You are right to reject 'Extraordinary
Ministers of Holy Communion' (they should NOT
be called 'Eucharistic ministers'!) as evidenced by these quotes...
"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)
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")
"It must be
taught, then, that to priests alone has been given power to consecrate and
administer to the faithful, the Holy Eucharist. That this has been the unvarying
practice of the Church, that the faithful should receive the Sacrament from the
priests, and that the officiating priests should communicate themselves, has
been explained by the holy Council of Trent, which has also shown that this
practice, as having proceeded from Apostolic tradition, is to be religiously
retained, particularly as Christ the Lord has left us an illustrious example
thereof, having consecrated His own most sacred body, and given it to the
Apostles with His own hands." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)
"It is written
(De Consecratione, distinction 12): 'It has come to our knowledge that some
priests deliver the Lord's body to a layman or to a woman to carry it to the
sick: The synod therefore forbids such presumption to continue; and let the
priest himself communicate the sick.'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church
and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")
novelty has been tolerated by the Church in various areas in the wake of the
Second Vatican Council. Concerning this matter, we state on our site...
(except in grave cases - e.g. danger of death without Viaticum) the Church has
always reserved the handling of the Blessed Sacrament to the consecrated hands
of priests (see
here). Unfortunately, in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, the
modernists promote the concept of lay persons (even women) administering Holy
Communion in the Church. Besides the thorough inappropriateness of lay persons
handling the Holy Eucharist (see
here), such practices contribute to abuse & profanation of the Sacrament,
usurp the priestly role, and may even endanger the eternal salvation of the sick
person. And, sadly, this practice occurs at a time when the sick person is most
in need of (and possibly most receptive to) a priest. Not only does the sick
person encounter a lay person (that they might not even know) daring to handle
Holy Communion, but his (or her) presence there serves to deprive him of the
comfort of the priest (if the priest sends a lay person, the sick person will
probably not see a priest unless specifically requested - something which the
sick may not have presence of mind to do or might be to embarrassed to ask) and
may lead his mind to various negative thoughts (e.g. "I'm not important enough
for the priest", "the priest doesn't have time for me", etc.). Also, if lay
persons bring the Sacrament, how can anyone ever be certain it is actually a
real Eucharist? Anyone - for whatever reason - could bring a wafer of bread and
act as if it was the true Eucharist. Clearly, the priest alone is the most
likely person to ensure the Sacrament is the true Eucharist. Further, the lay
person's administration of Holy Communion may also make it difficult for the
sick person to distinguish the Real Presence ("since it is given by a lay
person, how can I be sure it is really the Blessed Sacrament"?) - and thereby
the sick person may make a sacrilegious Communion, leading to his damnation
["For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks
judgment on himself. That is why many among you are ill and infirm, and a
considerable number are dying." (St. Paul, 1 Cor. 11:29-30)]. And if that wasn't
bad enough, it should be noted that the sick person who is "passed off to a lay
person" may be deprived of the other sacraments (e.g. Anointing, Penance) -
which may be validly received only from the hands of a priest - when they are
most necessary to his salvation. Further, even if the lay person distributing
Holy Communion is in a religious order, he or she (even brothers and nuns) may
be improperly catechized with regard to the Holy Eucharist, leading to
profanation and sacrilege [In one relatively recent case, a lay person gave Holy
Communion to an atheist, after being told that the person was a non-believer].
If one claims to love God and their brother, why participate in a practice
fraught with danger to the Body and Blood of Christ and potentially deadly to
the soul of his brother? Rather, if lay persons sincerely desire to assist
priests, they should find ways to assist which don't involve handling the Holy
Eucharist. Rather, they can find areas to assist the priest which will free his
time so that he may perform the duties which are proper to his office."
For more on the topic
of 'extraordinary ministers', please see
Personally, if I was
in the hospital and had full use of my faculties, I would want to tell the
person I needed to see a priest. Depending on the circumstances (and after
acknowledging what I would presume to be their good intentions), I might also be
tempted to instruct them about the Real Presence, the use of a paten (which they
seemingly never would have!), sacred particles they drop on the floor, reasons
they should not perform this 'service', etc. This is a prudential decision that
must be made by each person. If I thought my comments would make the person
disagreeable to getting me a priest, I would probably just insist on seeing a
priest right away and not offer the other comments.
Should anyone ever
feel uncomfortable refusing Holy Communion from a lay person, they should
* Lay persons should not be handling the Holy
Eucharist. It is not your fault if you face this situation, as this is a
situation which should not occur to begin with.
* Refusing Holy Communion from lay people is respectful of
the Holy Eucharist.
* Your refusal may serve to educate others (even
have concerns, I would mention that refusing Holy Communion from a 'lay
minister' puts you in very good company. We personally know a faithful, holy
priest (now deceased) who refuses to take Communion from laity (even including
nuns). Use him as your role model. Get a priest instead.
Hope that helps.
God bless you.
Reminder: We make no guarantee whatsoever regarding any item herein. Items herein may be the opinions of their authors and do not necessarily reflect our views.
All applicable items may be subject to change at any time without notice. Utilize any link(s) appearing on this page at your own risk.
For more terms information, see "Important Notice" below.