Three weeks ago, we had an enrichment session for our extraordinary Eucharistic ministers who serve at holy Mass, and those who take communion to private homes and nursing homes. The first part of the enrichment included inspiration from both Benedict the 16th on the nature of the Eucharist. All of God's beauty radiates in Jesus Christ, the manifestation of God's beauty. And, that beauty must necessarily radiate through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. All of our actions at Mass, and our participation from the heart in the Mass should reflect this beauty of God's holiness.
The instruction included some canons from the Code of Canon Law of the Church, such as:
CAN. 898† The Christian faithful are to hold the Most Holy Eucharist in highest honor, taking an active part in the celebration of the most august sacrifice, receiving this sacrament most devoutly and frequently, and worshiping it with the highest adoration. In explaining the doctrine about this sacrament, pastors of souls are to teach the faithful diligently about this obligation.
It also included some paragraphs from a document of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, Sacramentum Caritatis (On certain matters to be observed or avoided regarding the Holy Eucharist, 2004), such as:
[132.] No one may carry the Most Holy Eucharist to his or her home, or to any other place contrary to the norm of law. It should also be borne in mind that removing or retaining the consecrated species for a sacrilegious purpose or casting them away are graviora delicta, the absolution of which is reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
[133.] A Priest or Deacon, or an extraordinary minister who takes the Most Holy Eucharist when an ordained minister is absent or impeded in order to administer it as Communion for a sick person, should go insofar as possible directly from the place where the Sacrament is reserved to the sick person’s home, leaving aside any profane business so that any danger of profanation may be avoided and the greatest reverence for the Body of Christ may be ensured. Furthermore the Rite for the Administration of Communion to the Sick, as prescribed in the Roman Ritual, is always to be used.
From another CDF document, Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist outside of Mass (2001), we read the following:
[21.] The faithful must be taught that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior, and that therefore the worship of latria or adoration belonging to God is owed to Christ present in this sacrament.
To enhance our realization of the ultimate value of the Eucharist, the great reverence It is due, we are making a change in the way at-home Extraordinary Ministers take the Eucharist to the sick directly from Mass. At the end of the distribution of Holy Communion, but before the ciborium with extra Hosts is put back into the tabernacle, at-home ministers of Holy Communion will approach the altar with their pix and receive the Hosts to take to the sick. You will notice that the extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion are wearing “burses” around their necks, into which the pyxes are placed for carrying. This is another way of maintaining reverence for the Eucharist, instead of putting the Sacred Host in a pants pocket or purse.
Once the ministers receive the Hosts for the sick, they will leave immediately from Mass – not waiting for the post-Communion prayer or final blessing and dismissal. In this way the ministers continue the Mass all the way to the homes of the recipients of the Hosts they are carrying. The ministers – if you will – finish the Mass by distributing the Hosts to the sick, and then closing their at-home service with prayers of the Church from the Rite for the Administration of Communion to the Sick. Another advantage of this approach is that all of us who witness our at-home ministers leaving Mass with Hosts can send our prayers with them. At that moment, we can remember all of the sick and suffering of the parish, and offer up petitions from the heart for them.
At Masses this coming weekend, we will be implementing this new approach for any extraordinary Eucharistic ministers taking Communion to the sick from Mass. Also, this coming weekend we will commission new and returning extraordinary ministers for another two years of service. The Bishop's office will provide commissioning certificates to those extraordinary ministers.
Many thanks to all those who distribute Holy Communion at Mass and who take Holy Communion to the sick and nursing homes! May the Lord draw you deeply into His Eucharistic Heart as you serve Him in this way!
Have a blessed week!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,
Father Joseph Poggemeyer