San Rocco Oratory

of the Archdiocese of Chicago

Extraordinary Ministers of Communion

At San Rocco, we do not currently have any instituted lay  ministers of Communion.  Instead, we rely on deacons and visiting priests to help with Communion.  However, if none are present on a given Sunday, someone is appointed on a one-time basis, especially to help with the chalice.

According to current Church law, this ministry is not like other ministries, which flow from baptism.  It is rather that priests and deacons are supposed to be responsible for helping with Communion.  Only if there are not enough of them present, should lay people help out with this task. 

Unlike this ministry, the other tasks belong to people by right.  If a deacon is present, the priest should not proclaim the Gospel; that's the deacon's job.  If a person who can read well is present, the priest should not read the first and second readings; those belong to lay people to read.  Distributing Communion, however, is something that lay people should do only by way of exception, because of extenuating circumstances.

On the one hand, having lay people help with Communion often can give the incorrect impression that they are normal or ordinary ministers of Communion or, perhaps, that this is a ministry that follows from baptism.  This is why we should try to have ordained ministers help with Communion, as far as possible.  On the other hand, the sign of the Eucharist is more complete, when it is given under both forms of eating and drinking.  The former is current Church law, especially as articulated by the Congregation for Worship.  The latter is the nature of the sacrament, inherent in the rite itself, authenticated by tradition, and commended by Church teaching, in the Constitution on the Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council.   So, regardless of who distributes Communion, we now should always give the Eucharist under both forms, during the Mass, to the whole congregation.

San Rocco Oratory

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