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October 24, 2006

Comments

Joe Marier

Key words being "general law". My guess is, American exceptions from the general law of the Latin Rite are going to be few and far between.

Old Zhou

It seems the leaves are beginning to drop, and the season to change...

Rich Leonardi

At the direction of Pope Benedict XVI, extraordinary ministers of holy Communion will no longer be permitted to assist in the purification of the sacred vessels at Masses in the United States.

Interestingly, I recall only seeing this practice twice, and both times just recently. The first was last summer at a church in Pawley's Island, SC, and the second last month at my wife's childhood parish. And both times I recall thinking, "He [the priest, sitting in his presider's chair] looks bored, and she [the EM, fussing at the altar] like she's playing 'let's pretend'."

Jimmy Mac

What, pray tell, is an "instituted acolyte?"

I've know a couple of acolytes that I should should be institutionalized ... but I doubt that is the same thing.

amy

one of the former "minor orders." Not called that anymore, and only two remain - lector and acolyte. Seminarians are not "ordained" to these any more but I think it is said they "receive the ministry" or are installed as...or something like that.

more

The same correspondent also asked what is an "instituted acolyte," and how he differs from altar servers who are also sometimes called acolytes.

The ministry of acolyte, alongside that of instituted lector, is an instituted ministry of the Church. These ministries replaced the former minor orders (porter, lector, exorcist and acolyte) and the order of subdeacon. These minor orders were reserved to seminarians but rarely — or in the case of exorcist, never — exercised. Rather, they served as different stages leading up to the reception of major orders.

Pope Paul VI abolished the minor orders and the order of subdeacon in 1973 and replaced them with the two ministries of lector and acolyte.

All seminarians and candidates for the permanent diaconate receive these ministries before ordination to the diaconate, usually during the period of theological studies.

These ministries, however, are no longer reserved to seminarians, but in virtue of their connection to priestly formation, may only be received by laymen.

The rite of instituting a lector or acolyte is usually reserved to the bishop or to a major superior in the case of members of religious congregations.

Their functions are superficially similar to those of an altar server during Mass but with the important difference that when he exercises his ministry the acolyte is acting as a minister of the Church.

gopsoccermom

Our pastor does not purify the vessels at all. The EME's take them behind a wall (which stands behind the altar and on which hangs the large crucifix) and no one sees what happens back there. The remaining hosts are taken in a small, wooden bowl to the Tabernacle, which is in a chapel that can be seen through a glass wall to one side of the church. No one does anything at the altar except for a couple of parishioners who come up and remove the corporals from the altar (which were put there just prior to the Eucharistic Prayer by the same two people). Once he is finished with distributing Communion to his line, Father sits in the presider's chair and waits for the altar to be stripped.

It will be interesting to see if this comes to pass here.

Morning's Minion

This could create problems of a practical nature in larger churches that like to offer communion under both species. I'm thinking of St. Matthew's Cathedral in DC. For the main Sunday masses, 4-6 cups may be used. Are the priest and deacon supposed to consume the remaining Precious Blood alone? That's a heavy requirement! Will this mean we will see far fewer cups being offered?

F. C. Bauerschmidt

Morning's Minion is certainly correct that this will make communion under both species logistically more difficult.

amywelborn

MM:

Read the whole story - EME's may continue to consume the rest of the Precious Blood, but only those stated may cleanse the vessels. They basically say, "Well, you might have to fogo Communion under both Species" - and intinction is mentioned.

Catholic Mom

What is the requirement for purification of the vessels during Mass? At one Mass in the Virginia Beach area they used "home-made" bread for communion. The remnant were simply placed on a table and covered with a cloth with the presumption they would be dealt with after Mass. At another parish in this same diocese, they also used "home-made" bread. The remnants of the Blessed Sacrament were carried on a large uncovered pottery platter out of the sanctuary. Again it was presumed they would be taken care of after Mass. Someone tried to explain to me that you don't do the dishes while the guests are still present, but these are not dishes we are talking about. We are talking about the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ here. Is "cleaning up" after Mass allowed?

TM Lutas

The use of "home made bread", most likely using yeast, is an acceptable practice in the East. To do things properly, there is a guide book and additional requirements for those doing the baking. Good home made bread will do in a pinch. And if good home made bread is not available, we of the East are permitted to use western communion wafers in that order. For the use of home baked bread to be legitimate in the West, you'd have to have communion wafers be unavailable and the specially made Eastern stuff unavailable as well. If you're landing there on a regular basis, either you're in the catacombs, you don't plan ahead well at all, or you are violating the rules.

Over the years, I have assisted at lots of liturgies. I have only seen priests ever clean and purify the vessels. It is something that, in the Romanian Byzantine Rite at least, is done after the service. It also is why you don't see our priests glad handing out front as people leave. They're busy cleaning up at the altar for a good 5-10 minutes (I suspect that there are silent wind down prayers involved but never investigated), something that Roman Rite priests in the US may also end up doing.

TM Lutas

The use of "home made bread", most likely using yeast, is an acceptable practice in the East. To do things properly, there is a guide book and additional requirements for those doing the baking. Good home made bread will do in a pinch. And if good home made bread is not available, we of the East are permitted to use western communion wafers in that order. For the use of home baked bread to be legitimate in the West, you'd have to have communion wafers be unavailable and the specially made Eastern stuff unavailable as well. If you're landing there on a regular basis, either you're in the catacombs, you don't plan ahead well at all, or you are violating the rules.

Over the years, I have assisted at lots of liturgies. I have only seen priests ever clean and purify the vessels. It is something that, in the Romanian Byzantine Rite at least, is done after the service. It also is why you don't see our priests glad handing out front as people leave. They're busy cleaning up at the altar for a good 5-10 minutes (I suspect that there are silent wind down prayers involved but never investigated), something that Roman Rite priests in the US may also end up doing.

Tom Ryan

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal at several points (old and newer editions) allows for the cleansing of sacred vessels after Mass .

"It is also permitted, especially if there are several vessels to be cleansed, to leave them suitably covered on a corporal, either at the altar or at a side table and to cleanse them immediately after Mass..." #163; also at #183...

At our parish, with a large church and congregation, communion under both forms involves 6 ciboria and 12 chalices at each Sunday Mass (priests, deacons, extraodinary ministers, all according to law). Long ago, our planning group thought about the possible end of laity doing the cleansing. It would be easy to cover the sacred vessels on the credence table until after Mass.

Fr Totton

I think this clarification is a long time in coming, but I welcome it for the clarity it provides on these issues. Some here may label me a narrow-minded "neo-con" but the issues stated in the letter are precisely the trouble with Holy Communion offered under both species in the typical manner as it has been practiced in the United STates. My parish has not been in the habit of that practice, but I recently offered the Holy Sacrifice at the local high school. The vessels (too many to count) were left on a table until after Mass - by the time I went to purify the vessels, the precious blood had begun to gel or dry on the wall of the chalices - making the purification (which requires only tap water) somewhat more problematic.

Intinction seems like a reasonable plan in a smaller parish (one that requires only two ministers - read ORDINARY or 1 Ordinary and 1 extraordinary) but care must be taken to provide proper catechesis on the distribution / reception of both kinds under intinction - it would also require the vigilant and careful use of the communion patens - which is already called for by R.S.

Mac in Alberta

If this has the side effect of ending communion in both kinds, that's a good thing.
I've at least once heard "but then you haven't really received communion" with respect to receiving the Body alone. If one person blurts that out, how many are thinking it? So I think it's time to return to the practical catechesis of communion under one species for the laity, 365.25 days a year.

marco frisbee

Our parish began using Acolytes - instituted guys and commissioned gals - a few months ago at our Masses. They act as MC's, basically, juggling the servers, the priest, the deacon, the swarm of Communion Ministers (we have an 1100-seat church which is packed on the weekends). Looks like our next Worship meeting will be very interesting!!

Fr. Totton

Tom Ryan: "Long ago, our planning group thought about the possible end of laity doing the cleansing."

Long ago was before this clarification was handed down. It is my hope that such parishes will re-evaluate their situation in light of this latest clarification. Furthermore, please realize that we are speaking here NOT about "cleansing" but about "purification"

Whatever "cleansing" is, "purification" involves using ordinary water to dissolve Eucharistic particles and any remnant of the precious Blood from the vessels - then consuming that "ablution" containing the remaining eucharistic fragments. The ablution is preferably not to be deposited in the sacrarium, but to be consumed.

If there is any washing (or cleansing) to take place after that, I think anybody - EMHC's, sacristans, servers, priests, etc. - would be welcome to do so.

Tom Ryan further states:
"It would be easy to cover the sacred vessels on the credence table until after Mass."

See the point in my post above about the Precious Blood drying on the wall of the chalice.

No doubt, many people are going to be dimayed by this recent development - they will make fun of the pope for "telling us we can't do the dishes" - a good indicator of the lack of understanding which is precisely why such a clarification was needed.

Ephrem

"Commissioned gals"?? Sounds a bit dodgy, doesn't it?

Mark Adams

You know my initial response to this was: < Borat voice > Nice! < /Borat voice >

It wasn't a particularly Christian response. More like, "Boo-yah. Score one for the good guys. This will make the right people mad."

So I know that's not exactly the right attitude but at the same time announcements like this are sort of cathartic. I mean in the scheme of things this particular issue isn't that big a deal to me but it seems like over and over, every time a Roman directive is intrusive the American bishops send a request for an indult and then invariably get it (of course if I remember correctly, one of those indults is kneeling after the Agnus Dei which conservatives like myself approve of). In any case, it's just sort of nice to hear Rome say "No. Maybe it's inconvenient. Maybe it's not how it's been done. But just deal with it."

Fr. Totton

Marco,

Unless you are in the diocese of Lincoln, NE, I would be that you don't have instituted acolytes (whatever the guys may be). Your comment about the "commissioned gals" gives me a moral certainty that you are NOT in the diocese of Lincoln, NE. I have been told that Bp. Bruskewitz is the only bishop in North America who actually institutes acolytes and lectors apart from those in formation for the priesthood.

chris-2-4

What constitutes "instituted"? I have recently begun to fill in as a back up Sacristan. The Sacristan's purify the vessels. Should we revisit this policy?

Russ

At my home parish at least eight vessesls are used for the Precious Blood. I'm thinking it's more like twelve. This should be real interesting to watch to see if the parish complies.

In general the parish does a good job of following the GIRM (with the exception of widespread usage of EMHCs.)

I have no problem with communion under a single species but the "spirit of V2" fanatics will go nuts. With communion under a single species we would cut the need for EMHCs down to about four or so. As it is now a huge crowd of EMHCs goes first for communion while the rest of us wait for them to receive and then get situated to serve.

I'm liking this single species idea more and more. :-)

Steve Burdick

I am greatly pleased to see this. The Eucharist has been becoming too pedestrian, too commonplace, too ordinary to the great many pew folk. The sacred mystery and true presence in the Eucharist is becoming misunderstood, lost or ignored. The misunderstandings and mis-teachings of V-II are still alive and kicking. (I just went to a Catholic Scout Camporee/Retreat where the Priest told all attendees that since they were camping and did not have clean hands, that Communion would only be given on the tongue...He preserved the proper sacred dignity of the Eucharist and taught a valuable instruction - Praised be Jesus Christ !!!!)

I have heard of a particular Diocese in the mid-west where the Bishop has ONLY instituted Acolytes (vested in Cassock & Surplice) fucntion as Extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion...

Patrick Rothwell

Good! Message to to lazy liberal priests: Your mama don't work here. So clean up after yourself and do your own damned dishes!

Tom Kelty

Another dreary skirmish in what promises to be a long and bloody war as the ordained clergy defends its turf. Someday you will come to see that the real problem is ordination.

Tim Ferguson

ordination is a problem? That darn Jesus! Always starting problems that we have to deal with two thousand years later...

If you'll notice the comments above, Mr. Kelty: with the exception of Fr. Totton, the people who are applauding this move most heartily (and let me add myself to that crowd...or shall I say ilk? :) are not "ordained clergy defending their turf." Laity like things done properly too.

Nerina

Every year my family goes to Cape Cod to visit. While we're there, we attend Mass in Hyannis at St. Francis Xavier Church (this is the home church to the Kennedys). Anyway, during the purification of the vessels, the EMHCs go to the front of the altar and then kneel while the priest purifies the vessels and cleans the altar. Once it is done, the EMHCs get up, bow to the altar and then take their seats. It is a simple gesture which never fails to be noticed by my kids.

At our local church, the EHMCs are the ones to purify the vessels and take care of the altar cloths. There is a general sentiment that the priest doesn't want to exclude the laity from partaking in this part of Mass. However, as someone noted above, his overture of inclusion does seem to diminish the presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. There is just something about watching the priest handle the sacred vessels, returning the unconsumed hosts to the tabernacle, and folding the altar cloths. I am often moved to tears watching this when such care and gentleness is displayed.

berrienisd

Tom, that's the weirdest comment I've seen in here in a long time. I"m an ex-protestant and, Tom, I doubt that some of them would go that far.....

Andy K.

Dear Fr. Totton,

Now, I have been to two different parishes and received Eucharist via intincition. It was down differently at both.

At one, the deacon (I think), held the paten with the hosts and the priest the chalice. The priest took a host, "dunked" it into the chalice, and then placed the Eucharist on the tongue. (OK, I think dunked isn't right here, but all will have the idea. Also, of course this had to be on the tongue, but I wanted to emphasize.)

At the second, the chalice was small and in the middle of the paten. The minister (priest or deacon) "dunked" the host and likewise placed the Eucharist on the tongue.

Intinction may make many folks grumble. Of course, we could use a liturgical spoon, as in the Byzantine Churches.

FR RP

Whilst I agree with this and Rome has spoken...one little word to the likes of patrick...My masses are 1 and 1/2 hour apart from each other and a 10 mile one way drive between each other. There are a lot of priests in that boat. For some of us it is not sloth, buddy. And I'm certainly not liberal by any stretch of the imagination. Futhermore I find referring the purification of vessels as 'doing the dishes' a bit offensive. After all these are vessels whose sole use is to hold the bread and wine which becomes the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

Tom Ryan

Fr. Totton replies above to my note about the sacred vessels after communion.

Fr. Totten,
Our parish evaluated this practice after 2004 "redemptionis Sacramentum", to be ready to implement whatever changes that held. That document (#119) does not mention laity assisting in this. Of course, a parish will want to review its practices in light of any clarifications, but this one was easy to see coming.

I regret using the word "cleansing" for the vessels, but it was how the Latin was translated early after 2000. The final translation of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal uses "purify". No demeaning was meant in word choice by me, and of course it is "purifying", as a translation closer to the Latin and to the tradition.

On the question of one or several sacred vessels being covered and purified after Mass, I respect your opinion and experience, but, as always, we put the documents regulating the universal practice of our Church ahead of any one of us and our individual thoughts. It is universally allowed to purify after Mass.

Finally, there should be no desire or need to make fun of the Holy Father.

I'd rather poke fun at (and correct) two groups that seem to be at odds with each other --

1. the "amnesia Catholics" who don't hold to or remember concomitance (body and blood fully present under each form of bread and wine);

2. and then those who throw that faith error at those who, in the best of faith, try to implement the advice of our Church Fathers and offer communion under both forms.

We believe in concomitance and we trust the wisdom of such regulations as the "General Instruction"

"Holy Communion has a fuller form as a sign when it is distributed under both kinds. For in this form the sign of the eucharistic banquet is more clearly evident and clear expression is given to the divine will by which the new and eternal Covenant is ratified in the Blood of the Lord, as also the relationship between the Eucharistic banquet and the eschatological banquet in the Father's Kingdom." (#281)

and "Redemptionis Sacramentum"

"So that the fullness of the sign may be made more clearly evident to the faithful in the course of the Eucharistic banquet, lay members of Christ’s faithful, too, are admitted to Communion under both kinds, in the cases set forth in the liturgical books, preceded and continually accompanied by proper catechesis regarding the dogmatic principles on this matter laid down by the Ecumenical Council of Trent." (#100)




James Kabala

I don't usually receive the Blood when it is offered. I understand, too, that theologically it is not necessary, as either species contains Christ's Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. But I have sympathy with the liberal argument. Christ instituted two species; surely He had reasons for doing so. I understand why making both species available to the laity is not necessary, but I'm a little fuzzy as to why (until recently) it was not even regarded as desirable.

Tom Ryan

I forgot to add to my prior note, intinction has many points against it -- pastorally the the chief one being that alcoholics are put in an awkward position of needing to say something when they get to communion. In use of sharing from chalices, they just bypass chalices as various other persons do too.

John Lilburne

Fr Totton wrote: "I have been told that Bp. Bruskewitz is the only bishop in North America who actually institutes acolytes and lectors apart from those in formation for the priesthood."

There is at least one other bishop who does this: Bishop Robert Vasa. He wrote an article on the importance of "non-seminarian instituted lectors and aoclytes" on 22 September 2006 at http://www.sentinel.org/articles/2006-38/14947.html .

Chris asked "What constitutes "instituted"?" It is a ceremony performed by a bishop, only available to males.

JFP

James Kabala:

Very good question. I think there are several reasons why. One is simple logistical considerations. With huge urban parishes and large congregations, it was fairly time-consuming to distribute Communion simply under the species of bread--and rememeber, Extraordinary Ministers are a pretty recent thing. So, adding chalice stations, before the advent of EMs, would have been prohibitive to all parishes except those that had a bunch of extra priests that could that help (cf. the Eastern Church, where the elements of bread and wine are mixed together and distributed from a spoon).

Another reason, I think, is the understandable fear of spilling the chalice contents, which is not unheard of when it is being passed from minister to communicant or back again. I have seen near mishaps many times, normally on account of someone paying half attention, or someone trying to balance a baby in one hand and arm while taking hold half-attentively to the chalice, or sometimes just being careless altogether. Sometimes priests themselves bump the chalice while it's on the altar and spill the Precious Blood--all the easier for it to happen when a priest distributes the same chalice to a hundred people at a single Mass.

There is yet another reason--theological and pastoral. Of course, well before the Protestant Reformation the practice of the Church had been Communion under one species for the people. But Luther had an idee fixe about Communion under both species, alleging that one wasn't receiving Communion unless one received under both species, and that it was clericalist to deprive the laity of the chalice, etc.--NB, the same arguments many people today use for Communion under both species, by the way. Anyway, the Church has taught for a long time that by virtue of concomitance, the entire Christ is present in either species, and in fact in the smallest fraction of either species. But when an erroneous challenge like Luther's is issued, it especially needs to be met with a firm assertion of the contrary, and backed up in practice. If there was any hope of Communion of the chalice for the people up to that time, it was dashed by Luther's claims.

There may be other reasons, but these are the ones that I'm aware of.

John Lilburne

Tom Ryan wrote: "The General Instruction of the Roman Missal at several points (old and newer editions) allows for the cleansing of sacred vessels after Mass.

... Long ago, our planning group thought about the possible end of laity doing the cleansing. It would be easy to cover the sacred vessels on the credence table until after Mass."

True, the purification can be done after Mass. But it still to be done by priest, deacon or instituted acoltye. From the 2002 GIRM:

"279. The sacred vessels are purified by the priest, the deacon, or an instituted acolyte after Communion or after Mass, insofar as possible at the credence table."

I have noticed that CNS have made a mistake with their headline: 'Lay ministers may not cleanse Communion vessels, Pope Benedict says".

An instituted acolyte may cleanse the Communion vessels. An instituted acolyte is a lay minister, he is not ordained.

The CNS story suggests the instituted acolyte may only assist the priest or deacon: "instituted acolytes being permitted in the Roman Missal to help the priest or deacon "to purify and arrange the sacred vessels.""

But it is clear that an institued acolyte can do the purifications, both in GIRM 279 I have already quoted and these:

"192. Likewise, when the distribution of Communion is completed, a duly instituted acolyte helps the priest or deacon to purify and arrange the sacred vessels. When no deacon is present, a duly instituted acolyte carries the sacred vessels to the credence table and there purifies, wipes, and arranges them in the usual way."

"247. The deacon reverently drinks at the altar all of the Blood of Christ that remains, assisted, if necessary, by some of the concelebrants. He then carries the chalice over to the credence table and there he or a duly instituted acolyte purifies, wipes, and arranges it in the usual way (cf. above, no. 183)."

"249. ... The deacon, however, consumes at the altar all that remains of the Precious Blood, assisted, if necessary, by some of the concelebrants. He carries the chalice to the credence table and there he or a duly instituted acolyte purifies, wipes and arranges it in the usual way."

"284. ... b. Whatever may remain of the Blood of Christ is consumed at the altar by the priest or the deacon or the duly instituted acolyte who ministered the chalice. The same then purifies, wipes, and arranges the sacred vessels in the usual way."

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