Ordained priesthood vs royal priesthood and being extraordinary Minsters of the Eucharist

Me and my husband signed up to become extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist for mass either on Saturday vigil or Sunday.

We recently met up with the ministry head and she just basically showed us what to do if we get assigned to wash the vessels after mass…that’s the only training we received. We even asked the ministry head on what do we do if we drop the host? she said it doesn’t happen (But I have seen it happen!!!) and she does not know, ends up asking the deacon in which the deacon gave a proper response on just consume it or bring it back to the altar and he will consume it.

Before we met with her, we started talking to some of the ministers that day asking for inputs on what to do and my husband bought up a really good question, what do we do if a kid or an adult comes up with arms crossed? I know we are supposed to say some sort of blessing but is there a sort of form? The only thing I remembered our spiritual director told us when praying over people is to not put our hands on the head as that is reserved for ordained priests/ministers. Then one of the ministers answered that she does not know about such rule and that we are ok to bless because of our royal priesthood.

Now, I have been doing a lot of research online and on my books and I came across a couple that said that we, as lay faithful are not supposed to do that because:
-first, its a priestly blessing and the lay faithful distributing has no liturgical ministry outside the distribution of Communion and
-second, for hygiene purposes (hand in consecrated bread then hand on head? eew)
Here’s the link I found: communio.stblogs.org/index.php/tag/priesthood-of-the-faithful/

By the way, they even asked us if we are helping out that day, we told them that we have not been commissioned to do so yet they just said oh we just pick up the medals and help out, we don’t have commissioning.You would think the diocese at least would send out guidelines or the parish comes up with a manual on how to train ministers and properly commission them in mass. (That’s what our parish does in Minnesota, every ministry is commissioned by the priest during mass after proper training)

Anyway, I was kind of disappointed that we did not get any proper formal training. For us this is the biggest thing we can do. I have been pretty much dong self training for it by reading and watching videos.

Any thoughts? Kinda freaking out that this parish has no formal thing for a ministry that is very close and personal to the tabernacle.

The Catholic Church has no extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist.

In the Latin Church…
Priests and bishops are the ministers of the Eucharist.

Deacons are Ordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.

Acolytes are ex officio Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. Laypersons can be deputed thus. You are in the latter category.

Redemptionis Sacramentumhttp://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccdds/documents/rc_con_ccdds_doc_20040423_redemptionis-sacramentum_en.html

What do you mean by this? so by title, we are not considered extraordinary minsters just lay minsters of the Eucharist?

Hello Blu.

First - Congratulations on the pregnancy! Yippie your first. how happy you must be.

Second - I’m curious. can you explain what you think it the Royal Priesthood mentioned in the threads title?

God bless.


By virtue of our Baptism, we are called to be a priestly people too. But I have read in the CCC that our priesthood is a royal priesthood, one that we share as a community of laity. Fathers bless their children, lead prayers in the home hence the domestic church. We are allowed to baptize a child in danger of death if there is no priest or deacon available.

Ordained priesthood is reserved for men who receive the rite of Holy Orders by the Bishop by the placing of hands on the heads. They are vowed to fulfill their liturgical ministry to the Body of Christ as the alter Christus. Higher hierarchy of priestly duty because they lead the faithful to the sacraments.

That’s how far I know the difference is.

Guidelines vary by Diocese. In our Archdiocese, laypersons are not permitted to purify the vessels.
You should have received instruction on the dropped host issue, and yes, you are correct, laypeople don’t bless.
There does not have to be a commissioning, but it’s a nice thing to have.
You should have received a certificate from your Diocese stating that you were properly formed.
Sounds like the training is lacking in your parish. Approach the priest for clarification, and do go online to get the guidelines form your Diocese. Sometimes you can take the classes at the Chancery as well.
Good luck.

I think what he meant was is that “Minister of the Eucharist” means that the person can confect the sacrament. Only priests and bishops can confect the sacrament (that is, only a priest or bishop is able to act in persona Christi and make the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ). Bishops, priests and deacons are the people ordinarily allowed to dispense the Body and Blood of Christ to the faithful (thus, the Ordinary Ministers of Communion). If the priest needs help distributing Communion to the faithful for whatever reason (usually it’s logistical), he can request that acolytes assist him, if available. These acolytes would be the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. However, if acolytes are not available, or there are too few of them, he can ask laypersons to assist, who would also be Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. The use of laypersons for EMHCs should only be done as a last resort (but, has become pretty much the norm at many, if not most, parishes in the US).

Unfortunately, even though EMHC use is extremely common in the US, there doesn’t really seem to be a standard of training for EMHCs. Some dioceses require that the priest do some sort of blessing on EMHCs when their training is completed, officially commissioning them to be EMHCs in their parish (and sometimes even their diocese). It seems as if your parish has very little training, and could use more. And it appears as if the head of EMHCs doesn’t really understand this. Maybe you could talk to your pastor and tell him that you and your husband really want to serve as EMHCs but you felt as if your training was inadequate. Maybe he and the leader of the EMHCs could put together a better training program - and possibly with the help of the diocese.

I know every diocese is different, I know when we see our spiritual director celebrate mass, he always and always cleans the vessels out by ‘washing’ them with wine and water after communion and drinks all of it, any crumbs left on his hand he picks them out and eats it. I mean, we salute the guy for having such reverence to the sacred Body and Blood of Christ. We can really see his reverence to this amazing sacrament.

I was surprised that the ministry head ‘brushes off’ the crumbs to the sanctorium instead of eating. I know lay people are not allowed to transfer the consecrated host to the vessels, but isn’t the priest or deacon supposed to at least rinse off and consume the crumbs before being properly washed after mass?

We like the pastor here, he is very accommodating. But like what you guys said, this lacks training for something so precious. I would really want to receive proper training before even thinking of being up there.

The Body (crumbs as you say) may never be placed in the Sacrarium.
He is not going above and beyond. Priests must do this.

Another thing…the vesting. I know when we see our spiritual director vest for his mass, there is always a prayer involved for every vestment he wears. They do not do that here.

We chose to stay with this parish because they are more traditional compared to the other one close to us who compromised the architecture of the beautiful church just to accommodate the congregation.

So how should I address this? Should I talk to the parish priest? Write to someone?

Specific instruction should be given for if either species is dropped or spilled. Also, instruction should be given regarding people coming up for a ‘blessing.’ I feel for the OP, lack of instruction must be very, very frustrating. Maybe the OP could speak with the pastor?

I won’t serve at liturgy because folks occasionally do come up for a blessing and I don’t want to be in the position to refuse them, even though in our parish EMHCs seem to give them. I’m happy to serve the sick and housebound of our community.

What do you mean by OP?

OP means Original Poster. That’s you.

Original post/poster.

It means that the only proper title for laypeople who distribute the Eucharist is “Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion.”

The linked document (IIRC/if I recall correctly) makes it clear that only the one title should be used. It’s better to do things right than wrong. :slight_smile:


Actually, I believe it doesn’t vary by diocese. It’s not allowed for laypeople to purify the vessels anywhere in the Latin Rite, AFAIK. For a while, there was a special accommodation for people to do that in the US, but that permission was temporary and was not renewed.

You can see here: usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/the-mass/norms-for-holy-communion-under-both-kinds/index.cfm

Look at paragraph 53.

Here is a news story from when the permission was rescinded: catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0606058.htm

Annoyingly, the news article’s title uses the wrong title for EMHCs, but in their defense, the text of the article has it right.

It’s Jesus. It’s worth doing things right.

OP, maybe you and your husband have been brought into this parish to help fix this process. :extrahappy:


A Minister of the Eucharist is the one who stands at the altar and says the words of consecration. Only a priest or bishop can be a minister of the Eucharist.

A Minister of Communion is one who distributes the Eucharist. The word communion has to do with distribution. No matter what anyone says or calls it, the person who distributes, unless they are a priest celebrating or concelebrating the Mass, will always be a Minister of Communion and will never be a Minister of the Eucharist.

Deacons and Priests are Ordinary Ministers of Holy Communion because it is their job to distribute - they ordinarily do it. The laity are Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion because they are not expected to do it, it is not their job ordinarily. Whenever you hear the Church use the word extraordinary it simply means that it is not what is normally supposed to be done…

EMHC = Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. Some incorrectly believe that the EM means Eucharistic Minister but it does not. Only the priest is the Minister of the Eucharist. I have heard priests refer to it incorrectly as Eucharistic Minister.


The Old Testament priesthood existed to atone for sins.

Every male head of the household was a priest prior to the covenant between God and Israel which was made at Mt. Sinai. We can see in the Book of Genesis as many Biblical characters offer sacrifice - Cain and Abel, Noah, Abraham, Jacob and all the male heads of their homes at the very first passover who were told to slaughter the lamb themselves.

The common priesthood was taken away from all men after Israel broke the covenant by worshiping the golden calf. Only the tribe of Levi was faithful to the covenant, refusing to worship the calf, and so God gave the priesthood to the Levites. From that moment on everyone had to go to a Levitical priest to atone for sins through sacrifice.

Jesus’ sacrifice atoned for sins once for all, and returned the common priesthood to all men. We can now be forgiven of venial sins through on our own, between God and ourselves, through penance and prayer and Mass. We can forgive others and so be forgiven by our heavenly Father. But mortal sins - deliberately breaking God’s commandments - require a ministerial priesthood for absolution.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.