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Fred Mead wrote:

Hi, guys —

When I was at Mass last weekend, the priest sat there while two Eucharistic ministers gave out Holy Communion! I thought this was odd, so I didn't receive.

Your thoughts on this would be appreciated.

Many thanks,

Fred

  { What are your thoughts when the priest who celebrates Mass doesn't distribute Holy Communion? }

Mike replied:

Hi Fred,

Thanks for the question.

I've had recent situations like this happen in my own town of Natick at St. Linus.

They have a visiting priest who celebrates the Mass during the weekday but at Communion time he sits while two other Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist distribute the Blessed Sacrament. I've heard that this has something to do with health issues he has, (as he uses a cane), but I've personally decided not to pick a mini-family fight which obviously would not build up the Church.

He's probably unaware of how he is scandalizing the vocation to the priesthood by his example but again I'm not aware of the specific health issues he may have. I've been waiting for an opportunity to suggest that he bring out a chair which he can sit on in order to distribute Holy Communion.

I'm sure he could get an acolyte from that Mass in assisting him in bringing the chair out and putting it back after he has distributed the Blessed Sacrament to the faithful.

You would think that there are obligations that the celebrant has, even if he has health issues preventing him from standing for a long period of time, but I'm unfamiliar with any requirements or canon law in this area. Besides there are no more than 30 people that show up for daily Mass there.

Maybe Fr. Jonathan has an opinion on this.

Despite, in my opinion, the scandalous actions of the celebrants in both our situations, you should still receive Holy Communion, assuming you are in a state of grace. His actions may be illicit but because of the sacerdotal character on the priest's soul, if he is:

  1. using the correct form (words)
  2. matter (unleavened wheat bread), and
  3. intends to do what the Church wants him to do

the sacrament of the Eucharist is still valid.

Even if you question whether a priest has celebrated a valid Eucharist, remember, many times before distributing the Blessed Sacrament, the Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist will use chalices in the tabernacle that have consecrated hosts from the previous Sunday.

I hope this helps,

Mike

Fr. Jonathan replied:

Hi, Fred —

One time last year I was very sick yet there was no one else to celebrate the Sunday Mass. At the beginning of the Mass, I thought I explained this very clearly to the congregation and also said, for their own health, I would not distribute Holy Communion nor greet people after Mass.

A few angry letters came in anyway as people either came late or didn't hear me.

What I did was appropriate. So if it was a one-time thing, you should not first think negatively.

Second, you need to pray about your need to receive Holy Communion only from a priest (you indicated you didn't go to Communion that day). The Church commissions lay people to be Extraordinary Ministers. It means, if there are not enough priests available, they may distribute Communion. Clearly, priests are the primary distributors of Holy Communion but the Communion being distributed is the same fullness of Christ in the Eucharist, whether it is given by a lay person or a priest.

Fr. Jonathan

Fred replied:


Thank you so much for your time and help.

God bless,

Fred

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