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Sunday, December 4, 2016

Sunday Meditation: Enough Already with the Hordes of "Extraordinary" Ministers of Communion

Do we really need all these "extraordinary" ministers?
I went to the Tridentine Mass today in Front Royal at St. John the Baptist. It's my Mass of choice if I can do it. Why? It's reverent, filled with a number of large devout families many with babes in arms, and, perhaps best of all, it is quiet, a respite from a world that's "all noise" as Screwtape would have it. There is no loud choir laughing and chatting in the back before Mass starts. There is no cantor who can't sing from the rear but has to come up to the sanctuary to perform.

Aside from an occasional crying infant the Church is quiet. One can actually adore Our Lord in union with the community all of us silently worshiping together. In a world desperately in need of silence, that is a real gift! And come to think of it, I don't think I've ever heard a cell phone ring at the Latin Mass. Hmmm.... Are people more aware of what they are doing, perhaps?

Today, however I was particularly struck by the fact that the celebrant communicated several hundred people without a horde of helpers hovering around the altar. Sometimes the parish deacon is there to help distribute, but "extraordinary" ministers, who have become all too ordinary at Novus Ordo celebrations, are NEVER part of the Trindentine Mass. Thank God! I don't have to wonder which side of the church to sit on to receive from the priest.

Father had a large ciborium so filled with hosts that it was rounded at the center. He distributed them all and went back to the altar to get the other vessel holding additional hosts. And, despite the hundreds of communicants, every person receiving from a single priest, the Mass was still only one hour and five minutes including the prayers after Mass and the final hymn.

Now, tell me. Do we really need all those "extraordinary" ministers? I think the answer is obvious. NO! Let me repeat it: HECK NO! Help bolster the laity's belief in the Real Presence by having them receive Our Lord from the consecrated hands of a priest or deacon -- not the laity!

Jesus Christ, our High Priest and Eucharistic Lord, have mercy on us.


  1. You are so right! Yesterday we had a Eucharistic Minister in jeans and snickers....and our cantors who come to the podium are distracting..... We have four priests in our parish, why don't they come to distribute communion??? Why is it that in general our priests cannot see the whole panorama of what the Mass has become now? Lord, have mercy on Your Church!!!

  2. M.T., you bring up a wonderful point. WHERE are the other priests when it's time for communion in the parishes that thrive on "extra ordinary" ministers?

    The wildest experience I've had with this "ministry" was at the mass I attended last spring in Williamsburg, at St. Bede. Their website says this about this ministry:

    "Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion
    have a unique opportunity for a special communion with their fellow members of the Body of Christ.  Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion are at least 14 years of age, practicing Catholics in good standing with the Church, registered with the parish, and have received the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist.  They are trained to assist with the distribution of the Eucharist. Attendance at two (of six) Eucharistic Formation Sessions are required per year.   Once trained, ministers are scheduled for at least two Masses per month"

    On the Sunday I attended, there was a virtual army of them lined up to process down the aisle and receive from a Lucite stand one of about a dozen or more vessels which was filled with hosts. After communion, each of these chalices was brought back to the sanctuary and handed off to a lay helper who dumped the remaining hosts into a large bowl in the center, much like you would combine potato chips after a party, and the vessel was then put back in the stand, unwiped.


    For the sake of the image of this church only, and not the topic of the video, I'm sharing this link to St. Bede's church in Williamsburg. Notice how the MASSIVE pipe organ trumps the altar and nearly obliterates the wooden crucifix of the same dark brown color. When the choir is there, they are "center stage" in this arena styled space.

  4. And if you are wondering where is the tabernacle in this church, it's in another room. Out of sight.

  5. At one parish where I often attend daily Mass, there might be perhaps 30 people in attendance but they seem to need 3 older ladies as 'extraordinary ministers'...

  6. MaryAnn,

    Amen! I agree!

    What a contrast, BTW, from St. Peter's in Little Washington. We need to pray that ALL PARISHES go in the direction of SJB in Front Royal, and that all parishes are consecrated by their pastors to the Immaculate Heart of Mary! This is what dear Mary wants, and I learned from the Blue Army that the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart will not occur until this is done. Either Mary or Jesus said to Lucia that every person, parish, and diocese MUST be consecrated as a consequence of the consecration of Russia being done late, and also that every Catholic person MUST do the First Saturdays, and the Triumph WILL NOT come about until all these conditions are met. I also learned from The Lady of All Nations apparitions that the Triumph will not occur until the realization of the Fifth and Final Marian dogma, Co-redemptrix, Mediatriz, and Advocate. Rather than wasting our energies on the prayer for the Consecration of an already consecrated Russia, we should be praying that THE REST of Our Lady's request are heeded by ALL CLERGY and ALL CATHOLICS in general, so that Russia then may fully convert, and there might be peace in the world, brought about by the Triumph. Faithful Catholics should spread the word about this as much as possible. It is crucial for our world!


  7. The last time I was at St. Bede I was shocked by the army of Eucharistic ministers and the choir. I either go to the chapel Mass or to the next county.

  8. From Facebook

    In a diocese where I served faithfully for many years, at parishes with less than 100 people
    in attendance, there would be six or more EMHCs in addition to the priest. Let's do the math ... one EMHC for every 15 people. That makes as much sense as handing kazoos for those attending the opera, just so that they might "participate."


  9. I have been to Masses where the celebrating priest sits in his chair while the EMCHs distribute Holy Communion. (This has been outside the Arlington Diocese.)

  10. I meant "Mediatrix." Sorry!

    And just a point or two (or more!) about extraordinary ministers. Many people do not know this, but I learned some months back that this practice, like Communion in the Hand, begun as an abuse, and then went mainstream. Why would this be approved by the Holy See? We need to pray that both of the aforementioned practices are done away with for good!

    I listened to a talk by Father Issac Relyea wherein he strongly condemned both of these practices. He said that when a person receives Our Lord in the hand, it is not that you may lose particles, but that you WILL. He said that priests are very careful to consume every particle, but what about your average lay person? Not likely. He also said that the practice of EMHCs distributing Communion is never good, even to those who are sick in hospitals, etc. Why? Because many of these people have been away from the Sacraments for many years, but the lay people do not ask about this, and they are too embarrassed to tell them, thus opening the door for countless sacrilegious Communions. He also said that he does prison ministry, and that he told the people in the prison that he refused to celebrate Mass there, unless the inmates went to confession first, because he would not be party to sacrilege, and that they now go to confession weekly, because they want Mass. As a priest, I do not know if he is allowed to do this, so I am not necessarily promoting/encouraging it, but I still definitely understand where he is coming from. (With that said, however, if what he did with them is not allowed, then that is horrible also. I am no expert on this; that is, whether it is against Canon Law to withhold Mass. Does anyone know?) In addition, I don't know how this works, but if the EMHCs hand the Holy Eucharist to the prisoners behind the bars, then that is truly a situation rife for terrible sacrilege, especially considering that many prisoners have not been converted in their hearts!

    As for Father Issac Relyea, he was last assigned in the diocese of Madison, WI, but now, is no longer there. I don't know if he is with any diocese now. Someone told me he is still a priest in good standing, but the fact that he does not seem to be with any diocese currently seems strange to me. However, I wish to give him the benefit of the doubt. I don't always agree with everything he says (for example, he seems to imply that only Catholics can be saved, which is NOT taught by the Church, but I may be misunderstanding him), but whatever his status, he is certainly correct about the need to do away with EMHCs and Communion in the Hand!

    Other than that, I think using EMHCs lends to an attitude that far too many clergy already have: that is, that they are lazy and far too disengaged from their parishioners. This needs to change!


  11. I forgot to add one thing. The apparition that Father Issac talks about in the video is Our Lady of Good Success. This has become one of my favorite apparitions, even though it is not all that well known, because it talks about the many abuses in the Church of the 20th century and beyond, and the need for true renewal.

    However, I would not necessarily recommend the book on this that he takes the info from. The temptation to just read it anyway is understandable, since I heard that the Marian T. Horvat book is the official biography on the history of Our Lady of Good Success/those apparitions. I don't know if reading it would be a sin or not, but for now, I have stayed away from it. Why? Because Horvat was one of the signers of the "We Resist You to Your Face" document, hidden well into which was the admission by the signers that they would be willing to become sedevacantists if things got too bad in the Church--which means that many of them are probably closet sedes, or at least very near that, as we speak. Thus, there is no way of knowing when reading the book (or when listening to talks like the above that I posted, based on info from the book) what info truly comes from Our Lady of Good Success and what comes from what clearly seems to be an anti-Vatican II viewpoint on the part of Horvat. Plus, Horvat is also associated with America Needs Fatima and TFP. In full disclosure, I receive their emails, and also have participated in many of their petition drives, which I think are worthwhile. However, I have thought about talking to a priest about whether or not this is okay, because I recently learned that ANF/TFP is actually a blood cult, and that blood cults in general have been condemned by the Church. Unfortunately, when priests, etc., give talks on Our Lady of Good Success, they usually quote from the Horvat biography, and ANF was the first place from which I ever learned about that apparition. Our Lady of Good Success itself is approved by the Church, but I cannot say the same for the ideas of Horvat/ANF/TFP.

    I have even thought about asking a priest whether it is okay to listen to talks on this apparition, wherein I know that Horvat is the main source. At the time I listened to Father Issac's talk, I figured it was okay, because he probably does not know these things about Horvat (he is very anti-sede!), and because OLOGS is approved, as I said. I may have been wrong on this, though. I don't know, but at the time, I figured I could listen and discern truth from falsehood myself. Was that correct? I don't know. Just a word of caution.