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.