Our second "bone to pick" with dissenters is on the role of Extraordinary Ministers of the Holy Eucharist. Note, they are not called "Eucharistic Ministers" which everyone seems to think so, but "Extraordinary Ministers." That, in itself, speaks volumes about what they should be doing and the role that has evolved through misuse and abuse. The main reasons Extraordinary Ministers were created and allowed among the laity was to assist the priest in taking Holy Communion (Holy Viaticum) to the sick and house-bound elderly. Many could do this in deference to one man trying to accomplish this. The sad fact is that so few Extraordinary Ministers today actually fulfill their roles of ministering to the sick, opting instead to flood the altar at the Our Father and, after glad-handing everyone at what should be the reverent "Kiss of Peace," grab the ciboriums off the altar and trod down to their station to pass out the hosts. In all fairness, there are some very reverent Extraordinary Ministers who often times present a more edifying presence than some priests. That's a sad state of affairs to some of the celebrants who have turned the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass into a circus, greatly saddening Our Lord and the countless angels who worship at every Mass said throughout the world. The Vatican II documents are very clear on warning priests to not allow the laity to completely take over the distribution of Holy Communion. On the distribution at Holy Mass, we've seen it in every parish, four to twelve lay Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist get up and tredge to the altar no matter how many people are in the congregation. Often times assistant priests and deacons are not present (where they should be) and everything is left to the laity. In our last parish all the priests and deacons assigned to that parish took part in distributing Holy Communion at every Mass and at our new present parish all Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist don white albs and present a reverence for Who is truly present in the Bread and Wine. If a deacon is present at Mass, he must take precedent over any assigned Extraordinary Minister as the documents clearly state as well as Canon Law. Another way parishes have gotten around this is to claim that the Extraordinary Ministers are needed because if only the priests distribute Holy Communion the Mass will take too long. What about the days of pre-Vatican II when one or two priests distributed Holy Communion at the Communion rail where everyone took their turn...was Mass too long then? Very few complained. Now it's all whiz, bang, let's get outta here...but save 3 to 5 minutes for announcements! How many have noticed how the offertory is extended so the choir can have their day, and the Lord's Prayer and "Kiss of Peace" are extended so we "touch" all those around us in a show of "lateral" worship towards each other while forgetting the "vertical" worship to God? Then how many have noticed how parishes race through the Consecration of the Mass and Holy Communion and then wrap things up fast so they can get in the announcements, while the Extraordinary Ministers tail back to the "gathering area" by going through, around, on and over the altar, bowing everywhere but to the Tabernacle, and then gather to gulp down the remaining wine. What ever happened to purification? Ah, we'll cover that the next issue. For now we're concerned with abuses by Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist, many of whom have no idea they are in violation of the Canon Law and what the Church officially prescribes. Below are the verifications of the documents on reception of the Holy Eucharist that state this, taken from VATICAN COUNCIL II, VOLUME II, More Postconciliar Documents; General Editor Austin Flannery, O.P. Costello Publishing Company, page 96 on the Instruction on Certain Norms concerning the Worship of the Eucharistic Mystery (S.C.S.D.W., Inaestimabile Donum 3, April 1980.
9. Eucharistic Communion. Communion is a gift of the Lord, given to the faithful through the minister appointed for this purpose. It is not permitted that the faithful should themselves pick up the consecrated bread and the sacred chalice, still less that they should hand them from one to another.