EMHCs and Ordinary Ministers of Communion Must Receive under at Least One Form?

Making a new thread to discuss the question…

  1. Obviously it is church law and church doctrine that the priest saying Mass must receive Communion under both forms. He then begins to give Communion to the deacon, etc. If the priest doesn’t receive, it’s not a valid or lawful Mass. (Obviously the same thing applies to concelebrating priests, although I don’t think it could remove validity as long as one priest does receive properly. Anyway, they receive under both kinds, as shown in GIRM Articles 242-246.)

If deacons are at Mass, they are also required to receive Communion (and help distribute). This even supersedes the “Communion three times a day” rule, although there is some question as to whether it applies to Communion services outside of Mass that go beyond the 3 times a day rule. The deacon must receive Communion under both kinds (GIRM, Article 182).

The GIRM and the USCCB Norms direct that after the priest receives Communion, he gives it to the deacon and other ordinary ministers (priests not concelebrating), and then to the EMHCs. In the USCCB Norms (Article 39), EMHCs are specifically forbidden to wait to receive until after they have distributed Communion.

The USCCB Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Communion under Both Kinds says in Article 39, “All receive Holy Communion” and follows it up in Article 40 with, “After all Eucharistic ministers have received Communion, the bishop or Priest celebrant reverently hands vessels containing the Body or the Blood of the Lord to the Deacons or extraordinary ministers…”

So it would seem pretty clear that if EMHCs are going to distribute, they have to receive under at least one form, and almost certainly should be receiving under both (unless there’s a serious reason). If it’s a requirement for celebrating priests, concelebrating priests, non-concelebrating priests, and deacons, how would it not be a requirement for EMHCs? Are they holier? And indeed, at least in the US, it would seem to be an explicit requirement – “all Eucharistic ministers”.

(As a point of interest, if Mass is celebrated by one priest with one server, the server is not required to receive – GIRM Article 268. But then, it’s not envisioned that he’s going to be distributing Communion, either.)

Local bishops have the responsibility to educate EMHCs in the theology of the Eucharist and to establish local norms, so it’s possible that different places have different levels of Eucharistic awareness.

  1. It was also mentioned that EMHCs who bring Communion to the sick may have different requirements.

Given that purification of a pyx involves oral consumption of any leftover particles that can be picked up by finger or water, obviously anybody bringing Communion to the sick would have to receive Communion at least once – afterward! And it would seem that unless there were an emergency or a scarcity of priests, one would assume that the minister would be at least a weekly communicant, and ideally a daily communicant.

(Divvying up the post to give more room for references)

The bringing of communion to the homebound should just be left to priests so as to avoid accidental profanation of the Eucharist and all this business you mention.


(End of original post)

  1. Summing up – If someone is not in communion with Christ and the Church, temporarily, why would they put themselves forward to give Communion to others? It’s a strange idea, and seems to ignore sacramental realities.

Maybe I’m wrong about this stuff! Tell me if I am!

I think Eucharistic Ministers isn’t the same as EMHC.

This sentence by itself could mean that all have to receive. It could also mean after all who are going to receive. You’d need more clarity to conclude it means all must receive.

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Exnihilo, this is why we can’t have nice things.

I don’t understand. Why is that?

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I gave you the theology. I gave you links. I outlined and quoted from the relevant portions of the document.

Being an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion means being a temporary substitute for minor clergy. If people are not going to take that seriously, and read the documents with comprehension, and treat Jesus right, obviously EMHCs are going to be ended because of liturgical abuses.

“Nemo dat quod non habet.” That means, “Nobody gives what he does not have.” In this case, a non-communicant cannot give Communion. All the documents are continuing that rule. If there’s an exception to that rule, which makes it so that it only applies to clergy and not laypeople, you have to show me that quote.

You may be right. But i don’t think the particular points you made which I questioned make your point.

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My understanding is that Eucharistic ministers are priests and deacons - laity [ if trained and duly authorised and appointed ] are extraordinary.

This being so - from the above quotation , the Eucharistic ministers should / must Receive but it is not stipulated that the extraordinary ministers should /must. It does state that they should Receive before the administration of Communion to the faithful who come forward to Receive.


Then many, many homebound and hospitalized people would not receive Communion.

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Priests and deacons are “ordinary ministers.” Laypeople are “extraordinary ministers.” The whole group is properly called “Eucharistic ministers.”

But hey, let’s just quote the whole passage, so we can all look at it together!

USCCB Norms of Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion Under Both Kinds in the Dioceses of the United States of America:

  1. In every celebration of the Eucharist there should be a sufficient number of ministers for Holy Communion so that it can be distributed in an orderly and reverent manner. Bishops, Priests, and Deacons distribute Holy Communion by virtue of their office as ordinary ministers of the Body and Blood of the Lord.41

Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion

  1. When the size of the congregation or the incapacity of the bishop, Priest, or Deacon requires it, the celebrant may be assisted by other bishops, Priests, or Deacons.42 If such ordinary ministers of Holy Communion are not present, "the Priest may call upon extraordinary ministers to assist him, that is, duly instituted acolytes or even other faithful who have been duly deputed for this purpose. In case of necessity, the Priest may depute suitable faithful for this single occasion."43 Extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion should receive sufficient spiritual, theological, and practical preparation to fulfill their role with knowledge and reverence. When recourse is had to Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, especially in the distribution of Holy Communion under both kinds, their number should not be increased beyond what is required for the orderly and reverent distribution of the Body and Blood of the Lord. In all matters such Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion should follow the guidance of the Diocesan Bishop.
  1. If extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion are required by pastoral need, they should not approach the altar before the Priest has received Communion. After the Priest has concluded his own Communion, he distributes Communion to the extraordinary ministers, assisted by the Deacon, and then hands the sacred vessels to them for distribution of Holy Communion to the people.

  2. All receive Holy Communion in the manner described by the General Instruction to the Roman Missal , whether Priest concelebrants (cf. GIRM, nos. 159, 242, 243, 246), Deacons (cf. GIRM, nos. 182, 244, 246), or extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion (cf. GIRM, no. 284). Neither Deacons nor lay ministers may ever receive Holy Communion in the manner of a concelebrating Priest. The practice of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion waiting to receive Holy Communion until after the distribution of Holy Communion is not in accord with liturgical law.

  3. After all eucharistic ministers have received Communion, the bishop or Priest celebrant reverently hands vessels containing the Body or the Blood of the Lord to the Deacons or extraordinary ministers who will assist with the distribution of Holy Communion. The Deacon may assist the Priest in handing the vessels containing the Body and Blood of the Lord to the extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion.

Those pesky rules about the Sacrament of Matrimony keep a lot of people from having sex, too!

It’s a minimal rule, to ask that EMHCs be communicants in a state of grace.

Back in the day, bringing Communion to the sick was a matter of holding a small liturgical procession, with all the priestly pomp and circumstance entailed in Jesus making a visit.

It is desirable that the sick and homebound receive Communion. But it’s irreverent to say that a layperson, already exercising the extraordinary privilege of touching Jesus Himself, should be okay with not receiving Communion, not being correctly disposed, not being in a state of grace, and so on.

(And this is exactly why most dioceses’ instruction handbooks give directions for the EMHC being in a state of grace, going to Mass, receiving, getting the pyx right after Mass, and going to the sick right away; just as most dioceses direct explicitly that the EMHC prepare for Mass distribution by being in a state of grace, ready to receive Communion.)

If there’s an emergency, then fine. Stuff happens, and Jesus will understand. But if it’s not an emergency, an EMHC should care enough to give his very best.

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With all due respect, you don’t seem to be making much sense.

I don’t think that is true. They may be commonly called that but it is not a proper term.

Let’s look at some local documents.

Guidelines for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion
Office of Liturgy, Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee

Way of Life of an Extraordinary Minister

Obviously, it is important that an individual demonstrate an exemplary Catholic life before becoming an EMHC. It is also important that they cultivate those virtues after they have been chosen for that position of service to the Church. Again, a bare minimum below which an individual who is presently mandated as an EMHC should disqualify himself or herself would consist in anything that would prevent him or her from receiving Holy Communion, such as grave sin, failure to attend Sunday Mass, or a choice not to maintain communion with the teachings and life of the Church.

Positively put, an EMHC should seek, like all Christians, to cultivate holiness of life, especially through frequent confession, personal prayer, especially before the Blessed Sacrament, and attendance at daily Mass if possible. They should also seek to have a good knowledge and appreciation for the beliefs of the Church, especially through study of scripture and Church teaching. If an EMHC finds it difficult to live a life appropriate to his function, he or she should withdraw for a time from the distribution of Holy Communion, or, if necessary, a pastor may find it necessary to ask an EMHC not to continue in this ministry.

Preparation for Serving as an Extraordinary Minister

In preparation for his or her service, the EMHC should make sure he or she is prepared to receive communion – is in a state of grace and has fasted before Mass, according to the norms of the Church.

Maybe I’m dim here, but I am not seeing many situations where your average person who has the interest and goes through the time and trouble to be an EMHC would be falling out of the state of grace and not being a communicant. Usually the EMHCs I see are the folks who are frequent church attendees, involved in their parish, having an active spiritual life, and in some cases members of a religious order.

In the one case discussed recently on this forum, the young man who was an EMHC was having doubts about the Real Presence and had suggested himself that he cease being an EMHC, and was being pushed not to quit by his parents. If that young man had been an adult without parents influencing him, he likely would have just resigned as EMHC, thus solving the issue.

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I’m not sure what you’re saying. I’m responding to the idea that only priests should bring Communion to the sick and homebound – if that restriction were in place, very few of the sick and homebound would have access to the Eucharist.

In cases where it is not possible for a priest to take this on regularly, would this supercede the need of the faithful to periodically receive?

Good question. Perhaps if you could give me a specific example where there is a priest who isn’t able to do this regularly.

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