EMHC Not Receiving Communion?

I’m an overused EMHC, and since many of the scheduled EMHC’s often don’t show up for Mass, the job usually falls to me and a couple of others who do. We don’t mind, and our elderly Priest needs the help. Besides, everyone else is in a huge hurry for Mass to be over, and there is serious whining :crying: if Mass goes into OT.

If I’m not prepared to receive Holy Communion, then I just don’t. As a sinner, I celebrate the Sacrament of reconcilliation often, especially when I anticipate my deployment as EMHC, but this time I was unable to go to confession. Also, it is very likely that I’ll be needed to minister Holy Communion today. It will be hard to ‘hide-out’ for this one. If I can’t duck-out, my only options will be to RECEIVE the Blessed Sacrament, and just ‘tack on another sin’, or NOT receive HC. But I have to ask, if I’m not prepared to receive the Blessed Sacrament, can I even minister it?

Obviously, the simple solution would be to simply not serve, but if that’s not an option, what is the best way to handle this? I’ve never, ever seen an EMHC not receive HC, and I can’t help but think that it would be scandalous for an EMHC to NOT receive, for all to see. So, what to do? Don’t make waves, or follow my conscience?

[quote=cargopilot]If I can’t duck-out, my only options will be to RECEIVE the Blessed Sacrament, and just ‘tack on another sin’, or NOT receive HC.
[/quote]

Be VERY careful. You are not simply “tacking on another sin”. This is a sin of sacrilege, a MOST GREVIOUS SIN. To knowingly partake of communion while in a state of sin is to “drink the cup of judgement” upon yourself, as Judas did, IMHO.

Obviously, the simple solution would be to simply not serve, but if that’s not an option, what is the best way to handle this? I’ve never, ever seen an EMHC not receive HC, and I can’t help but think that it would be scandalous for an EMHC to NOT receive, for all to see. So, what to do? Don’t make waves, or follow my conscience?

It IS an option, no DUTY, not to serve. Simply state that you are not prepared to serve at this time. It is far better that our pride takes a shot than our soul. Again, this is my OPINION. God Bless.

[quote=cargopilot] So, what to do? Don’t make waves, or follow my conscience?
[/quote]

. THE JUDGMENT OF CONSCIENCE

1777 Moral conscience,48 present at the heart of the person, enjoins him at the appropriate moment to do good and to avoid evil. It also judges particular choices, approving those that are good and denouncing those that are evil.49 It bears witness to the authority of truth in reference to the supreme Good to which the human person is drawn, and it welcomes the commandments. When he listens to his conscience, the prudent man can hear God speaking.

1778 Conscience is a judgment of reason whereby the human person recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act that he is going to perform, is in the process of performing, or has already completed. In all he says and does, man is obliged to follow faithfully what he knows to be just and right. It is by the judgment of his conscience that man perceives and recognizes the prescriptions of the divine law:

Conscience is a law of the mind; yet [Christians] would not grant that it is nothing more; I mean that it was not a dictate, nor conveyed the notion of responsibility, of duty, of a threat and a promise. . . . [Conscience] is a messenger of him, who, both in nature and in grace, speaks to us behind a veil, and teaches and rules us by his representatives. Conscience is the aboriginal Vicar of Christ.50

1779 It is important for every person to be sufficiently present to himself in order to hear and follow the voice of his conscience. This requirement of *interiority *is all the more necessary as life often distracts us from any reflection, self-examination or introspection:

Return to your conscience, question it. . . . Turn inward, brethren, and in everything you do, see God as your witness.51

1780 The dignity of the human person implies and requires uprightness of moral conscience. Conscience includes the perception of the principles of morality (synderesis); their application in the given circumstances by practical discernment of reasons and goods; and finally judgment about concrete acts yet to be performed or already performed. The truth about the moral good, stated in the law of reason, is recognized practically and concretely by the* prudent judgment* of conscience. We call that man prudent who chooses in conformity with this judgment.

1781 Conscience enables one to assume *responsibility *for the acts performed. If man commits evil, the just judgment of conscience can remain within him as the witness to the universal truth of the good, at the same time as the evil of his particular choice. The verdict of the judgment of conscience remains a pledge of hope and mercy. In attesting to the fault committed, it calls to mind the forgiveness that must be asked, the good that must still be practiced, and the virtue that must be constantly cultivated with the grace of God:

We shall . . . reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.52 1782 Man has the right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions. "He must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience. Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters."53

The answer seems quite clear. One should never receive the Blessed Sacrament while in a state of sin. Simple Catechism 101 stuff. I know this and I do try my best to follow it. So, can one NOT receive the Blessed Sacrament and still minister Holy Communion? Has anyone, anywhere, EVER seen an EMHC not receive HC?

Again, I know the easy way to handle this would simply be to not serve, but since there has always been a ‘shortage’ of EMHC’s that I’ve filled, my inaction would be noticed. So unless I commit sacrilege, I will certainly become a noticable distraction, whatever I do. I suppose the best answer will be to simply decline the usual pre-Mass request to fill in for so-and-so, and remain kneeling in my pew, eyes closed, until communion is over. Another concern I have is Father often gives me subtle little nods when he wants me to do something like this. What do I do, nod back no?

Cargopilot,

I hear you. I know exactly how a priest can be up on the altar, turn and gesture to you to get your butt up there 'cause they’re short. They can be quite persistent. I would root my butt in place and not move. That’s what I’d do. Perhaps you’d feel better if you get out a large hanky and blow your nose obviously (joke). Of course, the reason I find myself in that situation IS a cold, not the confession deal (knock on wood). So I cannot distribute out of fairness.

As a doctrine note, there are certain issues a priest faces if he must say mass and is in your shoes, but I doubt it applies to you, a mere EMHC. The priest who did a mortal sin and cannot find a confessor in time is allowed to say mass and to receive without sacrilege if it must be done. A deacon or someone with more knowledge than me would have to answer for you in the case of an EMHC. I do know that all steps possible are to be taken so that a person doesn’t have to give away that they are in a state of mortal sin by not receiving. For example, the usher shouldn’t make a deal if a person doesn’t seem to be getting up to get in the communion line. Just leave them be.

I don’t think a person’s decision not to receive has to indicate mortal sin. It could just mean they didn’t keep the fast on accident. HMMMMMM…A pockeful of candy could be useful to you…:wink:

Anyway, my advice is to root yourself in place and not move. Unless the following canon applies to you, which I don’t think it does, based on your description, or unless someone more in the know can tell you otherwise:

Can. 1352 §1. If a penalty prohibits the reception of the sacraments or sacramentals, the prohibition is suspended as long as the offender is in danger of death.

§2. The obligation to observe an undeclared latae sententiae penalty which is not notorious in the place where the offender is present, is suspended totally or partially whenever the offender cannot observe it without danger of grave scandal or infamy.

Perhaps you could approach Father before Mass and ask him to hear your confession.

[quote=Elizabeth B.]Perhaps you could approach Father before Mass and ask him to hear your confession.
[/quote]

That would be TOOOO cool, but he is usually very busy, stressed-out and generally not too approachable. After the Mass has ended, he’s a whole 'nuther person.

If I’m really, really lucky, I might be able to quietly tell him before Mass to count me out for EMHC. If he asks why, I could just look down and say “Not ready”, or something like that. He could then tell me what, or what not to do. I’m hopeful it’s that easy, but I’m not confident I’ll have that opportunity.

So what about ministering Holy Communion without receiving? Is it OK, or not? I’m assuming that just because I’ve never seen it done that way, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s wrong.

I would never act in the capacity as EMOHC if I could not recieve and in fact I have had to go tell the captain that I could not do so and to please find someone else. I have also just asked someone else to replace me that day. I Usually do either by telephone. One of the requirements of becoming an EMOHC is to be in good standing in the church which I have failed to do if I have a mortal sin on my soul at that moment. At least that is the way I understand it.

I would serve if there is simply no other alternative and if not doing so would be a sin against charity. It will be a great act of humility to not receive upon the altar. I’m not sure why you can’t call Father up and/or just get there super early and explain to him the situation or go to confession.

Keep in mind that the priest does not have to be in a state of grace to celebrate mass, and he certainly passes out holy communion.

Interpret this as you will:

1128
This is the meaning of the Church’s affirmation[49] that the sacraments
act ex opere operato
(literally: “by the very fact of the action’s being performed”), i.e.,
by virtue of the saving
work of Christ, accomplished once for all. It follows that “the
sacrament is not wrought by the
righteousness of either the celebrant or the recipient, but by the
power of God.”[50] From the
moment that a sacrament is celebrated in accordance with the intention
of the Church, the power of
Christ and his Spirit acts in and through it, independently of the
personal holiness of the
minister.
Nevertheless, the fruits of the sacraments also depend on the
disposition of the one who
receives them.

It’s a good question that perhaps others may have as well…

If an EMHC is not adequately prepared to receive the Eucharist is he/ she allowed to not receive and still distribute communion to others

or

is he/she prohibited from distributing if he/she is not able to receive communinion him/herself?

And then, how does an EMHC convey his/her ‘status’ with the priest before or during mass, especially when the EMHC isn’t officially ‘on duty’ for that particular mass but is called on the spot to step up?

Might I suggest you call the parish office on a Tuesday, perhaps, to speak with father over the phone about the matter?

[quote=Princess_Abby]I would serve if there is simply no other alternative and if not doing so would be a sin against charity.
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Thank you. That’s the description of what I was thinking. ‘My’ Mass is the one that has the worst participation, the worst level of volunteer support and by far, the highest absentee rate of scheduled ministers. Our elderly Priest has mobility issues and it hurts him just to stand, much less than to distribute communion. I am strongly compelled to assist in any way I can, and I wear all the lay minister’s hats.

[quote=Princess_Abby] It will be a great act of humility to not receive upon the altar.
[/quote]

If it’s OK to distribute HC without receiving, that’s what I would prefer to do. At ‘my’ Mass, everybody, and I mean everybody, receives communion. For someone to not receive upon the altar would make them buzz like a two-dollar radio. Not that I care what ‘they’ say, I just don’t want to appear like I’m trying to ‘out-pius’ everyone. Sometimes, I just feel like the only sinner there.

[quote=Princess_Abby]I’m not sure why you can’t call Father up and/or just get there super early and explain to him the situation or go to confession.
[/quote]

You have to understand that it’s just better not to bother Father before Mass. He’s a whole different person after Mass, but he can be very ‘touchy’ before. Also, his only listed phone number is the parish office and you can leave him a VM. I do have his super-secret cell phone number, but I won’t use it, since he never gave it to me, I just saved it from caller ID, way back. I just keep it for an emergency.

[quote=Princess_Abby]Keep in mind that the priest does not have to be in a state of grace to celebrate mass, and he certainly passes out holy communion.
[/quote]

Yeah, I knew that about priests, I just wonder if that can also apply to a lowly lay-minister, in some limited way? I’m hopeful someone can provide me with some solid documentation of what’s allowed here. Can a lay person, not able to receive HC, distribute HC?

[quote=YinYangMom]It’s a good question that perhaps others may have as well…

If an EMHC is not adequately prepared to receive the Eucharist is he/ she allowed to not receive and still distribute communion to others

or

is he/she prohibited from distributing if he/she is not able to receive communinion him/herself?

And then, how does an EMHC convey his/her ‘status’ with the priest before or during mass, especially when the EMHC isn’t officially ‘on duty’ for that particular mass but is called on the spot to step up?

Might I suggest you call the parish office on a Tuesday, perhaps, to speak with father over the phone about the matter?
[/quote]

YES! YES! YES! Thank you for boiling it down.

It’s got to be defined, somewhere. I just can’t be the only person in this boat. I think that somewhere on this forum I can find the answer. I don’t want to bother Father with things I can/should find out on my own. He’s a busy, busy man, and I want to conserve his valuable ear-bone time for more important matters.

Does another parish in somewhat close proximity have a 5pm mass you could attend instead? Maybe you just want to avoid the situation and let them make do with whomever is there.

It almost sounds like you’re either going to commit a sin against charity by not helping (if you’re there) or literally scandalize people by not receiving. I just wonder if going elsewhere could be an alternative this week? You aren’t bound to attend that parish and that mass every week…

[quote=Princess_Abby]Does another parish in somewhat close proximity have a 5pm mass you could attend instead? Maybe you just want to avoid the situation and let them make do with whomever is there.

It almost sounds like you’re either going to commit a sin against charity by not helping (if you’re there) or literally scandalize people by not receiving. I just wonder if going elsewhere could be an alternative this week? You aren’t bound to attend that parish and that mass every week…
[/quote]

Yeah, I would love to go that route and you can bet I’m still thinking about it. The problem is both my wife and I are both scheduled to do something tonight and there’s no one we can call to fill in. If we bailed, it would be a real mess. What I don’t want to do is add even more of that famous Catholic guilt.

As I said, ‘my’ mass is the forgotten Mass for everyone who couldn’t wake up for the ‘regular’ Mass. It’s the king of absenteeism and lack of participation. It’s the ‘last-chance’ Mass in my town, and there are always a lot of unfamiliar faces here. It’s totally unpredictable. There could be a huge turn-out. or just a hand-full. We could have the richest of the rich and the poorest of the poor. There is no shortage of ‘out-castes’. I love it.

At this stage of the game, all I can do now is pray. I’m asking the Blessed Mother to tell me what to do.

My view is that an extraordinary minister can distribute Communion without consuming it.

Say the extraordinary minister goes to Mass and then takes communion to someone unable to attend Mass. Under canon law (canon 917), the extraordinary minister cannot consume Communion a second time that day outside of Mass. But he or she can do the ceremony of the Rite of Distributing Holy Communion Outside Mass.

Say the extraordinary minister drinks a cup of coffee before Mass. They should follow canon 919 “to abstain for at least one hour before holy communion from all food and drink with the sole exception of water and medicine”. The cup of coffee means they should not receive Communion. But I do not see it as preventing them being an extraordinary minister at that Mass.

But in the case of sin, the canon to consider is 916: “Anyone who is conscious of grave sin may not celebrate Mass or receive the Body of the Lord without previously having been to sacramental confession, unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess; in this case the person is to remember the obligation to make a perfect act of perfect contrition, which includes the resolve to go to confession as soon as possible.”

(From The Code of Canon Law, Harper Collins Liturgical, 1997, ISBN 0-00-599375-x, page 211).

[quote=cargopilot] I don’t want to bother Father with things I can/should find out on my own. He’s a busy, busy man, and I want to conserve his valuable ear-bone time for more important matters.
[/quote]

But Father is the person you will need to have some sort of agreement with in the end, is he not? Don’t the two of you need to be on the same page the next time you aren’t on duty, Father is at the altar and glances in your direction as if to becon you to step up to the plate to help out?

Also, what is more important than determining whether or not you are allowed to distribute communion without receiving it yourself for not having confessed your sins in time?

He is the shepherd of your parish. He relies on people like you to help him complete his mission. Your training and understanding of your roles should be of utmost importance to him. It won’t take more than 10 minutes of his time to get an answer. That’s not a lot.

Got into a discussion with a senior priest.

He gave me a detailed lecture on the three conditions necessary for something to be a MORTAL sin.

  1. Serious issue.

  2. Know it’s serious.

  3. Full consent of the will. His point is that sometimes being coerced does not result in full consent of the will. And if the third condition is not fully satisfied, then it’s not a mortal sin. He was pretty emphatic about that.

I believe you can serve withough receiving, however, if you can not receive because you are in a state of sin, you should not be serving Holy Communion. I don’t know where to look for “Official Teaching” but I have always understood this as the rule.

[quote=cargopilot]I’m an overused EMHC, and since many of the scheduled EMHC’s often don’t show up for Mass, the job usually falls to me and a couple of others who do. We don’t mind, and our elderly Priest needs the help. Besides, everyone else is in a huge hurry for Mass to be over, and there is serious whining :crying: if Mass goes into OT.

If I’m not prepared to receive Holy Communion, then I just don’t. As a sinner, I celebrate the Sacrament of reconcilliation often, especially when I anticipate my deployment as EMHC, but this time I was unable to go to confession. Also, it is very likely that I’ll be needed to minister Holy Communion today. It will be hard to ‘hide-out’ for this one. If I can’t duck-out, my only options will be to RECEIVE the Blessed Sacrament, and just ‘tack on another sin’, or NOT receive HC. But I have to ask, if I’m not prepared to receive the Blessed Sacrament, can I even minister it?

Obviously, the simple solution would be to simply not serve, but if that’s not an option, what is the best way to handle this? I’ve never, ever seen an EMHC not receive HC, and I can’t help but think that it would be scandalous for an EMHC to NOT receive, for all to see. So, what to do? Don’t make waves, or follow my conscience?
[/quote]

If you are unable because of conscience to approach Holy Communion you should not serve as an EMHC. You should let someone else step into the void. If Mass goes into over time so be it. Maybe this will get more lay people involved where it is truly needed. Has the parish advertised and held classes for people interested in becoming EMHC’s?

If what I’m about to say was already mentioned, I apologize. Here is my two cents worth though.

It wasn’t until 25-30 years ago that anyone other than a Priest or Deacon could even administer Holy Communion. So why do we now have to have a plethora of EMHC’s? Granted, some parishes close, so others have to absorb the influx of more parishioners, which means more communicants and the need for a FEW EMHC’s. Also, a lot of our clergy are now getting ‘up there in years’, so it’s harder/more tiresome for them to distribute; again the possible need for EMH’s. BUT, it seems to me that the priests are now too heavily relying on EMHC’s to take up the slack. As much as I love my Priest (who is getting on in years, but still very active), we are a mission parish, and on any normal given week, we have a total of 25 communicants. Yet we have an acolyte distribute communion along with Father. The question I always ask myself is why?

So, you’re an EMHC that’s ‘overused’. I would ask Father for a face to face sit-down and explain your concerns/troubles, and that although normally you have no problem helping him out, there may be times you can’t ‘in good conscience’ distribute. He should then advise you on how to handle any future situations.

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