EMHC as a norm - globally


I don’t want to make this a debate as to whether EMHCs are over used - just a factual discussion. We know that the Church has made it clear that EMHCs are indeed to be *extraordinary * - only used when truly necessary. I am familiar with parishes in Western Canada, Eastern Canada, parts of the US, and the Dominican Republic - and in each of those regions, EMHCs are the norm at every mass at the majority of parishes. Is this true around the world? Are there any regions in the world where EMHCs are not the norm - where their use is truly an extraordinary occurrence?


Not to be a sourpouch, but…what does EMHC means? I’ve never heard that term before and I’m envolved with the Roman Catholic church in Europe for quite a while. ^^;


The fact is most parishes know how many parishioners will be at Mass.

For example, we know that we will have approximately 1,000 people at our morning Mass.

So, we schedule EMHCs.

If we aren’t suppose to schedule them, what are we suppose to do?

Wait until we have enough priests? Deacons? Knowing that both of those can take years to prepare. Call people up to help, every weekend?

There just isn’t a good answer.


Good answers:

1-Don’t distribute chalice.
2-Remind people that they shouldn’t be receiving if they’re in a state of mortal sin.


EMHC = extraordinary minister of Holy Communion (i.e. a lay person who distributes Communion)

Some people call them “Eucharistic ministers,” but the Church has asked us not to, as that term applies properly to the ordained (Red. Sac. 154).


This doesn’t answer my question though. There have been endless debates as to whether we should be using EMHCs…I don’t want to get into that with this thread. I simply want to know if there are any places in the world where EMHCs are not the norm Sunday by Sunday, parish by parish. There are certainly individual parishes where they are not the norm, but in my experience these are few and far between. In my experience, even masses attended by a mere 50-100 people routinely employ EMHCs. There were maybe 70 or 80 people at mass this morning, tops, but EMHCs were used and as a result Holy Communion was distributed in probably under 2 minutes - if that. On the other hand, the announcements took about 10 minutes.


1> I didn’t say whether we distribute from the Chalice or not.
2> This doesn’t solve the problem. It just assumes that people are receiving that shouldn’t.


I’ve heard that (in parts of) Mexico they are not used as much. The U.S. has always been on the cutting edge of liturgical innovation, I think in large part due to the greater Protestant influence here, but we’re not the only ones.


Protestant influence?!

Can you explain this comment, please?

Although the mainline Protestant denominations conduct communion services like Catholic parishes (a line of people moving forward to receive communion), the most influential Protestant churches in the U.S. and for that matter, in the world, are the Evangelical Protestant denominations. If they are still doing a communion service (many only do communion a few times a year), most Evangelical Protestant churches pass the communion around the pews in plates and little plastic (or glass) cups. I haven’t seen any Catholic parishes influenced by these practices.

As for the OP’s question, I don’t know the answer. From what I read about the state of Catholicism in many other nations, there are not that many priests, so I’m guessing that in many countries, not only are EMHCs used more, but there may be more “communion services” where there is no priest at all.


It does seem like the use of EMHC has become a norm, even for small groups of people at a daily Mass where it isn’t really necessary. There are at least 2 parishes in my area (Pacific Northwest) that don’t use them at all, but these are not megachurch parishes. The one county that I have not seen them used very much is Poland.


Maybe a seminarian can explain how this is taught in seminary at present?
The priests and pastors around here seem to have no problem with EMHC’s used all the time. The people who schedule these things are instructed to schedule 6-8 no matter what. Every week.
I’m guessing the OP is wondering when did the shift occur from “an unusual or extraordinary” occurrence to being a matter of course.
I’d be interested to know as well. This is not a hill I care to die on, it doesn’t bother me in the least. As long as the Eucharist is valid, I don’t care who I receive Eucharist from. But it does seem that the use of EMHC’s has become another way to volunteer and serve the parishes.
Maybe it’s just my area?

*(regarding the Mexican norm…our Mexican parishioners believe that they may not serve as EMHC’s unless they have immediately confessed before the start of Mass. That may have something to do with their more limited use there. :shrug:) *


I am an EHMC and we are used at every mass. Congregation size is not big at all though. We distribute the Blood of Christ mostly.


I have lived in two South American countries, several cities where I never saw a EMsHC. VERY rarely a religious sister or a seminarian would help distribute Communion but it certainly wasn’t the norm and never a “regular” lay person.


Sure. Liturgical innovation, and for that matter innovation in general, is an inherent characteristic of Protestantism. Usually it comes under the guise of “returning to the praxis of the Primitive Church,” but turns out to be nothing of the sort. Pope Pius XII warned about this in 1947 (Med. Dei 62 ff), and Benedict XVI addressed it as a widespread reality in 2005 (Address to Roman Curia, 22 Dec) and tried thereafter to correct it.

Please note that I recognize the lawfulness (and historical precedent) of extraordinary ministers and other practices previously forbidden. What I call innovation is the use, everywhere and in all circumstances, of every extraordinary and least preferred option, often in ways not intended, so that the face of the Roman rite is now radically different from what it was for centuries. This was never the intention of the Church, but of radicals.


The way I see people rushing out of the church it would seem people want the distribution of communion to move quickly. It’s not very devout but people are in a hurry. If you want to receive from the priest sit in the section where you know he distributes the hosts. The bigger problem I see is being told to sit or stand when you want to kneel in thanks. Hard to do with a person sitting ahead of you. None of this should affect the devotion you have for the sacrament. Keep focused on what communion is and ignore all the other distractions.


EMHC as a norm - globally



We want to split hairs on who should, and when they should, distribute the precious blood and body of Christ to fellow believers, when in Iraq and Syria, we have Catholic brothers and sisters who cannot even attend Mass because their churches have been destroyed, and many of their priests and parish members have been executed?

Give glory to God for the opportunity we have, instead of over analyzing rules or intents of rules.


In the nearest town which has a church here on my area, they don’t use them. Yet again, the priest spooks most of the parishioners into attending to mass somewhere else.


The United States is a little unique. We are one of the nations with the largest number of Catholics, yet we are out numbered by Protestants. We are the largest Catholic minority in the world.

So Protestant culture rubs off on Catholics, especially Cafeteria Catholics. The Protestant culture and ideas also rubbed off a bit after VII (namely the abandoning of Habits by some nuns/sisters, the use of hymns - not prayers / psalms - during mass, uses of non-sacred music in Mass, uses of Protestant hymns, etc.

There is a good book about this called: American Church: The Remarkable Rise, Meteoric Fall, and Uncertain Future of Catholicism in America published by Ignatius Press.


There is another book, published by Sophia Institute Press called The Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church in America



Our Cathedral almost never uses them during mass with the Archbishop, and rarely during other Sunday Masses.


The term “extraordinary” doesn’t in this case mean that their use has to be an unusual or exceptional occurrence. Rather, the ordinary minister of Holy Communion is the priest or deacon with extraordinary ministers used in situations whenever the number of faithful wishing to receive communion is so great that the celebration of Mass or the giving of communion outside Mass would take too long. When exactly this applies is of course a matter of judgment (how long is too long…) which, to some extent, depends in local custom but to use a simple example, a mass with say 500 communicants requires at least one extraordinary minister if not several - even if communion is only distributed under one kind. However, the General Instruction on the Roman Missal encourages (where permitted) distribution of communion to the faithful under both kinds - effectively making extraordinary ministers a matter of necessity. Granted however, they are only intended to be supplemental to ordinary ministers and ultimately this comes back to catechesis so that the different (but complementary) roles of clergy and lity are properly understood as well as the particular role of EMHC themselves.

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