Below is a video and summary of our Extraordinary Ministry of Holy Communion (EMHC) annual training & refresher in November 2023. If you weren’t in attendance, please review before the next time you serve in this important ministry. Thank you for your service!
We reviewed this document: Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion at Mass (USCCB).
Key point: “…Extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion… should not approach the altar before the priest has received Communion.” This means a change for us at St. Elizabeth. Remaining kneeling with the congregation through the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) until the priest has received Communion under the form of the host and from the chalice. A good signal is when the deacon(s) turn perpendicular to the altar to receive Holy Communion. After the priest has received, proceed to the same spot where EMHCs have been going to prepare to receive and then assist in distribution of Holy Communion.
Key point: “The proper and only permissible form for distributing Holy Communion is to offer the consecrated bread by saying, ‘The Body of Christ’ and to offer the consecrated wine by saying, ‘The Blood of Christ.’ No other words or names should be added; and the formula should not be edited in any way.” (No adding the person’s name, no adding “happy birthday” or any other sort of greeting.)
The proper form for someone approaching to NOT receive Communion (arms crossed over their chest or otherwise) in our diocese is to avoid any semblance of giving a blessing or anything of the sort, but to simply say, “Receive Jesus in your heart.” A good position for your hands during this is to keep one hand holding the ciborium and the other over the ciborium, holding the host for the next communicant.
Distributing to the back of church and the choir:
After distributing the the faithful in lines from their pews, both ministers with the ciboria of hosts should then distribute to those in the back of church first; then whichever minister is available first will go to distribute to the choir, approaching from the altar side behind the ambo so that the choir proceeds towards the altar to receive Holy Communion.
Consuming the extra Precious Blood:
If you have one of the common chalices and still have Precious Blood remaining, you may consume it reverently where you are standing, either before returning from the back to the front of the church, or at the front before handing it back to the deacon or priest. You do not need to if you are not comfortable doing so.
Appropriate dress for this ministry:
This is the ministry that brings one closest to the “source and summit of our faith” in the Most Holy Eucharist. It is the only ministry (beyond the ordained) that requires special permission from the Bishop in order to be in the ministry. Especially as we seek a Eucharistic Revival at the current time, let’s all endeavor to dress appropriately and reverently when serving as an EMHC. This helps to set an example and communicate to others at Mass the truth and importance of what is present: the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. If you are not dressed appropriately, please check in with the sacristans who can help find someone else to assist.
When you show up to Mass:
Please check in to the sacristy whether you are scheduled or not. If you’re scheduled, check in on Ministry Scheduler Pro on the iPad. You can check to see that those who are scheduled are present; and if you are dressed appropriately and reverently, the sacristans will know you are present and they could call upon you if we need more assistance.
Father also discussed points for those who take Communion to the Homebound, and we had a good discussion encouraging everyone to consider taking Communion to at least one of our homebound parishioners at least once in a while, and the rewards others find in doing so.
There are also good discussions on other points and questions, so please be sure to watch the video.
Again, thank you for your assistance in this important ministry. Remember, from the bishops’ document, this ministry exists “so that Holy Communion may be distributed in a reverent and orderly manner.”