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December 19, 2006

Comments

Kevin in Atlanta

Humbling, isn't it, to have have to clean up the dishes. As the one who does them in my house, it does have a way of keeping one's perspective.

Brandon

This is from the Web site of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis -- just put up recently:

http://www.archindy.org/worship/guidelines-purification.html

b

No change in practice at our parish, the Deacon has always done the purification and continues to do so. When he is out of town, the priest does it.

What's up with "instituted acolytes"? I thought only Lincoln, NE has those, and the rest of us had lay volunteers filling in? If that is the case, is it really an option in most places?

RP Burke

This is really straining at the gnats. You'd think we had solved all the serious problems already to get our knickers in a twist about this.

Brandon

Amy writes:
"The recognition - the profound recognition - that the little things exist at the service of the greater - the life-changing presence of Jesus Christ in the world..."
This is a good insight; one of the central divides that I'm finding as I grow older is between those people who believe that little things matter and those who believe that they are...well, just little things.
The difference is one of those bugs hiding in issues large and small: Who cares if I wear blue vestments during Advent? Does it really matter if some marital acts are closed to life if, overall, our marriage is open to it? Why is praying 50 Hail Marys and 5 Our Fathers on a set of beads so important? How can me going to a certain church and saying a certain prayer on a certain day do anything for the dead in purgatory? What does it matter if a few tiny crumbs of the Eucharist fall here and there? And who cares who cleans the vessels after Mass as long as it gets done?
There is a wisdom in the small things that is hidden from the big minds, almost an inability to see the importance of the little stuff unless we can directly see the big changes linked to it...and even then only admitting to it with grumbling. The joy of the world as God created it is that not only do the little things point to and affect the big things, but even the littlest thing has a value that the Lord does not miss in his count of all things. Only a God-made-infant could arrange a world in which the most common of all people is offered, each day, the chance to participate in the salvation of the world by the careful love of so many little things.
The small things are important because, at the very least, we seem to have a God who is deeply amused at making the little things matter.

g

RP, It seems like Amy did a pretty thorough job of explaining why this is not staining at gnats. If we can't be trusted in little things, we can't be trusted with big things.

Paul Smith Jr

The Diocese of Wilmington, DE has put out instructions to follow the recent Vatican directive, and we're following it at our parish. One of our priests does the purification during Mass himself, while the other waits until after Mass.

Eric the read

I don't know from the diocese, but my parish has always had the presiding priest purify the vessels, so no change here.

Junipero

Here in Los Angeles the lay Eucharistic ministers purify. No mention yet of any change.

amy

Actually, I agree with RP.

Because you know, when a simple (and it *is* pretty simple) directive comes down, and a parish liturgical committee must meet and figure out *how* to not institute the directive, and then meet again to figure out how to justify their disinterest in following the directive, and write bulletin announcements explaining Why We Do Things Differently at St. Millicent's..

yeah.

That's straining at gnats, wasting time and distracting ourselves (conveniently) from the hard work of the Gospel.

Is that what you meant?

Martin

I'm in the Tulsa diocese and as an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist used to help with the purification of the vessels. A few weeks after the Vatican decision came down, Bishop Slattery let it be known that the Vatican directives would be followed in all the parishes. So in our parish, one of the deacon does it now.

Rich Leonardi

At the Archdiocese of Cincinnati's Worship Office site, there is a revealingly titled "Rome Documents" tab, a collection of Fr. Lawrence Mick's execrable "3 Minute Catechesis" essays (in English and Spanish), and news of Fr. Jan Michael Joncas's October "Planning the Liturgical Seasons" workshop. But nothing on purification, unless I missed it.

Zadok the Roman

What's up with "instituted acolytes"? I thought only Lincoln, NE has those, and the rest of us had lay volunteers filling in? If that is the case, is it really an option in most places?

I would suspect that in most dioceses the only 'instituted acoytes' would be seminarians. It's part of the path to Holy Orders that after a number of years in a seminary that a seminarian is made an 'Acolyte'.

Tim Ferguson

At the Tridentine Mass I regularly attend, this isn't an issue, obviously, but I work with a good number of priests. The number of times the hair on the back of my neck has gone up on end when I hear the phrase "Sheesh, I have better things to do with my time than doing the dishes..." (or similar words) has been far too many to count. I've spoken up a couple times, guarded my tongue at others (when I felt that anything I say would simply be ignored, or I would not be able to say anything and remain charitable).

Yes, we all may have better things to do with our time than "doing the dishes," - things like going home and feeding our families, taking care of our children, evangelizing the world, making our parishes welcoming and friendly: things that are properly the task and the role of the laity; whereas maintaining the things pertaining to the "cultus" are properly the realm of the clergy. That includes "doing the dishes".

(I realize, of course, that it's not merely "doing the dishes", but actually performing a sacred task - I'm simply mimicking the phrase I keep hearing over and over again from many in the ordained quarter. It reminds me of a great warning given to me by my spiritual director when I was in the college seminary: be wary of becoming too familiar with sacred things - it leads to easily to becoming flippant and sacrilegious).

John Lilburne

It is not a little thing, because:
- this demonstrates respect for the Body and Blood of Christ;
- this is part of the liturgy, public worship
- this is an issue for every parish, every day.

For some people instituted acolytes are not important. But others have studied and committed themselves to this ministry for life in a public ceremony with a bishop. Particularly for them, this is not a little thing.

Cathy

I live in the St. Louis Archdiocese. Our priest and deacons are now purifying the vessels. The Extraordinary ministers did this before.

Father Elijah

Amy, again you have great insight into this issue-yet since we are 'incarnational' and our worship is ritual-it is both important and necessary to consider

We are incarnational- this means we totally accept and celebrate all aspects of the human with the exception of sin. To quote Amy, "the little things exist at the service of the greater-the life changing presence of Jesus Christ in the world"

While Catholics do not hold to a Sola Scriptura hermeneutic, we can find foundation for this concern for even the little things, even about 'the little things' in the Scriptures-more specifically-the Gospels:

While other Gospels speak only of two disciples asking Jesus about preparations for the Passover and then being sent-Saint Luke tells us that Peter and John themselves are sent. This is what Saint Luke tells us,

"Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John saying, "Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat...." [see Luke 22.7-13 RSV]

Even after the miraculous but not sacramental 'multiplication of the loaves and fish' the Twelve "took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish." [Mark 6.43 RSV] and again, they "took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full" [Mark 8.8 RSV]

In these two simple verses, these 'little things' much is revealed. The first feeding of the multitude leaves over twelve baskets full-symbolizing the twelve tribes of Israel: Jesus has come to feed-indeed to be the Food-of the People of Israel. In the second feeding of the multitudes, seven baskets full are collected, the number of the Gentile nations 'conquered and expelled' from the Promised Land by Ancient Israel-thus meaning Jesus has come to feed-indeed to be the Food-of the Gentiles as well!

I am not suggesting the the priest deacon or instituted acolyte doing the ablutions reveals such an important meaning. I AM saying however that in the Liturgy nothing is too little, every part fits into the greater whole-nothing is mundane or secular in the Liturgy-Nothing!
In fact the secular does not start at the edge of the sanctuary, at the altar rail, or iconostasis but at the doors and vestibule of the church [although like the ancient Temple in Jerusalem this is the Holy of Holies]. That's where we bless ourselves with the holy water, that is where we make the transition for the world of the secular to the sacred

Ritual by its very name means something that is repeated again and again. Some clergy and laity become antagonistic to this dimension of our worship, yet Jesus Himself chose the Passover as the context and the Todah-the Thanksgiving sacrificial meal [see Psalm 16 and Psalm 22 as examples] as the ritual He transformed into the Eucharist. By celebrating and participating in the rite we participate in the 'original event' of Christ's sacrificial Death and Resurrection-the Paschal Mystery and through this enter in and participate in the very 'inner life' of the Blessed Trinity [we are divinized].

At the same time, Jesus again and again rebuked the Pharisees especially for their legalism and rubricism-even more than what we might first think. His famous critique in Matthew 23 is most probably known to us all. But even in such stories as the Good Samaritan-the priest and levite-on their way to worship in the Temple in Jerusalem, did not stop to help the man in need-but why? Apathy? No! By coming in contact with him they would have become unclean, according to the 'rubrics'. Lepers, the woman with the flow of blood, a 'sinful woman'-all thesecontacts of Jesus were against the rubrics...

So now what is the solution? Keep the intention of the Church and what it is teaching us in mind and we can't go wrong. It prevents us from considering somethings as too little, or inconsequential or mundane or even secular; at the same time, listening and doing as the Church leads us away from legalisms and rubricism for in the Liturgy the Spirit and the Bride do indeed say "Marana tha Come Lord" [see Revelations 22.17 RSV]

RP Burke

1. Amy, yes, you got my point. The question of who purifies has very little grave matter, compared to the hard work of the gospel.

2. b (et al.), the ministry of acolyte is one of the stages one passes through prior to ordination. So, not only do seminarians pass through it, but also do candidates for the permanent diaconate. Lector is the other stage. They are both lay ministries, vestiges of the old minor orders of porter, lector, exorcist and acolyte through which seminarians were ordained before the major orders.

One can make a technical distinction between instituted "lectors" and lay "readers," and between instituted "acolytes" and lay "servers." In practice at the parish level these distinctions are ignored.

RP Burke

Oh, yes, Amy, it does go both ways. The boys in Rome have made a silly nitpick that was not worth the effort, nor is it worth the effort to rail against.

Jeff Z.

Here in the Diocese of Charlotte, Bishop Jugis followed the Congregation for Divine Worship's directive and issued new procedures that went into effect last Sunday:

http://www.charlottediocese.org/customers/101092709242178/filemanager/CNH%20Docs/BishopJugisVessels.pdf

anon

Our priests have always purified the vessels -- indeed, our pastor only turns to EEMs to distribute communion when there aren't enough priests available. One of our resident priests takes such care with this task that even the little children can clearly understand that Father really and truly believes that Jesus is present in every particle of the host. There is absolutely nothing routine or "tidying up" in his approach; it's a very powerful catechesis.

Linda

I would be interested to hear from someone who is an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist to hear how they feel about the change. I spoke with one at my parish and they felt sort of like it was a step backward for them and that something was being taken away. Our priest made some other changes as well, and I'm totally on board with all of them. I think that at times there were just too many lay people around the altar and it seemed that some of the reverence and sacredness was lost.

Brian

There was a question about instituted acolytes.

This is an official office that can only be held by males.

Now you see why very few parishes actually use that office. The Church may be attempting to gently nudge parishes towards using acolytes instead of lay "ministers" or "servers" to help establish the male-only-ness of the priesthood and those parts of the Mass. If there are more and more things that only priests, deacons, and acolytes can do then parishes may have no choice but to establish acolytes again. We'll see if this is true or not.

Fr. Paul

As a pastor of 1500 families, by myself with only one active deacon (who serves only one Mass), no acolytes, and four Masses on the weekend, I think the rule is not only straining at gnats but very disruptive to the liturgy.

I like the liturgy to flow smoothly with few interruptions and halts. I find that people watch what's happening at the altar after communion (not a bad thing if they see the reverence, but praying would be better), so I like to purify the chalice and ciboriums in a timely manner so that I can sit down and meditate for a few moments and so the people can do likewise, without watching me clean five cups. It's a practical thing that aids the flow of the liturgy.

This new rule is on top of another straining at gnats rule from a couple of years ago: no pouring consecrated wine from a cruet. IOW, no more using a cruet during the consecration and preparing the cups during the sign of peace and Lamb of God.

So what did that result in practically? You have to prepare all the cups before the consecration, which means you've got 5, 6, a dozen cups on the altar during the consecration.

Wonderful imagery there. Perhaps the St. Louis Jesuits will come up with a new song: "One bread... a dozen cups..."

Again, practically: At Archbishop Gregory's installation, they tried to do it that way, with about 30 cups. And guess what? Half the concelebrating priests did not receive the Precious Blood.

And more practicality: I had asked for and received from Archbishop Gregory permission to continue to use the cruet. But with this new rule, I figured it was time to put them both into practice. We used to have five cups, but I didn't want five cups on the altar, so I reduced it to three. And since I couldn't have the cups on the side of the altar (which we had been doing when preparing them after the consecration, so that they were easy to pour and reach), I put the three cups on a corporal next to the main corporal with the chalice and hosts.

So what happened? Since the cups were now closer to the center of the altar, when I reached for them, my chasuble caught at the edge of the altar and I spilled half a cup of the Precious Blood. Wonderful. I can't pour it from the cruet, but a Eucharistic Minister can hand a cup of the Precious Blood to children and the elderly and the infirm, and the Vatican worries about whether or not *I* might spill the Precious Blood when pouring from a cruet.

Both these new rules might have sound theological reasons behind them. But it would help if they also had a little common sense behind them as well. Theology doesn't have to contradict common sense.

FWIW, my EMM's now take the cups to the Sacrarium after Mass, where I or the deacon purify them after I am finished doing the more important things, like greeting the people after Mass.

Fr. Paul Williams, pastor, OLPH, Carrollton, GA

mark

Fr. Paul:

With all due respect, I have been at liturgies - many of them - in which the Precious Blood was consecrated in a single vessel then poured out, during the fraction rite, into 10 cups or so. then distributed to the EME's, etc.

The process can take up to 10 minutes BEFORE the congregation even STARTS to receive Communion. It's ridiculous...and talk about a disruption and not running smoothly!!! It takes forever, and is something that lay people regularly complain about.

And Father, you don't use a single loaf of bread, do you? So...doesn't that fly in the face of "One Bread?"

F C Bauerschmidt

parishes may have no choice but to establish acolytes again.

There's no "again" about it. Instituted acolytes (or what we might, pre-Vatican II, call "clerical acolytes") have not been a feature of parishes for centuries, if they ever were at all.

Glen

RP:

Let's get this right. It's a standard rule in the GIRM. THe US BIshops ask for a change. They ask for a change. Rome doesn't ask for it. The bishops ask for it.

Who's straining at gnats and making situations where there wasn't one before?

Fr. Paul:

Even in a large parish, I have seen the Communion distribution process go fine with just two cups, even if there are say 6 distribution points for the Hosts.

And Mark is right. The interminable preparation for distribution of Communion in which

1) The Precious Blood and the Hosts must be distributed into chalices and bowls for the EMES

2) The priest must give a host to every EME individually


3) Two or three EME's are given the PRecious Blood by the priest, and then they in turn give to the other EME's

4) FINALLLY, the priest distributes the chalices and bowls to every EME

Wow. 10 minutes - that's the norm for that kind of process in a large parish. So your complaints about "disrupting" liturgy ring hollow. That's about as disruptive as it can get while everyone's sitting in the pews marveling at how long the gavotte in the sanctuary is going to take.

anon

Fr. Paul,
One common-sense solution to the difficulties you describe at your parish would be to discontinue communion by both species. Another, more long-term, solution would be to encourage more vocations to the priesthood from your parish so that future pastors don't face these problems.

Tom K.

Archbishop Wuerl of Washington directed that purification be done only by priests, deacons, or acolytes as of the First Sunday of Advent.

Dmitri

Very interesting.... Taking the cue from others here, I went to the Archdiocese of Baltimore's web site to look for The Liturgy Office's page to see what they have to say about it. And wouldn't you know it? They have offices for everything from Fiscal Services to Deaf Ministry, and even Child Nutrition. But there is no office dedicated to the Liturgy!

Here are all the offices they have:

African American Catholic Ministries
Archivist
Associated Catholic Charities
Beyond the Boundaries
Campaign for Human Development
Canonical Advisement & Research
Cardinal Archbishop
Catholic Education Ministries
Catholic Education Ministries of Central Maryland
Catholic Education Ministries of Western Maryland
Catholic Review
Catholic Schools
Chancery
Child & Youth Protection
Child Nutrition
Church Leadership Institute
Clergy Personnel
Communications
Deaf Ministry
Development
Eastern Vicar
Evangelization & Catechesis
Facilities Management
Fiscal Services
Former Archbishop
Ministry with Gay & Lesbian Catholics
Hispanic Ministry
Human Resource Services
Information Technology
Insurance
Management Services
Marketing & Institutional Advancement
Maryland Catholic Conference
Media Resource Center
Ministry Formation & Development
Planning & Council Services
Project Rachel
Propagation of the Faith
Respect Life Committee
Tribunal
Urban Vicar
Vocations
Western Vicar
Youth & Young Adult Ministry

Is something wrong here?

WRY

Dmitri,
Maybe that's not such a bad thing!

GB

You know, I just feel like the post Vatican II liturgists can't have it both ways. They have told us about a million times in the last 30 yrs that we're really "at a meal" when we go to Mass. In my naivete, I believed them.

I don't have any official function in the Church. I'm not an EME or anything. But I have cooked & served & cleaned up after about 15,000 dinners for family & friends over the yrs. If "going smoothly" is the criterion for a good meal, vvvvery few of those were good. Mostly, things don't go smoothly at a family meal. Someone spills their milk. Someone else has had a bad day etc. Its always something.

So I have alot of difficulty with being told I'm going to "Mass the Meal" AND we need alot of folks at the altar to clean up so the meal will go smoothly. The alternative interpretation makes much more sense. We are at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. We're not looking at our watches during a sacrifice.

clay

Anyone here know whether this directive has been obeyed in the Diocese of Memphis in Tennessee, or in any parishes therein?

Adam

Trivial is still trivial, regardless of how many big words we throw at it.

For example, if we've vowed to tithe "everything" that includes mint and cumin and every garden herb, yes? Oh wait. Someone once said that little things are little things and we ought to give our attention first to big things like mercy and justice. Or did I get that wrong?

bearing

When I read Fr. Paul's complaint, I can only think that the problem is you've got too darn many cups, and therefore, too darn many EMMs.

So cut back. Let communion last longer and preach a shorter homily to make room for it.

Or switch to communion under one species, being sure to precede it with catechesis about the host being both body and blood, because many people have not heard this before.

Or train your EMMs (half of them anyway) and switch to intinction. Our pastor uses intinction at our large parish, and I must say there are many reasons to recommend it, with speed being only one of them.

Or add a weekend Mass to get the crowds down to a manageable size.

There's simply no reason to have that many cups up there.

bearing

Sorry, I meant EEMs.

Romulus

WRT straining at gnats, would it be tiresome of me to point out that there is no such thing as an "Extraordinary Eucharistic Minister"? See Redemptionis Sacramentum [156.]: "This function is to be understood strictly according to the name by which it is known, that is to say, that of extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, and not 'special minister of Holy Communion' nor 'extraordinary minister of the Eucharist' nor 'special minister of the Eucharist', by which names the meaning of this function is unnecessarily and improperly broadened."

Jordan Potter

In the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois, there probably won't have to be much of change. I think in most parishes the purification of communion vessels has been done properly for several years at least. It's been done properly in my parish for a number of years any way.

Here's the story from the diocesan newspaper about the bishop's recent instruction on the matter (the story omits all reference to instituted acolytes, presumbly because our diocese's only acolytes are seminarians):

http://www.cdop.org/catholic_post/post_12_3_06/featured_article.cfm

Fr. Paul

Glen: actually, the new rules make it worse. The EME's are not allowed to enter the sanctuary until after the priest receives communion. If they have to wait in their seats till after that, you add all that much more wait. But at least during this time, I have the organist begin some music so that it's not a period of awkward silence watching all the distribution to the EME's.

Anon: actually, that's something I've considered. If you read the GIRM, communion under both species is not the norm, even at a Sunday Mass. Except that in the appendix, the USCCB asked for and was granted exceptions for basically any possible situation. Very American: the exception becomes the norm. It's really kind of humorous if you read it - a long list of exceptions to the point where they would have been better off saying, "communion under both species is allowed in all circumstances."

Mark: During the Doxology, I hold up One Bread (the large Host) and One Cup (the Chalice). The other consecrated hosts are in a ciborium, and the consecrated wine in a cruet. Thus, the symbolism is not destroyed. Alas, now we have who knows how many cups on the altar. The new instruction suggests that one cup be bigger than the others. Golly, what profound symbolism.

There really was no reason given for not pouring from the cruet, other than the danger of spilling the Precious Blood, which, as I have pointed out is much more likely to happen with a dozen cups being handed to the people than a priest pouring from a cruet.

Put it this way: Our Lord didn't pour twelve cups before pronouncing the blessing. He took the one and shared it with the Apostles. Personally, I feel the practice that has developed of using a cruet and then pouring from that is more theologically sound than a dozen cups on the altar.

But that's just my opinion. I'm sure the guys in Rome know a whole lot more about what works and what doesn't than us guys in the trenches. ;-)

Fr. Paul

Tim Ferguson

Fr. Paul,

I'd respectfully urge you to a bit of restraint in the easy trap of pitting "the guys in Rome" versus "the guys in the trenches". It's a common thing, but it really isn't helpful, except that when we paint others as bad guys, we get a momentary feeling of justification for being upset.

I suspect that the "guys in Rome" have said a few more Masses in a wider variety of situations than the average "guy in a trench" and are not just looking at things from an ivory tower standpoint. Theology, symbolism and practicality aren't always opposed to one another.

Perhaps a bit of humble "how can I accept and implement this new directive" approach would be better than a dismissive "those guys don't have any idea what it's like" approach. Since we're dealing with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, extra time, sacred silence, ritual action and patience can be a good thing. And perhaps reappraising our habits is warranted: would it be better to reserve distribution under both species for those special situations (Holy Thursday, Corpus Christi, First Communions)? Would intinction be preferable? What about asking the bishop to commission three or four men from the parish to serve as instituted acolytes?

PatB

It appears from the comments that many people do not understand what purification means. It does not mean not mean washing the vessels ("doing the dishes"), which must be done after Mass in the sacristy. Purification is the process in which the last of the Precious Body and Blood of the Lord are consumed, even the tiniest crumb and drop, *before* the vessels are cleaned.

Purification entails, in the case of the cup, after the last of the Precious Blood has been consumed, pouring water into the cup, swishing it around, drinking it, and then wiping it dry with a purificator (which cloth will subsequently be purified before it is washed). The same procedure holds for the bowls that are used to distribute communion: water must be poured into them, swished around, and consumed.

The reason this is a really big problem in many diocese involves the cups. 1) At almost every Mass all of the Precious Blood is not consumed and the EM may not be able to consume it. At Sunday Masses in large churches, 10-12 cups are common. Not only is the unconsumed wine more than any one person can consume, but the truth is priests don't want to do it for sanitary reasons. Don't expect to hear this come up in any high-level discussions, but it really is the root of the problem for the clergy, not an averstion to doing dishes. This is why the bishops are starting to speak about intinction. Germs won't be an issue, but the symbolism of the cup is diminished.

In my diocese (Portland, OR) nothing has been done to implement the GIRM on this point. Ususally, the EM consume the precious blood, but the vessels are not purified until they are taken back to the sacristy to be washed after Mass. At the parish where I worked as PA, when the EM's could not finish the wine, it was the daily practice to dilute the Precious Blood with water and pour it in the garden. In other places they have a sacrarium (drain that pours into the ground) that serves the same function.

I have on more than one occassion seen the Body and Blood of the Lord poured down the drain (not a sacrarium). This is why the Pope is so insistent on observing this norm, not the servant image of the priest.

But the symbolism of receiving under both species is considered far more important than showing respect for the Eucharist. This is not conjecture on my part, I have had numerous discussions with priests about it.

The root reason this is a problem is not some formality about who engages in the ritual washing, it's about who consumes the unfinished wine and then rinses and drinks from the cups that the congregation has drunk from. 1) It's not feasible that one priest can purify 10-12 cups on the altar, and 2) the clergy don't want to do it because of the germs.

PatB

It appears from the comments that many people do not understand what purification means. It does not mean not mean washing the vessels ("doing the dishes"), which must be done after Mass in the sacristy. Purification is the process in which the last of the Precious Body and Blood of the Lord are consumed, even the tiniest crumb and drop, *before* the vessels are cleaned.

Purification entails, in the case of the cup, after the last of the Precious Blood has been consumed, pouring water into the cup, swishing it around, drinking it, and then wiping it dry with a purificator (which cloth will subsequently be purified before it is washed). The same procedure holds for the bowls that are used to distribute communion: water must be poured into them, swished around, and consumed.

The reason this is a really big problem in many diocese involves the cups. 1) At almost every Mass all of the Precious Blood is not consumed and the EM may not be able to consume it. At Sunday Masses in large churches, 10-12 cups are common. Not only is the unconsumed wine more than any one person can consume, but the truth is priests don't want to do it for sanitary reasons. Don't expect to hear this come up in any high-level discussions, but it really is the root of the problem for the clergy, not an averstion to doing dishes. This is why the bishops are starting to speak about intinction. Germs won't be an issue, but the symbolism of the cup is diminished.

In my diocese (Portland, OR) nothing has been done to implement the GIRM on this point. Ususally, the EM consume the precious blood, but the vessels are not purified until they are taken back to the sacristy to be washed after Mass. At the parish where I worked as PA, when the EM's could not finish the wine, it was the daily practice to dilute the Precious Blood with water and pour it in the garden. In other places they have a sacrarium (drain that pours into the ground) that serves the same function.

I have on more than one occassion seen the Body and Blood of the Lord poured down the drain (not a sacrarium). This is why the Pope is so insistent on observing this norm, not the servant image of the priest.

But the symbolism of receiving under both species is considered far more important than showing respect for the Eucharist. This is not conjecture on my part, I have had numerous discussions with priests about it.

The root reason this is a problem is not some formality about who engages in the ritual washing, it's about who consumes the unfinished wine and then rinses and drinks from the cups that the congregation has drunk from. 1) It's not feasible that one priest can purify 10-12 cups on the altar, and 2) the clergy don't want to do it because of the germs.

AnnaB

"the use of intinction is still a legitimate option (provided that Holy Communion in this form is received only on the tongue and never in the hand)"
Is that a general rule? I've seen intinction being practiced in combination with reception in the hand almost every Sunday, and I only experienced intinction in combination with reception on the tongue once when my hands were occupied with a fuzzy baby and the priest "intincted" the host for me. When I have a choice, I receive communion under one species only, since I get too nervous about spilling + taking the chalice seems kinda protestant to me.
The practice of having 10 or so cups on the altar makes me think about a cocktail party, can't help to think it looks somewhat ridiculous.

Eric

The talk of a servant's role in cleaning the vessels is a good point. However, it is not the priest who acts as a servant during the Eucharist, but the deacon.

Note this section of the description of the deacon's role at Mass from the GIRM:

After communion, the deacon returns to the altar with the priest and collects any remaining fragments. He then takes the chalice and other vessels to the side table, where he cleanses them and arranges them in the usual way; the priest returns to the chair. But it is permissible to leave the vessels to be cleansed, suitably covered and at a side table on a corporal, immediately after Mass following the dismissal of the people.

What if there is no deacon? The general principle is that others take the deacon's role:

-- A layperson carries in the Gospel Book in the entrance procession
-- A priest reads the Gospel
-- A layperson reads the general intercessions
-- The priest pours the water into the wine
-- An altar server incenses the priest and people
-- The priest invites the sign of peace
-- A layperson may administer communion by the cup
-- The priest gives the final dismissal

So some of the deacon's roles in the liturgy, when there is no deacon, go to various people: laypeople, altar ministers or the priest. There do not appear to be clear lines of demarcation that the priest *always* takes on the deacon's servant roles. And as a deacon, I can tell you that ordination does not make one better at cleaning things. You could take a look at my kitchen and see that. So while it's my job to "clear the table," I do this knowing that others are just as well qualified as me to do this, and if I am not there, there are lay people who could do it just as well as other laypeople read the intercessions in my absence.

Fr. Paul voices a frustration felt by many with actions of Cardinal Arinze. When he was appointed head of the Congregation for Worship and the Sacraments, many noted that he was not a scholar of liturgy and made no pretenses to be. So much of what comes from his office has no solid liturgical basis, but appears to be derived from a devotional approach. To liturgists -- and I mean those who have taken years to carefully study ancient liturgy, patristic sources on liturgy, the writings of the Councils, etc. -- some of the actions of Cardinal Arinze do not have a sound theological or liturgical basis, and seem more directed at other ends -- in this case, to make it more difficult to give the cup to the people.

That being said, we have to find a way to follow the rules by the direction of our bishop, because each bishop is the chief liturgist for hsi own diocese. But Fr. Paul makes excellent points about how these directives are not very well thought out.

As for those who rejoice that this permission to have laypeople clean vessels was revoked, I remind you of another variance for the United States that is still in effect: kneeling during the Eucharistic Prayer. I wonder if they would be so excited about universal conformity and no special permission for the U.S. if that adaptation were also to disappear.

Maureen

Um... if the amount used was miscalculated, you're allowed to call non-EMHC people back to the sacristy to receive more Communion, you know. Not that there's usually much or any Precious Blood left at my church -- but it's pretty common for cantors, lectors, etc. to get detained and called in to help the EMHCs drink the Precious Blood. Heck, you can even ask people who've just gotten there for the next Mass, if you make sure they've fasted long enough.

And then, you can get out the water and purify the emptied chalices.

This isn't some huge hardship.

Old Zhou

If it weren't for those darned speed limits, I could get to Church on time.
And if it weren't for taxes, I could put more in the offering.
And now these silly rules from the Vatican about how to do things for Mass! We could have really good worship, if it weren't for those guys in the Vatican.
The real problem with my worship to God is that everybody wants to keep me from doing it my way!

Ellen

Eric and Pat:

You might want to drop a line to Bishop Wenski and correct him on that whole servant thing.

Eric:

You're right - and in this case, the purifying of vessels is the priest's role. Are you arguing that in the absence of a deacon everything should be interchangeable? That laity should read the Gospel or pronounce the dismissal? Why not?

This is not a hardship. The symbolism is, besides all of the other points mentioned here - something not very theological, but still true. The priest started the job, pouring the wine, as the deacon would do if he were present, the priest should finish it, in the absence of a deacon. There's a balance, a symmetry to the action there that's obvious.

Fr. Paul

Tim, I did indeed implement the new guidelines with humility, and in all humility, when my EME's (or EMHC's or whatever) asked me why, all I could tell them was: because Rome says so. Rome's basis for doing so has a wobbly theological basis at best with no practicality, in my humble opinion. I'm not disrespecting them, just giving my honest opinion. And everything I've said above, I've said to Archbishop Gregory personally, and he just kind of laughed and told me he didn't care if I used a cruet. The really funny thing was when he came for Confirmation, and his assisting deacon asked why the cruet was on the altar instead of the cups, we both kind of smiled as the poor confused deacon was thrown off his beat.

But, to reiterate, I am now doing it according to the guidelines, cheerfully, even though I do think it's silly. And in a few years, the USCCB will be granted an exemption like they have exemptions for everything else (seriously, read the appendix to the GIRM), and we'll all be laughing at how silly it all was.

As for intinction, my understanding is that intinction was a post-Vatican II invention (someone correct me if I'm wrong). IOW, it was not widely used, if at all, until after Vatican II. The beloved, now deceased, pastor of my current parish loved intinction. I think because he didn't like giving out communion in the hand after Vatican II. Well, let's get back to practicalities: they had to replace the carpet with a maroon colored carpet. I imagine you can guess why: because of the stains from the spilled Precious Blood. Intinction is not an exact science. And now the Vatican is worried that I might spill from the cruet on the altar.

And Eric, thanks for your insightful post.

Fr. Paul

b

Intinction is an ancient and venerable practice of the East. Where the bread (leavened in the East) is cut up into cubes and placed in the chalice to absorb the precious blod. Comunion is administered from a spoon. I've never seen it done with the wester (unleavened) host without the spoon. I would think that there would be a great danger of dripping.


Tom Kelty

Mark my words. This whole issue reeks of clericalism, reserving this mundane housekeeping to the ordained. Soon the altar rails will be back as the skirmish line for who can minister at the altar. This promises to get very ugly. Rome says we can not even discuss ordaining females and we passively agree, to keep the uneasy peace in our churches. Only the Holy Spirit knows what is coming. To me it seems that there will be corrections to include women who already serve humbly and efficiently in such large numbers in our parishes. This piffling and irritating nit-picking will be seen as ridiculous. We are witnessing the opening salvos in a long battle between what was and what is to come. Look around you and open your eyes to the work of the Holy Spirit. Recall that we were baptized as neither slave or free, male or female and give up your baseless worship of ordained male celibates as the only ones allowed to preside at Mass. We may have to stop and start all over again.

Eric

Ellen,

I am sure the good bishop does not need me to educate him on the servant role of the deacon. That role is older than the priesthood. Why he would mention a servant role for the priest during liturgy is beyond me, but it may be that he was thinking of a general attitude of service required of all ordained ministers, but that servant role extends to the laity as well, so it is not a convincing point to make in relation to the matter at hand.

I am not arguing that every role in the liturgy is interchangeable. If I believed that, why would I be ordained? But every liturgical role has its liturgical and theological purpose. If Cardinal Arinze had an acceptable theological or liturgical reason for his rules, that would be one thing, but it seems all too often there are other reasons for the rules. Mere sentimentality, devotional excess or pragmatism are not authentic grounds for liturgical actions. So on the one hand, it is not a good liturgical approach to say that lay people should be able to cleanse the vessels because it would take too long for the priest to do so -- that's pragmatism. On the other hand, it is not good liturgical theology to say that only the priest or the deacon should cleanse the vessels because only they are capable of doing it right -- that's clericalism. And those who say only the priest should cleanse the vessels in full view of everybody because it re-inforces the Real Presence are approaching the act from a personal devotional standpoint, not liturgical.

All these approaches send the wrong message: the pragmatic approach says that liturgy is about what is quick and efficient, which it is not. The clericalist approach says seeks to reduce the paticipation of the laity in the liturgy, which is where we were before Sacrosanctum Concilium. The devotional approach makes liturgical action subject to my own interpretation, and minor things become elevated and encrusted with layers of subjective meaning, such as a sweat rag becoming the maniple that so many people view with great devotion.

A simple thing like cleaning the vessels can become overly emphasized, as appears to have already happened, judging from commentary around the Web on this issue. Something similar happened with sanctus bells; they were originally a practical aid to let people know the consecration was happening when they could not hear the priest's Latin and there was a wall between the people and the altar so they could not see it. At the bell, they would go to little holes in the wall to view the host they would never receive being held up. Even after the walls came down and people wer finally permitted to have a translation available to them, the bells stuck around, and people fight over these bells because they took on a devotional meaning that was in no way liturgical.

Now sanctus bells in and of themselves, I believe, are harmless. We use them at my parish, and I think a lot of people like them. At the same time, I have no problem when they are not used at other parishes, and if they were to disappear from my parish, I would be cool with that. But there have been cases where people have become so enraged when the little bells went away that they mounted angry campaigns or simply stopped going to Mass.

That is when a private devotional interpretation becomes a problem.

Eilis ni Mhurchu

This may be a disingenuous comment but I really don't see why the people who handle the Eucharist can't purify the vessels. I might add that I don't think the laity should be handling the Eucharist anyway but from a logical poing of view it seems specious.

Eilis ni Mhurchy

Didymus

This is off-subject, but related.
Aren't the extraordinary ministers of holy Communion supposed to lave their hands after distribution? I just happened to notice that recently.

Fr Martin Fox

Rich Leonardi:

Archbishop Pilarczyk (of Cincinnati) addressed this at a convocation of priests, right around when this broke, and I think you'd be very pleased with what he said. He said we shouldn't make a big deal out of this; this shouldn't be any big problem, since purification is not a complete washing but a ritual action, that aims to remove remnants of the sacred species -- i.e., a proper washing can be done by anyone, after purification -- and as I recall, he gave a good justification for it, insofar as it emphasized the link of Eucharist to ordained ministry.

I saw something come out a few weeks ago from the Worship Office that provided direction; I perused it briefly, insofar as we were already doing this.

To Fr. Paul:

My understanding is that the extraordinary ministers are not supposed to "approach the altar" until after the priest receives communion -- i.e., that doesn't necessarily mean they can't "enter the sanctuary" -- am I recalling this correctly?

It seems to me the purification is not a distraction or a slowing-down of Mass; it coincides perfectly with a time for either some music after communion, or silent prayer. Now, if people insist on watching the priest do this, so be it; but the idea that a priest silently doing this at the altar or credence table is a "distraction" seems a bit much. At any rate, observing this is not without profit, as others have noted.

Tom Kelty:

With all respect, you seem to be hyperventilating, rhetorically, over this.

Your point suggests that the absence of altar rails is somehow a significant part of the reform Vatican II called for. What is your basis for this?

Back in the seminary, when a brother seminarian offered a similar lament, I said: "Show me where Vatican II called for removing altar rails, and I'll give you $100." My offer stands.

Susan Peterson

RP Burke,

I think you should consider that you might be missing something in considering this change only as nitpicking and only at a mundane level.

Can you doubt for a minute, for instance, that this sort of thing would not be considered needless nitpicking by the Eastern lung of the church? (Whether you use that term to mean Orthodoxy, as I believe it was meant to, or to mean the Eastern churches in communion with Rome.) There, only the priest, deacon and acolytes (no women) are behind the iconostasis. Only the priest himself goes through the royal door, the deacons and acolytes go through side doors. Everything the priest and deacon do is according to the ritual. The priest gives out communion, the bread soaked in wine (I refer to their appearances, please) on a gold spoon. Although I have never noticed, I can't imagine anyone other than priest or deacon purifying the chalice and spoon.

If the East takes things so seriously, and if they are following an ancient tradition of the church, and if the West acted likewise until 40 years or so ago, how can you just brush the whole issue off? Shouldn't you consider whether such ancient traditions of the church don't embody something important, something about true worship?

I don't think there is any point opposing ritual and liturgical care to charity, to living the gospel. On the contrary, the great saints showed the greatest devotion to the honor of the Blessed Sacrament. I was present at a celebration of the Eucharist in a small house of Mother Teresa's order. The priest was a visitor, somewhat over-relaxed and careless in his celebration, but the sisters might as well have been at a Papal mass by how they behaved, by the depth of their reverence. In the time before mass, as they came into the chapel and moved about at various tasks-what had been a small living room in an ordinary private house in a city- they never failed to genuflect deeply each time they passed where the Blessed Sacrament was reserved.

What I am trying to say is that it is a false oppositon, devout ritual versus true charity. Of course it could be in some individual case; someone could be in love with ritual and not trying to live the gospel. Such temptations are present everywhere; in social justice ministries there are all kinds of temptation to power, to worldliness. There is no good thing which cannot be distorted and chosen as a good in itself instead of a subsidiary good to God himself. But there is no reason to think that beautiful, careful, precise, and devout worship is an enemy to charity, as you seem to imply. Quite the contrary.

Susan F. Peterson

Jordan Potter

"If the East takes things so seriously, and if they are following an ancient tradition of the church, and if the West acted likewise until 40 years or so ago, how can you just brush the whole issue off?"

No, no, no! There's no valid liturgical or theological basis for Rome's withdrawal of the U.S. indult! There just can't be. It's all specious!

Grumble, grouse, gripe!

;-)

Chris R.

I have never understood why Communion is supposed to be the fastest part of the Mass. Can't have the laity sittin out there with Jesus in quiet. Must make the announcements and go out and shake hands. God forbid they have time to pray. If the pastors insist on distribution in both species then at least the extra clean up time gives the laity some peace in order to pray. And yes, I love the prep time while all the extra ordinary people go up and receive and we the plebs wait our turn. I should clock it. I believe EMHC get more time than the entire rest of the congregation plus the final Hymn. Only the announcements take longer.

Rose

I agree, Chris. I think Communion time should be much longer, and purification allows that extra time. I also think that announcements should not be made at Mass at all. After communion, our parish priest makes his announcements in a attention-seeking, jocular, entertaining kind of style. And it creates the worst kind of distraction. He's a reasonably good parish priest but his need for ego-stroking and being the centre of attention, exercised most blatantly at Mass and at announcement time, is quite distressing.

John Lilburne

I encourage Fr Paul to follow the 2002 GIRM. Instead of his approach of: "EMM's now take the cups to the Sacrarium after Mass, where I or the deacon purify them after I am finished doing the more important things, like greeting the people after Mass."

For Mass Without a Deacon, n. 163: "Nevertheless, it is also permitted, especially if there are several vessels to be purified, to leave them suitably covered on a corporal, either at the altar or at the credence table, and to purify them immediately after Mass following the dismissal of the people."

For Mass with a Deacon: n. 183: "It is also permissible to leave the vessels that need to be purified, suitably covered, at the credence table on a corporal and to purify them immediately after Mass following the dismissal of the people."

There is no mention of the sacrarium or sacristy for this purification.

The sacrarium is mentioned in the 2004 Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum, along with excommunication, highlighting that we are not talking about a little thing. It has:

"[107.] In accordance with what is laid down by the canons, “one who throws away the consecrated species or takes them away or keeps them for a sacrilegious purpose, incurs a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See; a cleric, moreover, may be punished by another penalty, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state”.[footnote 194 Cf. Code of Canon Law, can. 1367.] To be regarded as pertaining to this case is any action that is voluntarily and gravely disrespectful of the sacred species. Anyone, therefore, who acts contrary to these norms, for example casting the sacred species into the sacrarium or in an unworthy place or on the ground, incurs the penalties laid down.[footnote 195 Cf. Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts, Response to dubium, 3 July 1999: AAS 91 (1999) p. 918.]"

Fr. Totton

Everyone else has given their 2 cents, so I figure, I may as well add my own.

I can understand the frustration on the part of some who see Communion under both species as a supreme good. The Church has commended the practice as having a "fuller sign value" when it can be done in a practical manner. To that end, she has even given us examples of when such IS practical: the newly professed religious at their Mass of profession, the newly-married at their nuptial Mass, etc. etc. So as to allay confusion, she went further to stress that "special celebrations" is not to be interpreted as "every Mass, every single Sunday." Over the years, this practice developed in our country and, I believe, we sought an exemption or an indult of sorts to allow it - not heeding the intentions of the council fathers - and the practice became so entrenched in our country that we failed to see the practical issues (concerns about "spillage" too many chalices on the altar, will all these vessels be properly purified?) to say nothing of the lex orandi lex credendi effect in terms of those Catholics who no longer understand that the whole Christ, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, is present under either form of Holy Communion. While H.E. Bishop Trautman assured us at the most recent USCCB that "this directive should in no way be taken as a justification from ending the time-honored practice of distributing Holy Communion under both species" (or words to that effect) it seems to me that such is precisely what the directives are aimed at - at the very least, to rein in the practice as it is practiced on such a widespread basis.

As to intinction - a practice which recommends itself as a solution to these concerns, at least at parishes which are built on a human scale - it can be done without great concern about spillage provided the servers are holding the communion patens under the chin of each communicant (if you consult Redemptionis Sacramentum, you will discover that such practice [the communion paten] is to be maintained whether one is receiving only the host or both species by intinction or whether one is receiving Holy Communion in the hand or on the tongue.)

It seems to me that there is not a great need here for kicking and screaming, but for solid liturgical and sacramental catechesis.

Deacon Eric commented above that H.E. Francis Cardinal Arinze is not academically trained as a liturgist - and for that, I believe we can sincerely say: "Deo Gratias!" I think it might be short-sighted to suggest that he is proceeding in his post as prefect of the CDWDS based solely (or even primarily) on devotional grounds. For too long the church has been led around by liturgists (with solid academic credentials or otherwise) and it has done little to engender and foster true faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Many such liturgists, even those with the best degrees from the best schools, have done much to turn Mass into a public spectacle in the name of inclusion and contrived "community."

Furthermore, as I understand it, the directive on the non-renewal of the special indult we (our beloved U.S.of A.) had been given that vessels might be purified by the lay faithful, was influenced by another non-liturgist. Rather it was given by one trained in dogma, Pope Benedict XVI.

Finnally, if you are a priest and you are reading this, and you see no need to reduce or eliminate Communion under both species for any reason at any time, you need not purify the vessels at the altar. Simply direct the EMHC to consume what of the precious blood remains, and to place the chalice on an unfolded corporal on the credence table and cover the rim with the purificator that had used during Communion. When you finish greeting people, simply return to the credence table, uncork the water cruet, and begin purifying. I apologize if there is a tone of condescension here, but it is quite a simple process.

John Lilburne

R.P. Burke wrote: "the ministry of acolyte is one of the stages one passes through prior to ordination. So, not only do seminarians pass through it, but also do candidates for the permanent diaconate. Lector is the other stage."

This was changed in 1972 with the Motu Proprio Ministeria Quaedam. "3. Ministries may be assigned to lay Christians; hence they are no longer to be considered as reserved to candidates for the sacrament of orders."

They are stand alone ministries, not a step to ordination. The seminarian who is instituted may be ordained, or he may not be. A USA bishop who wrote about the importance of this on 22 September 2006 is Bishop Robert Vasa at http://www.sentinel.org/articles/2006-38/14947.html .

Mark Andrews

To Paul Kelty above: the Episcopal Church welcomes you.

caritas

I have stopped paying attention to Mr. (Fr?) Kelty. For the sake of your sanity, I urge the rest of you to follow suit.

RP Burke

Susan Peterson,

You miss the point. It is too small a matter to turn into a big issue. In fact, we have wasted entirely too much bandwidth arguing this.

Old Zhou

Give Tom Kelty a break.

There are still plenty of places where you can find Roman Catholic priests who totally ignore all this stuff. Tom can feel right at home with them. They are convinced they are faithful.

I know that, if I wanted to, this coming Sunday (or Christmas Monday, if they skip Sunday), I can find several Roman Catholic priests who will celebrate Mass with ceramic vessels, which, during communion will be passed person-to-person through the congregation, and everyone is welcome to receive, even unbaptized Buddhists, or Lutheran clergy, or Presbyterians. Freely ad-libing the words of the Mass. And fully convinced that they are in complete compliance with all that the Vatican and the bishops require of them.

The Roman Catholic church is hardly a monolith. There will be places where you can find the 1970's for some years to come. And there will be places where you can find 2007.

For me and my house, we would prefer to let Rome determine the liturgy, and we'll worry about how to live the Gospel, in communion with the Church, in our daily life, in our home and in our neighborhood. We'll just take whatever our Pope, bishop and pastor decide as far as who does what at Church. I don't think this is clericalism or worshipping some celibate this or that. It is just that I realize that my responsiblity is to run my household, my family, my business--not the Church.

Tim Ferguson

Thank you Fr. Totton! wise words, in their refreshing simplicity.

Maria Ashwell

Fr. Totton, well said! All I would add is that as a child I was captivated watching Father after Communion, carefully swishing the water and drying out the vessels. Even before I understood on an elementary level transubstantiation, I could "see" that indeed, something (er, someone?) special, holy and sacred had been within those vessels. As I grew older and observed the care with which many priests purified the vessels, I was inspired to love Jesus all the more in the Blessed Sacrament. Little things matter.

Ferde Rombola

I am dismayed reading some of these messages coming from alleged Catholics. It seems to me some of our brothers need some serious quiet time to contemplate exactly what "the real presence of Christ" means. It reminds me of a comment of a Muslim to a Catholic: "If I believed what you believe about your sacrament, I would fall on my face in a dead faint in its presence."

Also, I encourage everyone who thinks any part of our sacred worship is a hardship to recall Our Lord, on His knees, washing the feet of his desciples.

Fr Martin Fox

Chris, Rose, concerning announcements:

Let me tell you, I'd LO-O-OVE to be rid of all announcements, ad saeculum saeculum! I suspect many other priests feel as I do.

I confess, they arise sometimes because we forget or plan badly, and don't get the word out in other ways. But most of the time, parishioners ask for them, plead for them, and it's just a constant battle to keep them under control.

This is a bone of contention for me; and without going on and on, there is no easy solution. (Putting it in the bulletin is only somewhat effective.)

John Lilburne

Fr Totton wrote: "As to intinction - a practice which recommends itself as a solution to these concerns, at least at parishes which are built on a human scale - it can be done without great concern about spillage provided the servers are holding the communion patens under the chin of each communicant (if you consult Redemptionis Sacramentum, you will discover that such practice [the communion paten] is to be maintained whether one is receiving only the host or both species by intinction or whether one is receiving Holy Communion in the hand or on the tongue.)"

But the instructions on the communion-plate are that the communicant hold it, not the altar server, who should hold the chalice. From the 2002 GIRM, which can be accessed from www.romanrite.com/girm :

"287. If Communion from the chalice is carried out by intinction, each communicant, holding a communion-plate under the chin, approaches the priest, who holds a vessel with the sacred particles, a minister standing at his side and holding the chalice."

The 2004 Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum has: "[93.] The Communion-plate for the Communion of the faithful should be retained, so as to avoid the danger of the sacred host or some fragment of it falling.[footnote 180: Cf. Missale Romanum, Institutio Generalis, n. 118.]"

All that 2002 GIRM n. 118 has is listing the "Communion-plate for the Communion of the faithful" among the items to be prepared before Mass on the credence table. These are the only two mentions of "plate" in the 2002 GIRM, as opposed to "paten".

The 1975 GIRM had the Communion-plate held beneath the chin by those receiving Communion. "117. He then takes the paten or a ciborium and goes to the communicants. If communion is given only under the form of bread, he raises the eucharistic bread slightly and shows it to each one, saying: The body of Christ. The communicants reply: Amen and, holding the communion plate under their chin receive the sacrament." This is not in the 2002 GIRM.

So the 2004 directions are to use a communion-plate. But no instructions are given on what someone who wants to receive Communion in the hand should do with it. There are no instructions for an altar server to hold a communion-plate beneath anyone's hands or beneath anyone's chin (except their own). Resulting in a confusing situation.

Fr. Paul

For John Lilburne: the practice of purifying the cups after Mass was an option allowed by Archbishop Gregory in his letter to the Atlanta priest. The option of taking them to the sacristy and placing them in the sacrarium is an old practice that is not forbidden. And in fact, I would argue the cups are safer there (since this whole silly rule is supposed to be about protecting the Sacred Species). And there most certainly is not any "casting of the Sacred Species into the Sacrarium". As Archbishop Gregory said in his letter, those distributing the cup continue to consume the remaining Precious Blood. The cups are simply placed there to be purified "properly" after the Mass.

For Chris R.: the way I do it actually gives people more time to pray. Communion lasts as long as it always does, and it gives me and the people an opportunity to meditate silently without distractions. That's when I make my thanksgiving. And when the choir is there, they'll often do a beautiful meditation hymn that the people greatly appreciate. I've always shaken my head in wonder at the priests who think that their thanksgiving has to be after the final blessing - sitting there praying while everyone leaves the church. And I'm also bemused by those who think greeting the people after the Mass is not important. If you were a pastor with more than 3000 members, you might understand why.

Fr. Paul

F. C. Bauerschmidt

I find it amusing (or at least puzzling) that some seem to think that having communion under one species is some sort of testimonial to the autheniticty of one's Catholic faith. After all, our Lord saw fit to institute the sacrament under both species. Since he is the ultimate arbiter of what is Catholic, it would seem that, all things being equal, we should receive the sacrament in the way he instituted it. The doctrine of concomitance was an after-the-fact theological development that served, in part, to account for what was becoming an increasingly common liturgical practice. I believe it is a true doctrine, but it should not become the dogmatic tail that wags the liturgical dog. Of course it is better to have communion under both species. Why would anyone think otherwise?

Old Zhou

Speaking of how Our Lord instituted the Sacrament....

exactly 11 persons (excluding Jesus) received communion.

Not the whole group of disciples.
Not Mary Magdalen.
Not the Virgin Mother of God.

So, why do we think we need a dozen cups, and a half-dozen plates, and 20 extraordinary ministers, to minster communion to hundreds of communicants at every Mass?

Perhaps that is the question that is not being asked in all this.

Perhaps that is the question being addressed in Happy are Those Who are Called to His Supper, (Nov 14, 2006).

Somehow, in the post-Vatican II world, there is the idea that everyone should be receiving communion.

Even those living in a public state of sin.
Even those of other Christian denominations.
Even those of other religions.

I know many priests who say, "It is not my job to be a gatekeeper, I just minister the sacrament."
I know most Extraordinary Ministers are prohibited from refusing anyone.

So, when the "whole world" is welcome to receive communion under both sepecies, because, well, nobody wants to be left sitting in the pew, well, you have a lot of dishes.

Is THAT what Jesus instituted?

Mom4angels

I have been mulling this whole subject over for several weeks. I am an Extraordinary Minister in a very large parish in Houston, Texas. I am also mother to 1 daughter and 4 sons. My husband and I actively encourage all of our children to be openly discerning of God's plan for their lives....their vocation, if you will. I was recently at a talk given by a speaker from our Office of Vocations and we were discussing how to encourage our young men to be open to a call to the vocation of the priesthood. Another mother spoke of how with so many people around the altar during Communion, how was a young man to see the priesthood as anything different than a "glorified" Extraodinary Minister. She also noticed in her parish, and then I in mine, that over half of the ministers at the altar were women. Now, in no way do I believe women are called to the vocation of priesthood or "Father". God gave us a very unique vocation in our gift of motherhood. Like I mentioned, I've been thinking about this for a while and I have discerned that the proper thing to do is to have myself removed from the list of ministers. In order for my sons to see the vocation of priest as Christ intended it with Peter and the apostles, I firmly believe that only ORDAINED ministers-priests and deacons "men"-have that God-ordained privilege. I don't care how long Holy Communion with my LORD takes-I would wait an eternity for HIM! Whatever happened to people praying prayers of thanksgiving and contemplating the presence of their Lord and Savior after receiving Holy Communion? How dare we leave the table of the LORD without a proper thank you? Are the coffee and donuts that great?
As for the purification of the vessels-first off-WHY DO WE AMERICANS NEED SPECIAL INDULTS FOR ANYTHING? Don't the clergy take vows to obey the Church, the Holy Father and their bishops in all matters? Do we Americans think we have the nerve to tell the UNIVERSAL CHURCH what to do for our own convenience? I dare say that the clergy at the Vatican can tell us a thing or two about "large crowds" and how to handle them. It unnerves me to hear priests-men ordained to be Christ in our midst- talk with such sarcasim in their voices about something as humble as purifying the vessels that hold the Precious Blood of our Lord as if they had something much more important or better to do! As for setting the vessels on the side table-if we TRULY believe that Christ is present under BOTH species, then why do we kneel until the ciborium holding the Body of Christ is safely tucked away in the Tabernacle but we set the chalices with remants of the Precious Blood on a side table like so much "leftovers" to be dealt with later by whoever has the time?
My husband and I have been watching this closely-especially here in our own parish. While other parishes in our diocese have been making the changes BACK to what the CATHOLIC Church in the rest of the world does, alas our parish has not and probably will not until forced to by our bishop and NOT from any rebelliousness but from true laziness! Our parish is also one of the only ones on our side of town that refuses to allow Perpetual Adoration. Infact, we can almost never get a clergy to show up to do Benediction on the one day we are allowed to have it!
Where oh where is the TRUE BELIEF in the REAL PRESENCE? Trust me...families like ours with potential clergy are watching.
May God have mercy on our unbelief and sustain us with HIS TRUE PRESENCE!

Fr. Shawn O'Neal

I am very, very glad that I celebrate Masses at one church that has room for only one EMHC beside me and another church where having two EMHCs offer the Precious Blood on either side of me. My heart goes out to everyone who truly must struggle with the logistics of this. My purification logistics are simple.

I have feared that this directive would less to less distribution of the Precious Blood to the lay faithful. I truly pray that this is not the case. What Jesus offered to everyone should be shared with everyone as much as possible.

Jordan Potter

As Old Zhou pointed out, Jesus offered Communion only to the Twelve Apostles. That is, only to His ordained priests.

Therefore laity should never receive Communion, right?

Anyway, hasn't the Church always insisted that her priests received Communion under both kinds? ;-)

TQEA

If Wenski truely believed in real presence, why would he have "ecumenical 'masses'" with Protestants? Check the diocesean calendar for January 2007.

Fr. Paul

Mom4angels: kneeling till the ciborium is returned to the Tabernacle is a laudable custom - we pratice it in my parish. But it is an American custom with no basis in liturgical law. It's not right or wrong, but just a nice little devotion that has developed here in America. The only thing the GIRM says is 43: "they may sit or kneel while the period of sacred silence after Communion is observed."

I imagine you also like the custom of kneeling after the Lamb of God until going forward to receive communion. That is also an American custom that needed special permission from the Vatican to continue. So if you're concerned about Americans asking for special indults, perhaps you should start there. I kind of like that indult we have been granted.

And there certainly is a difference between cups that still have the Precious Blood in them, and those where all the Precious Blood has been consumed and simply need to be purified. If you think that we need to venerate such cups, then we should also venerate the purificators used during the distribution of Holy Communion to wipe the rim of the cup. The Church directs that the purificators and corporals be handled and cleaned properly, but it does not direct that we venerate them because some small amount of the Sacred Species might be absorbed in them.

Carried to its logical conclusion, this gnat straining on purifying the vessels would lead us to also washing the purificators, corporals, and perhaps even the carpet before the end of each Mass.

Fr. Paul

Ann

Father Groeschel once told a priest who whisked away the vessels before purification that purification was more than just cleansing--that the act of consecration actually made the vessels containing Our Lord's body and blood holy, and that purification was required in order to return them to a normal state (I probably haven't described it as well as Father Groeschel!).

In our parish (northern area of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati), EMEs received written notification of what was about to happen and why, and the changes were made immediately (from the EMEs purifying in the Sacristy to the priest purifying at the altar). No one seems to have made much of a deal about this change, certainly not to the extent of the discussions here!

Rich Leonardi

Fr. Fox,

Glad to hear it. One would think it's a simple enough matter to add to the Worship Office site. FWIW, the only place I've taken notice of this "abuse"/liberty is in the Diocese of Charleston. The priest-celebrant sat in his presider's chair looking bored as an amulet-wearing lady played let's pretend.

Peggy

Fr. Paul,

Abp. Gregory is a good man and was very well liked here in Bville. One thing I gathered, however, was that he didn't care too much about liturgical practices in the diocese. So, I'm not surprised that he okay-ed your cruet. After the new bishop came, all parishes were instructed as to what proper vessels must be used during the Mass.

Mom4angels

Fr. Paul,
If there is a difference between "cups that still have the Precious Blood in them, and those where all the Precious Blood has been consumed and simply need to be purified" then what is the need at all for purification? Do you really think that those making these decisions do so lightly?

Also, we kneel as a sign of humility and reverence in the presence of our Lord. As you noted, the GIRM says either sitting or kneeling is acceptable (I have a copy). We teach our children this reverence towards Christ in the hope that they understand this is the minimum due Christ the King. I can't recall off hand any reign of a king where the people did not bow or kneel at the entrance of their sovereign lord. How much more reverent should we be at the coming of the Lord of all Creation?

If this subject is truly "gnat straining" then why do you bother to object to the ruling of the Holy See? Why not say "Yes, Holy Father" and move on? Why is obedience so hard for so many of us?

My older sons-one who is fiercely trying to discern whether a vocation to the priesthood is where God is calling him-are both altar servers in our parish. They were both relieved when the altar servers where banished from the sacristy to robe elsewhere before Mass because of all the irreverent and sometimes totally disrespectful conversations and attitudes coming from many of our clergy right before Mass. So yes, I do agree that this is "gnat straining"-there are many more issues within our local parishes and among our clergy that we need to be praying about so lets practice obedience in this "small, insignificant" area and move on...setting the example for those who come after us.

vox borealis

"I imagine you also like the custom of kneeling after the Lamb of God until going forward to receive communion. That is also an American custom that needed special permission from the Vatican to continue. So if you're concerned about Americans asking for special indults, perhaps you should start there. I kind of like that indult we have been granted."

Come on, you can do better than that, Father. There is clearly a qualitative difference between an indult that requests that the laity might act with greater reverence, than one that asks for an exemption from a clearly stated rubric--especially if that exemption has the potential to blur the line between ordained and non-ordained.

But we can play this game. OK, let's get rid of ALL national exemptions. I'll trade a few moments of madatory extra kneeling for universal acceptance and adherence to the relatively simple rubrics in the GIRM.

Mom4angels

"Father Groeschel once told a priest who whisked away the vessels before purification that purification was more than just cleansing--that the act of consecration actually made the vessels containing Our Lord's body and blood holy, and that purification was required in order to return them to a normal state (I probably haven't described it as well as Father Groeschel!)."

I agree, Ann!

Even as we are called to keep our selves pure so as to be living temples.....and as humans doomed to failures, we also need to be "purified" often....confession does a great job!

vox borealis

Yes, Mom4angels.

It may be swatting gnats, but you know, lots of gnat swatting suggests lots of gnats. You know, as in infestation. And gnats swarm around rotten fruit...

Eric

Fr. Paul is right about this cleansing business and how it can get out of hand. He asks if we should clean the carpets during Mass. Well, how about the microscopic particles? We could have a ritual to vaccum and then inspect the ground with a special light that will detect microscopic particles. Of course this lengthy ritual could only be done by a priest...

"Sacraments are for people." To turn away from the beneficial effect on us the sacraments were instituted for and to concentrate on how we might be enslaved by scrupulosity over them is to negate the purpose of the sacrament. Yes, we should be cautious and respectable, but at some point we must realize that the business of grace is messy because it is for messy people. When Jesus instituted a sacrament that involved everyday things like bread and wine, he knew that there was a risk things could be dropped or spilled. Jesus took risks. That's what he did, that's who he is. He takes a risk on each of us. Let's let God be God and not become scrupulous over these matters.

I am also somewhat unnerved by those who claim that receiving under only one species is somehow a superior show of faith in the Eucharist. The aim of liturgy is not to do the absolute minimum! It is the lavish signs of God's reckless and unconditional love that we should aim for in the sacraments, not "What's the least we can do to make this valid?" Even worse: the commenter who said it seemed "Protestant" to take the cup. Please! Is this the sort of ignorance Fr. Totton admires in those who regulate the liturgy? It's like those who deride the "intellectual elite," who for them is anyone who reads a paper.

It is not better to be ignorant of liturgy and decide liturgical matters. It is not best to do the least. It does not denigrate the role of the priest to have others involved in liturgy. Avoiding scrupulosity does not mean an absence of faith. It is permissable for Mass to last longer than 45 minutes, so we should not be concerned about what saves time. Homilies and announcements are a part of the liturgy, not unwelcome intrusions.

Please, before griping, let's educate ourselves a bit.

TerryC

Purification of the vessels have been done exclusively by the priest and deacon in my parish since the indult ran out in 2003. Prior to that EEMs were allowed to help. Once word came down from the bishop that it was no longer allowed it was stopped.
We use several cups for the Precious Blood. Father is a very stickler for the proper forms. The only time an EEM will enter the sanctuary before he has received communion is if there are no alter servers, as sometimes happens at week day Mass. They will perform the server's task at the offering, and leave after the priest has washed his hands.
The choir/organ/band typically plays the offertory hymn until father has finished his preparations, poured the wine into all the cups, washed his hands, etc.
After the Consecration, when father is finished his Communion meal, as the EEM enter the sanctuary the organ or band will start the Communion song, but there will be no singing until after the choir has finished Communion. Father, as is required, first gives the Eucharistic bread to each EEM and the Alter servers, and then the cup to each himself. Then the EEMs and father will give the Body and Blood to the choir and the rest together.
When Communion is finished the choir will sing a second Communion hymn while father thoroughly purifies all of the vessels. The only time it seemed to take a long time was when he was leaving to attend a conference for a week. Since he had not found a priest to come say weekday Mass he only wanted to leave a single host in the tabernacle so as well as purifying the vessels he had to consume the remaining hosts.
On a different note I certainly wish that our bishop would authorize Instituted Acolytes apart from Seminarians. I don't feel myself called to the deaconate, but could see myself in that role. I would much prefer to see that happen than for purification to become an excuse to going back to reception of the Body and Blood via host only.

ambrose

Am I too late? At the parish I visited this weekend in the Erie Diocese, it was made known to my in-laws that Bishop Trautman had said something or issued something about this. They were EM's at the early Mass on Sunday and the priest complained to them about how silly it was that he had to purify the vessels before they could actually wash them. At the later Mass I watched him go into a discussion with the EM's immediately after communion. It appears that this past weekend was the first weekend he did it.

vox borealis

"Fr. Paul is right about this cleansing business and how it can get out of hand. He asks if we should clean the carpets during Mass. Well, how about the microscopic particles? We could have a ritual to vaccum and then inspect the ground with a special light that will detect microscopic particles. Of course this lengthy ritual could only be done by a priest..."

Sorry, eric, this is bogus.

The Church has clear teaching on such issues--microsopic particles cease to be the Precious Body and Blood, so there would be no need for the priest to steam clean the carpets or otherwise purify them after each communion. Really, this example--a strained sophistic exercise--is a far cry from simply asking the ordained ministers to follow the simple rules.

Mom4angels

My humble apologies to anyone who's toes I might have stepped on or any faux pax I might have committed tonight in this long drawn out discussion. As I said this is part of a deeper subject that I am contemplating with much humility and sincerity. Although it may seem to be "gnat straining" (sorry-guess I'm caught up in that term ;), it does appear to play into the bigger picture.
I'm off to humbly and lovingly practice MY precious vocations of marriage and motherhood (cleansing the "vessels" of babies and dishes), remembering to reverently send prayers of thanksgiving to God for choosing this as my path-no task too big or too small if done with great love! and I DO love my "job"!!!!!

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