“I am the living bread which has come down from heaven.
Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world.”
The Privilege of Receiving Holy Communion
One of the great privileges we have as Catholics is to receive the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ in Holy Communion.
The reception of Holy Communion is part of the celebration of the Holy Eucharist and comes once we have been nourished by God´s Word in the Holy Scriptures.
From the celebration of the Eucharist , or from the Blessed Sacrament reserved in the tabernacle, Holy Communion is also taken to the house-bound or to those who have taken ill, in a special way as “Viaticum” (food for the journey) for those nearing death. The reception of communion outside of Mass is primarily offered therefore to those no longer able to attend Mass.
Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion
In all our parishes today we have Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion to help with the distribution of Holy Communion.
What are ‘extraordinary’ ministers? In this case ‘extraordinary’ has a technical meaning. It simply means ‘out of the ordinary’. It is used to distinguish the ‘extraordinary’ minister from the ‘ordinary’ or ‘normal’ minister. The ‘ordinary’ ministers of Holy Communion are Bishops, priests and deacons.
They help with the distribution of the Sacred Host and the Precious Blood at Mass. They also minister to the housebound, sick and dying of the parish by taking them Holy Communion after Mass.
Ministry in the Church
Ministers of Holy Communion assist the congregation to receive communion reverently and fruitfully. Underlying all these should be the prayerfulness and reverence of the minister. Of particular importance is the way a minister prepares him or herself for service. He or she could:
Look at the readings and prayers of the Mass and use them for your prayer. What do they say to you of the Mystery of God’s love, and of the Communion that God invites you to share in and minister?
Call to mind the people you will be ministering to. Remember that, together with you, they are members of the Body of Christ. Pray for them, for yourself, and the other parish ministers
If you are to minister in the church, be sure that you will be at church in good time to carry out any necessary preparations before Mass begins.
If you are to take Holy Communion to the sick and housebound be sure that you arrive at the expected time, and have prepared the readings and prayers you will use.
Ministering to the sick and housebound
One of the most important developments in the Church’s ministry to the sick over the past decades has been the introduction of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. These Ministers provide an important link to the Parish community, by bringing the weekly bulletin and providing a link to the parish priest - letting him know for example if there is a request for the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick or of Penance. They are someone who will pray with them and for them someone they can share their worries and concerns with. Ministers should at all times respect the privacy and right to confidentiality of those to whom they minister. Without their explicit permission, they should not pass on confidential information to others.
Sometimes the person being ministered to is well able to take an active part in the rite. At other times the person will be less able. The minister should judge whether the rite should be adapted. However very often, the sick person will derive benefit from hearing the liturgy prayed, even if they are themselves unable to make responses or in any other obvious way participate in the prayer. Ministers should be comfortable with spending times of silence with those to whom they minister. Ministers should welcome family members and friends of the sick to join in the prayer. Those who are Catholic, and wish, may receive Holy Communion at this time, even if they have already that day received Holy Communion at Mass.
Support from the parish
At St Mary’s we have a dedicated and experienced team of extraordinary ministers. If this ministry is of interest to you please contact Jim McAleavey.
There is also a support leaflet available to support the ministry to the sick.