Please help Me not to Cause Sacrilege


 I am an altar server. A priest today made me distribute Holy Communion under the appearance of wine, even though I told him I have not been trained to do this. I read in Redemptionis Sacramentum and Canon Law, that one must be properly formed, before they can do this. However, can anyone help me find something specific, which describes the minimum requirements of "proper formation?" I ask this because the priest might answer that I am already trained "enough," since I profess what the Catholic Church teaches concerning the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Most Holy Eucharist. Thank you so much for your time. I will be indebted to you, immensely, for your answers.

                                       Man of Sorrows

Even if you were an adult altar server who had been specifically trained to be an extraordinary minister, it would be wrong for a priest to mandate you for the function of extraordinary minister of Holy Communion during a Mass at which you are an altar server; that is, unless the local bishop allows the same person to be an altar server and an EMHC, at the same Mass, and so on.

Show him this as proof, which is posted on the web site of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:

“10. Servers may not distribute holy communion unless they have been mandated for this function by the bishop.”

You are not guilty of this liturgical abuse. That falls on the priest. Having said that, assume the best of his intentions. Be very respectful when you approach him about what you ought to assume is an honest mistake and an unintended lapse, not a willful act of disobedience. He may also have had grave reasons you did not appreciate at the time. (Such as unexpectedly lacking anyone else who was remotely as well-formed and properly disposed for the function as you were.) There could have been problems with others you might think could have done it, problems that he did not think it prudent or proper to disclose to you.

If he retracts his assertion, let the matter drop. If you have to bring someone else in, do whatever you can to include only those who have the office of correcting him, and do not make him the object of gossip by including those without that office. (Your parents or reliable adults you need to help you excepted, of course.)

Actually any lay person can be asked to be an EMHC without training or the proper commissioning provided its out of necessity and its not a regular thing. So for example its a weekday Mass where there are usually 20 people, then suddenly there was a surge that day for whatever reason and there were 200 people who showed up for Mass. The priest may get someone he know can do the job right and become an EMHC for that day.

I don’t disagree with that, but no one can be compelled to do so - if one is not comfortable distributing Holy Communion, for whatever reason, then they are, of course, perfectly entitled to politely decline. The o.p. says that the priest made him distribute Holy Communion. Now, I’m sure the priest had only the best of intentions (we must assume so at this stage) - one could say that it was better to ask a server to present the Chalice to the faithful than to leave it on the altar and encourage self-communication, which would be another grave abuse. However, one could also ask why the priest insisted on distributing the Precious Blood, given that there is no obligation upon him to do so. The priest, in my opinion, should not have put the o.p. in that position, especially asking him to perform a function that is not obligatory in the Roman Rite and thus could have been omitted.

By the way, ManofSorrows - welcome to CAF:thumbsup:

Welcome to CAF!

Just so you know, I don’t believe there’s anything authortative about this USCCB doc. The only thing that it quotes from existing law is about servers wearing albs or lawfully approved vesture. Anyways, on the top, it says that these guidelines written by some sub-committee. Also, my understanding is that if one of your servers is an instituted acolyte, then he should distribute, because he has been deputized to distribute holy communion and assist at the altar, as well as to purify the vessels.

:thumbsup: :yup:

Some one correct me if I am wrong, it happens quite often:D, I do believe that there is a rule about preforming more than one ministry at any one Mass.
that you can not /should not be a alter server and a Lector, Lector and EMHC, ETC…
That a person can only fill one role per Mass.

I have never seen such a rule. Even if there is an official document saying this, it would still probably be a recommendation, not a rule.

if you have been a server for a while you have certainly been formed in the proper understanding of Mass and the Eucharist. If your priest commissioned you to serve, then you are able to serve. Period. Yes you could use some practical training in the aspects of how to hold and administer the chalice, but are you really completely unacquainted with this? No, you should not be a communion minister at the same Mass at which you were serving, but if the priest ordered you to do it because you were needed, you obey. If there is a breech it is his problem, not yours, and there is no question of sacrilege in any case.

Redemptionis Sacramentum says the following:

[44.] Apart from the duly instituted ministries of acolyte and lector, the most important of these ministries are those of acolyte and lector by temporary deputation. In addition to these are the other functions that are described in the Roman Missal, as well as the functions of preparing the hosts, washing the liturgical linens, and the like. All, “whether ordained ministers or lay faithful, in exercising their own office or ministry should do exclusively and fully that which pertains to them”. In the liturgical celebration itself as well as in its preparation, they should do what is necessary so that the Church’s Liturgy will be carried out worthily and appropriately.

Now, one could argue that an instituted acolyte may be deputed to act as an EMHC - in which case one would expect that the acolyte would know that this is within his remit and that he would have received appropriate training. At any rate, it would be inappropriate, in my opinion, to ask (or make, as the o.p. said) a server on the spot to carry out a function which is not proper to them - incidentally, if one was to follow the recommendations of Redemptionis Sacramentum, the server in question would have been holding the paten under the chin of the communicants, not distributing the Precious Blood [R.S.93].

Even if it were appropriate for the o.p. to take on another extraordinary function in the Mass, he would be completely within his rights to politely decline if he felt uncomfortable giving out Holy Communion, touching the sacred vessels or the Sacred Host, etc. etc.

This confusion also causes me to return to the point I made earlier: if there were no deacons or EMHC’s to distribute the Precious Blood, the priest simply should not have offered the Chalice to the faithful, as there is no obligation upon him to do so at any Mass. In fact, Redemptionis Sacramentum specifically gives lack of EMHC’s as a reason not to offer the chalice:

[102.] The chalice should not be ministered…wherever access to the chalice would be difficult to arrange, or where such a large amount of wine would be required that its certain provenance and quality could only be known with difficulty, or wherever there is not an adequate number of sacred ministers or extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion with proper formation.

Dis not this case mean that the regular Extraordinary Minister was not present, so the priest out of necessity asked you, to distribute the chalice, since as server you are the most like to make it properly?

I grown up in the good old times, and the common principle was, that ‘necessity breaks the rules’. It does not makes valid what would be invalid (layman cannot celebrate Mass), but makes licit what would be illicit.

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