I hold the opinion that Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion should be safe, legal and rare. However, tonight we were extremely short-handed: our ordinary sacristans were gone, our ‘extraordinary’ sacristan did half of his job and left, and the substitute lector slipped into a back pew with his wife after the Gospel Acclamation. So our parochial vicar had two ciboria and nobody but me, a lowly altar server.
So he pressed a ciborium into my hands and, tracing a cross on my forehead, whispered a prayer - he says there is a new one in the Roman Missal to deputize an EMHC - and sent me out.
I have done pretty much everything in the parish except celebrate Mass or hear a confession, (ok, exaggerating), but I had skilfully avoided EMHC ministry. Nonetheless, I felt a great sense of awe and wonder as I distributed Holy Communion to worthy communicants. What a great feeling it was to be a conduit of grace and love.
I had two mishaps. I missed one woman’s mouth entirely and jabbed her in the upper lip, but I think she forgave me. A young boy approached me with arms crossed and I gave one of those invalid blessings I’m not supposed to give. The parish guidelines specify an inoffensive script for this situation, but I forgot it, so I held up my hand and said “The Lord bless and keep you.” I studiously ignored the infants. Not going to trace crosses on their heads, sorry. I didn’t drop any hosts and I am pretty sure nobody else had a chance to abscond with a host in pocket, so I would call it a good success. I purified my fingers in the ablution cup.
Now I feel like I should attend a training session just so I will be more prepared and confident for the next emergency situation. But I have no desire to make this a career, and alas, have no vocation to the priesthood or religious life. My other liturgical duties keep me happy and plenty busy.