Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church


Light Another Candle Part II:November 2014:Training EMHCs?

November 17th, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris
Torchlight Procession in Lourdes

Torchlight Procession in Lourdes

Appended to the earlier November “Light Another Candle” post were comments wondering why there are few visible signs of implementing the new Eucharistic guidelines, effective November 30th.  

It was suggested that we begin this new post for just that subject.  

Comments included were:


Can you start a thread about the bishop’s letter regarding the sacraments… are all the diocesan parishes implementing what Bishop Matano established in that letter, because my current parish is not! EMs still climbing up on the altar (without even bowing, BTW) BEFORE the celebrant receives and those same EMs adding adjectives to the proclamation “The Body of Christ”, “The Blood of Christ”. As I’ve complained before, there’s a competition there I guess on who can use the more endearing adjective as they add words such as dear, sweet, precious to those proclamations. Dreadful. I was so hoping the bishop’s letter would give rise to some instructional classes for EMs everywhere, but it has not happened at my parish. Thank you for considering this.    +JMJ

Ben Anderson:

From the guidelines:  “I hereby promulgate these Policies for the Administration of the Sacraments in the Diocese of Rochester, today, September 30, 2014, which become effective on November 30, 2014, the First Sunday of Advent.”   I have also seen no changes at the parish that I attend during the week, but I remain hopeful that it will happen by 11/30.


The new policies direct that, prior to designating or training the new EMHC’s, the pastor must write to the chancery to ask how many EMHC’s can be appointed in his parish. Our pastor wrote as soon as the policy was promulgated and has not received a response. Hence, the training has not yet occurred. If things are still the same at your parish, it’s not necessarily due to negligence on the pastor’s part.


I have noticed that one parish I am familiar with has started using the term “Communion Ministers” instead of “Eucharistic Ministers” in its bulletin. “Communion Minister” is short for “Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion”. I asked (emailed) the person responsible for Liturgy in the Diocese if that was an okay substitution and was told it was. I have only participated in Mass in orthodox parishes and so have no experience with what’s happening elsewhere. I suppose it would be helpful to approach the priest/parish when the policies are not followed after 11/30. They will at least be aware that people do notice those things.

Highlights of Bishop Matano’s newly issued “Policies for the Administration of the Sacraments,” especially as related to the Holy Eucharist:  

1. Guidelines were promulgated September 30, 2014 and become effective on November 30, 2014 — the First Sunday of Advent.

2. The Decree of Promulgation mentions two exceptions.  The change in age for Confirmation becomes normative after July 1, 2015.  The training and informational data for “currently missioned extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion are acknowledged and need not be repeated.  However, parishes are strongly encouraged to … provide ongoing formation and education to assist them in successfully fulfilling their ministry according to the norms indicated in the [newly promulgated] Policies.”

3. The “exception” in #2 above may be part of the confusion.  Since retraining of current EMHC’s “need not be repeated” perhaps some pastors think there is an exemption on following the new guidelines for those who are already EMHC’s.  But there does not appear to be any indication in the revised policies of tolerating disobedience to the new guidelines.  “Need not be repeated” would seem to mean IF the current policy is already being followed.  It hardly seems to be the intention of the revised policy to suffer a variety of disobedient Eucharistic practices in the Sanctuary or in administration of the Sacrament just because someone is “already doing it that way!”  The widespread observation of poor adherence to the guidelines almost requires a prudent judgment for widespread “retraining,” regardless of whether or not the retraining itself is mandated.

4. First Penance before First Eucharist.


This is a selection of what we might notice as “different” from past practice.

1. Proper use and referral to the role of the Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion title, (EMHC).

2. No able-bodied ordained sitting while laity administers the Eucharist.  EMHC’s should refrain from exercising their role if sufficient ‘sacred ministers’ are present.

3. Servers (often below 16 years of age) not being pressed into service as EMHC’s.

4. Bishop’s permission needed for celebration of Mass outside the consecrated space of a Church.

5. EMHC’s being practicing Catholics in full Communion with the Church (and, if married, to be validly married).

6. No intinction except by the priest.  No self-communication by EMHC’s.

7. EMHC’s may not assign anyone else to that role including e.g. “a parent or spouse of child of the sick person who is the communicant.”  It would seem this could have huge implications for the lining up of personal pyx’s at the Tabernacle, to take to the sick at home.

8. Bishop’s permission is to be sought to select and prepare a definite number of EMHC’s. (This may have some exceptions.)

9. EMHC’s are assigned to their own parish  and “are  normally not to exercise this ministry outside their parish.”

10. EMHC’s will approach the altar after the priest receives Communion.

11. EMHC says only the words “Body of Christ” or “Blood of Christ” to the communicant, without embellishment.

12. Wipes the rim of the chalice (sic) with a purificator after each communicant and turns it slightly for the next communicant. (It would likely be assumed that this applies to the use of Communion Cups as well.)

13. Properly consumes remaining Precious Blood at the altar.  Hopefully this will eliminate the abuse of sticking the purificator into any remaining Precious Blood.

14. The ordained purify all the sacred vessels.

15. EMHC “Reverently handles and consumes any dropped hosts — spilled Precious Blood must be attended to with water which is then poured in the sacrarium.”  (Note: Some churches don’t have a sacrarium.  Others have a sacrarium which is not properly plumbed to appropriately protect the sacred species.)  See

16. The priest or deacon returns the Blessed Sacrament to the Tabernacle (not the EMHC’s.)  I believe this was also to be extended to the Priest getting the reserved hosts from the Tabernacle too, but I don’t see that guideline (I may have missed it.)  Hopefully, these controls will eliminate a choir director from getting consecrated hosts to take to the choir loft for distribution at Communion.

17. Brings the Blessed Sacrament in a pyx directly to the sick without delay or unnecessary conversation, following the appropriate ritual.

18. New EMHC’s will be required to sign a profession of faith.

Some churches already show training sessions in their bulletins; others have been silent.  What are you hearing?  What changes are you expecting to see?

I am hoping to see far fewer people around the altar.  I am hoping Father will be distributing Communion a bit longer, giving me more time to make a Thanksgiving.  I am hoping to hear EMHC’s when they talk about the Precious Blood in conversation say “Precious Blood” instead of “wine,”  and not to hear my name injected into the words which present me with the Sacred Body and Blood.  I am hoping to see minimal glad-handing in the Sanctuary, like 8 EMHC’s adding up to 64 individual handshakes (including the priest), and with dramatic hand-cleansing gestures.  I am hoping to see it is all much more about this great and sacred gift being exalted, than about those who serve.  

The Policy just issued includes an Addendum 2 from a Circular Letter which came from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments last June, specifically stating, in the exchange of peace, to avoid “The movement of the faithful from their places to exchange the sign of peace amongst themselves” and to avoid “the departure of the priest from the altar in order to give the sign of peace to some of the faithful.” The rubrics do not specify a handshake, so we might even expect in the future to see other forms of dignified expression.


11 Responses to “Light Another Candle Part II:November 2014:Training EMHCs?”

  1. avatar Scott W. says:

    11. EMHC says only the words “Body of Christ” or “Blood of Christ” to the communicant, without embellishment.

    Wha? I’m afraid to ask, but what embellishments have gone on in the past?

  2. avatar Diane Harris says:

    Not as bad as they might be, left uncorrected. Words like “The Body of Christ, Scott.” The EMHC gets some satisfaction from how many people they know, ignoring that they are in effect creating two classes of communicants, the known and the unknown. Or how about “The Blessed Body of Christ” or “Precious Blood of Jesus.” While these don’t necessarily sound bad, they imply being more Catholic than the Pope (if only the liturgy committees had consulted with THEM!) and sees adding a little variety of their own as spicing up the experience. Ultimately, most of it comes down to prideful exhibition rather than truly serving.

  3. avatar emmagrays says:

    There always seems to be one who has a ‘better idea.’
    And once that better idea has circulated, another surfaces.
    And before long, the basics, which were perfect as they were, are encumbered by everyone’s better ideas, usually to the detriment of the original intent.
    Would that we could just stick with what is prescribed, especially in matters sacramental.

  4. avatar JLo says:

    So, Diane, where you say…
    “I am hoping to hear EMHC’s say ‘Precious Blood’ instead of ‘wine’,”
    … that was in error and you mean they should ONLY say “The Blood of Christ”, right? Or did I misread you? Because I really want to hear all those adjectives disappear and only The Body of Christ, The Blood of Christ said by EMHCs.

  5. avatar Diane Harris says:

    I’m sorry JLo; the way I said that was confusing. When administering the Communion Cup, yes they should say “Blood of Christ” and nothing else. What I meant was in speaking ABOUT what is in the cup, i.e. in making reference like in a conversation, it drives me crazy when they say wine. For example, one EMHC called out to a woman in the pew: “Hey, honey, did you want some wine?” An instructor from DoR (a number of years ago) said in training EMHC’s: “If you have wine left in the cup….” And I have heard on more than one occasion: “I give the wine” or “do you drink the wine at communion?” So that is the use I meant. The EMHC’s have influence on what others say — I’m adding a few words in the post (in red) to make clearer what I meant. Thanks for bringing the confusion to my attention.

  6. avatar gaudium says:

    A thought or two. I’ve heard comments such as, “I don’t like to give out Communion. I just like to give out the wine.” It is stuff like this that has led Bishop Matano to issue his new policies. In the Ukrainian Rite the priest uses the communicant’s name when administering the Body and Blood. If he does not know the name, he will say (to a woman, for example), “Handmaid, the Body and Blood of Christ.” In the Latin Rite only the Body of Christ (Corpus Christi) or the Blood of Christ (Sanguis Christi) is to be said in the Ordinary Form. In the Extraordinary Form, there is a much longer formula which I believe is, “Corpus Domini Nostri Jesu Christi custodiet animam tuam in vitam eternam. Amen” At some time, many of us remember when, prior to the introduction of the Novus Ordo, the priest began saying in Latin the shorter form, Corpus Christi. I believe it was after 1962 when the Missal which is used for the Extraordinary Form was promulgated by St. John XXIII. It seems like the long formula should be used in the EF today.

  7. avatar raymondfrice says:

    8. New EMHC’s will be required to sign a profession of faith.

    I am totally in the dark on this!! Can someone explain??

  8. avatar JLo says:

    Had to sign one years ago when living in Nevada. It’s exactly as titled… professing that you BELIEVE in the Real Presence and know what you are doing and that you are in full communion with the Church. It was part of the published letter from the bishop on pages 47 and 48. Here’s the link to that document.


  9. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    #10 and #16 were the things I had noticed were not implemented… until today (well, probably yesterday, but I only attend this parish on weekdays). I had forgotten that the changes were to take effect yesterday, so it wasn’t something I was on the lookout for. Nonetheless, the changes were obvious and it was definitely a change for the better.

  10. avatar Ben Anderson says:

    re #16. The mass I mentioned in my immediately preceding comment had a priest concelebrating and he took the hosts to/from the tabernacle. Since then, it has been the lay altar-server doing it. I’m not sure if this is explicitly addressed in the guidelines or not (it does mention that an EHMC should not do it). My understanding is that it has been addressed at a higher level, but I don’t have a reference on hand right now. Just wanted to clarify my earlier comment.

  11. avatar Sid says:

    Why are “Extraordinary” MHCs very very ordinary, while the “Extraordinary Form” of the Mass truly exceptional? I move that the abbreviation “EMHC” be rebranded to reflect actual liturgical practice: EMHC should truly stand for EXPECTED Minister of Holy Communion. Discuss.

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