March 1st, 2019
“The cup of blessing that we bless, is not a sharing in the body of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread”
Saint Paul to the Corinthians (1:10:16-17)
Why do we need Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist?
In a large assembly, the ministers are needed to distribute the Eucharist in order to preserve and enhance reverence for the mystery and gift of the Eucharist.
Why do we receive and not “take” Holy Communion?
The Eucharist is a gift to be received – not taken. When one receives the Eucharist from a minister it helps to express the reality that we are members of Body of Christ – a communion of believers. Receiving the Eucharist from another signifies and helps to accomplish the communion of the Church.
The priest receives from no one not because he is above anyone but because this helps to signify the different roles within the community. The priest is the spiritual father of the community and receives strength from the Body of Christ before he ministers to the community that he has been sent by the Bishop to serve.
The priest and deacon are the “ordinary” ministers of the Eucharist – this is one of the roles that they were ordained to carry out. There are also “extraordinary” ministers of the Eucharist:
In addition to the ordinary ministers there is the formally instituted acolyte, who by virtue of his institution is an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion even outside the celebration of Mass. If, moreover, reasons of real necessity prompt it, another lay member of Christ’s faithful may also be delegated by the diocesan Bishop, in accordance with the norm of law, for one occasion or for a specified time, and an appropriate formula of blessing may be used for the occasion. [ . . . ] Finally, in special cases of an unforeseen nature, permission can be given for a single occasion by the Priest who presides at the celebration of the Eucharist. Instruction, Redemptionis Sacramentum, 155.
Another important role for the Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist is bringing Holy Communion to the sick – this is really how the practice began.
Liturgy is an action of the whole church – it expresses not only what we believe but who we are.
Some Practical Procedures
- At the conclusion of the Sign of Peace, the Eucharistic Ministers approach the altar.
- The Eucharistic Ministers take their place behind the altar.
- One minister brings two empty ciboria to the altar.
- The priest (or the deacon) divides the Eucharist into the empty ciboria.
- The priest then distributes the Eucharist to the Eucharistic Ministers.
- The priest (and or the deacon) hand the Eucharist to the ministers for distribution.
- The Eucharist is not taken from the altar to the credence table.
- It is not necessary to wash the ciboria with soap and water after every Mass. If there are some particles of the Eucharist, they can be filled with a little water and then dried with a purificator. If they look like they need more washing, then soap and water can be used.