Sunday, February 24, 2008

More Madness?

Okay. One of our priests (one of the two decent homilists we have in a 50 mile radius) is nearing retirement, and has had health issues. On Christmas Eve 2006, he had a cardiac event while saying Mass. Since then, he has explained to us that he must sit as much as possible throughout Mass, and has received the appropriate permissions to do so. I have NO problem with this. However, he has now stopped distributing communion, leaving it to all 8 of the the EM's (I call them "Excessive Ministers" around here, given the fact that there rarely over 200 people at the division). I truly don't know what the deal is on this. It just seems like the celebrant ( who stands in persona Christi, after all) should not be abdicating this particular responsibility to the lay ministers.


Adrienne said...

I hate to be the one to say this but this is really an "oh well" moment. I know it's frustrating but you don't know all the particulars of the situation.

I'm NOT correcting you 'cause I am the worlds best at getting my shorts in a twist. As an alcoholic I'm had to learn to let God sort it out.

Eight EM's is really excessive for that number of people, though.

KitBrookside said...

Hi Adrienne -

No, I'm not "twisty" about this like I was with the inclusive thing last week, and I would never reject an honest opinion from you! :-)

I am more curious as to whether this practice (priest not distributing the Blessed Sacrament at Mass) is (...) I don't know, "okay"? As I said, after his cardiac episode in 2006, Fr. explained to everyone why he was sitting through most of Mass, and made sure all were aware that he had received permission to do so. It's just in the past few months that he has let the EM's completely take over distribution. I don't think of it as an "abuse" necessarily, I just think it's odd, is all.

Just wondering if anyone has heard of or experienced this before. I've never run across it before, that's for sure!

ArchAngel's Advocate said...

I've experienced it myself, and judging from your description of his ministry it is probably giving him as much pain as it is giving you irritation. He may be ill enough that he is worried about an episode happening while he is distributing Communion.
As for the 8 for 200 ratio, you aren't relating whether the Eucharist is being given under both Species, and what time constraints may exist (working persons' weekday Mass, back-to-back Masses, etc.) Politics may be in play here (yes, there are politics in the Body of Christ unfortunately) with a bunch of prima donas all wanting to "serve" and the Fathers having to "go-with-the-flow" in order to maintain the peace. I at one time was coordinating up to 20 ministers (14 EMHCs, 2 Lectors, servers, and yes Father) for a Mass congregation of about 600-800, and for major feasts (Christmas, Easter Vigil, etc.) of about 800-1200. Fortunately few of them were prima donas so in time we had a well oiled machine (until the music directors had to exercise their "autho-a-tee" (do it with a Southern Drawl) and mess the delicate balance up!)

KitBrookside said...

AA - it's 4 teams (both species), two at center, two at the flanks. Honestly, I think it is a time-saving effort than anything. We usually sit close to the front and I barely have time to complete my prayers after Communion before everything's cleaned up, put away, and jackets and keys are jingling all around me.

Ma Beck said...

Wow. That's an army of EMHC.

I'm the snottiest liturgical snob that ever snooted, but I have to assume that he got the proper dispensation to do this.
(Crippled priests, priests with broken legs, etc., I'm sure have a dispensation.)

Canon 930 states that a priest who is ill may celebrate Mass sitting, but he may NOT celebrate sitting in public without the approval of the local ordinary. (I would think most local ordinaries give carte blanche approval for this sort of thing.)

Redemptionis Sacramentum Ch. 6 paragraph 158 states:

Indeed, the extraordinary minister of Holy Communion may administer Communion only when the Priest and Deacon are lacking, when the Priest is prevented by weakness or advanced age or some other genuine reason, or when the number of faithful coming to Communion is so great that the very celebration of Mass would be unduly prolonged.

Now, this is broken to pieces at 90% of Catholic Masses every day. UNDULY prolong does not mean 5, 10 or even 15 minutes. A Mass at St. Peter's Square would barely need 8 EMHCs - seriously.

And "may administer...when the priest is prevented by weakness..." implies that if a priest can't do it, they can.
So I say he doesn't even need the dispensation.

That's my $.02, but I could be totally wrong.

Adrienne said...

AA made a good point about the priest "popping off" in the middle of communion (great time to go, though:)

I'm going to be on a liturgical committee at our church so I have been spending hours every day sharpening my GIRM, Vatican II and other documents skills.

It would seem if he has permission it would be acceptable even though the use of EM's is overdone in most parishes. I can't find out what leeway the Bishop has in giving permissions for this.

I, just like you, would find it odd and wonder about it.

Glad you're not in a "twist" as my "twist" after Mass yesterday was off the charts. The world can only support one twist of that magnitude per day. The music was the issue. It is a Mass we don't usually go to because of the music.

My husband has excused me from RCIA tonight since I don't have a part to teach so I am going to bed early, listen to sacred music and get my head screwed on straight again (I fear it has been twisted off its axis:)

P.S. I love your picture of the brook - it is so peaceful.

KitBrookside said...

Oh, thanks Ma -- that is EXACTLY the answer I was looking for, and I am so relieved. Yay!

Like I said, this is one of the few priests whose homilies are not "canned" each week, he does not ask us to pray for Mother Earth or the causes associated liberal politicians (no, I am NOT exaggerating), and he tells great tales of his annual pilgrimmage to see distant relations in Ireland every summer. He was a Trappist, but left the order when his mother was in decline and became a Diocesan priest. So this was really bugging me.

I thought about it some more today, and just as when he told us why he was sitting when he came back from disability leave last year, it strikes me that he may well have explained sitting out during Communion at (eek!) a 7:30 am Mass.

Living here in the DOR and knowing just enough to be dangerous, I tend to suspect first...and ask smarter people than me on my blog later! Thanks again, so much for looking that up, Ma. (H/T or paten salute?)

;-) about soft background music during the consecration? (Again, not kidding! Different priest, though...)

Ma Beck said...


I'm glad to do it.

Believe me, there's a reason we are all so suspect of oddities. For forty years, we've seen oddity after oddity, and 99% of them were illicit.

I cannot abide liturgical nuances and blatantly broken instructions. I wish every priest everywhere would have to read Redemptionis Sacramentum, take a 500 question test, and then give a ten page summary (NOT double-spaced) of the contents and the theological reasons of same.


"Paten salute" - heh!
A friend of mine emailed me and asked how to ask his priest to bring back the paten. I told him to tell the priest he had a friend who, last year, had the host drop out of her mouth and onto the paten below. Had the paten not been there, Jesus would have been on the floor. Yeahhhh, that would have been me.
I can still hear the little "tink" noise and see the look on the poor priest's face.

the mother of this lot said...

I went to a Lenten Station mass last week at a different parish where they still had the paten. The kids thought it was fantastic, especially when I told them they it always used to be like that!

I never go near a Eucharistic Minister if I can help it!

I've left you an award, by the way!

Ma Beck said...

I hear that over and over again about the paten. My parish is super traddie and my parents' is, too, so I have never received Communion without one.

Nor would I. Like I mentioned earlier, I had a near catastrophe last year. The only thing that saved us was the paten.

What I don't get is that it is in black and white, right there in Redemptionis Sacramentum that the USE OF THE PATEN IS TO BE RETAINED.

Why do so many parishes ignore this rule?

KitBrookside said...

Easy enough to answer around here. We often have NO altar servers (adults - lectors and EM's mostly - pinch hit) at Mass. Especially with multiple EM's stationed in the church, there's simply no one to hold the paten. And even when we have 1-2 kids (boys AND girls, of course), they actually sit in chairs during Communion. With 90% of people using their hands, I guess the paten is awkward. I have seen several drops - once the parishioner juggled and dropped the Host, but immediately picked it up and consumed it, twice the priest had to dive for it while the parishioner waited for a replacement.

Only my Nigerian friend insists on using the paten...and all things traditional, without compromise. A deacon is the only "EM" at his Masses.

Ma Beck said...

It would be nice if the 8 EMHCs could spare half their ranks to hold patens.

The altar boys and girls do whaaaaaaa during Communion?

Emperor Joseph in "Amadeus.":
Mm hmm! Well. There it is then.