The Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion are those who assist when necessary the ordinary ministers (bishop, priest, deacon) of Holy Communion, in the distribution of the Eucharist during the Mass.
Guidelines for Extraordinary Ministers
All Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion should show the greatest reverence for the Most Holy Eucharist by their demeanor, their attire, and the manner in which they handle the consecrated bread and wine.
Extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion should always dress in a fashion that becomes the dignity of the office they hold and the sacredness of the sacrament they distribute. Good taste and common sense are the best guides in this area.
Before the Mass:
Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion take their seats in the assembly area and participate in the Mass as active members of the assembly.
At the Breaking of the Eucharistic Bread by the Priest:
1. As the Lamb of God is begun, the priest breaks the Eucharistic bread. Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion will approach the sanctuary from the sides, but do not enter the sanctuary.
2. They will move toward the altar rail and line up at the bottom of the first step on the side of the sanctuary facing the priest at the altar.
3. Those who will minister the cup will stop at the bottom of the first step on the choir ambo side. Those who will minister the Host will stop at the bottom of the first step on the priest chair side.
4. After the priest concludes his own Communion, which includes both the consecrated Bread and the consecrated Wine, the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion enter the sanctuary and line up in back of the priest celebrant
5. The priest/celebrant then distributes the consecrated Host to all of the Extraordinary Ministers starting with those near the ambo. All immediately consume the Host.
6. Then the priest/celebrant presents the first cup of the Consecrated Wine to the Extraordinary Minister of the cup standing behind him, who receives, consumes and moves immediately to those Extraordinary Ministers of the Host and ministers/presents the cup to each.
7. Ministers of the cups. Then the priest hands the patens to the Extraordinary Ministers of the Host. All the Ministers then follow the priest to their spots for the priest continues to present the other cups to the other Extraordinary distribution of Holy Communion
Notes: Extraordinary Ministers do not take their vessels (chalice/cup or paten) from the altar; vessels are always handed to them by the priest/celebrant, concelebrant, or deacon. Nor do Extraordinary Ministers pass the chalice/cup from one minister to another, only an Extraordinary Minister who has been presented the cup from the celebrant, concelebrant, or deacon may minister it to other Eucharistic Ministers.
Also, when receiving the Consecrated Bread, do not break it before placing it in you mouth. This repeats the fraction rite of the priest celebrant and is not appropriate.
If consecrated Hosts must be taken from the tabernacle during Mass, only the priest, deacon or instituted acolyte may take the Blessed Sacrament from the tabernacle.
Distribution of the Body and Blood of the Lord:
1. After receiving Communion from the priest, the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion go to their assigned places to distribute the Holy Eucharist to the assembly.
2. Holy Communion is given with the words “Body of Christ” or “Blood of Christ” without changing or adding words, including the communicant’s name.
3. Extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion are not permitted to give blessings to infants or small children who accompany their parents in the Communion procession.
4. The norm for reception of Holy Communion in the Dioceses of the United States is standing. Communicants should not be denied Holy Communion because they kneel. Rather, such instances should be addressed pastorally, by providing the faithful with proper catechesis on the reasons for this norm. (GIRM, no. 160)
5. It is never permissible for the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, or anyone else to simply present a pyx requesting a host(s) during the normal Communion procession. The pyx should either placed on the altar before Mass or Host(s) could be requested from a minister after the Mass.
6. It is not permissible for someone taking part in the Communion procession to take an additional Sacred Host from the minister in order to take Holy Communion to someone in the Church who is not able to participate in the Communion Procession. Those attending Mass who cannot participate in the Communion Procession should have someone notify before Mass an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion of their location so they can distribute Holy Communion directly to such persons.
When offering the Body of Christ:
1. Reverently hold the ciborium (show care for the sacred elements).
2. Allow the communicant to stand before you and make a bow of the head in reverence to the Lord;
3. As the communicant steps forward and bows his/her head as a sign of reverence, the minister takes the Sacred Body of Jesus, raises it slightly, and showing it, says, “Body of Christ”. The individual replies, “Amen”, extends the hand or tongue, and the Host is given accordingly.
Note: The choice of how one receives the Eucharist, whether in the hand or on the tongue, belongs to the communicant.
4. The extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion must ensure that the communicant actually consumes the sacred host.
When sharing the chalice of the Blood of Christ:
1. Reverently hold the chalice and purificator.
2. Allow the communicant to stand before you and make the bow of the head to honor the Lord.
3. Present the cup/chalice with the words, “Blood of Christ”
4. Let the communicant take the chalice (helping those who may seem a little unsteady).
5. Accept the chalice back, wiping it well inside and out, turning the chalice and using different areas of the cloth for wiping.
6. If someone approaches a minister of the cup wishing to receive by intinction, the minister is to cover the cup and explain briefly that it is not permitted.
Communion by intinction (the communicant dipping the Host into the cup holding the Consecrated Wine) is not permitted. Self-intinction would be a form of “taking” rather than “receiving” Holy Communion. Holy Communion under either form, bread or wine, must always be given by an ordinary or extraordinary minister of Holy Communion.
Completion of the Communion Rite:
1. After the distribution of Holy Communion:
a) Extraordinary Ministers of the Cup, consume what remains of the Blood of the Lord, then move to the credence table and hand their cup to the altar server. They then return to their places in the assembly.
b) Extraordinary Ministers of the Host, move to the bottom front step of the sanctuary and face the altar, hand their paten to the altar server, then bow and return to their places in the assembly.
Remaining Hosts are taken to the tabernacle in the ciborium by the priest, deacon or instituted acolyte.
Note: Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion do not process out in the exit procession at the end of Mass.
Cleansing of Vessels:
1. The sacred vessels are purified by the priest, the deacon or an instituted acolyte. This will be done at the altar after Communion or at the credence table after Mass. Vessels needing to be purified should remain covered on the
credence table until they have been purified.
2. After Mass, a more thorough washing with hot water and soap and careful drying is recommended. This is done by the Extraordinary Ministers who have ministered during the Mass and who will always handle the vessels with respect.
If a particle of the Eucharistic bread should fall, it is picked up reverently and consumed or allowed to dissolve completely in water and then poured into the sacrarium (special sink in sacristy). If any of the Precious Blood spills, the area of the spill should be covered if necessary. As soon as possible, the spot should be washed and the water poured into the sacrarium. Any unusual mishaps should be referred to the priest.
1. When the Eucharist is brought to the sick it must be carried in a pyx. Ideally, a table is to be prepared with a cloth and a lighted candle for the Eucharist
2. When bringing Holy Communion to the sick, the extraordinary minister of Holy Communion must take the pyx which contains the Blessed Sacrament directly to the person without making any other stops on the way.
3. During children’s school Mass, children who have not yet received first Holy Communion are not permitted to take part in the Communion procession. This does not apply to regular parish Masses when small children or infants often accompany a parent in the Communion procession.
4. Once appointed by the Bishop, an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion may serve at any liturgy in the Diocese with permission of the local pastor.