EMHC's: Extraordinary for a reason


From the Catholic Stand:

“According to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) and Redemptionis Sacramentum , the practice of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (EMHCs) is intended to be just that – extraordinary . Reading the GIRM makes this clear. In fact, there is no provision in Church documents to support the scheduling of EMHCs. The position is one created for the people of God when there is a clear need, not as a common weekly or even daily occurrence. The use of EMHCs is prescribed when extraordinary circumstances exist. Extraordinary pertains to unusual events, such as huge crowds or lack of sufficient Ordinary Ministers.”


In my parish, the average Sunday Mass has insufficient ordinary ministers. Better to schedule trained EMHCs than have a scramble to the sanctuary every Sunday.


The parish I attend now usually has 14 EMHC’s at the Sunday Mass I attend. That seems to me to be anything but extraordinary. My prior parish was the same in attendance, and they had only four EMHC’s. One reason is that the prior parish distributed Sunday communion under one species. If the current parish did that, the number of EMHC’s could be cut in half.

In the past, it was the custom where there was more than one priest in a parish, that the other priests would assist in distributing communion. That’s seldom done now, but it is also a possibility.

It seems that extraordinary has become ordinary.


We have one priest and a large parish. And why should the faithful be limited to receiving one species only because there’s a shortage of priests?


If parishioners receive only under one species, that is not a limitation, since they receive Jesus whole and entire uner either species.

There is also the possibility of using permanent deacons, who are ordinary ministers of holy communion. My brother’s parish has three priests and at least six deacons.


That’s great for that parish—not all are so blessed.


Yes, of course. In some places there are not enough priests even to serve every location, so people might be able to attend Mass only monthly or at longer intervals. Not everyone is blessed with an abundance of priests or deacons. Even so, we don’t designate lay persons to take the place of priests.


The Church allows for the use of EMHCs. It is up to the celebrant to determine if there is a need for them. Not those of us in the pews.


Distributing Communion, by Church law, is not limited to only priests and deacons. They have privilege of right, EMHCs do not. And EMHCs do not, under ordinary usage, replace priests or deacons.

The use of EMHCs is ordinarily left to the determination of the pastor. If one thinks it is being abused, one can write to the Bishop, and if one feels the bishop is wrong, one can write to the proper dicastery in Rome.

And when those who complain about the use of EMHCs are ordained, they the can make the decision, hopefully not as a minimalist.


At my Ordinary Form parish, Extraordinary Ministers are the rule, not the exception. The Communion lines move quickly like a fast food drive thru. The correct term “Extraordinary Minister” isn’t even used at my parish, but the informal (and less correct) “Eucharistic Minister” instead. Sadly a lot of people there think having EM’s is the normal standard, not the exception. Needless to say it bothers me. It’s one reason I am leaving my Ordinary Form parish as soon as I am baptized for an Extraordinary Form one that I have been attending also. There is so much more reverence there, and the priest takes his time to administer Holy Communion, and only he does it.


If my pastor did it alone, the Mass would extend into the beginning of the next Mass.


I think you can possibly attribute all this to the decline of priest vocations in the past half century. Due to this more and more lay people are being called on to fill roles that were traditionally done by priests.


Of course “extraordinary” in this case refers to their canonical status, not their frequency of use or how commonplace they may be, but why bother with accuracy, right?


Sunday Mass at our parish Church would be impossible without EMHC’s as we have 10 Masses every Sunday to accomodate an 80% Mass attendance in a parish of 14,000.



We’re only baptized once and ONLY once. And there’s no such thing as an Ordinary Form or and Extraordinary Form parish. A Roman Rite Catholic parish is a Roman Rite Catholic parish where EITHER FORM of the Mass (Ordinary or Extraordinary) can be celebrated.


I do believe a stranded prepositional phrase has just been exemplified?!


The poster is in RCIA and has not yet been baptized.

If he’d inserted additional commas in the sentence you quoted and bolded, that might have provided clarification :slight_smile:


Yes. If one were to insist on the same understanding of ‘extraordinary’ for the extraordinary form of the Mass, correction would be swift (and justifiable).


No, it does not.


It absolutely does. That’s precisely why the Church uses that terminology after fumbling around with other words for a while in the early years. It aligns with the terminology the Church uses elsewhere, as in “Extraordinary Form” of the Mass, as JulianN said.

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