Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion
- "Redemptionis Sacramentum: On Certain matters to be observed or to be avoided regarding the Most Holy Eucharist."
- [46.] The lay Christian faithful called to give assistance at liturgical celebrations should be well instructed and must be those whose Christian life, morals and fidelity to the Church’s Magisterium recommend them. It is fitting that such a one should have received a liturgical formation in accordance with his or her age, condition, state of life, and religious culture. No one should be selected whose designation could cause consternation for the faithful.
- [81.] The Church’s custom shows that it is necessary for each person to examine himself at depth, and that anyone who is conscious of grave sin should not celebrate or receive the Body of the Lord without prior sacramental confession...."
- [83.] It is certainly best that all who are participating in the celebration of Holy Mass with the necessary dispositions should receive Communion. Nevertheless, it sometimes happens that Christ’s faithful approach the altar as a group indiscriminately. It pertains to the Pastors prudently and firmly to correct such an abuse.
- Extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion should receive sufficient spiritual, theological, and practical preparation to fulfill their role with knowledge and reverence. When recourse is had to Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, especially in the distribution of Holy Communion under both kinds, their number should not be increased beyond what is required for the orderly and reverent distribution of the Body and Blood of the Lord. In all matters such Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion should follow the guidance of the diocesan bishop.
- In the celebration of the sacraments it is thus the whole assembly that is leitourgos, each according to his function, but in the "unity of the Spirit" who acts in all. "In liturgical celebrations each person, minister or layman, who has an office to perform, should carry out all and only those parts which pertain to his office by the nature of the rite and the norms of the liturgy."
- Emphasis added. Note that this applies to "the celebration of the sacraments." In the case of Ash Wednesday and the Feast of St. Blaise, we are dealing with sacramentals, not sacraments.
- Can. 1168
- The minister of sacramentals is a cleric who has been provided with the requisite power. According to the norm of the liturgical books and to the judgment of the local ordinary lay persons who possess the appropriate qualities can also administer some sacramentals.
- Can. 1169
- §1. Those marked with the episcopal character and presbyters permitted by law or legitimate grant can perform consecrations and dedications validly.
- §2. Any presbyter can impart blessings except those reserved to the Roman Pontiff or bishops.
- §3. A deacon can impart only those blessings expressly permitted by law.
Distribution of ashes on Ash Wednesday
The ashes are blessed by a priest or deacon.
They may be distributed by the laity.
- Father Edward McNamara, [http://www.ewtn.com/library/liturgy/zlitur208.htm EWTN, "Laypeople Distributing Ashes":
- The Shorter Book of Blessings has a rite for the blessing and distribution of ashes outside of Mass. No. 1062 of this book has the following indication:
- "This rite may be celebrated by a priest or deacon who may be assisted by lay ministers in the distribution of the ashes. The blessing of the ashes, however, is reserved to a priest or deacon."
- A lay minister may also lead a slightly varied version of the rite of distribution using ashes previously blessed by a priest or deacon, for example, when bringing ashes to the sick.
- The Roman Missal makes no explicit mention of the use of lay ministers to assist in the distribution of ashes blessed during Mass. I believe, however, that the indication in the Book of Blessings also applies to this situation whenever such help proves necessary.
Blessing of Throats on Feast of St. Blaise
- "St. Blase Questions." Book of Blessings:
- The blessing of throats may be given by a priest, deacon, or a lay minister who follows the rites and prayers designated for a lay minister. If the blessing is conferred during Mass, the blessing follows the homily and general intercessions, or, for pastoral reasons, the prayer of blessing may take the place of the final blessing of the Mass. When the blessing is given outside Mass, it is preceded by a brief celebration of the word of God. If the blessing is to be celebrated at Morning Prayer or Evening Prayer, it is given after the reading and responsory (and homily) and before the gospel canticle.
- The blessing may be given by touching the throat of each person with two candles blessed on the feast of the Presentation of the Lord (February 2) and which have been joined together in the form of a cross.
- If, for pastoral reasons, each individual cannot be blessed in the manner described in no. 1627, for example when great numbers are gathered for the blessing or when the memorial of Saint Blase occurs on a Sunday, a priest or deacon may give the blessing to all assembled by extending hands, without the crossed candles, over the people while saying the prayer of blessing. A lay minister says the prayer proper to lay ministers without making the sign of the cross.
- The blessing may also be given to the sick or the elderly in their homes when they cannot attend the parish celebration.
- . . . During the blessing suitable psalms or other suitable songs may be sung.