Military Lay Leader

Hey everyone. I am in the Navy and looking to be a Lay Leader. That is, someone who assists the Chaplain in all his duties and leads prayer services in the absence of one. There are not a lot of Chaplains available, so I want to do this as a way to help evangelize the Navy (there are a lot of people in need of spiritual help). My concern is that Lay Leaders become extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. I am a firm believer in only that which is consecrated should touch the Eucharist. Is anyone aware of something, such as the use of gloves, that would help mitigate this?

The reason I want to be a Lay Leader is because in the military we have to be respectful and accepting of other peoples’ beliefs. If I have an official position as a Catholic Lay Leader, it would help give me a bit more freedom when dealing with matters of faith underway.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

I have not heard that extraordinary ministers aren’t consecrated to the purpose of dispensing the eucharist, as long as a priest approves it. Is this new?

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First of all, thank you for your service. God bless and protect you and all those around you.

As a member of the Armed Services, you are no doubt used to accepting orders from your superiors. So the question here is not really what we think…it’s what your superiors think. You need to discuss it with them. I’ve never heard of wearing gloves while distributing Holy Communion, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it couldn’t happen. Again, something to discuss with your superiors.


I go off of the St. Thomas quote from Summa Theologica, “Out of reverence towards this sacrament [the Holy Eucharist], nothing touches it, but what is consecrated; hence the corporal and the chalice are consecrated, and likewise the priest’s hands, for touching this sacrament.”

And the St. Pope JPII quotes, “To touch the sacred species and to distribute them with their own hands is a privilege of the ordained.” “It is not permitted that the faithful should themselves pick up the consecrated bread and the sacred chalice, still less that they should hand them from one to another”

As I am not ordained, nor are my hands consecrated, I would not want to handle the Eucharist. I am not entirely sure of the process of becoming a Lay Leader (as I have not yet gone through it), but I want to do some research into stuff like this before I commit to anything.

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The Church does not forbid the laity from touching the Eucharist. Your personal feelings are just that.

No, EHHCs are not permitted to wear gloves.


I am aware that it is not forbidden. I am getting my thoughts on this from Sts. Thomas Aquinas and John Paul 2 (see above response to Mike1w for quotes). That’s why I was asking about it.

I was not aware that it is not permitted, I was just curious if there would be something like that allowed. Thank you.

^ This out of context quote means you can’t give yourself communion. It does not mean EMHCs aren’t able to distribute. If you feel so strongly about the matter, you probably need to do some further discernment about your calling to serve in this capacity.

Also of note is how the Church herself apparently disagrees, at least in part, with the Summa while naming deacons ordinary ministers of Holy Communion and yet their hands aren’t consecrated, either.


Thanks for pointing that out. I was not aware. And of course I’m discerning this further. That’s why I’m here asking questions. Haha!

To your second point, permanent deacons are a post-Vatican II thing. In the Latin Mass, the Deacons are transitional and are not yet allowed to distribute Communion as their hands have not yet been consecrated.

(PS I love the username!)

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While I sympathize with your viewpoint, I also recognize that giving Communion today is governed by the rules in force today. What was allowed prior to Vatican II was a matter of the rules in force at the time. There are situations in which the pre-Conciliar rules govern today’s practice, such as in parishes run by the FSSP or the ICRSS, but it sounds like the environment you would be functioning in as a Lay Leader is not one of them.

Is becoming an EMHC a non-negotiable part of serving as a Lay Leader? If so, would that be a deal-breaker for you? I don’t ask this because I’m looking for a stick to beat you with :grinning: As I said, I sympathize with what you are saying. However, while I am not opposed to other people assuming that role and don’t call into question the Church allowing it, I’m uncomfortable with serving in this capacity myself. As a consequence, there are roles in my parish that I accept I cannot fill due to my views on the matter.


…restoration. Permanent deacons existed long before Trent. They fell out of use and were restored by Vatican II. (Just clarifying.)

Keep discerning… we’ll keep praying with/for you.



Disciplines, practices are not doctrine. They can change.

St Augustine nor St John Paul II were presenting opinions that reflected the practice at that time, they were not defining doctrine.


I know they aren’t doctrines. That doesn’t mean I can’t agree with them and see their value in the practices of modern times.

Permanent deacons are not a post-VII thing. They’re an apostolic thing that died out for a time in the West and was later restored. The East never ceased ordaining permanent deacons.


also, the diaconate was established before the presbyterite . . .

(nor is it a “lower” ministry or clerical rank . . . just different . . .)

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I think, if your feelings would lead you to consider wearing gloves rather than carry out the functions in the manner the Church has prescribed them, you might not be suited for the ministry.


That’s not what the Church teaches, though.

Moreover, we all touch the Eucharist with our tongues (regardless of the mode in which we receive), right?

I would avoid the use of gloves. The possibility of having visible-sized crumbs of the host increases when you use fabric gloves. Besides which, how would you purify your gloves following distribution of the Eucharist?

St Thomas wasn’t a member of the magisterium. The teaching authority of the Church has ruled that what happens at ordination – as what constitutes ‘ordination’ – isn’t a consecration of the hands of the priest, per se, or in a way excludes others from touching the host.

Keep reading. In the very next sentence, he writes, “It is obvious that the Church can grant this faculty to those who are neither priests nor deacons.”

This is an instruction that asserts that an EMHC cannot, on his own initiative, pick up a ciborium or chalice from the altar, but must be given it by an ordained minister. It is not an instruction that they may not touch a chalice or ciborium altogether.

Umm… tell that to St Stephen, or St Lawrence. :wink:

With all due respect, you might want to re-read the Acts of the Apostles. It was the apostles – the first priests of the Church – who instituted the ministry of ‘deacon’, in response to a particular need within the Church. :wink:

The apostles were bishops; as such, they chose deacons to assist them.

“What is the rule of love?”

If others need the Body and Blood of the Lord, your duty (as well as mine) is to get it to them. Whether in the form of communion, patience, or service.

You reverence is admirable. But admiration is something only us humans can give you.

If you can be an instrument that helps someone else of faith and good will receive God directly, I would suggest doing so and letting the rest of the details be as they will.

And may God Bless you ministry, reverence and passion for our faith!


Sure, but that doesn’t get at @dochawk’s claim, which was that there were deacons before there were priests. There weren’t. :wink:

The Twelve Apostles have a unique role in Church history, and as such, are considered the first bishops. The first persons outside the Twelve chosen to assist them were called deacons. Presbyters, or priests, were later (by 45-50, we have a record of them)

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