A longtime reader emailed in asking that one and all be reminded of the events recorded in the twentieth chapter of St. John’s Gospel. If any of you readers out there are “Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion” in the Novus Ordo, you really, really need to stop. Immediately.
As I have recounted on the Barnhardt Podcast, in my first year after being received into the Church (Novus Ordo), I did prison ministry at the Arapahoe County Jail. It was all laypeople. Not even the “permanent” deacons went. And, to my abject horror in retrospect, we were enjoined to perform “Catholic Communion Services” using a script authored by the not-very-conservative “conservative” Archbishop Charles Chaput, who it also turned out was rabidly anti-traditional liturgically. The “team leader” for the day would pass out, completely casually in the visitors locker room of the jail, The Blessed Sacrament to each team going to one of the six cellblocks. “How many do you want? Six? Okay. Here.” I think back on that and cringe. More than once I was handed a pyx filled with Hosts, which I then PUT IN MY POCKET and carried down to the cellblock. The only thing I can say in my own defense is that as I was walking down to the cellblock, I would “talk” to Our Lord, generally remarking to Him that He was the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe, Infinite Love and Power Himself, and… He was in my pocket. At least I acknowledged Him, and the situation, which is more than could be said for most. But it was still so totally, horrifically wrong.
Since I could speak a little Spanish, I was almost always sent to the Spanish-speaking cellblock, and most of the men who came to the “Communion Service” were either maximum security or super-max, that is, wearing either orange or red jumpsuits. Was I ever scared? No way. I was safe as a kitten. I had 15 or more exceptionally capable bodyguards at all times. The men were mostly Mexican, with some Central Americans. And I learned two very important lessons about Eucharistic piety from those men. First, many of them did not receive Holy Communion. Why? Because they had, in their words, “two wives”. That is, they were divorced and civilly “re-married”, or divorced and shacking up with another woman. They KNEW this meant that they could not receive – but they still came. The other thing I learned from the Latino felons in the jail was pre-conciliar Eucharistic piety. When they walked into the room, and saw the pyx containing the Blessed Sacrament on the table, they would immediately fall to their knees and reverence Our Lord. They believed in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. Far, far more than the upper-middle class American Novus Ordoists.
The Fruit of the First Sorrowful Mystery, Our Lord’s Agony in the Garden, is SORROW FOR SIN. Oftentimes poorly formed priests tell people that once they have confessed a sin, they should never think about it again. This is wrong. As one progresses and tries to advance in sanctity, one of the graces that follows is realizing not only what sins one has committed in the past, but realizing WHY those sins were sins, and just how awful they were. So, not only did I confess my participation in these “Catholic Communion Services” and the intrinsic sacrilege of them and of my physical handling of the Blessed Sacrament, but I also always mention these sins when I make a General Confession. Thank God! Thank God that now I not only know, but that the horror of it gets continually stronger. Let this process of realizing the kind and gravity of my sins never cease!
Which brings us to the whole question of physically touching the Blessed Sacrament. It is all in John 20. Our Resurrected Lord tells Mary Magdalene that SHE MAY NOT TOUCH HIM (verse 17), but just a few verses later specifically tells St. Thomas to stick his finger in Our Lord’s side (verse 27). What is the difference?
St. Thomas, having been present at The Last Supper which was not only about the institution of the Mass and the Eucharist, but also about the INSTITUTION OF THE PRIESTHOOD (“Do this in memory of Me” – only ordained PRIESTS can “do this”, that is, confect the Eucharist), was already an ordained priest. The Sacramentally Ordained may touch the Blessed Sacrament (Deacons, Priests, Bishops). Anyone else, male or female, may NOT. Period. In fact, the non-ordained may not even touch a vessel holding the Eucharist. Lay people may not TOUCH a ciborium, a chalice, a pyx, or a monstrance with bare hands, and preferably not at all. The pyx that I was given in ARSH 2007 when I began doing prison ministry, I later wrapped in a linen handkerchief and surrendered to a Traditional priest, because a vessel that held the Lord should not be sitting on a shelf in my house, and I should not even be touching it. Now, the only vessels that have contained The Eucharistic Lord in my house are ME and MY GUESTS.
It isn’t a question of contrition. The Penitent Magdalen was more contrite than any of us will probably ever be for our sins. St. Thomas was in a state of extreme and even obstinate doubt until the moment he physically touched Our Lord. It is a question of the supernatural reality of the priesthood, and of the supernatural reality of the consecration of the Eucharist within the Mass, and the Real, Physical, Substantial Presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Having unconsecrated hands touch the Blessed Sacrament is a direct attack upon the priesthood, and the Eucharist itself. It is a premeditated introduction of scandalous desacralization – the modern buzzword here is “DEMYTHOLOGIZATION“.
If you are NOT a Deacon, Priest or Bishop, STOP TOUCHING THE BLESSED SACRAMENT. Only receive Holy Communion from the hands of a Deacon, Priest or Bishop, and do so kneeling and on the tongue. Do not participate in the Freemasonic scandal of desacralization, the attack on the Priesthood, the Church and the Eucharist, which is what the whole “Extraordinary
Monsters Ministers of Holy Communion” thing is. Believe me, you will be glad you did, and you will regret not having done so sooner.