Tuesday, 4 June 2013

What are you doing to protect your Mother?

And more from this Tim Haines at www.thoughtsandperceptions.com

On "Eucharistic Minsters"...

On “Eucharistic Ministers”

Before I can really get into why I have a problem with “Eucharistic Ministers”, I thought I should first give some definition to what we’re talking about here.
Nowhere in Canon Law will you find the term “Eucharistic Minister”. The actual term used in the Code of Canon Law is “Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion”. The word “extraordinary” should jump out at you. As the word implies, that what we understand as “Eucharistic Ministers” are supposed to be exceptions to the rule (or exceptions to the “ordinary”. The “ordinary” minister of Holy Communion is a cleric (Bishop, Priest, Deacon). That is who is supposed to be administering Communion.
The question as to whether or not a layperson can assist in the distribution of Holy Communion would require a long, drawn out explanation of Canon Law. So what I’ll do is sum it up briefly, as it pertains to the normal experience of Sacred Liturgy.
1. If priests or deacons are present, and able (they aren’t ill, they can stand and walk) a priest or deacon is supposed to distribute Holy Communion. Period.
2. In EXCEPTIONAL circumstances a layperson may be designated to temporarily assist the ordinary minister(s). Those exceptional cases include:
a. The priest is not available
b. The priest is physically unable to distribute communion (sick, etc)
c. There are SOO MANY people at mass that it would take too long to distribute communion to everyone (Of course, this one is entirely subjective, which is why it’s so over-played in the modern Church. How long is “too long”?. Is 20 minutes that much longer than 10 minutes? Is the Eucharist worthy of 10 extra minutes of our time at mass? Is there another priest sitting around in the rectory? Why isn’t he helping to distribute communion? Are there Deacons associated with the Parish? Why aren’t they asked to show up at least to distribute communion?).
The use of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion nowadays though has become abusive. Everyone uses them, at every mass, no matter how many priests are available to distribute communion, and no matter how many, or how few people are receiving communion during that mass. As this abuse falls under the subjective umbrella of Condition C (listed above) I would suggest we all lean in the direction of caution (and reverence) and not support what may be an abuse of the Canonical permission to use EMHCs.
But there are also spiritual reasons why I have a problem with EMHCs. Apart from the fact that they’re overused, I believe using extraordinary ministers at all takes the Eucharist experiecnce away from the realm of the sacred, and reduces it to the realm of the common. This itself is canonically, and theologically unsettling. The mass is—by order of rule rather than opinion—supposed to be the highest prayer of the Church, providing the senses and intellects of the faithful with an extraordinary experience. That’s Church teaching, not just my opinion. The mass is supposed to provide an environment which, in EVERY WAY, removes the faithful from the realm of the common, and elevates them to a more sacred. A solemn environment. It’s why everything involved with, or surrounding the mass is so majestic (or WAS before we ruined it all). When children grow up seeing “Bobby from down the street” handing out communion, what is that child learning about the Eucharist? He or she is learning that there’s nothing special or distinctive about it. When John or Jane (adult Catholics) see Bobby handing out communion, how are they eventually conditioned to regard the Eucharist? There are reasons why half the Church fails to recognize that the Eucharist is the TURE body and blood of Christ. We teach them that it’s just bread and wine. We teach them this because ordinary people are handing it out. We stand up to receive it (like we stand up for every other thing we do in our lives), we receive it in our hands (like we handle everything else in our lives). There is nothing whatsoever exceptional about the Eucharist experience. It’s no wonder people have lost respect and reverence for it. It’s not distinctive because it’s just ordinary people handling it out. There’s nothing exceptional about the Eucharist….because there’s nothing exceptional about how it’s distributed or how it’s received. See what I mean?
I think extraordinary ministers are over used. Way over used. It’s my personal preference not to see others supporting what I believe to be contributing to the decay of regard the faithful have for the Eucharist.


Anonymous said...

Boy, do I agree with you. Pope John Paul II made that clear and some of the greatest offenders are some priests and deacons. The wrong term has become, so to speak, the new normal. I sometimes wonder if some of the clergy ever read the documents. As we are taught, we come to believe and our catholic theology is becoming warped.
Thanks for this - you are right on. Blessings.

Trev Sliwkanich said...

my wife and I have a month old daughter and have mostly pulled the "double Mass" strategy of leaving her at home (for now).

I honestly think I may loose my mind if a EMHC traces a cross on her head or imparts some sort of clerical copy of a blessing without 1) our asking and 2) realizing it is not their place

Donnchad O'Conghalaigh said...

I wholeheartedly agree with you. The Novus Ordo has become a platform for all kinds of abuses, the EMHC included. It is no wonder that the Churches are becoming as noisy as a church hall with all the chatter going on before and after Mass. That awesome reverence our people had is quickly vanishing. Our Church, at least in Nova Scotia, is being Protestantized. One only has to attend a latin Mass in the EF to experience just how Protestant we have become. Before any real evangelization of a true Catholic nature can take place, our semanaries need to be reformed, otherwise the cart is being placed before the horse. Personally, I can't take much more.