Extraordinary Eucharistic ministers. (News in Brief: Vatican).
Rome--in a statement or September 9,2002, Pope John Paul II Pope John Paul II (Latin: Ioannes Paulus PP. II, Italian: Giovanni Paolo II, Polish: Jan Paweł II) born addressed the bishops of Brazil on the "serious abuses" stemming from the erroneous trend to "clericalize the laity." Included in a list of examples of these abuses was distribution of Communion by the laity.
While other items in the list such as homilies given by lay people and indiscriminate and common recitation of the Eucharistic prayer did not seem out of order for the Pope to take issue with, the practice of lay people distributing Communion has become so commonplace that its presence as an abuse seems startling.
However unsettling un·set·tle
v. un·set·tled, un·set·tling, un·set·tles
1. To displace from a settled condition; disrupt.
2. To make uneasy; disturb.
v.intr. the statement may be, it should not be too surprising. Over the last several years Rome has stressed over and over again that the role of laity in distributing Communion is to be an exception to the rule that bishops, priests, and deacons are the ordinary ministers.
In fact, Immensae Caritatis, the original 1973 document from the Vatican laying out the permission for such extraordinary ministers, spelled out that they should only be used "because of a great crowd of people or some disability of the celebrant."
That document, and subsequent ones, also note that extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist are not to be selected willy-nilly but according to a specified order. The normal extraordinary minister of the Eucharist is an installed acolyte, a ministry only open to men. Mter acolyte the order is "major seminarian sem·i·nar·i·an also sem·i·nar·ist
A student at a seminary.
Noun 1. seminarian - a student at a seminary (especially a Roman Catholic seminary)
seminarist , man religious, woman religious, catechist cat·e·chist
A person who catechizes, especially one who instructs catechumens in preparation for admission into a Christian church.
[French catechiste, from Old French, from Late Latin , one of the faithful--man or woman."
As has happened so often, the Church's generosity in allowing an exception for extraordinary circumstances has been abused and the Magisterium mag·is·te·ri·um
n. Roman Catholic Church
The authority to teach religious doctrine.
[Latin, the office of a teacher or other person in authority, from magister, master; see is forced, like a good mother, to correct her errant children. Thus in 1980 Pope John Paul II ordered another document covering the issue to be promulgated prom·ul·gate
tr.v. prom·ul·gat·ed, prom·ul·gat·ing, prom·ul·gates
1. To make known (a decree, for example) by public declaration; announce officially. See Synonyms at announce.
The 1980 document Inestimabile Donum reiterated the instruction that "the faithful, whether religious or lay, who are authorized as extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist can distribute Communion only when there is no priest, deacon, or acolyte; when the priest is impeded by illness or advanced age; or when the number of the faithful going to Communion is so large as to make the celebration of Mass excessively long."
It also said: "A reprehensible attitude is shown by those priests who, though present at the celebration, refrain from distributing Communion and leave this task to the laity."
But the abuses continued. Priests, not bishops, were regularly selecting various laity to assist in distribution of Holy Communion without any discernible order. Lay people were and are being used at nearly every Mass as extraordinary ministers. Some ministers were being treated by some priests like concelebrants, by receiving Holy Communion apart from the rest of the faithful.
In 1997, Rome intervened once more. Pope John Paul Pope John Paul is the name of two Popes of the Roman Catholic Church:
The 1997 document goes beyond merely stressing that extraordinary ministers should be reserved to extraordinary circumstances. It spells out that "certain practices are to be avoided and eliminated." Thus, "the habitual use of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion According to Redemptionis Sacramentum, an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion is a layperson formally instituted to administer - that is, distribute - Holy Communion during the Roman Catholic Mass. at Mass is to be avoided and eliminated. Why? Because it arbitrarily extends the concept of 'a great number of the faithful.'
One argument which has duped many into believing that extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist are commonly permitted is the idea that, "Extraordinary" refers to the fact that lay distributors of Holy Communion are not ordained or·dain
tr.v. or·dained, or·dain·ing, or·dains
a. To invest with ministerial or priestly authority; confer holy orders on.
b. To authorize as a rabbi.
2. ministers. But the application of the term "extraordinary" refers to the function itself, a function which is "supplementary and extraordinary."
The 1997 document also states that the practice of "extraordinary ministers receiving Holy Communion apart from the other faithful as though concelebrants" should be eliminated.
The new Latin Roman Missal missal [Lat.,=of the mass], in the Roman Catholic Church, liturgical book containing all directions and texts necessary for the performance of Mass throughout the year. released in May 2002 also addresses some of the abuses associated with extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist. The Missal, the English translation of which is underway, notes that extraordinary ministers are not to assist in the transfer of consecrated con·se·crate
tr.v. con·se·crat·ed, con·se·crat·ing, con·se·crates
1. To declare or set apart as sacred: consecrate a church.
a. hosts and the Precious Blood to sacred vessels, nor are they to retrieve the Blessed Sacrament from the tabernacle and return the remaining consecrated hosts to the tabernacle.
During Benediction benediction [Lat.,=blessing], solemn blessing usually administered in the name of God by a priest or a minister. The temple worship at Jerusalem had fixed forms of benedictions, and Christians have always given them an important place in ceremony, especially at the , the bishop, priest, deacon, and even the Holy Father himself, uses the humeral hu·mer·al
1. Of, relating to, or located in the region of the humerus or the shoulder.
2. Relating to or being a body part analogous to the humerus.
of or pertaining to the humerus. veil to cover his hands while holding the monstrance mon·strance
n. Roman Catholic Church
A receptacle in which the host is held. Also called ostensorium.
[Middle English, from Old French, from Medieval Latin containing Our Lord. Why is one not to touch the monstrance? Is it the gold that matters, or the Sacred Host which the monstrance contains? Symbolic gestures matter. If every Tom, Dick, and Henrietta is allowed to distribute Holy Communion without Holy Orders, the significance of the One whom we receive becomes obscured.
It wouldn't be surprising if the Church received even further instruction on the subject. On Holy Thursday this year, the Holy Father released his latest encyclical on the Holy Eucharist. Within the encyclical he promised a decree on the liturgical norms regarding the Blessed Sacrament set to be released shortly.