|EXTRAORDINARY MINISTERS OF THE EUCHARIST IN THE U.S.A.|
We hope that all of our readers will enjoy devout celebrations of the
Mass for this great Feast of The Assumption. In our local Parish, the congregation at the 9.00 am Mass was once again increased by over 600 students from the adjoining Parish School ( Kinder to Year 6).
In the troubled waters of Broken Bay Diocese, ladies acting as Acolytes (only males can be instituted Acolytes see Canon 230 # 1) like to dress up in the so-called "Ecumenical Albs" which are in any case, somewhat dress-like. In this capacity they also act as Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist.
The Parish and School are afflicted by the American custom of Students who have not yet made their First Holy Communion joining the line of communicants with their arms crossed over their breasts to indicate that they cannot receive the Sacrament. The custom is then for the Extraordinary Minister to make some gesture of " blessing" upon their forehead. If the student approaches the Priest he does give them a Blessing.
The practise is undesirable - in fact superfluous - in the latter case since the whole congregation is Blessed at the Dismissal.Of course it is " nice" but "niceness" defying understanding of the Liturgy is a poison.
The former matter, though no doubt thought "so nice", is in truth a serious abuse. The good ladies or gents on rarer occasions, are purporting to exercise a liturgical power which they do not have.And when they do so, vested in an "Ecumenical Alb" they are seriously misleading impressionable children.
When , in their teen years these same children encounter advocates of female ordination who will make all manner of outlandish claims, they may be inclined to accept the assertions made, because the lady distributing Communion in vestments and standing beside the Priest was " able" to bless us - so why not - "What's the problem?"
The Canadian academic of the 1960s, Marshall MacLuhan coined the phrase " the medium is the message". His insight was quite helpful.
In the particular circumstances of our troubled Diocese (89 days to go) there is not much hope for change, and in our Parish not much hope at all as long as the present Pastor is in place.
However it will be a task for the incoming Bishop of Broken Bay to address this damaging practise - damaging indeed to the popular understanding of the nature and functions of those in Holy Orders, and of the laity.