Can anyone please answer my question regarding Purification of the sacred vessels. At mass today one of the Extra-Ordinary Ministers assisted the deacon in the Purification of the sacred vessels. Is this allowed? And if not do I need to inform the Priest that what is going on is wrong.

Many Thanks.

Unless that EMHC is also an instituted acolyte, It’s not allowed. Unfortunately, it seems to be the norm in many parishes.

It also depends on what the EMHC is doing. Is he pouring water into the vessels and taking them away like an altar server would or is he purifying the vessels?

Pouring water, handing them to the deacon and carrying them away = OK

Cleaning and purifying them = Not OK

I know that he is a server in another parish but the Master of Ceremonies from the parish where this happened ,who is also an EMHC, was present on the altar. So should the MC have assisted with purification.

Yes that is what he was doing.

Well being a server doesn’t mean he’s an instituted acolyte but is the MC one? The MC has his own role during Mass and since I’ve never been at a Mass with an MC, I’m not sure exactly what that is. Is there any reason why the priest and the deacon couldn’t have done it by themselves?

Well, you know the situation better than any of us here. If you have any questions about it you should bring them up with your pastor.

I’ve never seen this priest Purify the vessels before. Do priests frequently do this?

You don’t say where you are based. If it is in the UK, it is certainly allowed in my Archdiocese - I don’t know about elsewhere in the UK.


The Purification

  1. Whenever a fragment of the host adheres to his fingers, especially after the fraction or the Communion of the faithful, the priest is to wipe his fingers over the paten or, if necessary, wash them. Likewise, he should also gather any fragments that may have fallen outside the paten.

  2. **The sacred vessels are purified by the priest, the deacon, or an instituted acolyte **after Communion or after Mass, insofar as possible at the credence table. The purification of the chalice is done with water alone or with wine and water, which is then drunk by whoever does the purification. The paten is usually wiped clean with the purificator.

Care must be taken that whatever may remain of the Blood of Christ after the distribution of Communion is consumed immediately and completely at the altar.

  1. If a host or any particle should fall, it is to be picked up reverently. If any of the Precious Blood is spilled, the area where the spill occurred should be washed with water, and this water should then be poured into the sacrarium in the sacristy.

Which Archdiocese are you in? Does it have an Indult?

Only priests (GIRM* #163, 270, 279), deacons (GIRM* #183, 279) and instituted acolytes (GIRM* #192, 279) can purify the sacred vessels.

*Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales (2005) General Instruction of the Roman Missal. London: Catholic Truth Society (ISBN 1 86082 288 6) GIRM

Is “this priest” your pastor or a substitue priest? Some of our elderly priests who substitute for us are sometimes forgetful or for whatever reason do not always do things they way they are supposed to. They also assist in other parishes so for the most part they do try to do things the way we do them in our parish. However, sometimes it can be very difficult and uncomfortable when trying to be respectful of the celebrant when he is not doing things properly. It is not always the fault of the EMHC or the altar server who is engaging in an abuse.

Thank You for this. I am in England.

The Priest is the pastor, but I have never seen him assist the Deacon in Purification.

It isn’t necessary for the priest to assist the deacon at the purification. When the Church says that the deacon may do the purification, that’s not the same thing as saying the priest must do it along with the deacon. It’s perfectly acceptable for the deacon to do the purification “alone” (assisted by others who might hand him the water, etc.).

The indult allowing the E.X. H.C.'s to purify has expired in the U.S.A. Not aware of the rest of the World.

However, such an indult has probably expired. Pope John Paul II had granted the US an indult to allow EMHCs to purify; however, one of the first things that Pope Benedict XVI did was to rescind the indult. Thus, if one were to have existed, it probablly met the same fate as the one in the US, which is not a bad thing.

About 2 years ago, in a meeting of all EMCH and the priest in charge of them, I advised all that the indult had expired. I even had the paperwork from the USCCB & our bishop that indeed it did expire. The priest shot me down saying, we should respect our bishop above all. I could never understand that this priest said this but could not see what the bishop was stating on the diocese website. No one, NOT ONE EMHC wanted to see the letters!:mad:

The lay are still purifying the vessels. And last Sunday we had a visiting priest, who after communion just sit down and a server who is also a MC reposed the Eucharist to the Tabernacle and purified the vessels upon the altar.

After a while all I could do was just shut up & I left.

OH! Just remembered, a few days later the the statement on the diocese website had an addtion to the bishops letter that I did take very personally…“There should be no liturgy police from the laity”:shrug:

A letter to Rome should probably be in order, along with a print-out from the diocesan web-page where this statement appears. The CDWDS sees things quite differently, according to Redemptionis Sacramentum.

Yes BG, I know that, but I am now the outcast because of other things I have said concerning other abuses. I know that another priest (now gone) accused me of criticizing him in a confessional. It’s a bit of a long story. Anyway, I was confessing that I lost my temper in another Mass by a visiting priest and had left that Mass in anger over a VERY serious abuse. The priest I confessed to, upon leaving the parish had a large going away party and that is when he publicly said I criticized him. The bishop was also there and I felt there was something wrong because of the way the bishop had treated me upon greeting him early on.

I did all in my power to talk with this priest and apologize for the miss-understanding, but he had already done the damage by speaking of something I had confessed to him.:blush:
I even went to another priest and confessed that I had been accused of this sin & confessed it as such.:blush:

I’m sorry BG, but I’m not in a position to do so at this time.
Thank you

There is a danger in interpreting regulations too liberally that we throw the baby out with the bathwater. What harm is there with an EMHC purifying the chalices? An instituted acolyte may expose the Blessed Sacrament but not give Benedicition. But what harm is there if they do so? Where do we stop? Regulations are in place for a purpose. The general instruction of the Roman Missal makes it clear that purifying the sacred vessels is restricted to priests, deacons and instituted acolytes. It is clearly obvious that the Pope wishes this restriction to remain. So where is the problem? Our faith is not a selection of optional components which we may choose at will. Same with such regulations as above. Disobedience of such norms leads to a general disrespect of things greater. If we obey the smaller things, it becomes easier to obey the bigger things.

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.