Why EMHCs and Lectors?


#1

Hello everyone,

I'm going to be doing a training session for the future and present EMHCs and Lectors at my college's Catholic Campus Ministry. Don't worry, I am VERY conscious of doing things right when it comes to the Liturgy, hence why I'm doing this formal training.

I'm using a powerpoint presentation to help train them and one part of it is to explain the need for the ministry of EMHC's and Lectors in the mass. I am having trouble finding official church teaching on why there are Lectors and EMHCs. If anyone could give me some statements or guidelines to the effect of why we have these ministries, I would be very appreciative.

Note, this isn't a thread to debate whether there should be EMHCs and Lectors. I know that topic gets beaten to death around here, so I don't want to add to it. Please keep all responses as charitable as possible.


#2

The reason you're struggling with EMHC'S is because there really is no need for them every Sunday, and the current use of them is abused. The E stands for extraordinary, meaning not ordinary. EMHC'S are only supposed to be used in rare circumstances when there is legitimately far too many communicants for the priest and there are no other ordained ministers to assist, or the ordinary minister is physically not able to distribute communion.

At the current time EMHC'S are being misused as a means of getting the laity more
Involved doing stuff during Mass in the name of "active participation" which is often misunderstood as meaning people must be actually doing something during Mass. The fullest means of actively participating during Mass is the devout and worthy reception of holy communion.

With regards to lectors, they were/are a minor order (thus normally reserved
for men because women can't receive minor orders.) but many places
have done away with them as a minor order so that women may do the readings, again in the name of active participation.

In the Extraordinary form, the Epistle is read by the subdeacon and the Gospel is read by the deacon. In the absence of such, the priest says/sings both.


#3

EMHC (Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion) are used because we don't have enough priests. Parishes used to be small & local. Now they tend to be huge, with thousands of parishoners. Distributing Holy Communion to so many can be time consuming, and should not be rushed. The Priest is the ordinary minister, who is assisted by the EMHC. We have the Priest, a Deacon, and 8 EMHC to distribute Holy Communion in both species (body & blood).


#4

[quote="Deo_Gratias42, post:2, topic:300134"]
The reason you're struggling with EMHC'S is because there really is no need for them every Sunday, and the current use of them is abused. The E stands for extraordinary, meaning not ordinary. EMHC'S are only supposed to be used in rare circumstances when there is legitimately far too many communicants for the priest and there are no other ordained ministers to assist, or the ordinary minister is physically not able to distribute communion.

At the current time EMHC'S are being misused as a means of getting the laity more
Involved doing stuff during Mass in the name of "active participation" which is often misunderstood as meaning people must be actually doing something during Mass. The fullest means of actively participating during Mass is the devout and worthy reception of holy communion.

With regards to lectors, they were/are a minor order (thus normally reserved
for men because women can't receive minor orders.) but many places
have done away with them as a minor order so that women may do the readings, again in the name of active participation.

In the Extraordinary form, the Epistle is read by the subdeacon and the Gospel is read by the deacon. In the absence of such, the priest says/sings both.

[/quote]

I know that EMHCs are exactly that: extraordinary. What I was looking for was specifically any statement from the Church (in terms of USCCB guidelines or canon law) as to the reasoning and rationale behind the need for them. The Church could very well have not instituted the ministry of EMHCs and Lectors. Yet they did. I want to know what they said that led them to make that decision. That's all.

Like I said, I don't want to start up this debate again.


#5

My Catholic Lector work book states;

Ministers of the Word can be Lectors or Readers. A Lector is a layman who has been instituted by a Bishop to read from the Lectionary at Mass. A Reader is any woman or man who Reads from the Lectionary. Readers are not instituted by the bishop.


#6

From: Redemptionis Sacramentum: (vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccdds/documents/rc_con_ccdds_doc_20040423_redemptionis-sacramentum_en.html#_ftn109)::)

"For the good of the community and of the whole Church of God, some of the lay faithful according to tradition have rightly and laudably exercised ministries in the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy.[109] It is appropriate that a number of persons distribute among themselves and exercise various ministries or different parts of the same ministry."

Based upon this excerpt, I would say that EM's and lectors are used "for the good of the community and of the whole Church of God."


#7

Thanks dad
;)


#8

[quote="CatholicTrekkie, post:4, topic:300134"]
I know that EMHCs are exactly that: extraordinary. What I was looking for was specifically any statement from the Church (in terms of USCCB guidelines or canon law) as to the reasoning and rationale behind the need for them. The Church could very well have not instituted the ministry of EMHCs and Lectors. Yet they did. I want to know what they said that led them to make that decision. That's all.

Like I said, I don't want to start up this debate again.

[/quote]

The Motu Proprio of 1972, Ministeria Quaedam gives reasons for the ministry of instituted lectors and instituted acolytes (who are also EMHCs). This is at ewtn.com/library/papaldoc/p6minors.htm .

Canon 230 of the Code of Canon Law refers to them.

A few months ago I read an article in the book Thirty Fives Years BCL Newsletter ( amazon.com/Thirty-Five-Years-BCL-Newsletter/dp/1574554026 ) which was written before the 1972 Ministeria Quaedam about the options the church had for minor orders.

Regarding EMHCs, the 1973 Instruction Immensae Caritatis gives the reasons:

"There are several situations in which a shortage of ministers of communion has been pointed out:

—within Mass because of a great crowd of people or some disability of the celebrant;

—outside Mass when distance makes it difficult to bring communion, especially as viaticum to the sick in danger of death; or when the sheer number of sick people, especially in hospitals or similar institutions, requires several ministers.

In order, then, that the faithful who are in the state of grace and rightly and devoutly wish to share in the sacred meal may not be deprived of this sacramental aid and solace, Pope Paul VI has decided it opportune to authorize special ministers who will be empowered to give communion to themselves and others of the faithful, under the exact and specified conditions here listed."
(From ewtn.com/library/CURIA/CDWIMCAR.htm ).


#9

When it comes to Lectors, this is what the GIRM says

  1. By tradition, the function of proclaiming the readings is ministerial, not presidential. The readings, therefore, should be proclaimed by a lector, and the Gospel by a deacon or, in his absence, a priest other than the celebrant. If, however, a deacon or another priest is not present, the priest celebrant himself should read the Gospel. Further, if another suitable lector is also not present, then the priest celebrant should also proclaim the other readings.

"Lector" is an instituted ministry (not a minor order in the OF), one that may be conferred on any properly instructed and disposed Catholic male who meets the requirements set by the national Conference of Bishops but one that, in practice in most dioceses in North America, is only conferred to those preparing for the diaconate (either transitional or permanent).

If there are no Instituted Lectors available, Canon Law allows men and women to act in their stead.

Can. 230 §1. Lay men who possess the age and qualifications established by decree of the conference of bishops can be admitted on a stable basis through the prescribed liturgical rite to the ministries of lector and acolyte. Nevertheless, the conferral of these ministries does not grant them the right to obtain support or remuneration from the Church.
§2. Lay persons can fulfill the function of lector in liturgical actions by temporary designation. All lay persons can also perform the functions of commentator or cantor, or other functions, according to the norm of law.
§3. When the need of the Church warrants it and ministers are lacking, lay persons, even if they are not lectors or acolytes, can also supply certain of their duties, namely, to exercise the ministry of the word, to preside offer liturgical prayers, to confer baptism, and to distribute Holy Communion, according to the prescripts of the law.

Since they are as rare as hen's teeth in most North American dioceses, we have temporarily designated readers in our parishes. We all know that that temporary designation usually means "You are a reader until you die or until you are too old to walk up to the ambo."


#10

[quote="Phemie, post:9, topic:300134"]
When it comes to Lectors, this is what the GIRM says

"Lector" is an instituted ministry (not a minor order in the OF), one that may be conferred on any properly instructed and disposed Catholic male who meets the requirements set by the national Conference of Bishops but one that, in practice in most dioceses in North America, is only conferred to those preparing for the diaconate (either transitional or permanent).

If there are no Instituted Lectors available, Canon Law allows men and women to act in their stead.

Since they are as rare as hen's teeth in most North American dioceses, we have temporarily designated readers in our parishes. We all know that that temporary designation usually means "You are a reader until you die or until you are too old to walk up to the ambo."

[/quote]

[quote="Phemie, post:9, topic:300134"]
We all know that that temporary designation usually means "You are a reader until you die or until you are too old to walk up to the ambo."

[/quote]

Interestingly; with a little smile, I can only incite experiences in my own parish where a list of 30-40 parishioners who serve as EMHC's are kept on a rotating list for each Saturday and Sunday of the month aside from Requiem Masses. On both weekend Masses 7 EMHC's are used at every weekend Mass ("full-time") basis. The term temporary designation may have an ambiguous ring to it but that's the existing norm in my parish.

Peace
Chris


#11

[quote="centurionguard, post:10, topic:300134"]
Interestingly; with a little smile, I can only incite experiences in my own parish where a list of 30-40 parishioners who serve as EMHC's are kept on a rotating list for each Saturday and Sunday of the month aside from Requiem Masses. On both weekend Masses 7 EMHC's are used at every weekend Mass ("full-time") basis. The term temporary designation may have an ambiguous ring to it but that's the existing norm in my parish.

Peace
Chris

[/quote]

In our parish for a while the EMHCs were recruited, trained, had their names submitted to the Bishop, who accepted the Pastor's recommendation, and were installed for a specific period (usually 2 or 3 years). The next Pastor had no interest in these formalities and just said 'Keep doing what you're doing."

Lately, we don't have EMHCs at both Sunday Masses - there are too few of them.

At the Saturday evening Mass there are none. Fr. is quite capable of distributing the Hosts to the, maximum, 40 people who are there and we simply don't offer the Chalice .

On Sunday, there are 2 and they minister the Chalice. There used to be 3 but Father really doesn't need help distributing the Hosts since there are rarely more than 150 people at that Mass.


#12

Thank you everyone for your help. I have what I need. I appreciate not starting up the debate again.

[quote="Phemie, post:11, topic:300134"]
In our parish for a while the EMHCs were recruited, trained, had their names submitted to the Bishop, who accepted the Pastor's recommendation, and were installed for a specific period (usually 2 or 3 years). The next Pastor had no interest in these formalities and just said 'Keep doing what you're doing."

Lately, we don't have EMHCs at both Sunday Masses - there are too few of them.

At the Saturday evening Mass there are none. Fr. is quite capable of distributing the Hosts to the, maximum, 40 people who are there and we simply don't offer the Chalice .

On Sunday, there are 2 and they minister the Chalice. There used to be 3 but Father really doesn't need help distributing the Hosts since there are rarely more than 150 people at that Mass.

[/quote]

If I may, allow me to explain our situation on our campus ministry.

We have 3 weekend Masses, at which we usually have 2 or 3 EMHC's. This is because we offer both the Sacred Body as well as the Sacred Blood (due to the presence of those with gluten intolerance and allergies (I know, I know, that's a whole other debate)), as well as to keep things moving. We have around 60 to 150 people at each Mass, so it's a little too much for our Chaplain to distribute Holy Communion on his own. I'm doing this training so that everyone knows what they're doing and can do it the right way.


#13

[quote="CatholicTrekkie, post:12, topic:300134"]
Thank you everyone for your help. I have what I need. I appreciate not starting up the debate again.

If I may, allow me to explain our situation on our campus ministry.

We have 3 weekend Masses, at which we usually have 2 or 3 EMHC's. This is because we offer both the Sacred Body as well as the Sacred Blood (due to the presence of those with gluten intolerance and allergies (I know, I know, that's a whole other debate)), as well as to keep things moving. We have around 60 to 150 people at each Mass, so it's a little too much for our Chaplain to distribute Holy Communion on his own. I'm doing this training so that everyone knows what they're doing and can do it the right way.

[/quote]

Gah, I meant Precious Body and Precious Blood. Silly me!


#14

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