Extraordinary Ministers


Anyone else think that its a position that just needs to be abolished?


Abolished, no. Restricted yes. They should not be, nor does it seem that they were every intended to be mainstream in a place like the US. However in places in South America for example where people get a priest once every few months, and mass could consist of one priest and 5000 of the laity, there needs to be a provision so tha the faithful can recive holy communion which should always be offered to the faithful.


Abolished is perhaps too harsh of a word. Let me get more specific now that someone has engaged this discussion.

It seems to me that they are getting a bit too big for their britches and no one wants to rope them back in and remind them they are laity.

I see (all too often) Eucharistic Ministers mouthing the words to the consecration and mimicking the priest’s hand movements.

If altar boys started doing this, they’d be reprimanded.

What does everyone else think of this madness?


I think that pastors should commission EMHC each year. Each year a different group. They should sign on with the understanding that it is a lay ministry and that they are to serve when and where they are needed. They could serve a second year carrying the Eucharist to the home bound. When they sign on they also agree to attend lay ministry formation twice a month in the theology of the Eucharist, Liturgy, prayer, etc.


I guarantee the line to become an EMHC wouldn’t be nearly as long if that were done. But I wish that was how they did it. Might make a world of difference.


I think they should be abolished…

Only the Consecrated hands of an Ordained Priest should ever touch Our Blessed Lord.


In some cases, especially where there is one priest celebrating a mass with 500-600 people or more, it is simply not practical to abolish them.

However, if the ratio is down to about 100 communicants per priest, and then EMHC’s accoringly, it would not be bad.

What is bad is that parishes that may not need an EMHC, still have them. Or, in many cases, far less are needed than are used.

Also, if you look at the Phillipines, they have parishes with only a small handful of priests, with congregations as large as 10,000 people. How do you not use EMHC’s?

Prudence is needed.


Modified and restricted. While I still have never seen a Mass in any Church that had any need for them, I can see and have grudgingly accepted that there may be a use for them to bring the Eucharist to the homebound. Maybe, sometimes.

I attend an Indult Mass that averages somewhere around 400 people in attendance. Two Priests distribute. Everyone kneels and receives on the tongue. Mass is not unduly delayed.

I also attend the Pauline Rite and have seen instances where with 50 or 60 people in attendance, there will be 6-8 Extraordinary Ministers. On Sundays whew, 13 or so, easy. And they don’t even offer the Cup on Sundays.

True, distribution does get over quicker, but does it really need to?

I still maintain that the real reason we have them is to give the faithful opportunities to participate more fully in the Mass. The same with cantors, readers, Masters of ceremonies and excess Altar Servers

Side note: Having been one of those, I can tell you except for really special Masses, two altar boys are enough and one is usually sufficient, unless you are using two Priests to distribute. . You don’t need 8 or 9 sitting around looking bored.


How did priests before VII and EMHCs manage in the Tridentine Rite with parishes just as large? they did, just finely i believe.


:clapping: :clapping: :clapping:


Before ordination as a priest or deacon a man is required to become an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion.

From the Code of Canon Law, canon 910 §2: “The extraordinary minister of holy communion is an acolyte, or another of Christ’s faithful deputed in accordance with Can. 230 §3.”

Canon 1035 §1: “Before anyone may be promoted to the diaconate, whether permanent or transitory, he must have received the ministries of lector and acolyte, and have exercised them for an appropriate time.”
(From The Code of Canon Law: New Revised English Translation, HarperCollins Liturgical, 1997, ISBN 0-00-599375-X).

From the homily for the Institution of Acolytes: “… It is your responsibility to assist priests and deacons in carrying out their ministry, and as special ministers to give holy communion to the faithful at the liturgy and to the sick. …”
(From The Rites Volume Two, Liturgical Press, 1991, ISBN: 0-8146-6037-1, page 107).

So a seminarian who believes that they, or others, should not become Extraordinary Ministers would be in a difficult position regarding their ordination.


Everyone seems to be forgetting a couple of things. First, prior to Vatican II, there were a lot more priests. With the priest shortage, there are many parishes that only have one priest, some that don’t even have one (they have to have a guest priest come to say Mass) not the 3 or 4 that they used to have. Also, if the Precious Blood is to be received by the faithful, this necessitates EMHC’s. My parish distributes the Precious Blood to the faithful at all Masses. I also don’t think that practice will change since the Cathecism says that "Since Christ is sacramentally present under each of the species, communion under the species of bread alone makes it possible to receive all the fruit of Eucharistic grace. . . (T)his manner of receiving communion has been legitimately established as the most common form in the Latin rite. But ‘the sign of communion is more complete when given under both kinds, since in that form the sign of the Eucharistic meal appears more clearly.’ " 1390 Cathecism of the Catholic Church. Our current Pope Benedict XVI wrote most of the Catechism, so he approves of communion under both kinds.


Letter of the Law and Spirit of the Law comes to mind in this instance…

A key indicator to what you just cited was that it comes from the institution of acolytes.

In a regular Parish, I have yet to see Acolytes installed. In a Seminary, well, its a different ball game altogether. I am referring to EMHCs in this instance as pertaining strictly to Parish life.

More specifically, to the ones who think they are clergy. As for seminarians, installment as acolytes and lectors generally occurs very closely to ordination to the diaconate.

But as that is completely off topic, I will simply let that issue die right there, I will not be incited into an arguement when the discussion is EMHCs who are now permitting themselves to remove/replace the ciboria to the tabernacle, mouthing along to the consecration, extending their hands and facing the congregation as they recite the Our Father etc.



How in the world did it ever function ???


Sometimes it isn’t that simple. Our parish is fortunate enough to have three priests (two assigned to the parish and a third in residence). In addition, we have two permanent deacons. Still, at any given Sunday Mass, there will be no more than two Ordinary Ministers distributing Communion (one priest and one deacon) and at least five EMHCs. Adding to the frustration, the other assigned priest and the other permanent deacon will likely be in the plaza outside church after Mass to greet and visit with people.


I’m only 44, so I couldn’t tell you.

However, did other priests assist with distribution of Holy Communion in pre-V2 masses?

If so, just recall the sizes of the rectories and the number of priests in them versus today. My childhood parish had 3 priests when I was a child, and there was often a chaplain for the hospital living in that rectory who use to help out on Sundays, as well.


Right, and how much did church attendance go down since then?


“How much did church attendance go down since then?”

True - good point.

I’m in a parish where the 9:30 Latin Novus Ordo runs until 11:00, give or take 10 minutes and it doesn’t bother me in the least. The extra time is coming from mainly from incensing, and the fact that the choir sings sacred polyphony (the classics).

One time, there was only one priest distributing communion at our 4:00pm Mass. Communion took about 20 minutes, if not longer. But, it didn’t bother me in the least because it gave me time to sit in quiet reflection.

Many, however, are interested in getting out moments after they say “Amen”. That is when a mass exodud occurs at several of my former parishes (no pun intended). People start tripping over each other just to get to the local diner for breakfast, or dinner, depending on the mass. You rarely see anyone leaving at Assumption Grotto before the priest leaves. Moreso at the 4:00 pm Mass, I’ve seen this, but not at the Sunday Masses.


Abolished for liturgical use - YES. Everything happening on the Liturgy must show our Catholic Faith - it is called Lex Orendi - Lex Credendi.

A lay person distributing Holy Communion does not show any Catholic Doctrine whatsoever and can be confused with Protestant Heresy due to previous church teaching that taught of the sacreligiousness of lay people touching the Sacred Host.

When they came out with “Ex Mins” and Communion in the hand they said it was to express our own “priesthood”.

Abolished for bringing Holy Communion to the sick - also YES. The priests need to get off their duffs and do what they are supposed to do! They even have two days of communion services at a local parish here so that the priest can have two days off!!! So Holy Mass is abolished for those two days at the parish.

And at my parish THERE ARE NO EXTRAORDINARY MINISTERS. Father runs everywhere doing sick calls himself and bringing Holy Communion- and also distributing It Himself at the communion rail every day and twice on Sunday! To a PACKED CONGREGATION as well.

THEY ARE NOT NEEDED!!! Not needed at all.



The EMHCs (among other lay people) are definitely getting too big for their britches, and a lot of the time, their use constitutes an abuse. Example: at the cathedral parish I attend, all the priests in the diocese concelebrate at ordinations. There should be absolutely no extraordinary ministers of Communion when every single last priest in the diocese is present at Mass. But there they all are, distributing the cups.

I have just had to replace my hard drive, so I don’t have my handy-dandy copy of Redemptionis Sacramentum ready to hand, but as far as I can recall, it says (a) EMHCs are to stand down when there are enough ordinary ministers, and (b) the purpose of EMHCs is NOT NOT NOT to increase participation by the laity. I am prepared to scream the next time I hear somebody make the argument that this abuse makes the laity feel more involved.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: it’s high time priests took back the turf that is rightfully theirs. If priests are overworked, then let the laity support them by taking over jobs they can properly assume, and leave the priests free to focus on prayer and those duties that only priests can fulfill. For too long, using the priest shortage as an excuse, priests have tolerated usurpations of their authority, degradations of their dignity, and a blurring of the distinction between clergy and laity. It is up to the priests to put a stop to this. If they did, I bet it would result in an explosion of vocations.

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