To: Clergy and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion
in our cluster
From: Father Tom
RE: Clarifications on Procedures
Updated: January 2016
Thank you once again for your generous and faithful service to the Church in this supreme mystery of the Holy Eucharist, Christ’s own Body and Blood given to us.
As often happens, over time, as new folks become involved and we have transitions with clergy, there has been some variation and confusion about the desired procedure. With this memo, I would like to clarify these understandable questions.
1) Please come to the sacristy at least 10 minutes prior to the Mass to pray, to assure that we have sufficient extraordinary ministers present, and to agree on who will be the “lead” person to receive the Eucharist first and minister the chalice to the others (and where necessary, to agree on who will bring Communion to the balconies). When the deacon is present, he will always act as the lead person.
2) Immediately when the “Lamb of God” begins (after exchanging the Sign of Peace), please come forward, roughly half on each side of the sanctuary, and use the hand sanitizer. Then, you will form a line at the bottom of the steps to the sanctuary on either side, leaving the area directly in front of the altar open. If you are an EMHC in the congregation and you see that there are not enough ministers, please volunteer and come forward to assist.
3) As soon as the celebrant has received from the chalice, come up the steps into the sanctuary and form a line behind the altar. The “lead” person (if the deacon is not present) will come to the altar and stand on the celebrant’s left, and receive the Host and then the chalice. The celebrant will then distribute the Host to the other extraordinary ministers. Follow him down the line and minister the chalice to the others. Place this chalice on the corporal on the altar, and receive a vessel (with Body or Blood) from the celebrant or deacon.
4) The celebrant will give each of the ministers the vessel with either the Body or the Blood of Christ. Proceed to your assigned station to distribute the Eucharist to the assembly. Begin with those who are disabled and cannot join in the procession and are seated in the front pews. If there are others who elsewhere in the church, be attentive to them and bring the Eucharist under both forms when the rest of the assembly has received. The ushers will help point out these persons.
If your line is finished and there are still persons in another line, assist with Communion at that station. If your chalice is empty before the line is finished, simply return it to the altar. If you run short of Hosts, you may obtain some from another minister in order to facilitate Communion under this form.
If you have difficulty walking, you may leave this task (which requires more walking through the church to bring Communion to the disabled) to others with better mobility.
5) When all have received, return your vessel to the altar and place it reverently on one of the corporals. If you have a chalice and are able, please consume whatever Precious Blood is left in the chalice. Do not put the purificator into the chalice; just set it on the corporal next to the chalice, and fold the purificator as it was when you received it. Then form a line once again behind the altar. As the celebrant or deacon leaves the sanctuary to return the unused Hosts to the tabernacle, you will bow together and leave the sanctuary after the Hosts are placed in the tabernacle, returning to the assembly.
6) Just a few reminders:
a) The celebrant and/or deacon will purify the vessels after Communion (on some occasions, after Mass).
b) We never distribute or receive “bread” or “wine” at Mass, but the Body and Blood of Christ. How we speak about the Eucharist – “Host” and “Chalice” or “Chalice” – is important in reverencing this Mystery entrusted to us.
c) In case of spills or a dropped Host:
If a Host is dropped, it and any broken particles should immediately be retrieved, making sure there are no visible particles on the floor. It can then be consumed reverently by the distributor or held and returned to the altar for consumption after Mass. Make sure the priest is informed of any Hosts that have fallen.
If the Precious Blood is spilled during distribution, immediately stop distribution from that station. Cover the area of the spill with your purificator as much as possible to begin soaking up the Precious Blood and to prevent anyone from inadvertently walking in thata area. If necessary, have a server stand there to direct people around the spill. Return your chalice to the altar. Go to the sacristy to obtain a bowl of water and a large number of purificators. Return to the area of the spill and, with a server’s help if necessary, continue to use purificators to soak up the remainder of what has spilled. Then wash the area with water from the bowl and soak up that with the remaining purificators. Repeat if necessary. Return the bowl and any used purificators to the sacristy to be purified by the priest after Mass and prepared for washing.
d) f you know that you will be out of town or unavailable at a time you are scheduled, please arrange for a substitute.