Jan 222013
 

From a bulletin in the Diocese of Raleigh.

Recently Bishop Burbidge instituted “Norms for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion”. The norms state: “Although it has been a common pastoral practice in the Diocese of Raleigh for Ministers of Communion to impart a blessing to those who come forward with hands crossed in the communion procession and who are not receiving Holy Communion, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion are commissioned only to distribute the Body and Blood of Christ to the faithful.” Please note all present are blessed at the end of the mass when the priest imparts the final blessing.

In my opinion that is pretty awesome. This is certainly something that greatly annoys me as it flattens the difference between the ministerial priesthood and the priesthood of the faithful. We have enough confusion in this regard, so we don’t need a new practice that further blurs the difference.

The secondary problem as the Bishop notes is that everybody receives a blessing at the end of the Mass. So this going up for a blessing diminishes the importance of this.

I can totally understand how this practice evolved as a pastoral response to make people feel included when they can not receive the Eucharist. It is certainly nothing specified by any liturgical documents and also has not been something that the Vatican has addressed. In the future it is possible that the Vatican might specifically allow this at least in regards to receiving a blessing from somebody with Holy Orders. I would greatly doubt this being extended to Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.

I would certainly like the Vatican to issue guidance regarding this, but I know how slow the Vatican responds to these issues. Another area where this comes up is I have seen joint blessings where at the end of Mass the priest with the people bless an object like blankets for the poor. Besides the retina-burning image of people doing an apparent Nazi salute with this joint blessing, I don’t believe the Church’s theology supports this. As far as I know there are no examples of joint blessings like this in the Book of Blessings (De Benedictionibus). Although the reason I want the Vatican to weigh in on this is that my opinion on this is not what matters.

I have specific experience with the feeling of being left out during Communion. When I decided to come into the Church I was told I would have to wait for the following RCIA which meant it would be over a year and a half before I could enter the Church at Easter. Going to daily Mass with my wife tmeant that I remained in the pew while she went up to receive. It is somewhat uncomfortable as you imagine people wondering what prevents you from receiving. In fact after I had been going to Mass for awhile I was introduced to my pastor as someone going through RCIA. He told me he thought I must have been divorced or something since I never came up. Although remaining behind was uncomfortable it was also fruitful in perseverance. My desire to receive the Eucharist only grew and never left me.

You can also find Bishop Burbidge on Twitter.

  8 Responses to “Bishop Burbidge disallows EMHC’s from giving blessings during Communion”

  1. Good perhaps more will follow suit. +Chaput disallowed the practice, in Denver, years ago. When people approached the EMHC’s were allowed to encourage “spiritual communion” by saying something like, “May you receive Jesus into your heart.” No touching or blessing. I did not belong to the Archdiocese and was merely a spectator, but people seemed to accept the practice.

  2. Absolutely. I’m old school enough to be a bit uncomfortable with EHMC’s in general. But if we’re going to have them, there have to be limits. It takes the Sacrament of Holy Orders to be able to stand “In Persona Christi,” and so only an ordained priest can consecrate the host, whoever distributes it. To give the blessing is on the same level as consecrating the host. Non-priests, back off!

  3. Legalism in matters of faith is wrong. Our Lord made that point with exceptional clarity many times. I would think that said Bishop has more to worry about then whether the EMHC says “God Bless You” when a person not receiving “communion” approaches.

    Think folks, seriously. This is silly. Giving a blessing is *not* in any way, shape or form on the same level as consecrating the host. What, I can give a blessing when someone sneezes, but not when they approach the altar in reverence asking for one?

    I find it amusing that we insist on treating God as a fragile and harshly punitive. It is pretty clear that he is neither.

  4. I can go either way on the practice. My #1 concern is that whatever we’re going to do, we communicate it clearly and tactfully. I’ve seen a cantor at one parish do a lovely, non-intrusive announcement just before the music begins during communion, and that would be the best bet, I think.

    I just hate that weird moment when my 6 year-old trails me up for communion, and we’re never quite sure whether she should keep on walkin’ or hold still for a blessing. Either is AOK with me, I just need to know the protocol.

  5. (((The secondary problem as the Bishop notes is that everybody receives a blessing at the end of the Mass. So this going up for a blessing diminishes the importance of this.)))

    Come on Jeff! You’re starting to sound just like that little retarded soul of Victor! Do you know that Victor without saying a word to his wife convinced her that she was wrong to give out communion to other people and this soul of Victor even made her feel that she was responsible for dogs in church and Victor 92% brain cells knew nothing about “IT” NOW! Come on Jeff “IT” is not like the catholic church was getting out of touch with this so called jesus of yours so lighten UP and stop being so silly and don’t make “IT” so hard to be a GOOD cat licks NOW?

    STOP “IT” sinner vic! YA KNOW THAT MY WIFE WANTS NOTHING TO DO WITH YA CAUSE SHE WAS MARRIED IN “THE TRUE CATHOLIC CHURCH” AND WANTS NOTHING TO DO WITH YA SO GET OFF THE POT NOW!

    Sisten Victor if your soul was gay, this is what I’lld say to his bitch!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLR7RzyUfuo

    Be nice sinner vic! Don’t be like that cause ya know that “I’M” still a guy! :)

    http://fan.tcm.com/_Brad-Paisley-I39m-Still-A-Guyflv/VIDEO/1372718/66470.html

    Peace

  6. Our newest Pastor (3 years ago?) put the stop to this silly practice when he took over. (we’re still working on all the hand gestures by the lay people….in my life time….Lord let it be!)

  7. Respectfully Tom, you are barking up the wrong tree.

    Legalism in matters of faith is wrong. Our Lord made that point with exceptional clarity many times

    Has no application here which I will show why.

    I would think that said Bishop has more to worry about then whether the EMHC says “God Bless You” when a person not receiving “communion” approaches.

    There is always a bigger problem out there, but this isn’t all that problematic. I’m sure it didn’t take him very long to issue this needed directive.

    Think folks, seriously.

    Try not to usurp moral high ground with statements like these. Whether you intend it or not, it comes off as smug.

    This is silly. Giving a blessing is *not* in any way, shape or form on the same level as consecrating the host. What, I can give a blessing when someone sneezes, but not when they approach the altar in reverence asking for one?

    There is a major difference here. When I bless someone, it is a personal prayer. When a priest or deacon blesses it is a sacramental in which he is invoking the prayer of the entire Church. Only priests or deacons have the faculties and authority to do this. This is why the directive is necessary–this important distinction has been obscured in the first place by parishes abusing the EMHC policies and having way more than is necessary, and in second by those EMHC’s imitating the work reserved to the ordained. Most of these can probably be attributed to bad habits creeping into the liturgy. Some of it however are deliberate attempts to undermine Catholic theology.

    I find it amusing that we insist on treating God as a fragile and harshly punitive. It is pretty clear that he is neither.

    I don’t see how this directive in any way be construed this way. I can only attribute this to overheated rhetoric.

  8. Good points, Scott W., thanks.

    I don’t go to Extraordinary Ministers period. I’ve also never understood why people join the Communion line if they’re not going to partake. To me, it’s sort of like getting in the ticket line and then saying, oh I don’t want to get a ticket, I just want to be noticed. As Bishop Burbidge said, the whole congregation gets a blessing at the end of Mass anyway.

    I also really dislike the big wave salute. Mainly I think it’s more of a follow-the-leader kind of thing, but the impression I’m left with is that the group is equating itself to the priest. To him and not the others, it was said at ordination, “That whatsoever they shall bless may be blessed, and whatsoever they shall consecrate may be consecrated and sanctified ; in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ.”

    My parents would bless me every morning before leaving for work. A beautiful thing and very special to me, but it is not the same as when a priest blesses.

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