Posted on Mon, Mar 7, 2011
Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion
A Extraordinary Minister of Communion is an ordinary Christian accepting the invitation of the community to witness in a special way to the Lord’s Presence in our midst. They should recall that they are serving in an important ministry, not just simply functioning for the sake of efficiency.
1.] Ten minutes before Mass, ministers in proper attire should gather in the sacristy to sign in for a position and pause for prayer. This moment helps a person to center oneself and initiates the process of withdrawing from daily concerns and heightens one’s awareness of the mystery about to be celebrated. Once the prayer is offered, silence is maintained until the entrance procession begins.
2.] Ministers will be included in the procession behind the Lector. After the Presider and Eucharistic Ministers genuflect at the sanctuary you will return to your seat in the assembly.
3.] Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion approach the altar as the presider receives from the cup. After the priest has concluded his own Communion, he distributes Holy Communion under both species to the Extraordinary Ministers, assisted by the deacon and then hands the sacred vessels to them for distribution of Holy Communion to the people.
4.] The ministers with the Precious Blood offer the cup to the other minister next to them in the sanctuary.
5.] After the ciboriums are given to the ministers, all go to their assigned positions. Communion is offered to those who are handicapped within the congregation first.
6.] The minister of Communion needs to be person-centered individual. They offer the Bread of Life or the Cup of Salvation to a sister or a brother in Christ in a personal way and not in a routine, monotonous manner. The words spoken are addressed to the individual, not to the floor or ceiling. The eye contact between the minister and the communicant personally speaks of Christ’s care and concern for the members of his Body. Looking down the aisle, checking out the congregation or other ministers, anything but lovingly focusing one’s attention on the communicant, detracts from the fullness of this moment of the Eucharistic celebration.
7.] Since the Eucharist is a sacrament of unity, it is essential that the minister of Communion be a person who finds it easy to be with people, making no distinctions because of class, race, sex, or age. All those who assemble for Eucharist are one in Christ and they must be welcomed by all ministers.
8.] The special minister of Communion must have a sense of the power of symbolic and ritual communication. They must realize the significance of gesture. Simply put, ministers should realize that actions speak louder than words. The way that one handles the Eucharistic bread and wine, the vessels, and the like should communicate reverence and appreciation for the Sacrament, as one would handle anything that one cherishes and treasures. A question that constantly confronts a minister is how she/he can better communicate through gesture and word; a sense that all that is done in the action of Communion is done in remembrance of the Lord Jesus.
9.] Grace and sureness of movement are essential for the faithful performance of this ministry. These qualities imply an awareness of one’s position in the sanctuary and for distribution; an ease in holding the plate, ciborium or chalice and in offering the Eucharistic Bread and Blood to the communicants; and an ability and calm in dealing with mishaps, such as the dropping/spilling of the Body/Blood.
10.] The minister’s attentiveness, personal presence, eye contact, way of speaking the words, “The Body of Christ” or ‘The Blood of Christ,” and reverence to the elements all serve as vehicles of the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. To be able to do this in a few moments means that the minister has pondered and shared the Eucharist often.
11.] An important principle for ministers of Communion is: do not hurry your actions.
12.] All music ministers receive communion with the congregation except for the instrumentalist.
13.] After the Communion Rite is completed, the ciboriums are brought to the altar. The Presider or deacon gathers the remaining Eucharistic Bread into one ciborium. The minister on the tabernacle side transfers the Blessed Sacrament to the tabernacle. The minister places the ciborium in the tabernacle, and genuflects before the door is closed. This minister then returns to their seat in the assembly. At the same time the cups are brought to the altar by the ministers and the Precious Blood is consumed. All ministers return to their seats in the assembly. The cups are purified by the deacon or presider at the altar and then the altar servers returns them to the credence table.
14.] After the final blessing as the altar servers approach the step of the sanctuary with their candles, the Eucharistic Ministers should assume their opening positions. All will genuflect and the altar servers will lead the procession back to the sacristy.
15.] Once in the sacristy, one minister goes out to the sanctuary to get the tray of cups and ciboriums. All ministers should help wash the vessels with soap and water and rinse well. Then set up the tray for the next liturgy and leave it near the sink.