of priests and merging of parishes has deprived me, among many, of daily Mass and Holy Communion, and if a Extraordinary Minister can bring the Host to me or conduct an approved “Eucharistic Service”, then to me it can be nothing but good. When I was consecrated by the Bishop’s authority as an EM, I was warned that many would prefer not to receive the Sacrament from me as a layman and I should not feel offended. I am not – that is their privilege. I repeat though that in certain times and places the choice is between Holy Communion from an EM or not at all, and to me the choice is obvious. I’m not sure why there is so much heat being generated by this topic.

      • st.joseph says:

        I cant see any heat generated by this topic, only ‘Eucharist Services’.
        Obviousley Extradordinary Ministers are very welcome in hospital- but I will say that sick people need to see a priest-not only when they are dying!
        What else have they to do-the laity do practically everything else!
        One day a priest fell asleep and it was time for Mass on a Sunday,he was elderely and a parishioner started to say Mass until the priest came for the Consecration. Now I ask you is that not ignorance or not, that was a few years ago when things were liberal, but thankfully it is checked now.
        I am going to put my head on the block now, but why do we not have more Deacons, when the argument is celibacy-if they were that interested and celibacy was the cause, why dont more men step forward. Also why is the Church mostly all women at daily Mass Where are the vocation for Deacons-when retired men could come forward and conduct Eucharist Services as Deacons by the dozens in a parish. They c0uld be a wonderful asset to a priest with the other Sacraments- as they are ordained , then the priest would have more time for hospital and home visits!

  15. mike Horsnall says:

    Hey John, wanna buy some snake oil kiddo….???
    Hi John,
    Raiding the larder I can be happy with!

    In our hospital it generally works like this. I tip up on a sunday and ferret out the list-the list includes both persons who have specifically asked for communion and those who have put their religion down as Catholic. I cross check my list against that which the anglicans have -to cut down double listing and the inevitable conflic that may arise with say a mildly confused patient not really sure what they are being asked. I then take myself off complete with pyx to see the persons on the list. Some may want to recieve, some may want prayer, some may want to see a priest for confession; some havent been to church in years and have no interest whatsoever. So I try to respond appropriately.
    Hope this helps John.

  16. mike Horsnall says:

    Regarding Horace and his holiness I have a question you may all be able to help me with.

    Alone in Church I am quite liable to prostrate myself before the altar simply because this seems the obvious thing to do. In the company of others during the queue/procession I am liable to bow just before I get to the priest, bow brieffly to the altar when crossing it to get to the chalice and then give a brief nod afterwards since yet another deep bow would seem to me a bit exhibitionist..It seems to me that as long as the basic rubric of respectful behaviour is observed then there is a bit of leeway according to individual inclination. Personally speaking I wouldnt much want to receive communion on the tongue because I simply don’t like it. Since my tongue is no more or less holy than my hands or any other part of me I can’t really see what the issue is.

    The thing that troubles me with discussions about the form and level of outer ‘respect’ is the notion that, during the most intimate and sacred of rites, individuals can sit/kneel in pews and yet allow their thoughts to stray to criticizing their neighbour who ‘isn’t doing it right’ I must confess that I find far greater concern with and abhorrence toward that possibility than with the failings of the outwardly mildly insouciant who may simply be unaware of the seeming impact of their behaviour.

    Right, having got that off my chest I will take to the hills and prepare for the onslaught…

    • st.joseph says:

      Yes Mike, thats what I meant about people minding their own business and not making suggestions about my conduct in Church.

      Also John, I wouldnt worry too much about Rahner-I will go with Quentin, in his act of Service, Rahner can keep to that as a Exraordinary Minister, as long as he doesn,t preach!!!!

    • st.joseph says:

      Mike, the comments we make on the blog can be helpful to make us think and hope we will be mature enough not to take offence- like you I will speak my mind and prepare for the onslaught.
      Are Eucharistic Services I am wondering the correct name for it-I am thinking that the Eucharist is Holy Mass- What is happening at one of these Services is the reception of Holy Communion and must not be confused with Mass.
      The Holy Father says that pre-consecrated Hosts ought not to be used in Mass only in cases of necessity.Do we call the reception of Holy Communion given to people in Hospital a Eucharistic Service? (Just thinking along the lines of John Nolan comments)
      Claret says in his comment about people receiving the Blessed Sacrament daily and the Churches closed, and another comment of yours about people at the Papal Mass begging for the Bread of Heaven. I like to go to daily Mass -but it isnt always possible. So I can

      make a Spiritual Communion. Or maybe reflect on the Mysteries of the Rosary!
      I am sorry I am at different odds with you and Quentin on this and Claret that people are begging for the Bread of Heaven-the Bread of Heaven comes in different forms we ought not to be that hungry,if we are satisfied already!.

  17. st.joseph says:

    Rahner do you read ‘The Flock’ Pro Ecclesia et Pontificia’s News Letter?

    • Rahner says:

      Yes, it’s hilarious! I am looking forward to its coverage of the Cardinal Burke fiasco.

      • st.joseph says:

        Rahner. you must have a peculiar sense of humour,if you think it hilarious/ So you know about that then!!! If that was your Daphne McLeod experience. Shane on you.

      • st.joseph says:

        Oh Rahner I left the ‘m’ out of of the word ‘shame I would not want you to misunderstand me!! But I am sure you know what I am referring to!

  18. mike Horsnall says:

    Still on reverence:
    On the other hand there is the need for a ‘form’ of due reverence. I’m currently having my behaviour modified in order that I be able to move about in the proximity of the altar in an appropriate manner-not too fast, not to slow-hands not like that but just so…Most of you learned this as kids I guess. When I began serving at the altar a year or two ago now I was quite terrified and found being there more of a trial than say street preaching! So the correct use of the body is important. I have also disccovered that the use of the body-to bow and to genuflect goes quite a long way to alter ones approach to God. Like Horace, when reading the instinct is to perform a low bow. Probably its down to the priest to oversee the norms of behaviour and make sure they fit the rubrics-but gently. A few weeks ago our priest had to point out to me that I was approaching bidding prayers from entirely the wrong avenue in that I was meant to lead the prayers not actually say them myself ..a hangover from good old evangelical days I guess. But he did it well so that I wasn’t left feeling a complete prune and now have a nice little book of bidding prayers far more pertinent and eloquent than my own..

  19. st.joseph says:

    Mike I took the Offertory up this morning and on the way back I geneflected,and if people wish to call me holy it is up to them. The Blessed Sacrament is there not hidden away,and I know the ‘norm’ is to forget about Him while we are at Mass until the Consecration- but then I may be called a bit of a rebel butI dont care. Do they think we are stupid or something that we should not recognise Jesus all the time.Thats the norm- but the I dont mind being ‘abnormal’
    The new Text is to bow in the Creed, I have always done that so has the priest- so whats new!Only every one is doing it now. I have always said ‘my soul will be healed’ I dont mind being different.But everyone is saying it now!I still like to bow my head at the name of Jesus-whats wrong with that?
    I understand that these things wont get me to Heaven-but they are natural to me .
    I dont wish to be a Reader either! But I dont criticize anyone else it good that they do. All work for God.I have always been in the Choir since I was 9,not in the same Church, but not anymore.There is a time for everything!And my time hasn’t finished yet with NFP and Abortion!! That keeps me busy!And my family.

  20. John Nolan says:

    Thanks, Mike, for the clarification. I recently spent three days in hospital (broken ankle) and at no stage during the admission process was I asked to declare my religious affiliation, so had I wanted a priest I would presumably have had to text him. Your remarks on posture are apposite; one of the things I dislike about a lot of modern liturgical practice is the way the faithful (those, that is, who haven’t landed some job in the sanctuary) are regimented and talked down to, e.g. “Let us stand to profess our faith”, when all that is required is for the celebrant to intone “Credo in Unum Deum” . I gather that in some US dioceses the bishops are telling people to stand throughout the distribution of Communion. It’s an over-zealous interpretation of FCAP, not helped by that passage in the GIRM recommending uniformity of posture, and it’s all so self-consciously … protestant. I prefer the way the Orthodox faithful connect with the Divine Liturgy; some kneeling in silent devotion, some lighting candles, no-one feeling constrained to stay to the end – or the seemingly unrestrained exuberance of African congregations, whose joy at being in the presence of the Lord is manifest. I’m not happy-clappy – give me a decent sung Latin Mass any day – but please spare us a dull Anglican conformity where everyone is watching his (or her) neighbour.

  21. st.joseph says:


  22. st.joseph says:

    Mike reference your comment ‘Since my tongue is no more or less than my my hands or any other parts of by body-I cant really see what the issue is. Is it an issue?
    It is an issue when the Holy Father chooses to give Holy Communion on the tongue!

    I was interested in reading a book a couple of years ago by The Most Reverand Anthanasius Schneider ‘Domonus Est’ -It is the Lord.
    I found it interesting and I am not trying to convince anyone ,but a few comments from it I wiil make.
    One can suppose that during the Last Supper Christ would have given the bread to each apostle directly in the mouth and not only to Judas Iscariot (see Jn 13;26-27). In fact there existed a traditional practice in the Middle East of Jesus’ time that continues even to our own day, by which the head of the house feeds his guests with his own hand,placing a symbolic piece of bread into the
    mouths of his guests.
    Another bibilical cosideration is furnished from the account of the call of the prophet Ezekiel. He Symbolically receives the Word of God directly into his mouth; Open your mouth an eat what I give you. And when I looked, behold, a hand eas stretched out to me,and lo,a written scroll was in it …so I opened my mouth,and he gave me the scroll to eat…Then I ate it;and it was in my mouty as sweet as honey” (Ez 2;8-9 ;3;2-3).Or of the word of the Psalm 81;11, which one finds in the Liturgy of the Hours on the Solemenity of Corpus Christi; “Open your mouth and I will fill it “(dilata os tuum ,etimplebo illud).

    • st.joseph says:

      P.S excuse spelling error my computer is going all over the place-jumping up and down so I can not correct my mistakes.

    • Quentin says:

      I fear that I know little about the feeding habits in the Middle East — but I do not see why they are a relevant guide for us, but I do know that, in our culture, sticking out the tongue is regarded as very rude. So it seems to depend on what we intend rather than the physical nature of the symbol. I was told, round about the time that the question of Communion in the hand was first being actively discussed, that at a conference in the Midlands a group of priests were asked to unpeel a tangerine and feed it directly into the mouth of their neighbour. The priests found this very uncomfortable and something of an invasion. The discussion of Communion in the hand which followed must have been very interesting.

      • st.joseph says:

        Quentin I think there is a difference between a tangerine and Our Lord,
        Remembering also that there are times when a priest will have to do that and look after lepers, as I knew one priest who did. That is a priests vocation -to do uncomfortable things like doctors, God help us if doctors an nurse were so fussy.

    • John Nolan says:

      I had the privilege of meeting Bishop Schneider at Downside last year, and heard him discourse on this very subject. He comes across as a man of sincere and unassuming humility and holiness. It was after he presented a copy of ‘Dominus Est!’ to the Holy Father that the latter started giving Communion only on the tongue at papal Masses. Even those who habitually receive in the hand should read this little book, not least for the account of the persecuted Church in Soviet Kazakhstan and the devotion of the truly ‘Eucharistic women’ who had custody of the Blessed Sacrament in the absence of a priest.

      • st.joseph says:

        Yes John, that is a wonderful account of the Eucharist Women.
        It said also that it was not a movement towards Woman Priests (although we are all a part of the priesthood of the laity

  23. st.joseph says:

    Quentin I dont know the answer to this, but Iknow it has happened.
    When your wife was ill, could you have taken Holy Communion to her, even though you were not a EM.
    I cant see why not!

    • Quentin says:

      The occasions I was referring to were Sundays — when the EMs have a list of sick communicants already organised. But on a later occasion when weekday Communion was needed the PP gave me his blessing without hesitation. I wouldn’t of course dream of doing so without — he is the president of the assembly. (Mind you, I’ve lived in the parish since 1948, so they’ve kind of got used to me.)

      On the broader question, I start from the view that God is in no way damaged by any extent of misuse of the sacred species. It is the misuser who gets the damage, if he knows what he is doing. Therefore the key issue is whether the individual acts with the intention of proper reverence. But being an “incarnational” religion we know that, in ritual, there tends to be a connection between our bodily actions and our dispositions. If you, st. joseph, find that kneeling to receive expresses your sense of reverence that’s fine (if you, unlike me, can be confident of getting up again) but I find that receiving in the hand while standing up helps me to focus more closely on what I am doing. If I were carrying, say, a baby I would happily receive by mouth. But to have to do so by fiat strikes me as an expression of clerical dominance in which we, low born pew fodder, must not be treated as fully human. I am not saying that that is the view of the clergy, merely that that is how the action makes me feel. And, unlike Mike, I received by mouth unquestioningly for the first 30 years of my life.

      • st.joseph says:

        Yes I agree with a family member giving Holy Communion to a sick relative, with permission of the priest. And like you I am happy standing for Communion,we have to kneel at a Latin Mass,and receive on the tongue,. I dont attend Latin Masses,but have no objection to those who do.
        I think there may be a misunderstanding here by yourself and Mike to my reception of Holy Communion on the tongue.I made it clear that I had NO objection to those who wish to do otherwise, but do find it offensive when those who receive in the hand, find people who dont, peculier,and traditional.It is nothing to do with age.My eldest grandson of 20
        receives on the tongue and my son, the rest family in the hand.It is optional.
        I dont guide them one way or another-just thankful that they still attend Mass.
        My own personal preference may be peculier to some but I feel it more appropriate to receive it from the priest than to receive it from myself! As giving it in the hand is more like food than Our Lord. And before anyone thinks I am heretic I do believe He is food as is the Word of Scripture-we are fed in more ways than one.I just feel more close to Our Lord the way I do it! And I do like to geneflect before I receive-that doesnt mean that anyone else ought to.I consider my self grown up even though I do act foolish ‘to others’

  24. mike Horsnall says:

    I’m probably a greater fan of Pauline theology than I realise since his considerations about the body are those that come to mind. Its a bit dodgy to try and create precedent based on what happens in other cultures-particularly if we are trying to go back 2000 years or so. I’ve worked in the Middle East but I live here in the West Midlands which is why the example Quentin gives is germane.
    In this our domestic culture, having things placed in your mouth by another -when you are quite capable of placing them there yourself is indicative either of great personal intimacy or of abusive power games-neither category really describe well my relationship with the local priest. I’m quite happy to place a Host on the tongue of another who wishes me to do so, at hospital for example, but I don’t much like it done to me thanks very much; I’m not a lifelong catholic and never will be so the ritual has not formed me into happy accquiescence on this matter- and probably never will until neccessity should dictate.

  25. st.joseph says:

    Also why not do away with the unecessary actions of the priest purifying his hands after distributing Holy Communion, as the laity doesn’t?

  26. mike Horsnall says:

    ‘Even the Lord’

    ST Joseph this phrase has no meaning for me.

    Recieving God in the mass by faith is something ‘I’ do.. Its not my hand or my mouth or my teeth or my leg but me!!
    ‘I’ being the person who has accepted his place in Gods Kingdom and who seeks to become like Christ through the various means the Church has instigated.

    As to misunderstanding generally then we can all take it as read that 80% of our individualised emphasis is lost in translation from head/heart to typeface to screen..thats just the way blogs work I’m afraid.

    • st.joseph says:

      No Mike I dont think we can take it as read that 80% of our individualised emphasis is lost in translation etc..but if it appears that one is of a misunderstanding it is only good manners to put the matter right-and not taking offence. All it needed was a’ yes or a no’ Just confirming your comment earlier when you said that you just ‘dont like it’!What the ‘it ‘was.Some people may think the Host is some thing instead of some One’
      That is my opinion how a blog works!

      • mike Horsnall says:

        St Joseph,

        Yes it may be St Jo but it is also true that most of the time I simply do not understand your questions or your requests for clarity. Your comments and inferences from things I have written often baffle me completely and I have only a wild guess as to the nature of your questions.
        Not that it matters of course St joseph in the run of things- but it is truly the case that I honestly do not understand your drift a lot of the time, I think I can squarely say that when I think am baffled I probably am. Certainly you know what you mean when you write things like: “Even the Lord Mike” …but I don’t and nor do I comprehend the intent behind the question. Since I cannot see you or hear the tone of your voice I am left blind and deaf to your meaning-please believe me in this!!

  27. st.joseph says:

    I might as well make it clear as to why I also like to receive The Blessed Sacrament from the hands of a priest and not my own. It is a Sacrament, one of the seven,and the Priest acts in Personna Christi when Celebrating Holy Mass.
    It will always be my preference unless there is no choice.
    That is not to be offensive to a Extradordinary Minister.They do a service,but they are not a priest.I make eye contact with Our Lord when the Priest holds the Host up and says ‘The Body of Christ’ and I say Amen! The Priest is one with Him!

  28. Peter D. Wilson says:

    My objection to receiving Holy Communion on the tongue, apart from the unseemliness of the gesture involved, is one of simple hygiene: the risk of contaminating the priest’s hands with saliva. No doubt he would take care to avoid it, but in my profession it was essential to consider what might happen, not merely what was intended.

    Reverting to the “cobbler’s version” of the prayer before communion (“Say but the word and my sole shall be heeled”) unfortunately arouses my over-developed sense of the ridiculous.

    • st.joseph says:

      When the priest holds up the Host, I am not thinking of shoes!. I am where I am
      Apart from getting germs, there is as much germs from the Chalice, that is why the Bishop stopped it when the Swine flu was supposed to be an epidemic.
      Have you any references to how many germs have been caught or deaths for that matter from receiving Holy Communion on the tongue.

  29. st.joseph says:

    Thank you Mike, I dont mean to confuse you, but I ask because I like to get down to the nitty gritty of things. I like people to ask me as I would like them to understand what I say.
    It is difficult when we can not see a persons expressions and dont know whether it is tongue in cheek or meant to be taken seriously!
    By the way what is ST JO are you being funny!!

  30. mike Horsnall says:

    But I would accept that’ recieving on the tongue’ has a different implication than ‘taking by the hand’. The first could imply: complete trust, abject dependence, humble acceptance of ones incapacity while the second could represent: personal independence, an overweening sense of self importance, a refusal to acept things as they are. I’ve just read a couple of reviews of Dominus Est and maybe thats what is being driven at-I’ll have to get hold of the book….John Nolan-I worked on the border of Khazakstan for a year while in China, I developed an interest in Kazhaks-the persecution -there and in China was quite appalling.

  31. Iona says:

    Peter – If a communicant receives on the tongue, and the priest accidentally touches that tongue with his hand, then even if the next communicant receives in the hand, the host which s/he receives may be contaminated with the previous communicant’s saliva via the hand of the priest. So receiving in the hand is not a guarantee of avoiding contamination via saliva, unless every communicant receives in the hand.
    The priest washes his hands just before the consecration, so he touches the host with relatively clean hands. Members of the congregation, even if they wash their hands just before leaving their houses to come to church, will have touched all sorts of other things (door-handles, steering-wheel, other people’s hands…) by the time they come to take communion. So receiving on the tongue not only tends to avoid contamination by bacteria, it also shows more respect for the Host by keeping contamination away from it.

    • Peter D. Wilson says:

      If you consider the tongue more respectful than the hand, by all means go on presenting it. I think otherwise.

  32. st.joseph says:

    Peter, are you really saying that ‘no disrespect is shown to the Blessed Sacrament by receiving in the hand.
    One does not have to be walking with their eyes closed to notice.
    Quentin commented on 10 Oct 3.29 ‘that God is in no way damaged by any extent of misuse of Sacred Species’
    How do we know that He is not offended. If that is the case then why must we bother to educate those who do through ignorance misuse the Host.do we just look , which we do in all Charity, but that doesn’t mean that we dont believe it to be wrong.It is the priests duty -he is in charge.
    I have seen Extradionary Ministers sitting in a car talking to each other before taking Holy Communion to the person.I am not saying all Extradionary Ministers do that-but is that right.?
    I didn’t say anything, maybe I should have done-I turned my back on it-ought I to be ashamed?
    I take it as disrespect! Maybe on my part too-for being silent!

    • Peter D. Wilson says:

      Yes, or rather that falls short of what I am saying. I can receive the Host more reverently in the hand than on the tongue, and so I suppose do many others. May I suggest, in all friendliness, that you consider whether you have any right to impute disrespect where practices or circumstances simply differ from your own?

      • st.joseph says:

        Peter, thank you for your reply, or ought I to say accusation! Which is uncalled for.
        Did I say that I had a right to impute disrespest where practices or circumstances simply differ from my own in the reception of receiving Holy Communion in the hand or on the tongue?I would like a reply to that as you are putting words into my mouth.
        Read my comment again and you will hopefully understand what I said!!Thank you!!

      • Quentin says:

        I do think that we all ought to be careful about being too punctilious about detail. it seems clear that st. joseph thinks that reception in the hand is often abused by thoughtless behaviour, and Peter Wilson holds that, given that either method is permissible, the key factor is the recipient’s intentions. Since the two points are in no way contradictory, what is the argument?
        There are plenty more important things to talk about.

  33. mike Horsnall says:

    I agree with Peter on this. It is very clear that our preferences and practices differ . Theydiffer for reasons of personality and inclination, they also differ because the church allows and affirms both practices. I was at a meeting last night for EM ministers and all of these things came up. The priest affirmed recieving by the hand as current best practice but accepted by mouth happily. It is a mistake to consider ones own predeliction above anothers particularly when both are legitimate, outer actions do not generally display the inner heart and self righteous piety is a thing to be feared; we all need to be careful about this.

    • st.joseph says:

      Mike I hope you also didn’t misunderstand what I said and put words into my mouth either! Read my comment above.!!
      I am pleased you are training to be a Deacon and I do hope that when you are Ordained you will correct any abuses that you see as in my comment I was saying that I have often turned my back on things I have seen out of charity, as I am not the priest in charge.
      Whose responsibility is it?It is not a case of ‘hand or tongue ‘but Who it is we receive? That is the question!.

      • Peter D. Wilson says:

        I don’t wish to be unkind, but you ask for a reply. To quote only your own comment of 10:47 pm yesterday: “I take it as disrespect! Maybe on my part too – for being silent!” How could you be more explicit in imputing it, whether or not you consciously claim the right to do so? Where is the scope for misunderstanding? Granted that the quotation refers directly to conduct outside the “hand or mouth” issue, the imputation is also clearly implied by the first question addressed to me in that post. As for the others, could you read the intentions of those you criticise? “Judge not, that ye be not judged ” – although we’re all tempted to do so at one time or another.

        If you have difficulty in expressing your meaning clearly, I sympathise, but please don’t complain when people not personally aquainted with you take what you write as the only indication of what is in your mind.

  34. st.joseph says:

    Peter, I have every right to feel that being silent is sharing in anothers misconduct-if I stay silent.
    I choose to do that out of charity.
    We are on a blog here, so it is important to express what we think.
    Whether we agree with each other or not.
    As for misunderstanding each others comment, if you feel that I was speaking personally about you and the way you choose then all I can say is that it is yourself who is confusing it,
    Where does the ‘Judge not lest ye be judged’ come into it.
    The only thing I can take from your comment is in my ‘misunderstanding ‘ maybe ‘The best form of defence is attack!

  35. Iona says:

    Peter, I wasn’t meaning to imply that receiving on the tongue is in itself more respectful than receiving in the hand. I have only recently changed from hand to tongue, and that was because of considerations mentioned, i.e. that the priest’s hands would be a lot cleaner than mine, having only just been washed. I hope I received the Host with as much respect from my own hand as direct from the priest’s hand. If receiving in the hand, we’re supposed to stay in front of the priest (or EM) while transferring the Host to our mouth (getting a bit tangled up with my pronouns, here) to ensure abuses are avoided; I always did this.

    St. Joseph, as regards your chatty EMs who had a conversation in the car while carrying the consecrated Host: our pp maintains that he is not supposed to speak at all while carrying the Host, and if this is correct then I suppose neither should the EMs.

    • Quentin says:

      Iona, you are unwise to rely on the priest washing his hands before the offertory. I serve several priests regularly and in every case the lavabo wash is nominal and ritual. Indeed I have often witnessed priests consecrating and distributing the Sacrament after coughing or blowing their noses. I am sensitive to this since my wife is dangerously vulnerable to infections. I had my ‘flu jab this morning. Has your PP had his? Dare you ask him for an assurance? You are quite entitled to enquire.

  36. John Nolan says:

    Originally the celebrant washed his fingers because he had handled incense; only later did it become a ritual with the addition of verses from Ps. 25. The priest handles the Host with thumb and forefinger only; until 1967 he was required to keep them conjoined (except when taking up the Host) until the second ablution. After 1967 he was no longer required (though not forbidden) to do this – he could instead rub fingers and thumbs together over the chalice. The idea, of course, was to collect any particles adhering to his fingers. A few priests conjoin in the Novus Ordo; many (though not all) are very careful when purifying chalice and paten, which is particularly noticeable when Mass is versus populum.

    Yet the bulk of the laity receive the Host in the (left) palm which may then have particles adhering to it, before using the thumb and fingers of the right hand to transfer it to the mouth, and there is no purification afterwards. There is therefore a distinct anomaly between the way the priest on the one hand, and the laity on the other, approach the handling of the Sacred Species. This is why in 1975 when reception in the hand became an option, I resolved to continue receiving on the tongue.

    In regard to hygeine, during the swine flu hysteria I visited my (then) local parish church to find the holy water stoups emptied ‘as a precaution’. Yet everyone glad-handed everyone else at the Pax and the collection-plate was still passed from hand to hand!

  37. Iona says:

    If the priest’s hands are not clean, then it makes no difference whether I receive on the tongue or in the hand, – I’m just as likely to acquire his bacteria either way.

  38. st.joseph says:

    On reading Robert Hartness’s comment above on the use of Extraordinary Ministers- I must replyto his post. Oct 23rd. 6.47.
    First I will say I do notcondemn the use of Extraordinary Minister and can understand his concerns as one.
    On Facilitating Reception of Communion in Certain Circumstances the web he gave (I prefer to say it in English). Yes if those Instructions were kept then maybe there would not be so much controversy about it.
    It is well to see things through rose coloured glasses.
    But now Ithink it is necessary to go back to the beginning and do just what was intended with the norms laid down in the first place!

  39. st.joseph says:

    I would like to make a point here from the experience I and many other have had from a devoted Priest.

    I worshiped for 20 years at a parish where the parish priest was blind.
    He managed to get around with the helpof his guide dog, plus parishioners.
    No one in the parish who were sick were never without the Blessed Sacrament-or Sacrament of the sick or the Last Rites.
    He celebrated Mass on his own-with a taped Gospel.
    He gave Holy Communion to everyone on his own on the han and on the tongue, by which we guided him with our hand.
    He visited hospitals,getting a lift with helpful parishioners.
    If it was raining he was given a lift to the sick.or else someone walked with him with his guide dog, but mostly on his own.He had Benediction once a week, Corpus Christi Processions once a year where people came from all over. He went to all the meetings dearery and others.
    Also insulen dependant diabetic since he wa s six years old .He is still doing wonderful work at the age of 80. Plus writing books all his life.
    Maybe a few priests could take a leaf out of his book!

  40. st.joseph says:

    I also ought to have included Baptisms, Weddings,Funerals,and First Holy Communions.

  41. Robert Hartness says:

    Is there anyone in this thread who has a positive view of Minister of Holy Communion and in particular their role in presiding over the liturgy of word and communion, as postulated and recommended by the Church? I use the word preside rather than lead in deference to Canon Law
    CIC can 230 para3, as referenced in Catechism of the Catholic Church p210
    My only interest in this is to seek out those who may have met opposition to exercising this
    legitimate role in circumstances where a lay minister might have been called upon to perform
    this liturgical role for the benefit of a parish community but was not – leaving the community without either priest for a eucharistic service or lay minister for a service of word and communion.

    It’s so hard to get any picture of current practice outside the anecdotal. My interest lies in hearing about good practice in the various diocese. I’m not interested in adverse comment or alleged
    abuses, cases of real or imagined irreverence.

    • Peter D. Wilson says:

      Our village parish in Cumbria shares a priest, resident in a town some miles away, who also has other commitments. So far he has always been able to say a Sunday mass for us, or arrange for another to do so, but that may not always be possible, and even now we should not wish to impose on another overworked priest when ours is unavailable for a non-obligatory weekday mass. We are therefore very grateful to our lay ministers on such occasions for leading a eucharistic service as the next best thing; I cannot imagine how anyone might confuse it with a mass, or the minister with an ordained priest, especially since the prologue emphasises the difference.

    • Quentin says:

      It’s good to reply to this on the Blog so that all can see. But if you want more privacy you can always email to me, with Robert Hartness in the subject line. I will forward (or copy and paste if you don’t want to show your email address). Quentin

  42. st.joseph says:

    Where I live some priests have 3 parishes to look after.
    Mass is celebrated on Sundays in each Church, whether it be Saturday evening or Sunday morning.
    The priests then say Masses between their 3 parish’s during the week.
    There is no need for any Services of the Word.
    Is there any need for an excess of Extraordinary Ministers, I believe at one time there was 50 in one parish.
    Many years ago in a rural area a Coach used to pick up various people for Mass on a Sunday, It worked very well until it was stopped! It was very convenient and people did not mind paying a fare, it was also subsidised bythe Parish. This would also work well when Churches are permanently closed.
    Priests sharing their weekday Masses with other parishes, then Holy Mass would be available to many on a weekday.
    Where I worship the priest is away so a local Benedictine priest from an Abbey comes daily to say Mass, a priest is always available somewhere. Thats what sharing is all about.

  43. st.joseph says:

    Also in some parishes there is a Parish Watch, where the Blessed Sacrament is exposed in the Monstrance a few days in the week after Mass for mornings and afternoons, there is a list of names that parishioners are on a rota . And people can visit.
    It keeps the Church open and Our Lord company.
    I think it was the Cure de Ars (if spelt right) who said ‘I look at Him and He looks at me’
    It isn;t only a case of receiving Him,but being there in His Presence..

  44. Robert Hartness says:

    At Mass the other day, I suddenly and unexpectedly thought about Pope John XXIII. I wondered if there was any international support in the Church that was calling for his canonisation. I think that this thought has been kicking around in my mind since I read his book “Journey of a Soul” back in the sixties. He said at the time ” my soul is in these pages” I really do believe that, in time, his magnificent contribution to the development of the Church will be recognized and his cause will be taken up by a groundswell of support across the world. Obviously, while his initiative was well supported by the 3000 Bishops at the Council and endorsed in the full set of Vatican 2 decrees, there were and still are many who resisted and still resist this teaching. Nevertheless, despite the subsequent teaching of subsequent Popes who have both accepted and amended Vatican 2 there are so many clear elements of Catholic doctrine in this Council that have become the bedrock of the Church’s teaching. I just wonder whether the evident dissatisfaction displayed in this column about this one issue of Minister of Holy Communion extends towards an antipathy towards Pope John XXIII and the Vatican 2 Council Bishops, or whether there might be some support for my desire to see this incredible Pope canonised.
    The book I refer to is probably out of print – It was published originally in Italy, but an English translation appeared in 1964 published by Geoffrey Chapman London

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