27/4/08 – A Clearer Definition

Hopefully by now you’re aware of the two small changes that will affect the liturgical assembly in the celebration of Mass.  The bow of reverence when coming to receive Communion comes into effect from Pentecost Sunday.  The standing immediately after the priest’s invitation to prayer after preparing the gifts comes into effect as well.

The revised General Instruction of the Roman Missal, like its predecessor, also gives directions for specific liturgical ministers.  These include the Priest, the Deacon, the instituted Acolyte, the instituted Lector, as well as other lay Ministers of the Word, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, and Music Ministers.

Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion are one group whose role is the focus of greater attention in this revised General Instruction.  In some parishes, such as ours, it will mean that some practices the Communion Ministers currently engage in will have to change.  We are briefing these ministers after Masses this weekend about the specifics of their role.

Some Communion Ministers may ask why what they do needs to change.  In fact, the General Instruction has not made any changes to the role of the Communion Minister.  The former edition, published in the 1970’s, made very little mention of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, and therefore did little to define their role and explain what they can and should do.  In preparing this revised edition, the Church has sought to more clearly define the role and actions of the Communion Minister, given their marked increase of need in places such as ours since the 1970’s.

The revised General Instruction consequently defines more clearly the role of all during the Communion Rite; the Priest, the Deacon, the Acolyte, the Altar Servers, and the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion whose valuable service is required whenever there are not enough of the other ministers available to minister Communion to us, the liturgical assembly.

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