Question on the Original Reason for EMHCs


Greetings All,

I’m not sure if this is posted in the right place. If not, please move it for me.

I am not asking this question to open another can of worms, I’d just like someone who knows the answer to enlighten me.
What was the original reason for instituting EMHCs?

I have difficulty with the concept other than maybe Christmas and Easter, when it seems our parish has two or three times normal attendance at many masses, and EXTRAORDINARY could legitimately be applied to this circumstance, and to take Communion to sick/shut-in Catholics who otherwise would not be able to receive the sacrament.

Do any of your parishes use EMHCs regularly?

Do any of you feel that, without them, the distribution of communion would not be reverent and orderly?


The use of EMHCs allows for smooth distribution of Communion in both Kinds. They are used “regularly” at our parish, which has only one Priest and about 400 people receiving Communion at each Sunday Mass. Without EMHCs, distribution of Communion, even without the Precious Blood, would probably take 15 - 20 minutes. It now takes about 7 minutes. It’s not about being in a hurry. It’s about getting the parking lot cleared in time for the next Mass.


Usually there are not enough ordained men to bring Communion to the sick.

We should also remember that one of the privileges coming with this responsibility is the smile that we see when we bring the Holy Communion to the sick and to the homebound.

I have heard an elderly person saying that now that she receives the Body and Blood of Christ she is capable to accept her suffering, to offer it, and she is prepared to die in peace.


Another benefit is that several will, I hope, remember that I was the one to bring them their last Communion, and pray for me accordingly .


I am not sure of the origin of the practice; I would surmise that it was due to a combination of the general shortage of priests and the reintroduction of Communion under both species.

There are a number of people who feel that it is their business to determine when and where the EMHCs should be used and it would appear that man of the complainers would exclude their use and prohibit Communion under both species). Some (im am trying to be polite) appear to be very legalistic in their approach. It often reminds me that the Pharisees appear to be alive and well.

I would never be one to say that we could not all do with a greater respect for the Eucharist. Having said that, I have been an EMHC, and what has struck me each time I have served is the respect that I see from communicants.

I am not suggesting that there is no one receiving who is not lacking in respect, but I happen to be old enough and to have seen enough to know that only a fool would conclude that everyone pre-Vatican 2 were filled with awe and respect. Some were; some weren’t; the sin of lack of respect was not defined by the occurance of Vatican 2.

Our parish now finally has two priests; the pastor is about 75 and the assistant we received is older. We use EMHCs regularly. At weeday Mass there is one, because we receive under both species and only one of the priests is present. If someone has a problem with that they are most welcome to take it up with someone who cares; I’ll provide the quarter for the call.


IMMENSAE CARITATIS is the name of the Church document that originally created Special Ministers of the Eucharist. You can read the document here:


Music Man,

Thank you for that link! It was exactly what I was looking for.

And, thanks also to the rest of you who replied. As I stated in my OP, I wasn’t trying to open a can of worms. I am aware that there are many who have strong opinions regarding the use of EMHCs. I am not one of those people. I simply wanted information because everything I found on my own seemed to indicate that, in addition to bringing communion to sick/elderly/otherwise homebound parishioners, EMHCs were to help distribute communion at Mass in order to ensure that communion procession was reverent and orderly. In my own parish for a regular Sunday Mass, we generally have a celebrant, and two concelebrants (another priest and a deacon) as well as six or seven EMHCs, which at times seems somewhat excessive in terms of numbers considering the number of people at the Mass.

I also realized after I posted this question in the wrong area that there is already a similar thread in this section. Sorry.


Question having been asked and answered the thread is now closed.

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