Category: Catholics Online

Distribution of Communion: A Privilege, Not a Right

Distribution of Communion: A Privilege, Not a Right

In the reports of the pope’s recent visit to Austria, I read comments about the use of lay people in various ministries and how the Vatican issued a statement concerning them. As an elderly Catholic, I have always questioned the use of lay people helping with Holy Communion. What is the proper use of the laity as Eucharistic Ministers?

On Nov. 13, 1997, eight Vatican offices issued an instruction with the approval of the Holy Father entitled Some Questions Regarding Collaboration of Non-ordained Faithful in Priests’ Sacred Ministry.

The instruction addressed the role of the faithful in the ministry of the Word, including preaching; in liturgical celebrations, including the distribution of Holy Communion and the conducting of a Communion Service when a priest is absent; and in caring for the sick. Frankly, the motivation for releasing this instruction was to counteract certain abuses that had arisen in these areas.

Moreover, the Church wanted to present again the distinction between the roles of the ministerial, sacrificial priesthood of the ordained clergy and the roles of the common priesthood shared by all the baptized faithful. In answering this question , we will restrict our answer to the role of Eucharistic Ministers. Here we must keep in mind two premises: First, the most precious gift our Lord entrusted to His Church is the Most Holy Eucharist, the Sacrament of His Body and Blood. The Blessed Sacrament, as Vatican II stated, is the center and summit of our worship as Catholic.

Second, the pastor of the parish is to insure that the Most Holy Eucharist is truly the center of parish life and that the faithful are nourished through a devout celebration of all the sacraments, especially through frequent reception of the sacraments of the Most Holy Eucharist and Penance (Canon 528, No. 2). Given this foundation, the Sacred Congregation for the Discipline of the Sacraments (now called the Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship since 1975) issued on Jan. 25, 1973, the Instruction of Facilitating Sacramental Eucharistic Communion in Particular Circumstances.

The instruction addressed the appointment of “Extraordinary Ministers” of the Eucharist. (Note that the “Ordinary Ministers” of Holy Communion would be the Bishop, Priest, and Deacon (Code of Canon Law, No. 910.1).) Extraordinary Ministers may be used to assist the Ordinary Ministers in the following circumstances:

(1) at Mass when the size of the congregation would “unduly” prolong the reception of Holy Communion (especially since the relaxation of the old “fasting laws”);

(2) when the Ordinary Ministers would be prevented from distributing Holy Communion by ill health, advanced age, or other pastoral obligations;

(3) when the number of sick of home bound in various places (hospitals, nursing homes, or private homes) requires assistance to provide for regular reception of Holy Communion.

Therefore, the Vatican allowed bishops to appoint a “suitable person” for a specific occasion or a period of time to assist the Ordinary Ministers to distribute Holy Communion. The appointment of Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist and the privilege of distributing Holy Communion is granted for the good of the faithful and for cases of genuine necessity. These individuals should be properly instructed and should live an exemplary Christian life. They must show great devotion to the Holy Eucharist and be an example of piety and reverence. Except in rare occasions and for a particular circumstance, a lay person must first be appointed by the Bishop of the Diocese to act in this capacity.

The Instruction also cautions, “Let no one be chosen whose selection may cause scandal among the faithful.” In a sense, Extraordinary Eucharistic Ministers ought to have an extraordinary love for the Holy Eucharist and for the Church, the Body of Christ. In our diocese, a person must be mature and at least 21 years of age. The candidate must attend a workshop offered by the Office of Sacred Liturgy. Upon recommendation of the pastor, the bishop appoints Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist to a three-year term, which may be renewed once. The appointment, however, extends only to service within a particular parish.

However, the recent instruction warns against abusing this privilege so as to dilute the role of the ministerial, sacrificial priest. Extraordinary ministers are truly “extra ordinary” not “ordinary.” They may only distribute Holy Communion in accord with the guidelines noted above. Moreover, certain practices are to be curtailed: Extraordinary ministers cannot give Holy Communion to themselves or apart form the faithful as though they were concelebrants at a Mass, and they cannot be used when there are sufficient ordained Ordinary Ministers for the distribution of Holy Communion.

In my own priestly ministry, I have seen the value of having laity as Extraordinary Ministers, especially in visiting the sick, the home bound, and those in institutions. Because of their assistance, the faithful can receive Holy Communion with greater regularity. However, the service of Extraordinary Ministers does not excuse the priest from visiting these people, especially to provide the Sacrament of Penance and Anointing of the Sick. Moreover, I have been edified by the devotion and love of several Extraordinary Ministers for the Most Blessed Sacrament.

I have known several Eucharistic Ministers who at first refused when asked to perform this service because they felt “unworthy” — a sign of humility. And, I have seen many faithfully venture out in all kinds of inclement weather to visit those parishioners in their care. On the other hand, I have seen abuses. Several years ago, I officiated at the wedding of my cousin, the groom. A priest, who was from a northern diocese and was also a friend of the bride’s family, con-celebrated. The priest thought it would be “meaningful” if the bride and groom gave each other Holy Communion. I refused. He said, “All the popular liturgical magazines suggest this.” I said, “Too bad the Church doesn’t.”

He wanted to abuse the privilege, and reduce a sacred privilege to something trite. I was once assigned to a smaller parish that had three active priests and a deacon. There was no need for other assistance in distributing Holy Communion at Mass. Eucharistic Ministers did visit the local hospital and nursing home. After Mass, a lady from Massachusetts asked, “Why were there no lay people helping with Communion?”

After I answered, she said, “Vatican II gave us that right,” and walked away. Vatican II did not give anyone that right. As an ordained priest, I have no “right” to distribute Holy Communion. It is a privilege extended by the bishop. Therefore, while the laity may act as Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist, and indeed provide valuable service to a parish, we must follow the norms of the Church. The norms as stated are to insure that reverence and protection are given to the Most Blessed Sacrament

Ten Ways We Can Grow in Love with the Eucharist

Ten Ways We Can Grow in Love with the Eucharist

At the Last Supper, surrounded by His Apostles, Jesus gave to the world the most sublime gift of His Real Presence by instituting the Sacrament of the Eucharist – His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. Jesus took bread and pronounced the words: “Take and eat, this is my Body”; then He took a cup of wine and said: “Take and drink, this is my Blood. Do this in memory of me.” With these words Jesus instituted the greatest of all of the Sacraments, the Sacrament of the most Holy Eucharist.

Our eternal salvation depends on our reception of the most Holy Eucharist. In the sixth Chapter of the Gospel of John, Jesus preaches one of His most sublime discourses that we call the “Bread of Life Discourse.” In this discourse Jesus states many times that our salvation depends on our eating His Body and drinking His Blood. The fact that Jesus repeated this message time and time again accentuates the indispensable character of our reception of Him so that we will be saved for all eternity.

Indeed, the greatest action that we can carry out on earth is to receive Jesus into our hearts, minds, and souls in Holy Communion. Even the angels, including the highest choir of angels, cannot receive Jesus into themselves in Holy Communion, but we can. For this reason, the angels experience a holy envy towards us!
Therefore, the essential thrust of this article will be how we can enhance our faith, love and devotion to Jesus who is truly present in the Eucharist, in Holy Communion, in every Mass that is celebrated throughout the world until the end of time.

1. Appreciation

How painful it is when a man or woman takes their spouse for granted? There is no longer love and appreciation for the one who should be loved most in the world. Indeed, this could be the start of a desire to actually separate: when one does not feel loved or appreciated.

Likewise, it is all too common to simply take Jesus for granted and fail to appreciate who He is, what He has done for us and where He is to be found. This nonchalant, flippant, “take for granted” type of attitude pierces the Sacred Heart of Jesus to the very core and center of His loving Heart. Let us never fail to appreciate this most sublime gift of Jesus in Mass and Holy Communion. Receive every Holy Communion as if it were your first, your last and your only Holy Communion!

2. Visit Him Often

One characteristic of true friendship is a desire to visit each other on a frequent basis. Frequent visits and friendly conversations can truly foster a deeper friendship. Likewise, when passing by a church, we should stop, enter, and greet the Lord. We should tell Him that we love Him and sincerely desire to grow in our love for Him.

A short poem can be inspirational: “Whenever I see a Church I stop to make a visit, so when I die the Lord won’t say: Who is it?” When we die and go before the Lord, He will say: “My friend who came to visit me so often, welcome to your eternal home in heaven. You have been my dear friend on earth and now you will be my eternal friend in heaven.”

3. Spiritual Communion

Get into the habit of making frequent Spiritual Communions. This can be done at any time, without expenditure of much time and in an easy manner. Simply tell the Lord that you believe in Him and love Him and that you want Him to come and visit your home, your soul; that you want him as your best friend and Lord. He will come and fill you with peace and joy. Saint Alphonsus Liguori strongly recommended this practice.

4. Read about the Mass and the Eucharist

Spiritual reading can prove to be an invaluable tool for growing in our faith, and especially in our love for Jesus present in the most Holy Eucharist. An ecclesial document that indeed is a masterpiece was written by Pope Benedict XVI with the title The Sacrament of Love. Even though it is deep in theological content, this document is a spiritual masterpiece and can truly serve as a guide and stimulus to help you to participate more fully, actively and consciously in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and receive Holy Communion with a better disposition.

5. Daily Mass

Aim at attending daily Mass, if this is within your possibilities. As stated earlier, the greatest action that we can do in our lives is to attend Mass and receive Holy Communion. When Our Lord gave us the prayer Our Father, He told us to pray: “Give us this day our daily bread.” The most obvious interpretation is physical bread. However, shrouded within these words is the spiritual interpretation—“Give us this day our daily bread” meaning Jesus, the Bread of life in Holy Mass and Holy Communion. Form the habit of daily Holy Mass and Holy Communion and you will never regret it!

6. Confession and Holy Communion

Saint Ignatius of Loyola points out that by making a general confession of the sins of one’s whole life, one of the most positive fruits of this confession is making better Communions afterward. It stands to reason: the more pure the soul, the more the Lord of all purity desires to enter into that soul.

If you like, try this analogy: clean a dirty window with Windex and then the sunlight can pass through and illuminate the room all the more fully. In Holy Communion we receive Jesus, the Light of the world, who is able to radiate more fully His presence in the soul that has been purified by sacramental confession, washed clean by the Blood of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

7. Mass Intentions

In Parish Masses, normally the priest-officiator has an intention that someone has requested weeks or months before the actual celebration of the Mass. This specific intention of the Mass, however, does not exclude us from offering our own personal and private intentions. In fact, the more we offer intentions for ourselves, for others and for the whole world, the more pleased Jesus is and the more powerful will be the effects of our Holy Communions. Indeed you can offer as many intentions as your heart desires and the Heart of Jesus will rejoice all the more.

8. Active Participation

In many cases people come physically to Holy Mass but they are mentally, emotionally and spiritually absent from the Mass. In other words, their minds are in another world—thinking about events, people, past hurts, or even something as mundane as what food they are going to eat at lunchtime. Sacramental theology teaches unequivocally that the better the disposition, the preparation, and participation in the Sacraments, the more abundant will be the flow of graces. Arrive early! Ask for the help of your Guardian angel. Pray when you should; sing at the right time; listen attentively to the Word of God and the priest who represents Jesus, and you will truly grow in holiness of life.

9. Ask Mary for Her Immaculate Heart

Another very important spiritual aid is to ask for the presence of Mary in your daily walk towards heaven. However, most especially we should ask Mary to give us her Immaculate Heart to receive Jesus with great faith, devotion and love every time we receive Holy Communion.

Saint Pope John Paul II made this beautiful parallel: the “Yes” of Mary to the Archangel Gabriel resulted in Mary receiving Jesus into her mind, body, heart and soul; our “Amen” when we receive Holy Communion results in our receiving Jesus into the very depths of our heart, mind and soul. Our “Amen” is our “Yes” to Jesus! So let us ask Mary to lend us her Immaculate Heart so as to make ever more fervent Holy Communions; our sanctification and salvation depends on how well we receive Jesus, the Bread of life and the Son of Mary.

10. Thanksgiving

How very important it is that we cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Meister Eckhart once stated: “If the only prayer we ever prayed were that of thanksgiving, then that would be enough.” May we never be lacking or remiss in thanking God for all that He has given to us. In fact, all that we have is a gift from God with one exception: the sins that we have freely chosen to commit.

After Mass spend some time in thanking Jesus for coming to visit the humble abode of your heart. You might even take advantage of an acronym that summarizes the four basic ends or purposes of Holy Mass: A.C.T.S.

  • A—stands for adoration.  Adore and praise the Lord whom you have as the Sweet Guest of your soul.
  • C—stands for contrition.  Tell the Lord that you are sorry for your sins, those of your family and the sins of the whole world.
  • T—stands for thanksgiving. Abound in thanksgiving, but especially for the great gift of the Eucharist. Actually the word “Eucharist” means Thanksgiving. “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, eternal is His mercy.”
  • S—stands for Supplication. This simply means we ask the Lord for what we truly need. Saint Augustine comments: “We are all beggars before God.” We are all dependent on and in desperate need of God’s help at all times and in all places.

If these ten practices are carried out, or at least some of them, then your love for Jesus in the Eucharist as the Bread of Life will definitely grow and you will be on the Highway to salvation. May these words of Jesus fill you with consolation: “I am the Bread of life. Whoever eats my Body and drinks my Blood will have eternal life and I will raise him up on the last day.”

FIFTEEN REASONS OUR CHURCHES ARE LESS EVANGELISTIC TODAY

FIFTEEN REASONS OUR CHURCHES ARE LESS EVANGELISTIC TODAY

By almost any metric, the churches in our nation are much less evangelistic today than they were in the recent past. In my own denomination, we are reaching non-Christians only half as effectively as we were 50 years ago (we measure membership to annual baptisms). The trend is disturbing.

We certainly see the pattern in the early church where “every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). In too many of our churches today, the congregations are reaching no one for Christ in the course of an entire year.

The Poll

I conducted an unscientific Twitter poll recently to see what church leaders and church members thought of this trend, My specific question was: “Why do you think many churches aren’t as evangelistic as they once were?”

The responses arrived quickly and in great numbers, both in public tweets and in direct messages to me. Indeed, I was still receiving responses four days after I sent my Twitter question.

The Results

The response was highly informative for me. Here are the top fifteen responses listed in order of frequency:

  1. Christians have no sense of urgency to reach lost people.
  2. Many Christians and church members do not befriend and spend time with lost persons.
  3. Many Christians and church members are lazy and apathetic.
  4. We are more known for what we are against than what we are for.
  5. Our churches have an ineffective evangelistic strategy of “you come” rather than “we go.”
  6. Many church members think that evangelism is the role of the pastor and paid staff.
  7. Church membership today is more about getting my needs met rather than reaching the lost.
  8. Church members are in a retreat mode as culture becomes more worldly and unbiblical.
  9. Many church members don’t really believe that Christ is the only way of salvation.
  10. Our churches are no longer houses of prayer equipped to reach the lost.
  11. Churches have lost their focus on making disciples who will thus be equipped and motivated to reach the lost.
  12. Christians do not want to share the truth of the gospel for fear they will offend others. Political correctness is too commonplace even among Christians.
  13. Most churches have unregenerate members who have not received Christ themselves.
  14. Some churches have theological systems that do not encourage evangelism.
  15. Our churches have too many activities; they are too busy to do the things that really matter.

So What Is the Solution?

I received hundreds of responses to this poll. There is obviously widespread concern about the lack of evangelism in our churches and among Christians.

First, let me hear what you think of these responses. Second, and more importantly, offer some solutions to the challenges. Make certain those solutions include what you can do as much as what they should do. I look forward to hearing from you.

WHO ARE U DECEIVING ?

WHO ARE U DECEIVING ?

You got angry in church and stopped being the member of the *choir*, left *ushering* , stopped *sanctuary cleaning* and every other work you were doing in church.
Eventually you’ve stopped going to the *church* because someone spoke to you in a way you didn’t like…

Most of the messages from the pulpit was against you from your opinion…

Nobody called you when you were *sick* because according to you, *”they do not love or care in the church…”*

But pls excuse me…

You’ve not stopped working for the boss who insults you most of the time, neither have you stopped work because your colleagues spoke ill of you… (Money was the reason)

When you were sick, you didn’t wait for your boss to call you or look for you at work. Rather, you called and told him about your present condition. No complaint about him not visiting you (Fear of query or loss of the job)

Do you remember that at school, your teachers, your schoolmates and or even your best friends offended you, yet you didn’t stop schooling..

You can easily miss Church but not lectures because the lecturer will take attendance which counts in assessment

You can be late with your appointment with God at Church but you will be extra early for your visa interview at the embassy… �

Please, Hear Me! Church is not a *”No Offense Club”* where all things must be done to please you and you alone.

Your service to God must be with reverential fear, honor and respect.

God is watching… � _
Change your attitude.
Please forward to your various platforms and let’s effect a positive change for God….. Have a blessed day