Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion

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Welcome to the Ministry of the Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion!

 "The Eucharist constitutes the very life of the Church, for the Lord said; I am the bread of life. No one who comes to me shall ever be hungry; no one who believes in me shall ever thirst." 

"In every celebration of the Eucharist there should always be a sufficient number of ministers for the distribution of the Eucharist. Priority is always given to ordinary ministers (bishops, priests, deacons) and auxiliary ministers (instituted acolytes). When there are large numbers of the faithful present and there are insufficient ordinary and auxiliary members at hand, special or extraordinary ministers properly appointed beforehand should assist in the distribution of Communion." (HLS, #29).

Your willingness to serve as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, reflects not only response to your Baptismal call to serve the people of God, but a commitment to Christ as you share in the preaching, teaching and leading aspects of the church. You offer the Eucharist, recognize the Body of Christ in those to whom you offer Eucharist and ultimately you act as the Body of Christ by fully participating in the life of the parish and the wider community. Your willingness to commit to a twelve week schedule, to prepare properly for your service and to arrive on time dressed appropriately for your assigned Mass, further reflects that commitment.

Once trained and commissioned in this ministry, you will be scheduled on a rotation basis to serve at the Mass you have indicated. You have accepted the awesome privilege of assisting in the distribution of Holy Eucharist!

God bless your efforts!


Ministry Information

Qualities

  • A practicing Catholic of faith and prayer
  • A love and devotion to the Eucharist
  • A willingness to engage in ongoing formation
  • A gift of hospitality

General Responsibilities

  • At Sacred Heart Parish, parishioners are invited throughout the year to come forward to serve in this ministry of distribution of the Holy Eucharist. Although ministers are not limited in terms of service, all are encouraged to take the blessings of this ministry into other parish ministries by their active involvement and support of a variety of ministries of service.
  • Those invited to serve in this ministry are designated only for service in this parish. Eucharistic Ministers should not take it upon themselves to bring Communion to a parent, family member, friend or neighbor, unless permission is given from the pastor /parish life director or his designee, of the parish in which the person resides. Specially trained Outreach Eucharistic Ministers have this responsibility.
  • The selection of and invitation to serve as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion is a reflection of the diversity of the parish. An invitation to join the ministry does not mean that one is "better or holier than another", nor is an invitation indicative of a reward of some sort.
  • There are eight ministers of the Eucharist including the priest and deacon, so that six (6) Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion are assigned to each of the regularly scheduled weekend Masses.
  • The ministry schedule, which in most cases will be for twelve weeks, will be made available in the Narthex the weekend prior to the first weekend of the new schedule. Those not picked up over the weekend will be mailed out during the week so that all liturgical ministers will have the updated schedule prior to the first week of the new schedule. The ministry schedule is also available on line at sacredheartboise.org.
  • Be sure to notify the parish office at 344-8311 of any known schedule issues, e.g. vacations or changes in availability for the following months, so the schedule may be prepared appropriately.
  • Remember it is your responsibility to secure a substitute should you have a schedule conflict.
  • If you repeatedly miss your scheduled time for serving without securing a substitute you will be removed from active ministry.
  • When you come forward from the assembly to fulfill your ministry at Mass, and when returning to your place within the assembly after fulfilling your service within the Liturgy, do so quietly and efficiently without calling attention to yourself.
  • If, after the Sign of Peace has been completed, there appears to be missing ministers, please come forward to fill in, if you are dressed and prepared appropriately.

Preparation

  • Your respect for the Ministry should be reflected in your appearance and attire. It is suggested that appropriate attire includes being properly groomed and wearing a suit and tie OR clean, nicely creased trousers with a dress shirt or nice sweater; pants suit or skirt or slacks with blouse/sweater. Please note: no shorts at any time! Jewelry or clothing which would be distracting to the assembly should not be worn.
  • A Liturgical Minister may perform only one liturgical ministry at a time, at Mass, thus, e.g. if you are performing the function of Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion at Mass, you may not also perform the function of lector, choir member, or Usher at the same Mass. The only exception will be the Sacristan who will step forward in the absence of a deacon or enough Eucharistic Ministers.
  • On the day you are assigned to serve as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, it is appropriate and a good practice, to develop the habit of taking time to prepare for your service with quiet prayer and if possible, a reflective reading of Scripture.
  • Committing oneself to ongoing faith and ministry formation is essential in being an effective minister, regardless of the ministry. Attend workshops, classes, retreats, and small Christian communities to help you grow in your own faith.

Responsibilities Before Mass

  • Plan on being in the sacristy at least 15 minutes prior to your scheduled Mass time; check your name off the posted schedule or insert your name for the person for whom you are substituting. Take one of the Eucharistic Minister crosses to wear during the Mass and then go to your seat within the assembly. This allows the Sacristan to know that you (or your substitute) are present for your assigned Mass and able to fulfill your ministry. Return the Eucharistic Minister cross to the Sacristy after Mass.
  • Your hands should be clean, with neatly trimmed and clean nails. It is good practice to wash your hands with soap and water before the liturgy, this is particularly important if you are a smoker. You may wish to do this when you are checking into the sacristy.
  • Your participation in the liturgy should be whole and complete, by paying respectful attention to the proclamation of the Word, joining in the singing and offering the peace greeting, etc.

Responsibilities During Mass

  • You should sit in the assembly with family or friends, close enough to the altar to move there easily during the sign of peace within the liturgy.
  • Ministers come forward to the altar, during the "Sign of Peace", and stand behind the Celebrant. If you pass in front of the altar, do not bow. Time your arrival to precede the Celebrant's readiness to begin the Breaking of the Bread as this is a significant liturgical action.
  • If a deacon is not assisting with the celebration, the Sacristan or another Minister from the assembly comes forward to assist with the distribution of the Sacrament so that there are 8 ministers total – four distributing the Body of Christ, four distributing the Blood of Christ.
  • You should participate in the singing of the Lamb of God prayer.
  • You receive Communion after the celebrant and from the celebrant or deacon. If you are handed the cup by the celebrant, you keep the cup and distribute the Precious Blood. After all those on the altar have received Communion, you go to the station closest to you. One minister goes to the front of the altar steps and stands shoulder to shoulder to the celebrant to distribute Communion, if a deacon is not present. If a deacon or another priest is present, take up one of the other stations.
  • Ministers of the Precious Blood stand to either side far enough away to allow easy movement from the host to the cup. The remaining ministers stand in front of the two side aisles with the ministers of the cup near the aisles along the wall.

  • You should be alert to the needs of the faithful in the first row or two on either side of the Church, as often, physically challenged or elderly parishioners are there, to whom you should bring the Eucharist so they do not have to come forward.
  • When offering Eucharist, state in a clear, audible, but not loud voice,” The Body of Christ." This is a faith statement and should not be modified in any way under the guise of making it more "meaningful" by such statements as "Take Jesus", "The Precious Body of Jesus" etc. These statements DO NOT profess the faith of the Catholic Church regarding the meaning of the action at that moment.
  • If a person (usually a child) comes up with their arms crossed, they are not yet able to receive Communion. Bless them in a simple fashion with a cross on the forehead or laying your hand on their head with a simple “Bless You” or “Jesus Loves You”.
  • Remember - you are a presence of Christ to each person as you minister, so, smile kindly, and refrain from appearing annoyed or stern or appear to be in a hurry.
  • Holding the host up just below eye level, allows you to make eye contact with the person receiving Communion.
  • Allow each communicant a moment to respond "Amen".
  • Remember to distribute Communion to the choir and musicians.
  • If you run short of hosts, go to the Ciborium which the Main Minister brought from the tabernacle and placed on the altar and replenish your supply OR break the hosts in half or even tinier pieces. You may also go to another person who is distributing Hosts to get more. However, remember if you are running short, it is probable that the others are too.
  • If you drop the Consecrated Host, do not serve it to the person in front of whom you dropped it. Your calm demeanor at this moment can calm or assure an anxious and embarrassed person. Pick up the Host and consume it yourself, or put it to the side until you can consume it at a later time.
  • When there are no more communicants at your station, bring any unconsumed hosts to the altar as quietly, efficiently and reverently as possible. You may return to your seat within the assembly and join in the communal silence or singing which may be occurring at that time.

Distribution of the Precious Blood

  • Hold the Chalice before each communicant and say "The Blood of Christ". The same comments hold true about modifying this statement as those for "The Body of Christ". The Communicant responds with an "Amen" and the minister hands the cup to the communicant, who takes the cup, takes a sip and hands the cup back.
  • Wipe the rim of the cup carefully with the purificator, (inside and out) and turn the cup a quarter turn for the next person. (The easiest way to do this is to, before offering the cup to the 1st communicant in line, open the purificator from its folds so that is available to use like a small dish towel...that is what it is!)
  • If your cup is emptied and there are more communicants, remain in your designate station and place the purificator over the top of the cup so that communicants can see that there is no more Precious Blood. If, after the last communicant, you have Precious Blood remaining in your chalice, look around at the other stations to see if there is a place where you can assist. As soon as all communicants have received Communion, consume anything that remains in the cup while you are still standing at your station, and then take the purificator and the cup to the altar. Please note, that if there is a substantial amount of Precious Blood left, no one is expected to consume an extraordinary quantity. Just place the cup on the altar and the priest or deacon will consume the remainder. Do not place the purificator into the cup.
  • If you drop or spill the Precious Blood - DO NOT PANIC! Stop what you are doing. Your demeanor will reassure those communicants in line or, in particular, the person who may have caused the spill. If the spill is small, your purificator may be all you need to blot the spill. Delay the communion line as little as possible. If it is a large spill, go to the sacristy for a large towel or cloth. Soak up the Precious Blood as well as you can and then place a clean towel over the spot, get another chalice (if yours is empty or broken) and begin distributing at a spot removed from the spillage place so that no one needs to step on it. After the Liturgy, get a cold wet cloth and carefully scrub the place where the spill occurred. The cloths used to soak up the original spill should be placed with the purificators to be rinsed out in the appropriate manner.

Main Minister or “Ciborium” Minister

  • If you have been designated as “Ciborium” Minister on the schedule, you will process in with the altar servers, lectors and celebrant and sit in the front pew to the left of the altar.
  • At the sign of peace, proceed directly to the reserved tabernacle and bring the reserved Sacrament to the altar. Then stand with the other Eucharistic Ministers behind the Celebrant.
  • When you approach the tabernacle, open the door, genuflect (or deeply bow if unable to genuflect) then remove the ciborium.
  • When Communion is over, the “Ciborium" Minister, returns to the altar and stands behind the Celebrant until he gives you the Ciborium to return to the Tabernacle.
  • When you return the Blessed Sacrament to the tabernacle, genuflect (or deeply bow if you are unable to genuflect) and close and lock the tabernacle door. Return the key to the credence table.
  • The “Ciborium" Minister processes out with the Celebrant.

Intinction

If you are faced with a communicant who presents a consecrated host to you as a minister of the cup, indicate if possible, that this is not to be done. If it cannot be avoided, let the celebrant know after Mass so as to address it with the individual or from the pulpit. In the Diocese of Boise, intinction is discouraged.

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is a disorder causing an allergic intestinal reaction to the gluten in wheat. Gluten is a protein enzyme which activates when flour is kneaded and functions to bind the wheat together. Gluten is a toxin to persons with the disease and damages the digestive system which inhibits the absorption of vitamins and nutrients and predisposes its victims to a myriad of illnesses. As an Extraordinary Minsiter of the Eucharist, it is important to recognize that there are persons in the assembly who are medically advised against the reception of Holy Communion under the form of bread and it is not your place to judge those who approach only the cup. The principle of extending the cup to these faithful is a matter of justice. Unless they receive the Precious Blood, they cannot participate in Holy Communion. Canon Law # 925 permits the reception of communion "under the form of wine alone in cases of necessity."


Ash Wednesday & Special Feast Days

  • You may be asked to assist with the distribution of ashes on Ash Wednesday. If you are assigned to assist in one of the Ash Wednesday services, you should check in at the sacristy and determine from the Celebrant, where you will be located to distribute the ashes and what script you will use: "Turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel", or "Remember, you are dust and to dust you will return." You mark each person’s forehead with the sign of the cross with your thumb while saying one of the scripts. Be sure to wash your hands after administering the ashes.
  • You may be asked to assist with the blessing of throats on the Feast of St. Blaise. If you are assigned to assist at one of the services, you should follow the directions given for Ash Wednesday and use the appropriate script when giving the blessing.

Resources

Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy ( 2nd Vatican Council Document)

General Instruction on the Roman Missal

This Holy and Living Sacrifice (Directory to the Communion Rite, 1984)

Eucharistic Minister, Liturgical Press, September 2001.

Guidelines for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, Archdiocese of Boston, 1991.

Service at the Table of the Lord, A Study Guide for Ministers of the Eucharist, Archdiocese of Boston, Office for Worship, 2000

Communion of the Sick, Pamphlet format, Liturgical Press, 1984

A Ritual for Laypersons: Rites for Holy Communion and Pastoral Care of the Sick and the Dying, Liturgical Press, 1993

Sacred Vessels