Extraordinary Ministers - would you resign?

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Here some more doco on the subject

GIRM
  1. One and the same priest celebrant must always exercise the presidential office in all of its parts, except for those parts which are proper to a Mass at which the Bishop is present (cf. above, no. 92).
Redemptionis Sacramentum
  1. When the Church’s needs require it, however, if sacred ministers are lacking, lay members of Christ’s faithful may supply for certain liturgical offices according to the norm of law.249 Such faithful are called and appointed to carry out certain functions, whether of greater or lesser weight, sustained by the Lord’s grace. Many of the lay Christian faithful have already contributed eagerly to this service and still do so, especially in missionary areas where the Church is still of small dimensions or is experiencing conditions of persecution,250 but also in areas affected by a shortage of Priests and Deacons.
  2. **Only out of true necessity ** is there to be recourse to the assistance of extraordinary ministers in the celebration of the Liturgy. Such recourse is not intended for the sake of a fuller participation of the laity but rather, by its very nature, is supplementary and provisional.252
 
Crusader said:
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I also wonder if any other of you have been asked to be EMHCs (it’s almost a closed guilde around here), and felt you had to deline because you simply couldn’t add to the abuse?*

I was asked to be an Eucharistic Minister this year. (They insist on calling them that). I declined and explained to the DRE (who also trains all the lay ministers) that it was very distracting to me when the EMHCs (which I insist on calling them 🙂 ) troop around the alter right after the Lord’s Prayer. Knowing that they were not supposed to approach until after the Priest’s communion, I said I wouldn’t feel right breaking that rule myself.

The DRE claims that this is what Father wants. He is mostly very GIRM-correct so I think this may be a remnant of the “old days”. Father inherited the parish from a very liberal pastor and has carefully chosen his battles. He did move the tabernacle back to center, reinstated the Sacrament of Pennance (the previous priest didn’t hear Confessions and there was no confessional) and had a confessional built (old style, screen) and insisted on kneeling for the Consecration. I digress. 😦
 
I am Extraordinary Minister and I don’t believe that under normal circumstances that it is necessary for a layperson, such as myself, to minister the Eucharist at The Mass. The term extraordinary has this connotation.

However, one of my ‘functions’ is to take Communion to the sick. I, and a fellow Extraordinary Minister from my parish, visit a local hospital each month. Our pastor, the only resident priest we have, is unable to bring the Eucharist to the hospital, so I am blessed to be able to bring Christ to those who dearly need it.

Yes, I would gladly give up ‘ministering’ at regularly scheduled Mass, but I would not want to neglect the sick.
👍
 
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kmktexas:
I was asked to be an Eucharistic Minister this year. (They insist on calling them that). I declined and explained to the DRE (who also trains all the lay ministers) that it was very distracting to me when the EMHCs (which I insist on calling them 🙂 ) troop around the alter right after the Lord’s Prayer. Knowing that they were not supposed to approach until after the Priest’s communion, I said I wouldn’t feel right breaking that rule myself.

The DRE claims that this is what Father wants. He is mostly very GIRM-correct so I think this may be a remnant of the “old days”. Father inherited the parish from a very liberal pastor and has carefully chosen his battles. He did move the tabernacle back to center, reinstated the Sacrament of Pennance (the previous priest didn’t hear Confessions and there was no confessional) and had a confessional built (old style, screen) and insisted on kneeling for the Consecration. I digress. 😦
May God bless your pastor. It sounds as though he cares.

I’m curious about something though. Why does a pastor have to chose his battles carefully, and why must they be battles at all?

In the case of using EMHCs, the pastor should be able to either limit or eliminate the use of EMHCs on a regular basis. Why does the laity’s response even matter, it it’s a matter of following the Church?

Pastoral sensitivity and tact are indeed important, but the laity should not be able to coerce the clergy into abuse.
 
About resigning:
Redemptionis Sacramentum 157 - “If there is usually present a sufficient number of sacred ministers for the distribution of Holy Communion, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion may not be appointed. Indeed, in such circumstances, those who may have already been appointed to this ministry should not exercise it.”

One would be bound in conscience to at least refrain from exercising the ministry of EMHC on an ordinary situation.
 
My husband and I are both Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist. Our parish has about 1800 families and only 25 EMs. Ususally there are only 2 EM assigned to each Mass, so I don’t see that as overuse. Our parish has 2 nursing homes in our boundaries and they are both visited every Sunday by EMs. Also a number of us have the privilege of taking the Eucharist to homebound members each Sunday. We see this as an extension of our parish to those who cannot participate with us in the Church itself.

After 10 years, I have often thought it time for me to resign. However, the problem our parish faces is that the younger people do not want to commit to servicing the Nursing homes or homebound. Their lives are too busy they tell us. So I stay.

I do think the suggestion of giving the EMs copies of Redemptionis Sacramentum is an excellent idea. Think I will look into that.

pat
 
In addition to the issue of obedience, I think this question concerns the usurpation of priestly duties by lay people, and the resultant impoverishment of the liturgy and the denial of the fullness of what Christ wishes to give the people. For me, the sign value of the priest distributing Communion is very important; acting through the priest, Jesus feeds Himself to the people. No EM can replicate this experience.

As for taking Communion to the sick, the homebound and nursing home patients, what happens if they need to go to Confession? We cannot assume that the condition of being old or sick or confined renders a person incapable of mortal sin. So what happens - the person has committed a mortal sin, has no access to a priest without calling attention to himself by making a special request, and is presented with an EM bringing the Eucharist. How many people will say they don’t want to receive until they’ve seen a priest? Their right to their good name is infringed by this situation. No one should have to announce the fact that they are in mortal sin to anyone else, even if only by implication.

In my opinion, priests should place their Sacramental responsibilities first on their priority list. Nothing is more important than service to those in their spiritual care. If this were more routine, I believe that priests would find much more personal fulfillment in their ministry and there would be less of a vocations crisis. We must let priests be priests!

Betsy
 
Before you consider resigning, I would like to make several suggestions. First, pray about this, and pray everytime that the question pops into your thoughts.

Second, if at all possible, spend as much time as possible in Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. Bring your questions and prayers to Jesus, but spend most of your time just “being” with Jesus.

Third, make an appointment with your pastor to discuss the situation, and try to avoid the appearance of “gossiping” with other parishoners. If one of your family members did not agree with the way you did something, wouldn’t you prefer they bring their concerns to you instead of talking about it with other family members? Remember that both you and your pastor are beloved by God, and so each of you deserve to be treated with love and respect. It is more loving and respectful to discuss this in person with your pastor before you make up your mind. Try to keep the conversation friendly and loving, and remember the whole time that you will be planting seeds. Always plant seeds of love, even if you end up disagreeing.

Fourth, even when you make your decision, keep praying about your decision. Pray for your Pastor. Pray for the Church. Your decision should leave you with a feeling of hope for the future. Whatever you decide to do, you will be planting seeds, but it is up to you to decide what kind of seeds those will be.
 
Ainchel, you’ve made excellent points. We should always deal with our pastors in this way, first because of the excellence of charity, and second, because it keeps us from being branded as whining, complaining nutcases.

When *Redemptionis Sacramentum * first came out, I wrote a scholarly letter about the overuse of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, which included the suggestion that EMs consider resigning. I prayed a lot before sending it to anyone (possible recipients were the Catholic paper, the Cardinal, and our pastor and parish council). The letter remains in a file on my hard drive, having been sent to no one, because I feel God is asking me not to send it now. My self-control is not infinite, however, which explains the fact that I asked the question on this forum! 😉

Just to clarify - I have never been, am not now, and never plan to be an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion.

Betsy
 
We have a fairly large church with four Masses and one 73 year old priest. We probably have a minimum of two to three hundred going to Communion at any one Mass. We have 3 EMC’s distributing the Host, in additon to Father, and 4 to six with the cup (and there is little left over at the end). The majority of people receive under both Species. We almost always make it through one hymn, and at the 10:30, most often through two, before everyone has received.
I fail to see any issue in my parish. I can’t speak for other parishes, but I am not convinced that it is horribly abused, since most parishes around here only have one priest, and with luck, maybe one deacon.
 
Betsy, et al -

Howdy! Hope all is well with you!

It’s hard to tell - and I have been known to misinterpret, so if I am, please forgive - but it almost sounds that your premise is that Extraordinary Ministers are bad, or that it is bad to have them, per se. I hope you don’t feel that way.

Someone else has quoted the document noting that if there are sufficient clergy at a given Mass, those who have been previously appointed by competent authority to be Extraordinary Ministers may and hsould refrain from acting as such unles their services are truly needed.

In my way of viewing things, there is no need to “resign” an appointment or commission or license (whichever you wanna call it) to be an Extraordinary Minister - unless you simply don’t believe the position should exist at all. The simplest way to serve best, it would seem to me, would be to abstain from it when enough clergy are around, and to be available to serve in that special capacity when the occasion might arise that there was a true need.

The “job” of Extraordinary Minister certainly IS sanctioned, even though one of your respondents said it was not. It’s just that is not sanctioned necessarily at every Mass - it is sanctioned only at Masses meeting the requirements set forth and already ably quoted by others.

Pax Christi!

baltobetsy said:
Redemptionis Sacramentum tells us that Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion should be used only in extraordinary circumstances where there are not enough priests and deacons to distribute Holy Communion without unduly prolonging the Mass. In many parishes, there is a virtual army of EMHCs at every Mass, even lightly attended daily Masses. If you are one of these EMHCs, would you consider resigning in light of the instructions in this document?

Thanks for your thoughts.
Betsy
 
Speaking generally, yes I would. That having been said, we don’t have this problem at my parish. We never have an excess of EMHC’s at weekend masses and sometimes have to scramble to find someone at the last minute if a person scheduled couldn’t make it, or forgot, or otherwise did not show up and failed to find a replacement.
 
Our church holds about 700. Most receive Communion. In the olden days, one priest distributed Communion, even when it was done by intinction.

Today in the same building with the same number of people receiving Communion, with both species it takes the same one priest plus a total of ten EMHCs.

That’s horribly abusive. Perhaps 1-2 EMHCs to handle the chalice? Fine. Ten? Tragic and abusive.
 
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otm:
We have a fairly large church with four Masses and one 73 year old priest. We probably have a minimum of two to three hundred going to Communion at any one Mass. We have 3 EMC’s distributing the Host, in additon to Father, and 4 to six with the cup (and there is little left over at the end). The majority of people receive under both Species. We almost always make it through one hymn, and at the 10:30, most often through two, before everyone has received.
I fail to see any issue in my parish. I can’t speak for other parishes, but I am not convinced that it is horribly abused, since most parishes around here only have one priest, and with luck, maybe one deacon.
Up to nine EMHCs plus the celebrant to distibute Communion to 300+ people? That’s worse than my parish, and my parish is horribly abusive on this matter.

Sounds like your parish needs your priest and perhaps two EMHCs to handle the chalice.
 
Servant1, you are right - I don’t think Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion are a good idea, even though their existence is lawful. But that is my personal opinion, and I would not presume that everyone else should hold the same opinion.

But here is the experience from which I speak: In our parish, we have 2 Masses each weekday morning, one at 6:30, attended by about 20 people, and one at 8:00, attended by about 30. At 6:30, the priest and one Extraordinary Minister distribute Holy Communion, which takes about 40 seconds. At 8:00, the priest, the deacon and one Extraordinary Minister distribute Holy Communion, taking all of 30 seconds to do so. There is no possible way to say that people needing to go to work after Mass make it necessary to finish Communion that quickly. And even if they are in such a hurry, they can get in line first. On Sunday morning (or Saturday evening), of course there are more communicants, but I don’t think it would kill us to spend 5 more minutes in church so the priest could distribute Communion to everyone. It is really to these EMs that I address my question, would you resign. Our parish is rather small, and I know that these same conclusions cannot be applied to much larger parishes.

As I’ve said before in this thread, if priests are allowed to really be priests and fulfill their true pastoral duties, they will be happier in their priesthood and attract more vocations. If lay people truly want to help, they (we) should volunteer to do things that truly need doing, like teaching CCD or singing in the choir or any other thing that is not the ordinary duty of a priest.

Betsy
 
Redemptionis Sacramentum seems to be open to interpretation. I haven’t been in a church which did not use EM’s. Our church will have from 400-700 at most Masses. There are four EM’s distributing the Body of Christ along with priest and deacon and then there are TWELVE EM’s holding the cup. Eucharist usually takes 8-10 mins with 600 or so in the congregation. This is just a guess on the time, but we usually go through two hymns. If we only had the deacon and priest distributing, then it would take more than 20 minutes. I have a feeling that many would leave the church prior to the end of communion. Sad but true.

So what is excessive? BTW, they call our EM’s Eucharist Ministers.
 
👍 First, I would like to say that I am new and hope that my friends join me. I am always embracing new and old friends too.

Thank you for your commitment to the Catholic Church and becoming in a very suble way, my spiritual director! God Bless
 
Yes, I would if it didn’t seem that we needed them. I am not an EMHC however.

My parish has over 6000 families, and 1600-1700 people per mass (except 8 am which is about 1/2 full) except on holidays when it swells to an unbearable 2000 or more… We have between 20-24 EMHC each mass (both species) plus priest & deacon and communion still takes over 20 minutes. So, I’d say we have a good case there for the EMHCs.

However, sometimes I go to mass at a small parish where there are generally 200 or so at mass and the priest(s) only give communion. There are 3, and 2 come out right before communion and communion is only under one species at this church.
 
Our Sunday Masses are 90 minutes apart. The parking lot is a huge problem when the Masses overlap. Having EMs help distribute the Eucharist does help eliminate any dangers on the lot.

Also, as far as taking the Eucharist to homebound and nursing home residents, the following are instructions given by Fr. Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University.

“Such a ministry could be carried out on the parish level by the priests or other authorized ministers who usually attend the sick and shut-ins by simply adding another call to their rounds. If this ministry were to be carried out within the confines of a parish, then the pastor could coordinate the initiative, although if the minister is not a priest, he or she would require the usual authorization from the bishop to act as an extraordinary minister.”

This practice of lay people helping to distribute the Eucharist is not something new. Remember the story of St. Tarsisius, who was beaten to death while carrying the Eucharist.

pat
 
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Journeyman:
Redemptionis Sacramentum seems to be open to interpretation. I haven’t been in a church which did not use EM’s. Our church will have from 400-700 at most Masses. There are four EM’s distributing the Body of Christ along with priest and deacon and then there are TWELVE EM’s holding the cup. Eucharist usually takes 8-10 mins with 600 or so in the congregation. This is just a guess on the time, but we usually go through two hymns. If we only had the deacon and priest distributing, then it would take more than 20 minutes. I have a feeling that many would leave the church prior to the end of communion. Sad but true.

So what is excessive? BTW, they call our EM’s Eucharist Ministers.
Eighteen (18) people giving communion to ~700 people? That is a horrible abuse – not matter what physical challanges your church building might offer.

It would boggle the ming to suggest you need more than your priest, deacon and 4 EMHCs – at the absolute most.

18? Yikes…
 
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