EMHC giving communion to a priest


#1

Hi all,

I’m hoping for some helpful advice and not an argument so straight out I’ll say that I know the below situation is not ideal and not what I would choose, but given that it has happened to me in the past and is likely to happen again, I would like some help with what to do rather than how terrible it is that it happens at all.

I am an EMHC in a parish which is generally very faithful, prayerful and great. When I underwent training as an EMHC I was able to discuss my reluctance to ‘bless’ people who came forward in the communion line, for example. However, there is one problem which remains:

I not infrequently come across priests & deacons who are not in choir and who present themselves for communion as a lay person (e.g. they have come for confession ‘incognito’ and remain for Mass). What should I do? Does it make a difference whether they are priests or deacons? Whether I am administering the chalice or hosts?

Any advice as to what the official guidance is?


#2

Distribute Communion to them just as you would anyone else even though it feels somewhat backwards. If the cleric is not vested and part of the Liturgy, he is a congregant. On the other hand, it would also be appropriate for the cleric to make contact with the celebrant priest beforehand and assist in distribution even though he is not concelebrating.

I have been in the pew with my wife many times and receive from an EMHC.


#3

I am an EMHC and have had to give Communion to priests many times, usually because they were making a day’s retreat and wanted to be as quiet as possible and not be upfront and on view.
They must find it soothing and relaxing, I think.


#4

The best answer will be found speaking with your priest who will inform you of his desire.

Also trust these priests and deacons who come forward for Holy Communion. They are priests and deacons - they know what they are doing.

May God bless you and give you His peace.


#5

I’m also an EMHC, and often find myself in a similar situation. At the Mass at which I serve, there is a priest who took early retirement on health grounds - he had a serious stroke. He comes to Mass with a friend, stis on the front row and always receives Communion very devoutly from the EMHC’s. My advice would be the same as that given by previous posters, just treat them the same as anybody else! :slight_smile:


#6

ditto, I have done the same when visiting a church other than my own.
As far as making contact, if they are short and ask for additional ministers I would ask if I could assist.


#7

I think it’s important to recognize that any ordained cleric who is not presiding or assisting at the Mass ought to be en choro. They should vest in their choir dress, and don a stole for the reception of Holy Communion. It’s also ideal that they are seated in the sanctuary, but away from any concelebrants. Another ideal practice is that they are given Holy Communion after the celebrant (and any concelebrants), but before any of the laity (including altar servers and EMHCs).

This is mentioned in Redemtionis Sacramentum:

  1. …] They [priests] wear their proper choir dress or a surplice over a cassock. It is not fitting, except in rare and exceptional cases and with reasonable cause, for them to participate at Mass, as regards to externals, in the manner of the lay faithful.

#8

[quote="L_Marshall, post:7, topic:338955"]
I think it's important to recognize that any ordained cleric who is not presiding or assisting at the Mass ought to be en choro. They should vest in their choir dress, and don a stole for the reception of Holy Communion. It's also ideal that they are seated in the sanctuary, but away from any concelebrants. Another ideal practice is that they are given Holy Communion after the celebrant (and any concelebrants), but before any of the laity (including altar servers and EMHCs).

This is mentioned in Redemtionis Sacramentum:

[/quote]

I think this begs a couple of questions, however. Say a deacon goes on vacation with his wife. Is it thus expected that he'll pack an alb and stole and present himself as a deacon wherever he is on a weekend away? And as to the pastor of that church: I'm not sure how many dioceses issue ID's. Do I let a stranger onto my altar, potentially to also distribute the Eucharist, based on this stranger's word alone? Or does the deacon get from his chancery whatever the diaconal equivalent of a celebret is, whenever he's planning to be away?


#9

Some Diocese give their clergy ID that would identify them. If a deacon or clergy know they are going to serve in another dioces, they do need to get a letter of introduction from their own saying that they are in good standing.
Serving as a minister of communion is a bit difference. As a deacon I wa instructed that it is that parishe’s “Home field” and to be repectful of their practices, If they are short EMHC and asked for some, we can offer, but to let the parishers of that parish be first.


#10

. They should vest in their choir dress, and don a stole for the reception of Holy Communion. It’s also ideal that they are seated in the sanctuary, but away from any concelebrants. Another ideal practice is that they are given Holy Communion after the celebrant (and any concelebrants), but before any of the laity (including altar servers and EMHCs).

This is mentioned in Redemtionis Sacramentum:

I think this begs a couple of questions, however. Say a deacon goes on vacation with his wife. Is it thus expected that he’ll pack an alb and stole and present himself as a deacon wherever he is on a weekend away? And as to the pastor of that church: I’m not sure how many dioceses issue ID’s. Do I let a stranger onto my altar, potentially to also distribute the Eucharist, based on this stranger’s word alone? Or does the deacon get from his chancery whatever the diaconal equivalent of a celebret is, whenever he’s planning to be away?
[/quote]

L Marshall is correct, but the point about deacons having some sort of official ID is a good one. I don’t know the practice (but perhaps Dcn Lapey can help with that?), but absent a formal ID, a pastor (at least one who does not personally know the deacon) would be remiss to allow him to assist in choir based on “his word” alone.

As for “packing an alb and stole” while on vacation, no, I don’t think that’s necessary for either a priest or deacon. It’s highly unlikely that any parish he (or they) might visit, wouldn’t have “spares” of both in the sacristy closet.


#11

We are given “clerical ID cards”. However, anytime we are called to participate in a diocese outside of the territory of incardination, a letter of suitability is required from my home diocesan bishop to the diocese being visited. I have officiated at a wedding in Gatlinburg Tennessee where I was given faculties to do just that, serve at that Mass as deacon and preside over the ceremony in the Mass where the pastor of that parish was the celebrant. That was all I was authorized to do. All other Masses I made that week I sat in the pew with my wife, this is the norm.

It is not required by the GIRM sited above for any cleric any time he is at Mass to follow this, many times he is excluded from doing so. If permissions are not requested and permission is not granted he will sit as a member of the congregation.

There is a definite protocol that must be followed to vest and serve outside of one’s own diocese.


#12

I agree here with most of what you say, except the bolded part if you are in your home diocese. A cleric is an ordinary minister of Holy Communion. He should be serving in that role before the EMHC. However, if it is not made known before hand then as always, I sit in the pew with my wife and recieve as all others do, I have seen many priests do the same.

But to say that the EMHC should be first, that is not supported in any documents and simply not so. It may be the “nice” thing to do but not the appropriate thing to do.


#13

Yes, of course there is a protocol, particularly where a sacramental function is concerned. Outside his home jurisdiction, he may only function in a such a role with express permission. :slight_smile:

But a priest in good standing in home diocese (or in his community, if a regular), and holding a valid celebret therefrom, and who is not assuming a sacramental or liturgical role, should properly be seated in choro (and vested accordingly), even when visiting another jurisdiction. IOW, and although it happens regularly, he really should not be seated in the congregation. I’m not familiar with how this is handled for deacons.


#14

This is one of those areas were what is written and what is appropriate do not mesh.


#15

I would like to submit the following scenario to you for your opinion, especially the Rev. Deacons.

It seems like most of the conversation thus far has been about a Deacon not being able to to exercise his faculties and assist at the Mass without jumping through hoops or gaining permission for special occasions.

Assuming that all priests were familiar and open to the idea, should a cleric be allowed to attend the Mass in choir (that is: seated in the sanctuary, vested in their choir dress) without being known to the pastor, or having any special permissions, as long as they do not exercise any particular role or ministry in the Mass?


#16

In the given scenario, a priest, in possession of a valid celebret, need not be personally known to the pastor. To assist in choro, he would need nothing more than the celebret (as identification that he is, in fact, a priest in good standing in whichever jurisdiction is “home”). It should be the same for a deacon, (of course absent the celebret but present a valid clerical ID). Now, if the visitor is to exercise a ministry of whatsoever nature, the pastor is, of course, within his rights to delve a little deeper.

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see why the basic scenario presented should be a problem anywhere.


#17

In my opinion, no. It is basically the same for a deacon as a priest; there must be a reasonable assurance of the cleric standing. The pastor of a parish has the responsibility to be sure the cleric is in good standing with no canonical impediments. These protocols are not simply “hoops to jump through”. I’ve seen in my home diocese a lay person walk in and declare to be a cleric and only find out the person was misrepresenting himself. It is rare, but it happens.

The ID card we carry could suffice for a limited role as a Communion minister, but to celebrate the sacraments as officiate, that is another story.


#18

From my understanding, and I am no expert in the EF Mass, you are correct. But most parishes where the OF is celebrated this is not the norm. In an EF Mass all clerics vest typically in cassok and surplus and sit in choro. Also seminarians I do believe.


#19

Dcn. Frank, we’re going to have to agree to disagree here. There is a certain amount of catechesis that must be done so that your EMHC are prepared to do what is required by what is written, so that what we do matches what is written. It is not the rubrics that are wrong; it is the lack of teaching.

Now, if you are visiting another parish especially outside of your home diocese I would agree with you. But when you go to your neighboring parish for a confirmation Mass for your mythical niece, you should serve as minister of Holy Communion before their scheduled EMHC do. That is the protocol, we are ordinary ministers of Holy Communion and we should act as such.

Once the lay ministers understand why, they are very welcoming and gladly move aside, as they should.


#20

[quote="Lapey, post:19, topic:338955"]
Dcn. Frank, we're going to have to agree to disagree here. There is a certain amount of catechesis that must be done so that your EMHC are prepared to do what is required by what is written, so that what we do matches what is written. It is not the rubrics that are wrong; it is the lack of teaching.

Now, if you are visiting another parish especially outside of your home diocese I would agree with you. But when you go to your neighboring parish for a confirmation Mass for your mythical niece, you should serve as minister of Holy Communion before their scheduled EMHC do. That is the protocol, we are ordinary ministers of Holy Communion and we should act as such.

Once the lay ministers understand why, they are very welcoming and gladly move aside, as they should.

[/quote]

Dear Deacon,
I don't think we are in disagreement, just looking at different circumstances. Given the mythical niece, I would contact the parish ahead of time and the pastor if I could serve. I will say I went to another diocese parish for the first communion for a nephew, and the deacon insisted that I serve since he was expecting me.
I understand what you are saying and what the canon says, I also know there are many times it is not followed, even by people in possition who know better. Sometime it's better to just be the humble servant.
Dcn. Frank


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