I’ve been reflecting on this lately: It seems to me that the most-evangelizing thing a Catholic parish can do is to show respect for our Lord in the Eucharist. The first way to do this is by drastically cutting down on and, a short while later, cutting out the use of extraordinary ministers to distribute Communion at Holy Mass. Granted, this wouldn’t work at a heterodox parish, where this false sort of active participation is treated as though it’s anyone’s “right”. But at a parish with holy priests and a substantial portion of parishioners who already understand and believe that the Eucharist is really and truly the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord, it would surely have many beneficial effects.
A parish where it’s known that what the priests confects on the altar and what is present in the Tabernacle is our Lord Himself is sure to attract others to His Magnificent Presence. This is much more readily apparent when no lay men or women enter the sanctuary to receive a ciborium.
Practically speaking, it costs nothing and can be implemented virtually overnight. (Okay, with 2-4 weeks of announcements, explanations and catechesis in the bulletin so there are no surprises.) Sure, it would take longer to distribute Holy Communion, but that time is time that is needed anyway either to prepare oneself before receiving or for prayerful thanksgiving afterwards. Silence is too often missing from the Mass and these extra minutes would be most welcome.
If there happens to be another priest in the rectory, there’s every reason that he should interrupt what he’s doing to step in and assist. Wouldn’t that show what reverence this parish has for the Eucharist.
For nearly two thousand years, only hands that were consecrated could touch the Body of Christ. Allowing lay men and women to touch the Holy of Holies with their unconsecrated hands started in an act of defiance against the Church as did allowing reception on the hand. The result has been abominable with a great majority since having lost their belief in the Real Presence, even among those who still attend Mass weekly!
Although “extraordinary” in “Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion” means “outside of (i.e., not) ordained”, it’s also true that they are only allowed to be used in extraordinary circumstances. Yet at any parish, they are scheduled every single weekend. This is an abuse.
Some who became extraordinary ministers years ago have lately learned how these abuses came about and would love to be relieved of this grave responsibility which they now know they are altogether unsuited for, on account of their not being ordained. They may even want to agree among themselves and then approach the pastor to suggest that their services really are no longer needed.
Whether he knows it or not, Father himself only stands to gain a good measure of respectability. I won’t go into all the details explained so well in Fr. James McLucas's 1998 article, but just note that he will again be the feeder of his flock and reclaim the unique privilege of his office.
Everyone's a winner in this.