Manual for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion Saint Paul the Apostle Parish December, 2011

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1 Manual for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion Saint Paul the Apostle Parish December, 2011 I. GENERAL INFORMATION FOR EXTRAORDINARY MINISTERS OF HOLY COMMUNION A. Selection of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion In order to meet the needs of St. Paul the Apostle Parish, the pastor selects as extraordinary ministers those parishioners who meet the following criteria: - Are baptized and confirmed Roman Catholics who have received their first Holy Communion and faithfully participate in the sacramental life of the Church, especially by attending Mass on Sundays and on other holy days of obligation. - Are over the age of eighteen, unless a special permission has been obtained from the bishop. - Are registered parishioners of Saint Paul the Apostle Parish. - If married, are in a marriage that is recognized by the Church. - Have been trained by one of the parish priests or by parish staff and have completed the Diocesan program Protecting God s Children and background check within 3 months of their commissioning. - Are persons who embrace and live in accord with the teachings of the Church in the areas of faith and morals. - Are persons who are devoted to and demonstrate reverence for the Eucharist. - Have been approved for commissioning by the Bishop of Portland. B. Role of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion After being approved by the Bishop of Portland, extraordinary ministers are commissioned by the priests of Saint Paul the Apostle Parish according to the Order of Commissioning Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion during a parish Mass or some other suitable occasion. Extraordinary ministers are commissioned with the following understanding of their ministry: - Extraordinary ministers may distribute Holy Communion at any of the Masses of the six churches of Saint Paul the Apostle Parish when scheduled or when there are insufficient ordained ministers capable of administering the Blessed Sacrament. Please note that extraordinary ministers may not distribute Holy Communion outside of the parish where they have been commissioned without the permission of the pastor of that place. - Outside of Mass, extraordinary ministers may assist in the distribution of Holy Communion to the sick and homebound and at various institutions within the boundaries of the Parish of Saint Paul the 1

2 Apostle. Additionally, if a priest is not available, an extraordinary minister has the obligation to bring Viaticum to a dying person. If the extraordinary minister intends to bring Holy Communion to a parishioner or group of parishioners on a regular basis, he or she should request the permission of the parish priests. - Service as an extraordinary minister is not intended to be a permanent ministry; therefore, the minister serves at the discretion of the pastor for a period of three years. At the end of this period, there should be mutual discernment by the extraordinary minister and the pastor regarding continuation. This discernment should take into consideration the needs of the parish and the circumstances of the extraordinary minister, including the length of time already served in this ministry. If the term of commissioning has expired, the extraordinary minister is removed from ministry schedules and should not distribute Holy Communion unless he or she is recommissioned. - It is understood that a pastor or bishop may terminate the service of an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion at any time, and the extraordinary minister may also resign at any time. For example, if there is a change in the good standing of a parishioner in relation to the law of the Church, or if that parishioner does not complete the required background check and training, that person may no longer be permitted to serve as an extraordinary minister. II. GUIDELINES FOR EXTRAORDINARY MINISTERS A. Understanding the Eucharist Training for extraordinary ministers is conducted either by one of the parish priests or by a staff member of the parish. Extraordinary ministers are expected to have a basic understanding of the Church s teaching of the Eucharist. In particular they should understand: - The Meaning of Real Presence and Transubstantiation. The Catholic Church teaches that during the consecration bread and wine are transformed and become the Body and Blood of the Risen Lord. Therefore, after the consecration, the Precious Blood should never be referred to as wine, nor should the Sacred Body be referred to as bread. The words cup and host are also used to speak of the Blessed Sacrament. - The Sacrificial Meaning of the Eucharist. In receiving the Eucharist, the Christian becomes one with the eternal offering of the Mass: the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross for the sake of all humanity. In receiving the Sacred Body of the Lord, the Christian unites his or her own life to Christ in sacrifice to God the Father, perpetuating the dying to self that began in the waters of Baptism. In addition, at Mass the faithful unite all of their labor, hopes, and desires to Christ s eternal work of redemption as an acceptable sacrifice, asking the Lord to bless it and make it holy. - The Eucharist as Heavenly Banquet. When we offer the Sacrifice of the Mass, we are united to the eternal banquet of heaven and eat the heavenly food of angels. It is true to say that the Christian is never closer to heaven than when he or she is joined to him in the Eucharist. The Eucharist therefore is a foretaste of that which is to come a sign of the presence of God that we long to one day see unveiled and in all its splendor. - The Eucharist Builds up the Body of Christ. In receiving the Body and Blood of the Lord, we are joined to his Body, we become members of the Church and are therefore also intimately joined to one another. One can see how the Eucharist shows us that love of God and love of neighbor are not so much twin pillars of our faith as they are manifestations of the same love that binds together the 2

3 Mystical Body of Christ. It is critical that Christians understand that when we harm others we harm the same Lord we receive at the altar. For this reason, sometimes if our sins against others or against God are grave, they may drive us to refrain from receiving Holy Communion until our communion with God and others has been restored and made holy in the sacrament of Christian Penance. B. Care Taken in a Sacred Ministry The witness of faith and devotion to our Lord present in the Eucharist demonstrated by our extraordinary ministers is a great gift to Saint Paul the Apostle Parish. All extraordinary ministers are encouraged to take advantage of the opportunities in our parishes to pray before the Blessed Sacrament in adoration, both during solemn exposition, or simply in silence at one of our parish Churches. Our parish also asks that extraordinary ministers be attentive in the following areas: - Prayerfulness. Extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion should show a reverence for the Eucharist, reflected in their full, conscious and active participation at Mass and their prayerfulness when in church. When transporting the Blessed Sacrament from the church to the home of a parishioner or to some other location in the parish, extraordinary ministers should be especially observant to the Lord whom they carry. They should refrain from conversation unless absolutely necessary, should make sure that they are kind and never utter a harsh word or act uncharitably, and should go as directly and prayerfully as possible to their destination. - Dress. Extraordinary ministers must dress in a manner consistent with the dignity of the service they offer. They should be mindful that they have been called to a very important ministry in the Church. Modest dress allows others to more fully focus on Christ s presence in the Holy Eucharist rather than on the wardrobe choices others have made. Men are encouraged to wear dress pants, collared shirt, and a tie. Women are encouraged to wear dresses/skirts that are knee length or longer or dress slacks. We ask that blouses be modest, and that overly tight-fitting clothing be avoided. Both men and women are asked to avoid jeans and shorts, clothing with logos and words, and crocks or flip flops. It is absolutely unacceptable for extraordinary ministers to wear political buttons or paraphernalia, as well as clothing that in any way could be viewed as offensive. - Hygiene. Extraordinary ministers must ensure that their hands are clean and should refrain from using strong cologne, aftershave or perfume. Some people have heightened sensitivity to these scents, which may remain on one s hands and be transferred to the Sacrament. In addition, during the flu season extraordinary ministers should make sure to use anti-bacterial hand sanitizer or soap immediately prior to Mass or to pastoral visits. If experiencing cold or flu symptoms, extraordinary ministers should immediately find a substitute from among the other extraordinary ministers of the parish and stay home. - Dependability. Extraordinary ministers are entrusted with the most precious treasure of the Church, and the parish relies on them to aid in the distribution of this treasure to the faithful. If an extraordinary minister finds himself or herself unable to serve at Mass when scheduled, it is his or her responsibility to find a substitute as soon as possible from among the other extraordinary ministers of the parish. Likewise, if an extraordinary minister finds himself or herself unable to bring the Eucharist to a parishioner or place that he or she regularly visits, it is important that the person or institution be notified and that if need be, other arrangements be made. Because of the seriousness of this ministry, if an extraordinary minister repeatedly neglects to find others to replace himself or herself, he or she may be asked to reconsider this ministry. 3

4 C. Distributing Holy Communion at Parish Masses When serving at Masses at Saint Paul the Apostle Parish, extraordinary ministers are asked to observe the following: Arrival - Please arrive minutes before Mass. Check in right away with the sacristan and locate the position where it is envisioned that you will be distributing Holy Communion. Please do not linger in the sacristy, but take the time before Mass to pray with your family. When serving, extraordinary ministers should sit with their families toward the front of the church. Reception of Holy Communion AS SOON AS THE PRIEST RECEIVES FROM THE CHALICE, COME FORWARD, DON T WAIT. - Those who will be ministers of the cup should stand closest to the altar. Those who will be ministers of the paten, should stand toward the back as shown on page 5. - The priest will distribute the Sacred Body to all of the ministers. He will then give the Precious Blood to those ministers who are standing closest to the altar. - If, for some reason, the order becomes confused and ministers end up standing in the wrong place, they should distribute Holy Communion from the vessel that they are given and should never exchange cup or paten with another minister. They should simply distribute Holy Communion from the position of the minister whose place they accidentally took. - When the priest distributes the chalices, he will also hand the purificator to the minister of the cup. Please take the purificator right away, and then consume the precious blood, rather than making the priest wait. Extraordinary ministers should not take purificators or any other linens or vessels from the altar. - After chalices have been distributed, ministers of the paten should not wait, but should go to them to receive the precious blood. They should then go to the priest to receive the paten from him and should not make him come to them. All ministers then walk carefully to their positions. Ministers of the cup stand closest to the altar when receiving Holy Communion. 4

5 Distribution of Holy Communion - Holy Communion is distributed from different locations at each church. Extraordinary ministers should make sure that they are familiar with all the positions, not just the one that they are assigned to, in case there is confusion and they end up needing to take a different position. - Extraordinary ministers should distribute Holy Communion to the altar servers first - Ministers of the chalice should make sure that they leave ample room between themselves and those distributing the Sacred Body so that they do not cause congestion in the aisles. - When distributing Holy Communion, ministers of the Sacred Body lift the host from the paten to eye level and clearly say The Body of Christ. Under no circumstances should they add the name of the person who is receiving Holy Communion, or change this formula. Ministers of the cup raise the chalice slightly, saying The Blood of Christ. They should be very attentive in offering the chalice, ensuring that the communicant has a firm grasp before letting go. After receiving the chalice back, the minister wipes the rim of the chalice with the purificator and turns the chalice a quarter turn before offering it to the next communicant. - If certain ministers run out of the Blessed Sacrament, Precious Blood is never to be poured from one chalice or vessel to another, nor may hosts be transferred from paten to paten during the liturgy by anyone but a priest. - If a parishioner comes forward with a pyx when receiving Holy Communion, the requested number of hosts are to be carefully placed into the pyx silently. After the pyx is closed, the minister then gives Holy Communion to the parishioner in the normal way. - If a parishioner comes forward with arms folded over their chest, the extraordinary minister is to silently trace the sign of the cross on the person s forehead with their thumb. - If a person comes forward and seems confused or does not seem to know what to do, the extraordinary minister is to gently and quietly ask Are you Catholic? or for children Have you received your first communion? If the person responds No, the minister traces a sign of the cross on their forehead. - If a person does not consume the host immediately upon receiving it, the extraordinary minister should make a mental note of where the person is sitting and bring the matter to the attention of the priest immediately after distribution of Holy Communion or following Mass. - An extraordinary minister should never deny Holy Communion to someone requesting the sacrament without first consulting a priest, unless the person is aggressive, intoxicated, or demonstrating by their actions the intention to desecrate the Blessed Sacrament or disrupt the liturgy. In such a case, if possible and prudent, the extraordinary minister may trace the sign of the cross on the person s forehead and wait for them to pass on. If not possible, or a scene begins to unfold, the extraordinary minister should calmly remove him or herself from the situation, making sure to look after their own safety and to safeguard the Blessed Sacrament. 5

6 After the Distribution of Holy Communion - When the extraordinary minister has finished distributing Holy Communion, or in the case that he or she runs out of Hosts or Precious Blood, the minister is to return to the altar. - Ministers of the cup should consume what remains of the Precious Blood facing the altar, back to the people. If there is a large quantity of the Precious Blood that remains, other extraordinary ministers or the priest may be requested to help consume what remains. After consuming the Precious Blood, ministers of the cup should place their chalices on the credence table with the purificator folded over the chalice, not stuffed inside. - Ministers of the Sacred Body should give their paten to the priest if he has already returned to the altar; otherwise they should place their patens on the corporal in the center of the altar. Servers will clear empty patens from the altar. - After Mass, the priests, deacons, or sacristans will carry out the purification of the communion vessels at the credence table, as they have been trained to do. It is helpful if extraordinary ministers aid in transporting purified vessels to the sacristy. Accidents - If a host drops to the floor, the extraordinary minister should quickly pick it up and consume it if possible. If for any reason the minister is not comfortable consuming the host, he or she should bring it to the altar and place it on the corporal in the center of the altar, where he or she should wait until the priest returns to tell him about the incident. - If there is a spill of the precious blood, the extraordinary minister should unfold the purificator and place it over the area, keeping watch that no one step on it. Other purificators may be obtained if the spill is larger than one purificator can cover. The minister should tell the priest about the incident as soon as he has finished distributing Holy Communion. - If Precious Blood is spilled on someone s clothing, ask them to see the priest after Mass. The clothing should be soaked in a basin, rung out, and the water poured out on the ground. The first rinsing should go into the ground. The clothing may then be laundered normally. D. Bringing Holy Communion to the Sick and Homebound The Eucharist is strength for those who journey in hope through this life and who desire to dwell with God in the life to come. Therefore, pastors make every effort to bring the Sacrament to members of the Body of Christ who are unable to celebrate the Mass in community due to advanced age or infirmity. Extraordinary ministers of Communion can be of wonderful assistance to pastors in this duty. It should be noted, however, that the distribution of Holy Communion to the sick and homebound is a pastorally sensitive ministry and requires the utmost care. Extraordinary ministers must always remember that they are acting on behalf of the parish, and so they should be attentive that their words and actions are always charitable and pastorally sensitive. Extraordinary ministers are asked to please call the parish office to notify the staff when they intend to bring Holy Communion to a parishioner, or parishioners outside of Mass. This will allow the parish to be aware of parishioners who are receiving and in need of sacramental care, and to make sure that no one is neglected. Extraordinary ministers should also let the office know if for some reason there is no longer the need to bring Holy Communion to a parishioner, or if they are unable to continue the ministry. Extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion must always distribute Holy Communion outside of Mass according to the rites prescribed in Pastoral Care of the Sick. The ritual book distinguishes three different forms of giving Holy Communion: in ordinary circumstances (at a private home), in a hospital or institution, and as viaticum to one who is dying. 6

7 Obtaining and Transporting the Blessed Sacrament It is ideal that visits to the sick and homebound to bring Holy Communion occur after the Sunday Mass so that the link between the community s celebration and the individual is maintained. However, this may not always be possible, for various reasons. - There are two ways to obtain the Blessed Sacrament for distribution outside of Mass: 1. Extraordinary ministers may bring a pyx with them to either Sunday or daily Mass and present the pyx when receiving Holy Communion, telling the minister how many hosts they will need. If the number of hosts is greater than can fit into a small pyx, the extraordinary minister should wait until after Mass to obtain the Blessed Sacrament directly from the tabernacle. 2. Extraordinary ministers may contact the parish office and ask one of the staff to help them gain access to the tabernacle during business hours. This option should be chosen if extraordinary ministers will need a larger number of hosts or if they will need the smaller hosts that are consecrated for distribution to the sick. - The Blessed Sacrament may only be transported in a pyx or small ciborium never in any other vessel. The pyx or ciborium should never be handled carelessly or placed into a purse, box, or container with other things. - After obtaining the Blessed Sacrament, either at Mass or from the tabernacle with the help of staff, extraordinary ministers are to take the Blessed Sacrament directly from the church to the person or persons who are to receive Communion. While certainly politeness and kindness are expected, the extraordinary minister should avoid needless conversation, distractions, or detours when they are carrying the Eucharist. They should keep in the forefront of their minds that they are in essence a walking tabernacle. The Blessed Sacrament must never be taken home overnight to be distributed the next day, nor should it ever be reserved or stored in any place other than the tabernacle of the church for any length of time. The extraordinary minister should consume consecrated hosts that cannot be distributed immediately. Distributing Holy Communion In a Private Home - Care should be taken that the occasion is special not simply a casual conversation that includes receiving Holy Communion. - If possible, a candle may be lit, or a crucifix displayed. A brief period of silence should be taken before beginning to remember the Lord s presence. - The extraordinary minister then begins with the usual greeting and leads in a brief penitential rite. - Unless it is absolutely impossible, the extraordinary minister should take the time to read one of the readings found in the ritual book. - The Blessed Sacrament should be given as at Mass and with care that the sick person is able to consume it completely. - It may be necessary to break off a small piece of the host, and/or to have a glass of water nearby for the sick or elderly person to help them swallow afterward. - If the extraordinary minister has any questions about what to do in a given pastoral situation, they should not hesitate to contact their priests. Distributing Holy Communion in a Hospital or Other Institution Such as a Nursing Home or Prison Normally, the distribution of Holy Communion can take one of the following forms in an institution: A. In a facility where parishioners remain in individual rooms during visits. B. In a facility where parishioners who come together for a brief liturgy of the word and distribution of Holy Communion. C. In a combination of these two forms, when after a brief liturgy the extraordinary minister brings Holy Communion to a number of parishioners who were not able to be present. - Distribution of Holy Communion to parishioners in individual rooms takes place according to the rite proscribed in Pastoral Care of the Sick. However, the rite gives the extraordinary minister the option to choose to incorporate elements from the distribution of Holy Communion under normal circumstances. 7

8 It is recommended that when time allows and the persons are able to benefit, time be given for the recitation of the Our Father, a reading from scripture, and one of the closing prayers found at the end of the rite. - Distribution of Holy Communion to Parishioners who are able to gather together should take place according to the Rite for Distribution of Holy Communion Under Normal Circumstances as follows: - After residents have gathered, an extraordinary minister greets those present with the customary greeting. The Blessed Sacrament is placed on the table and after all have taken a moment to call to mind the Lord s presence in their midst, the extraordinary minister leads a brief penitential rite. - The Liturgy of the Word follows with either a reading from the Rite of Distribution of Holy Communion in Ordinary Circumstances or with the readings from Sunday Mass. An extraordinary minister may give a brief explanation of the reading, applying it to the needs of those present. - General intercessions may be said. An extraordinary minister gives a brief introduction before the intercessions are read by another person, and then concludes with the concluding prayer. - The extraordinary minister then leads the Lord s Prayer. After the prayer, the minister goes to the ciborium and, taking a host, shows it to those present saying This is the Lamb of God The extraordinary minister then gives Holy Communion to those present in the normal way. If there are many non-catholics present, it may be pastorally sensitive for the extraordinary minister to instruct them on how they may receive a blessing as they would at Mass. - After a brief period of silence, the extraordinary minister closes with the Prayer after Communion and the invocation of God s blessing May the Lord bless us - Note that the extraordinary minister does not self communicate in this rite, as he or she would do in a Sunday Celebration in the Absence of a Priest. Sunday Celebrations in Absence of a Priest may not be led by an extraordinary minister without being explicitly given permission to do so by the Bishop of Portland. - Distribution of Holy Communion in the third, or combined form simply combines the two forms mentioned above. Distributing Holy Communion as Viaticum Holy Communion is food for the journey and thus is the sacrament proper to the dying Christian. If a parishioner is actively dying, but still able to receive the Blessed Sacrament, the extraordinary minister should call the parish office to inform the parish priests. In most cases, one of the priests will make a visit to the dying person so that other sacraments can be offered to the person as well. However, there may be times when an extraordinary minister is asked to bring Viaticum to a parishioner, in which case they should follow the rite proscribed in Pastoral Care of the Sick. 8

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