Continued from The Truth About Communion in the Hand – Part 1
Not “Optional” for the Clergy!
Now we are at the point where Communion in the hand is viewed as a superior way of receiving the Eucharist and the vast majority of our little children are being misinstructed to receive First Communion in the hand. The Faithful are told that it is an optional practice, and if they don̓t like it, they can receive it on the tongue. The tragedy of it all is, if it is optional for the laity, in practice it is not optional for the clergy. Priests are falsely instructed that they must administer Communion in the hand, whether they like it or not, to anyone who requests it, thereby throwing many good priests into an agonizing crisis of conscience.
After the Second Vatican Council, a very wise Archbishop shrewdly observed that the masterstroke of satan was to sow disobedience to Catholic tradition through obedience.
It is obvious that no priest can be lawfully forced to administer Communion in the hand, and we must pray that more priests will have the courage to safeguard the reverence due to this Sacrament, and not be trapped into a false obedience that causes them to cooperate in the degradation of Christ in the Eucharist. They must find the courage for opposing this novel practice by remembering that even Pope Paul VI, despite his weaknesses, correctly predicted that Communion in the hand would lead to irreverence and profanation of the Eucharist, and a gradual erosion of correct doctrine —and we have seen this prophecy come to pass. And, if the priest’s opposition to Communion in the hand should be fierce and firm, their opposition to “Extraordinary Ministers” should be even more adamant.
In his best-selling book, The Last Roman Catholic?, James W. Demers said “Of those responsible for the lack of beauty in the Church, no one is more culpable than today’s lay ministers. The mindless behavior of this superficially trained laity brings to the sanctuary a pomposity that is both embarrassing and saddening to watch.”
Lay people giving out Holy Communion during Mass was rightly considered an unthinkable act of sacrilege and irreverence only 30 years ago, and for centuries preceding. But now, lay people administering the Blessed Sacrament is an ordinary sight in the average Novus Ordo parish church, and most Catholics think nothing of it — proving that men can become desensitized to desecration.
It seems like they came from nowhere. All of a sudden, there they were! And where they were, they were for keeps! But if you think about it, there were some necessary steps that we sat in the pew and watched develop that laid the foundation for this plague of unconsecrated hands com- missioned by pastors to degrade the Eucharist, usurp the duty of those in Holy Orders, undermine the priesthood, and rob the altar of God of its sacred rights.
Bishop Sheen once wrote that both men and women are slaves to fashion, but with this difference … he said if women are slaves to fashions of clothing, men are slaves to fashions of thought. And the fad and fashion that was the pride and joy of many post-Vatican II Churchmen, in the name of making the Church more “relevant” was the idea of lay-involvement in the liturgy.
Lay people started reading the Epistle, and the new responsorial psalms. They conducted the tedious “Let us pray to the Lord — Lord hear our prayer” “Prayers of the Faithful”, and even greeted us over the microphone before Mass — wishing us “good morning”, telling us what hymns we’ll be singing and what Eucharistic Prayer Father fancies today.
The sanctuary became a stage, and a weekly one-man-monologue would no longer do. The bigger the cast, the better, and the gripping drama of the Mass became an amateur show. The priest, a man who had been called by God and who had been specifically trained in the study and dispensing of the sacred mysteries had to step aside, either willingly or reluctantly, to allow unqualified, out-of-place, part-time dabblers to trespass and profane His sacred domain of sanctuary and altar.
But lay-readers within the New Mass was not the only necessary step. Lay ministers of the Blessed Sacrament would not have been possible without the revolution in rubrics that preceded it: the practice and widespread acceptance of lay-people receiving the Holy Eucharist in their palms. The office of Eucharistic minister is therefore the illegitimate offspring from the union of the New Liturgy’s “lay involvement” and Communion in the hand living together in the modern Church. It is a love-child of the 1960s revolution.
Everybody’s in on the Act!
You can be sure there were many Catholics willing to become part of this “lay-elite” who distribute Holy Communion, but there were also Catholics whose good Catholic sense was initially opposed to this practice, but who eventually allowed themselves to be talked into it by persuasive clergymen, and the biggest ploy used by modern clergy was to resort to flattery … to approach good Catholic men and women saying “You’re a good parish member, an exemplary Christian, a good father or mother, so we want to bestow upon you the ‘honor’ of being a Eucharistic minister.”
So what have they done? They’ve taken the distribution of Christ’s body, something so sacred that it belongs to the priest alone and turned it into a childish reward for good behavior: like a merit badge that would be given to a cub-scout for swimming a mile or building a wigwam, or like a star that would be placed on the forehead of a third-grade girl because she’s the only one in class who could correctly spell “Czechoslovakia”.
It’s been disguised as a reward that the good and humble in the parish accept reluctantly, and then get used to. Or it’s a position that the proud and pompous in the parish lust after, thereby showing themselves incapable of recognizing a false and petty prestige.
“Extraordinary Minister” or “Eucharistic Minister”?
The terms “lay minister” and “Eucharistic minister” have been used rather loosely up until this point, because this is the terminology often found in parish bulletins. In actuality, there is no such terminology as “Eucharistic minister”, the proper term is “Extraordinary minister”.
When it comes to the sacraments, “extraordinary minister” is classic terminology. For example, the “ordinary minister” of Confirmation in the Roman Rite is the bishop, and the “extraordinary minister” is the priest, specifically delegated by the bishop in extraordinary circumstances. So, if words mean anything, as Michael Davies pointed out, an extraordinary minister should be an extraordinary sight. Not only should we rarely see one, but there should be many Catholics who go through their entire life without once seeing an extraordinary minister. But today, there’s nothing extraordinary about extraordinary ministers. They are as ordinary and part’n’parcel of the modern Church as missalettes and collection baskets. This is clearly a calculated abuse of classic Catholic terminology used to introduce a novelty into the New Mass that has no foundation in Church History or Catholic practice.
On January 29, 1973, an Instruction was issued by the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship that authorized the introduction of Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist called Immense Caritatis. This document does not grant some revolutionary indult for any and every parish to permit lay-people to administer Communion, it authorizes the use of extraordinary ministers in “Cases of genuine necessity” which are listed as:
• When there is no priest, deacon or acolyte.
• When these are prevented from administering Holy Communion because of another pastoral ministry or because of ill health or advanced age.
• When the number of the Faithful requesting Holy Communion is such that the celebration of the Mass or the distribution of the Eucharist outside Mass would be unduly prolonged.
The Instruction stipulates that:
“Since these faculties are granted only for the spiritual good of the Faithful and for cases of genuine necessity, priests are to remember that they are not thereby excused from the task of distributing the Eucharist to the Faithful who legitimately request it, and especially from taking and giving it to the sick.”
First of all, it is not an act of disloyalty or disobedience to question the wisdom of the document in the first place, particularly when this permission is a revolution against all the pre-Vatican II rubrics that existed for centuries — rubrics that existed for reasons of reverence, to safeguard against desecration and that were a matter of Catholic common sense. But even taking this document at face value, it is difficult to envisage circumstances that would justify the use of Extraordinary Ministers outside of mission lands. Today’s “Eucharistic Ministers” actually operate in defiance of existing Vatican norms.
The Age of Ambiguity
The term “taken at face value” was used because, as some astute readers will have already noticed, the document just quoted from was loosely worded. The document had that ambiguity, imprecision and elasticity that has characterized many of the Vatican II and post-Vatican II documents.
Though there is no hard proof that the loose wording of Immensae Caritatis was done on purpose, there is ample proof that the ambiguity in the Vatican II documents was deliberate. Influential liberal theologians at Vatican II, admitted that placing deliberate ambiguity in the Council documents was a key strategy of the progressives. One said, “We have used ambiguous phrases during the Council and we (the liberal theologians) know how we shall interpret them after.”
The main ambiguity which probably gave rise to today’s proliferation of Extraordinary Ministers was the justification of their use if Mass would be (what was called) “unduly prolonged”. Now, does this mean 5 minutes or 45 minutes “unduly prolonged”? It depends on who interprets it. And in instructions of this nature, lack of precision gives rise to wide interpretation, and wide interpretation gives rise to the establishment of an abuse under the appearance of fidelity to Church regulations. And once a fad like “Extraordinary Ministers” becomes widespread, and everybody’s doing it simply because everybody’s doing it, then who even pays attention to existing guidelines anyway? It is a pattern we see over and over again in the modern Church: “Let’s violate the law, and in the end we’ll have the violation established as local custom.”
Unsuccessful Papal Intervention
This unlawful abuse is so well established as local custom that even Pope John Paul II, who made at least a paper attempt to curb the abuse was completely unsuccessful. In his letter Domincae Cenae of February 24, 1980, the Pope restated the Church’s teaching that “to touch the sacred species and to administer them with their own hands is a privilege of the ordained.” But, for whatever reason, this 1980 document contained no threat of penalty to any laymen, priest or bishop who ignored the Pope’s plea. A law without a penalty is not a law, it̓s a suggestion. And this 15-year-old letter of Pope John Paul II has been taken as an unwelcome and unheeded suggestion by the hierarchy and clergy of Western countries.
On September 21, 1987, a letter was sent from the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation of the Sacraments through the proper channels to a number of Episcopal Conferences, including our American Bishops, on the subject of Extraordinary Ministers. In summary, the letters (which can be found in Michael Davies’ Privilege of the Ordained) stated that Rome has received many complaints of abuses regarding Extraordinary Ministers. As a result, the Pontifical Commission officially ruled that “when ordinary ministers (bishops, priests) are present at the Eucharist whether celebrating or not, and are in sufficient number and are not prevented from doing so by other ministries, the Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist are not allowed to distribute Communion either to themselves or to the Faithful.”
This ruling too, has been completely ignored, as will be all rulings providing a concession for this abuse is somewhere on the books. We can only pray that our Church leaders will finally come to the realization that when it comes to the Blessed Sacrament, you don̓t reform an abuse, you annihilate it. And in order not to continually play into the manipulating hands of the New Paganism of Modernism, then a complete, formal, unambiguous condemnation of Communion in the hand and Extraordinary Ministers is our leaders’ only true Catholic option.
The Sense of the Sacred
The Sacraments are the most precious gems the Church possesses, and the Holy Eucharist is the greatest of all the Sacraments. Because in all the other sacraments we receive sacramental grace, but in the Holy Eucharist, we receive Christ Himself. So, since it is obvious that the Blessed Sacrament is the greatest treasure the Church possesses, then It must be treated with all the reverence and homage It deserves. And all those pre-Vatican II barriers that prevented desecration are indispensable to the life of the Church and the holiness of the Faithful.
How often have we heard even our Church leaders lament that “we have lost the sense of the sacred.” This is one of the most astounding statements a Churchman can utter … as if it were some sort of mystery. Because the sense of the sacred is not lost, we know exactly where it is, and it could be recovered in every single parish church on earth tomorrow. The “sense of the sacred” is found wherever safeguarding the reverence for the Blessed Sacrament is put into practice of paramount importance. But the “sense of the sacred” has not been lost, it has been deliberately thrown away, run out of town on a rail, by the arrogant agents of the New Paganism of Modernism masquerading as Catholic reformers, who have introduced novel practices into the Church that demean the Eucharist, show contempt for tradition and for what our fathers taught us, and have led to a worldwide crisis of Faith of unprecedented proportions.
But for us, through the grace of God, it is no puzzle. We know exactly where “the sense of the sacred” is found, and we cling to it with a fierce tenacity. It is found in the celebration of the Old Latin Tridentine Mass where profound reverence for the Blessed Sacrament is deeply ingrained into every moment of the Liturgy, and where Communion in the hand and “Eucharistic Ministers” are still looked upon in horror with Catholic eyes, and are clearly recognized as the out-of-place, sacrilegious, non-Catholic practices that they are.
Communion in the Hand and Similar Frauds – Michael Davies
Documents of Vatican II – Abbot Edition
Dominicae Cenae – Pope John Paul II – 2/24/80
The Great Heresies – Hilaire Belloc
Immensae Caritatis – Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship – 1/29/73
The Last Roman Catholic? – James W. Demers
Memoriale Domini – Pope Paul VI – 5/29/69
Pope John̓s Council – Michael Davies
Preaching and Teaching about the Eucharist – Msgr. Joseph M. Champlin
Privilege of the Ordained – Michael Davies
The Rhine Flows into the Tiber – Ralph Wiltgen
Summa Theologica – Saint Thomas Aquinas
Reprinted from the September 1995 edition of
Catholic Family News