I wanted to address the constant griping about EMsHC use by some. When I was a very young child the OF Mass was celebrated just as the EF had been a number of years earlier. Communion was under one species (with intinction at Christmas, Easter and First Holy Communion only) which was distributed only by the priestly celebrant with the help of a curate in the case of intinction. It was common in those days for the church to be full – about 1,100. I suspect at the very most, 1/3 of everyone in attendance received Holy Communion. More at Christmas and Easter. So,
- Church capacity: 1,100
- Typical method: One species - host only
- Number typically receiving Holy Communion: 1/3 or 363 communions
- Number of communion distributors 1
Communion was very slow. The priest had to change positions twice and it seemed to take 25-30 minutes including the purification that immediately followed. It took even longer at Christmas, Easter and First Holy Communion. “Kneeling at the rail” was not faster than a queued line, despite some peoples’ beliefs. Overall, it wasn’t a healthy situation.
Today the church still fills for the two main Sunday Masses – the 09:00 and the 11:00. Just about everyone in attendance receives Holy Communion in my parish today and they do it under both species.
- Church capacity: 1,100
- Typical method: Both species
- Number typically receiving Holy Communion: nearly 100% or 2,200 communions
- Not everyone receives communion under the appearance of wine, but the longer cycle time/communion in this manner more than makes up for those that do not.
So some arithmetic gives: 2,200/363 = 6 communion distributors. Some peoples’ heads here would explode if they saw a priest and 5 lay EMsHC distributing communion (if additional priests or deacons were not available.) If there was a desire to halve the communion time (10-15 minutes is quite enough, thanks!), that would equate to the priest and eleven (11) others distributing Holy Communion.
That’s why some parishes have so many EMsHC. Unfortunately some go well past that (like my parish), but that’s another story. Like it or not, in a parish that once had ONE person distributing Holy Communion, it might well have a DOZEN today, given the exact same attendance because a far higher percentage receive communion these days, most do it under both species and pastors finally figured out that taking 25-30 minutes to distribute communion was far from an optimal situation.
Keep in mind that receiving Holy Communion from a priest is no more holy than from a deacon or a layperson. Also keep in mind that the hands of deacons and most (?) Eastern Catholic priests are not anointed during their ordination, so that old excuse is false as well.
Going from ONE to a DOZEN. Mind-blowing until you actually study the process flow for distributing communion.
The real problems I see are
- Parishes that use a far higher number of EMsHC yet, under the guise of “active participation.” My parish does that. We use about two dozen total.
- Clergy not helping out when they could be.
- Poorly trained EMsHC.
- Inappropriately attired EMsHC.