How many times have we seen an army of lay “extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion” gather around the altar during the communion rite? As Catholics who have a true love for Christ in the Eucharist, what are we to say about the practice that the laity is now given when it comes to distributing Holy Communion among the faithful? If Rome accepts it then it must be okay, right?
I will begin with stating that this very practice was the result of the “Spirit of Vatican II” that rose as an abuse due to the fact that it was done out of disobedience to Pope Paul VI. We must remember that it was because of disobedience that sin was brought into this world through Adam and Eve. It was also because of Uzzah’s disobedience to God that he was struck dead. 2 Sam 6:6-7 states “When Uzzah touched something holy that he wasn’t supposed to touch, he was struck dead”. Since this was a practice that was done out of disobedience against Rome, can we honestly say this practice was inspired by The Holy Spirit, the very Breath in which Holy Mother Church breaths upon? Especially since this practice contradicts the Church’s instructions in the Catechism of Trent, Canon Law 1917, the Saints, the Popes, and even the Catholic theology of the Mass itself? Absolutely not since God cannot contradict himself, nor can His Church upon faith and morality. In fact, the practice of the laity dispensing the Blessed Sacrament is both sacrilege and grave error for the following reasons:
* Leads to additional handling of the Holy Eucharist (two additional people may now touch It – the lay ‘minister’ and the communicant) and therefore there is greater danger of spillage, profanation, and sacrilege
* Diminishes respect for the Holy Eucharist
* Diminishes respect for the priesthood by placing lay persons on the same level as priests
* Leads to loss of faith in the Real Presence
* Has been condemned by popes and saints
* Has been used as a tool by liberals and feminists who want to change the Church
* Is often used where it is prohibited – and becomes the de facto “norm” rather than an “extraordinary” occurrence
* Conforms to Protestant sensibilities – heretics who reject the Real Presence and the hierarchical priesthood
* Leads to the deplorable situation of Holy Communion being taken to the sick by lay persons – thereby depriving the sick of the presence of the priest & the other sacraments in their critical hour of need – possibly leading to the loss of eternal souls!
I will close with quotes from the Popes, Saints, and the Councils upon this matter.
“To safeguard in every possible way the dignity of so august a Sacrament, not only is the power of its administration entrusted exclusively to priests, but the Church has also prohibited by law any but consecrated persons, unless some case of great necessity intervene, to dare handle or touch the sacred vessels, the linen, or other instruments necessary to its completion. Priests themselves and the rest of the faithful may hence understand how great should be the piety and holiness of those who approach to consecrate, administer or receive the Eucharist.” (Catechism of the Council of Trent)
“To touch the sacred species and to distribute them with their own hands is a privilege of the ordained” (Pope John Paul II, 1980 A.D.)
“One must not forget the primary office of priests, who have been consecrated by their ordination to represent Christ the Priest: for this reason their hands, like their words and their will, have become the direct instruments of Christ. Through this fact, that is, as ministers of the Holy Eucharist, they have a primary responsibility for the sacred species, because it is a total responsibility.” (Pope John Paul II, 1980 A.D.)
“[L]aymen are officially incompetent to dispense any sacrament: and that they can baptize in cases of necessity, is due to the Divine dispensation, in order that no one may be deprived of spiritual regeneration.” (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and “greatest theologian in the history of the Church”)
(Interruption) Well what about those in Minor orders? It is because of the virtue of their institution that they can handle the Blessed Sacrament…
“[A]lthough those [in minor] Orders are entrusted with certain spiritualities, they are not admitted to the immediate handling of sacred things, as those are who are in sacred Orders.” (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and “greatest theologian in the history of the Church”)
The dispensing of Christ’s body belongs to the priest for three reasons. First, because…he consecrates as in the person of Christ. But as Christ consecrated His body at the supper, so also He gave it to others to be partaken of by them. Accordingly, as the consecration of Christ’s body belongs to the priest, so likewise does the dispensing belong to him. Secondly, because the priest is the appointed intermediary between God and the people; hence as it belongs to him to offer the people’s gifts to God, so it belongs to him to deliver consecrated gifts to the people. Thirdly, because out of reverence towards this sacrament, nothing touches it, but what is consecrated; hence the corporal and the chalice are consecrated, and likewise the priest’s hands, for touching this sacrament. Hence it is not lawful for anyone else to touch it except from necessity, for instance, if it were to fall upon the ground, or else in some other case of urgency.” (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and “greatest theologian in the history of the Church”)
“For just as temple, altar, vessels, and vestments need to be consecrated, so do the ministers who are ordained for the Eucharist; and this consecration is the sacrament of Order.” (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and “greatest theologian in the history of the Church”)
“There is nothing which belongs more to the Church and there is nothing Jesus Christ wanted more closely reserved for its shepherds than the dispensation of the sacraments He instituted.” (Pope Gregory XVI, “Commissum Divinitus”, 1835 A.D.)
“Can. 1306 § 1 Care should be taken lest a chalice, paten, or, before cleansing, purificators, palls, and corporals that were used in the sacrifice of the Mass are touched by any other than by clerics or those who have custody of these things. § 2 Purificators, palls, and corporals used in the sacrifice of the Mass shall not be put into the hands of the laity, even religious, unless they have first been washed by a cleric constituted in major orders; and the water from this first washing shall be put into a sacrarium or, in its absence, into a fire.” (1917 Code of Canon Law)
“We must also visit churches frequently and venerate and show respect for the clergy, not so much for them personally if they are sinners, but by reason of their office and their administration of the most holy Body and Blood of Christ which they sacrifice upon the altar and receive and administer to others. And let all of us firmly realize that no one can be saved except without the holy words and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ which the clergy pronounce, proclaim and minister. And they alone must administer [them], and not others.” (St. Francis of Assisi, emphasis added)