Saturday, 1 June 2013

Deeper Understanding Of Real Presence

Mark Cogitates - Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion

A few days ago my wife brought home from the parish a copy of the Archdiocesan Newspaper for the Archdiocese of Johannesburg. In it I came across, to my horror, an article entitled “Eucharistic Ministers Must Carry Christ In Their Hands”. Why to my horror? Well the reason is that the article was about a workshop that the Liturgical Department of the archdiocese held for Catholic laity.

Since this was a workshop being presented by the Liturgical Department I would at least have expected that they would not refer to those lay faithful, who are called on in special circumstances to distribute Holy Communion, as “Eucharistic Ministers[1]. It is more than common knowledge that “the name “minister of the Eucharist” belongs properly to the Priest alone[2].

I would also have thought the Liturgical Department would know better than to use the term “Eucharistic[3] as a title. When quoting the words of some of these lay people who attended the workshop, the newspaper actually refers to the person as “Eucharistic” Joe Blog. Why not just ‘Joe Blog’ or ‘Mr. Joe Blog’. There is no such title as “Eucharistic”.

The Church has gone to great lengths to educate us that “the only minister who can confect the Sacrament of the Eucharist in persona Christi is a validly ordained Priest[4]. Redemptionis Sacramentum makes it extremely clear that the only name that should be used to describe the lay faithful, who are used on extraordinary occasions to assist with the distribution of Holy Communion, is “extraordinary minister of Holy Communion[5].

Redemptionis Sacramentum goes further, which is why I am so surprised that the Liturgical Department of the archdiocese got this so wrong. It actually specifically states that these lay faithful should not be known by names such as ““special minister of Holy Communion” nor “extraordinary minister of the Eucharist” nor “special minister of the Eucharist””. It is pretty clear I think that they should only be called “extraordinary minister of Holy Communion[6].

It is also clear that the appointment of a lay member of the faithful to distribute Holy Communion must be reserved for instances of real necessity only. They may never be used as the ‘norm’ in parishes, which sadly seems to have become the case in many parishes. It also seems to be the intent of this article in AD News – to promote more lay faithful to aspire to this ministry.

Redemptionis Sacramentum makes it clear that they “may administer Communion only when the Priest and Deacon are lacking[7] and the “celebration of Mass would be unduly prolonged[8], bearing in mind that it must be understood that a “brief prolongation[9] is “not at all a sufficient reason[10] to warrant the use of extraordinary minsters of Holy Communion.

One obvious example of the abuse of the use of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion is seen in the distribution of Holy Communion under both species. Most parishes already do not have sufficient Eucharistic Ministers – Priests and Deacons. Therefore to enable the distribution of Holy Communion under both species would require that they resort to the permanent use of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion during Mass. Definitely not what was intended!

Redemptionis Sacramentum is quite clear that “the manner of distributing Holy Communion to the faithful under both kinds[11] should be a consideration when deciding whether to distribute Holy Communion under both species. Those parishes that persist in the distribution of Holy Communion under both species, when they know that they do not have sufficient priest or deacons, should really refrain from doing so.

Maybe during Corpus Christi this year we can all pray that we will all develop a deeper understanding of the truth of the Real Presence. Christ is present body, soul and divinity in the Blessed Sacrament. Maybe our deeper understanding of this truth will restore the necessary reverence for the Blessed Sacrament. Maybe it will then lead to an end to this selfish abuse of the extraordinary minister of Holy Communion role. Maybe it will also bring an end to the distribution of Holy Communion under both species when the means of distribution belie the Real Presence.

[1] Abel Dlamini, AD News, Eucharistic Ministers Must Carry Christ In Their Hands, June 2013
[3] Abel Dlamini, AD News, Eucharistic Ministers Must Carry Christ In Their Hands, June 2013
[6] Ibid.
[8] Ibid.
[9] Ibid.
[10] Ibid.


  1. I was equally horrified at reference to Eucharistic Vincent Makgale. We now have in the Catholic Church deacons, priests, bishops, cardinals and eucharistics. From a Catholic newspaper. Absolute joke.

  2. With RENEW AFRICA around, what can you expect; Mrs Eucharistic's School of Altar Girls and Gay Dancing at the Cathedral? Look out for thhe next coming attraction!

  3. I am a convert of 31 years now. At the beginning, I was appalled when I saw parishioners touching the Body of Christ with their grubby little hands. I myself would consider myself unworthy to be doing that. These people obviously don't believe in the Real Presence of Christ Himself in the Blessed Sacrament. Whenever we receive either the Host or the Cup of His Blood, we receive the whole deal; Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ Himself. These folks apparently don't know their Faith very well. Personally, giving the cup along with the Host is denying the whole Truth of the Divine Presence. This is totally a protestant idea, encouraged by most as to NOT offend anyone not Catholic! The Catholic is not up to popular opinion as to what truths are to be espoused. Roman Catholicism is not for wimps!

    Also, if you wish, check out my blogspot site.
    I use the 'Liturgical Year' by Dom Gueranger mostly for my postings, as well as a pre-1964 Bible, as the newer translations are changed, thus changing the meaning of the original.