2200 FOR EUCHARISTIC MINISTERS: NOURISHING THE COMMUNITY #
2210 INTRODUCTION #
In 1973 the Church first proclaimed the need for extra¬ordinary ministers of the Eucharist. In his encyclical IMMENSAE CARITATIS (“Immense Love”), Pope Paul VI makes clear
2210.1 why Eucharistic Ministers serve;
2210.2 how Eucharistic Ministers serve;
2210.3 who Eucharistic Ministers are.
The document begins:
“Christ the Lord has left to the Church, His Spouse, a testament of His immense love. 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…. Greater access to Holy Communion should be made possible ….Provision must be made lest reception become impos¬sible or difficult owing to a lack of a sufficient number of ministers.”
The document goes on to explain that “local ordinaries have the faculty to permit suitable persons…to give the Euch¬arist to other faithful and to take it to the sick who are confined to their homes.”
The document insists that “persons who have been appointed to be extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion are neces-sarily to be duly instructed and should distinguish them-selves by their Christian life, faith and morals. Let them strive to be worthy of this great office; let them cultivate devotion to the Holy Eucharist and show themselves as an example to the other faithful by their piety and reverence for this most holy Sacrament of the altar.”
2220 HISTORY #
Ministers of the Eucharist were common in the early Church. Someone from each family carried the Eucharist from Sunday Mass to the home where family members would then receive each day during the week.
Over the years, the many individual ministerial roles were gradually taken over by the priest, to the point where he was often the only minister — of the readings, the altar, and Communion.
The Second Vatican Council began a renewal of many mini-stries in the Church, emphasizing the priestly ministry given to all at Baptism. Pope Paul VI writes in his en-cyclical EVANGELII NUNTIANDI “the laity can also feel them¬selves called to work with their pastors in the service of
the ecclesial community for its growth and life by exer¬cising a great variety of ministries according to the grace and charisms which the Lord is pleased to give them.”
In accord with the spirit of the Council, Church members now have the opportunity to serve as special ministers of the Eucharist. They stand with the priests and deacons as
those who offer their brothers and sisters the Body of Christ. Theirs is also the privilege to bring the Eucharist from the worshipping community to the sick or to those confined in their homes.
2230 THE EUCHARIST #
At the Last Supper, the Lord Jesus gave Ris Church the Sacrament of His Body and Blood that we might “proclaim the
death of the Lord until He comes.” He entrusted to the Church this unique memorial of His life, death, and resurrections, and asked that we do this in memory of Him.
Our Eucharist is called
“a sacrament of love,
a sign of unity,
a bond of charity,
a paschal meal in which Christ is eaten, the mind filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory given to us.” (St. Thomas Acquinas)
The Eucharist then is the source and summit of our Christian lives and of all Christian worship.
Special ministers of the Eucharist witness to the preeminence of this sacrament. It is the special ministers of the Eucharist who stand in the midst of the worshipping community and proclaim that this is indeed “The Body of Christ;” it is these ministers who call forth the people’s strong “yes” of faith in the presence and power of Jesus Christ.
By attitudes of reverence and prayer around the altar, the special ministers of the Eucharist manifest their devotion to our Savior present under the forms of bread and wine. They reflect in their actions an intimate relationship with God who gives us “our daily bread” and with Christ, of whose
Body and Blood we partake. By their presence before the community at Mass or at a sickbed, the Eucharistic ministers are abiding witnesses of the meaning of the “life-giving bread and saving cup” that they hold in their hands.
2240 RELATIONSHIP TO PASTOR, PASTORAL STAFF AND ‘COMMUNITY #
Extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist relate in particular ways to the parish community, and to the pastor and pastoral staff, ways that involve:
2241 faith witness
2242 selection of new ministers 2243 interview of new ministers 2244 meetings.
2241 Potential special ministers of the Eucharist have special
qualities of faith and active commitment to the parish, their community of faith. Parishioners recognize the potential Eucharistic ministers by their prayerfulness, dedication, and good relationships with others.
2242 The pastor and th(DE5e with whom he works, the pastoral staff, are alert to these qualities and those mentioned in Series 2250. In accord with the pastor’s mission from the Archbishop and with the particular responsibilities of the pastoral staff, the pastor and pastoral staff consult, and then invite parishioners to become candidates for the Eucharistic ministry.
2243 The pastor or pastoral staff member interviews the candy-dates and after mutual agreement, apply to the Chancellor to be registered as a Eucharistic Minister. The candidates then begin preparation for their new ministry. Once selected, registered, prepared and commissioned, the Eucharistic ministers serve the parish under the guidance of the priest or a designated member of the pastoral staff. The pastor
or his designate care for the spiritual welfare of the Eucharistic ministers, particularly through formal meetings held at least twice a year at which the pastor and all Eucharistic ministers are present.
2244 The purpose of the meetings is threefold:
2244.1 to allow for on-going spiritual development of the Eucharistic ministers;
2244.2 to coordinate planning and scheduling, and to discuss areas of difficulty;
2244.3 to demonstrate that the ministers are an important parish resource and deserve significant pastoral time.
2250 STYLE OF MINISTRY #
You who have been chosen ministers of the Eucharist are call¬ed to a most rewarding ministry. You are called to touch and to share one of Christ’s greatest gifts to His Church, His Body and Blood, given for the life and growth of His members.
This ministry takes place in the Eucharistic celebration, surrounded by brothers and sisters, or as Communion to the sick in solitary hospital beds or lonely rooms for shut-ins. In either case you bring Jesus to his people. The more you accompany this action with reverence, care and concern, the more clearly you witness to the presence of Jesus.
As a Eucharistic minister, you are a minister of your parish community, called upon to be a sign of care in the community by bringing people together, helping them feel at ease, pre¬paring them for their encounter in faith with Christ. Should you become a special minister of Communion to the sick, it becomes even more important that you bring to those people the sign of the community present in you. You bring both the Body of Christ as sacramental nourishment, and the Body of Christ which is the community you represent.
You have been chosen because you are a caring person, because of your witnessing to the community, and because you have shown yourself worthy in the eyes of the community to take on this ministerial role. The demanding nature of your ministry calls you to on-gong conversion and spiritual growth. Special
ministers of the Eucharist need time for personal prayer, reflection, and reading of the Scriptures. The more you understand about the Eucharist theologically, liturgically, and scripturally, the better your attitude and presence will be in ministering to the People of God. In this way you present yourself as spiritually prepared before the community. The manner in which you distribute Communion will reflect your spiritual life.
There should be in you a sense of the sacred. Remember that those who receive the Eucharist see you as sign and symbol of the sacrament. Therefore, do not rush or be hasty, but rather reverent and relaxed, comfortable with those you are ministering to. You are one part of a shared ministry, endeavoring to make the experience of the Eucharist an uplifting, joyful, and prayerful experience.
2260 OPPORTUNITIES FOR SERVICE #
As members of the parish community, the Eucharistic ministers serve in two ways:
liturgically, and pastorally.
Liturgical service occurs at Mass or Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament; pastoral service takes place during visits to the sick or confined. In both instances the Eucharistic ministers are there to allow Christ to be present. This presence is enhanced by the ministers’ sense of service, faith, and spirituality. The ministers’ gentleness, patience, and sensitivity are powerful signs of the love of Christ and the care of the Church.
2261 SERVICE AT THE ALTAR #
Eucharistic ministers arrive approximately 5 – 10 minutes fe¬fore Mass. They inform the priest or person coordinating the Mass that they are present.
Seating: There are several places the Eucharistic ministers may sit during Mass. They may be seated prior to Mass near the front of the church with their families, or they may join in the entrance procession. The ministers may then take seats in the congregation or in the sanctuary.
When to approach the altar: Eucharistic ministers come forward after the Sign of Peace. They stand near the altar. When the priest has received Communion, he will offer the Eucharist to the other ministers who then receive. Once the ministers in the sanctuary receive the Blessed Sacrament in both forms, all proceed to their Communion stations.
How to minister the Eucharist: At the Communion station, the ministers stand squarely in place. There is no need to shift from foot to foot. The ministers’ stance and posture make others feel they are comfortable with what they are doing.
As communicants stand before them, they make eye contact, a way of non-verbally communicating concern for the people before them. The ministers’ eyes do not wander, for the most important people in the church are those standing directly in front of them.
In distributing Communion, ministers are very aware of the people who come to them, and when possible, the ministers call them by name. “Carol, the Body of Christ.” “Mel, the Body of Christ,” etc. This intimacy between minister, communicant, and the Body of Christ forms the community of Christ.
The ministers say in a clear and confident voice, “The Body of Christ” to the communicants before them. The communicants respond “Amen” and indicate a preference for Communion on the tongue or in the hand. The dynamics of this should be prac¬ticed beforehand.
If the ministers also distribute the Precious Blood, they hand the chalice to the communicants saying, “The Blood of Christ.” They then receive back the cup, wipe it with a clean cloth, and hand it to the next communicant.
Special ministers of the Eucharist, while taking care to pre¬serve all signs of respect to their fellow believers, should never forget the extraordinary signs of reverence they owe the Eucharist which is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ Himself.
When particular Communion lines have finished, ministers move over to help at other stations, if needed. Ministers then bring the ciboria and chalices to the sanctuary. If a large amount of the Precious Blood remains, the ministers should aid the celebrant in consuming it. Ministers then return to their places.
2262 SERVICE TO THE SICK #
Following the practice of our earliest Church traditions, the Eucharistic ministers also serve by bringing the Eucharist to those unable to participate with the parish community.
When a person is confined either to the home, a hospital, or an institution, the spiritual comfort and strength of the Eucharist and the emotional encouragement of a fellow parishioner are a great blessing.
How to arrange for a visit: At the direction of the pastor or his designate, Eucharistic ministers are asked to visit parishioners wishing to receive the Blessed Sacrament.
A phone call in advance of their planned visit is recom-mended to arrange for a convenient meeting time.
Room preparations: The room is prepared with a small table covered with a white cloth. A crucifix and lighted candle are present. These preparations are encouraged, but not essential.
What to use: Eucharistic ministers carry the Blessed Sacrament in a pyx, a small box-like metal container made of suitable materials that is provided by the parish, or by the ministers themselves.
Immediate preparations: When their pastoral visits are arranged, Eucharistic ministers contact the rectory
to obtain the Blessed Sacrament. Frequently the ministers receive the pyx from the priest during a Sunday or weekday Mass. The priest might explain to the congregation the role of the Eucharistic ministers, and ask them to pray for both the ministers and for those being visited. The celebrant can also arrange to meet the ministers in the sacristy after Mass, or at some other mutually con-venient time.
After the visit: When the visits have concluded, the pyx and all consecrated hosts are returned to the rectory. If the ministers have their own pyx, they either consume the hosts or return them to the rectory.
Eucharistic fast: The regulation concerning the fast states: “Communicants are not to receive the Sacrament unless they have fasted for one hour from solid food and beverages, with the exception of water.
The period of the Eucharistic fast is reduced to about a quarter hour for:
2262.1 the sick who are living in hospitals or at home, even if they are not confined to bed;
2262.2 the faithful of advanced age, even if not bedridden, whether they are confined to their homes because of old age or live in a nursing home;
2262.3 sick priests, even if not bedridden, or elderly priests, whether they are to celebrate Mass or to receive Communion;
2262.4 persons who are caring for the sick or aged, and the family of the sick or aged, who wish to receive Communion with them, when they can-not conveniently observe the fast of one hour.”
2263 EXPOSITION OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT #
In the absence of a priest or deacon, a special minister of the Eucharist may publicly expose and later repose the Holy Eucharist for the adoration of the faithful. Such ministers may open the tabernacle and either set the ciborium on the altar or place the host in the monstrance. At the end of the adoration, they replace the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle.
It is not lawful, however, for them to give the blessing with the sacrament.
2270 THE COMMISSIONING CEREMONY #
Rite for Commissioning a Minister permitted by Apostolic Indult to distribute Holy Communion:
2270.1 Special ministers may be commissioned at Mass or at a service apart from Mass. The minister is commissioned in the presence of the people by the local Ordinary or by the pastor or a priest delegated by him.
2271 WHEN THE RITE IS CELEBRATED DURING MASS #
2271.1 After a homily about the pastoral reasons for this office in the Christian community, the priest presents the minister-elect to the people in these or similar words:
Our brother (sister) n., by indult of the Apostolic See, has been entrusted with the important duty of distributing Holy Communion to himself (herself) and to his (her) fellow Christians and of bringing viaticum to those in danger of death.
You, my brother (sister), have been chosen for an important office and must now strive more earnestly than ever to live the Christian life, to give a good example, to take your faith more seriously, and to be devoted to this great mystery which beautifully signifies the unity of the Church and wonderfully brings it about.
We know that by eating the Body of Christ and by drinking His Blood we proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes again.
So let everything you do become a spiritual offering, acceptable to God the Father through our Lord Jesus Christ.
We who share this one bread become one body in Christ Jesus. Since you give the Eucharist to your brothers and sisters in Christ, you must strive earnestly to practice that fraternal charity which was commanded by our Lord.
He gave His body as food to His disciples, knelt before them to wash their feet, and told them: “This, then, is what I command you: love one another:”
2271.2 After this instruction, the minister-elect stands in front of the celebrant who asks him (her):
Are you resolved to undertake this office which is being entrusted to you: to serve and strengthen your brothers and sisters by giving them the Body of Christ?
Minister-elect: I am.
Are you resolved to devote yourself to the service of the Bread of Life and to conform your own life to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ?
Minister-elect: I am.
Are you resolved to reverence and care for the Eucharist (which you will keep and) which you will administer:
Minister-elect: I am.
Then the celebrant rises and blesses the minister who kneels before him:
Source of all grace and blessing,
we beg you to bless + this person
who has been chosen to administer the Body of Christ. May he (she) faithfully distribute the Sacrament to his (her) brothers and sisters, be strengthened and comforted by it, and one day be found worthy to share in the everlasting meal of heaven. We ask you this through Christ our Lord.
All respond: Amen.
2271.3 An invocation for the newly-commissioned minister is added to the general intercessions (prayer of the faithful). In the procession at the offertory, the newly-commissioned minister brings the vessel containing the bread to the altar. At Communion he or she receives under both kinds.
2272 WHEN THE RITE IS CELEBRATED OUTSIDE MASS #
2272.1 If the minister is to be commissioned at a service apart from Mass, the congregation gathers and begins the rite by singing an appropriate song. Then the celebrant gives a brief instruction as above (2271.1), explaining the pastoral reasons for this office in the Christian Community, and presents the minister-elect to the people in these or similar words:
Our brother (sister) N.,…etc. (as above,2271.2). Then he invites the people to join him in prayer. All pray silently for some time, and the prayer by the one who presides follows, as above.
2272.2 An invocation for the newly-commissioned minister is added to the general intercessions (prayer of the faithful). Then the usual blessing is given, the celebration is con-cluded with an appropriate song, and all depart in peace.
2280 CONTINUING EDUCATION #
The continual call to renewal and conversion that is the life of each Christian extends to the Eucharistic ministers in light of their ministry.
For the Eucharistic ministers, daily prayer, the reading of Scripture might center more often around the Mass, or the selected readings of the day. In addition, a yearly retreat or study day, particularly with Eucharistic themes, is a necessary support for growth.
As the worshipping assembly is a dynamic, every-growing Body of Christ, so each individual minister is a source of life and nourishment for that Body. It is the minister’s personal life of prayer and reflection that enables the overflow of spirituality for the sake of the community.
Please see the bibliography of this booklet for specific examples to resources to aid in the ministers’ continuing education.
2290 SPECIAL CASES #
During the course of your service as a Eucharistic Minister, special situations will arise which will require your patience, love, and common sense.
2290.1 If people not permitted to receive Holy Communion should come forward for the Body of the Lord (e.g. non-Catholics, invalidly married Catholics, etc.), be careful not to cause them embarrassment. On one hand, the Eucharist is not for the non-baptized; on the other, public refusal of the Eucharist can sometimes cause greater harm than it seeks to avert. When there is doubt, discuss the matter with your parish priest.
2290.2 If children obviously too young to receive Communion come forward, you might smile and bless them. Never scold them publicly if their behavior does not accord with the best standards. Be careful, however, that they do not knock the ciborium or host from your hands.
2290.3 If you should drop the host, pick it up and place it on a paten either to be consumed or to be disposed of in the sacrarium later. If you should spill the Precious Blood, cover the area with a cloth and, after Mass, purify the area with clean water.
2290.4 If special ministers are needed during high school Masses, they should be at least in their senior year.
Administration of Communion and Viaticum to the Sick by an Extraordinary Minister
An Important Office of Immense Love Paulist Press, 1980
Holy Communion Outside Mass U.S.C.C.
Ministers of Life
North American Liturgy Resources, 1973
On The Mystery and Worship of the Church St. Paul Editions, 1980
Special Ministers of the Eucharist Channing L. Bete Company, 1981
Special Ministers of the Eucharist
Pueblo Publishing, 1979
There Are Different Ministries U.S.C.C.
Together By Your Side: A Book For Comforting The Sick And Dying Ave Maria Press, 1979
Touchstones for Liturgical Ministers
Liturgical Conference, 1978
These books are available at:
1834 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
McCoy Church Goods, Inc.
1676 Gilbreth Road
Burlingame, CA 94010
2400 HOME MASSES #
2410 GENERAL NORMS (STATUTES – 1969 – #59) #
- Leaving intact the legitimate use of the portable altar by those who have received a special indult and fulfill the requirements of the privilege, permission of the Ordinary must be obtained to celebrate Mass outside of a blessed church or oratory (cf. Canon 822).
- As an exception to the above prescription, general permission is granted to the clergy assigned to parishes to offer Holy Mass in the homes of invalids who have been confined to their homes for three months or more, in institutions for the aged, convalescent homes, prisons and similar institutions, and also in private homes not more than twice a week.
- Mass may be offered in private homes on weekdays (not on Sundays or Holydays of Obligation), provided the schedule of daily parish Masses is maintained, the Mass is celebrated in complete conformity with the existing rubrics and liturgical laws and does not begin later than 8:00 p.m., unleavened bread (the usual type of host) is used, and Communion is not given under both species. A homily should be preached.
- Care must be taken that these celebrations are care-fully prepared and explained so that the awareness of the fuller community is built up rather than destroyed. All appearance of favoritism to families must be carefully avoided; Masses should be scheduled according to a neighborhood parish plan, so that all sections of the parish may benefit in turn.
- Priests not assigned to the parish may not celebrate Mass in a private home in that parish without permission of the pastor.