The abuse of the use of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion is one of my pet peeves, as I am sure it is for many others. We have all seen times when it seemed that there were more extraordinary ministers than recipients of communion.
Leticia of causa nostrae laetitiae and I were recently discussing something that we witnessed at mass on Sunday. The priest at our local parish seemingly spent more time waiting for all the extraordinary Eucharistic ministers to finish receiving the Precious Blood than would likely have been used by giving out communion by him. This may be slightly hyperbolic, but only slightly.
I am sure that many or most of the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion have absolutely no idea that what they are doing is an abuse. I am sure that they have no idea that 10 extraordinary ministers for 100 people does not constitute and extraordinary circumstance. These are well meaning people who are happy to be ‘participating’.
Something that really gets me is that many priests seemed to have forgotten that they are the ordinary ministers of holy communion. I have seen priests make a call out during mass for any extraordinary ministers when there weren’t more than 40-50 people there for mass, as if they could not possibly handle the onslaught. I have seen priests wait in the nave of the church during communion to be sure and ready to greet parishioners as they leave, but just stand there while extraordinary ministers pack the sanctuary.
This all got me to thinking, how do you put the genie back in the bottle? How do you do it so that people understand why? How do you not offend those that think they are doing something good? I wonder if this is why pastors and bishops who might know it is wrong just turn a blind eye to the practice? How do you be pastorally sensitive, but still fix the problem?
I ask these questions sincerely. If anyone has seen a pastor or a bishop correct this problem or if you have any ideas on how to remedy this abuse, tell us about it.