Gathering – Ministers of the Eucharist 20 March 2014

Carrying the Eucharist to the Sick and the Housebound
‘When we draw near with tender love to those in need of care, we bring hope and God’s smile to the contradictions of the world.’

Those who are privileged to bring the Eucharist to the sick and the housebound are invited to reflect on that short piece from the message of Pope Francis for World Day of the Sick 2014. What a beautiful mission to have – to bring hope and God’s smile with us on that journey of love and service. This blessed task inspires us to prepare as best we can to carry Christ’s presence in the Eucharist and to be Christ to those we meet whether it is the one who is expecting us, their family or their carers.

Inner Preparation
We begin with our own relationship with Jesus in prayer. Try to spend some time in quiet adoration and prayer in a spirit of openness. There is no agenda. There is nothing to be achieved. All that is asked is the gift of our presence in an encounter with the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. This will require us to go to our ‘quiet room’ wherever that may be – in the church or oratory. Time spent in quiet contemplation is time well spent. It is in these precious moments that we realise that it is not about us or how good we are to be involved in this ministry. It is the place where ‘heart speaks to heart’. If we can let go of the many thoughts and concerns we may have ourselves we will find a precious oasis where we can simply be who we are called to be. We will also fill ourselves with the spirit of Jesus which we will carry with us on our journey. (Come adore this wondrous presence…)

The Word of God
Often we are invited to bring communion to the sick and housebound after Mass in their homes, in the hospital or a nursing home. Let us also carry the gift of some words of scripture with us on our journey. Following the principle that ‘less is more’ look for one phrase from the readings of the day for example next Sunday’s readings. The Psalm Response – O that today you would listen to his voice: ‘Harden not your hearts’ or the Second Reading – ‘the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given us’ or from the Gospel – ‘give me some of that water, so that I may never get thirsty’. Choose a phrase that you will remember and pray it like a mantra on your Eucharistic journey. Then share that phrase in your prayer time with the one or with those who will receive the Eucharist. Invite some prayer around that phrase but nothing forced – a natural response to the gift of the Word is all that is called for. (O that today you would listen to his voice, harden not your hearts)

Sharing in the Eucharist
As one who will carry the Eucharist from the parish celebration, participate as much as you can in that Mass almost as if every prayer, gesture or reflection is being done in the name of those who you will later visit. Bringing them so carefully to mind is an acknowledgement of their presence at the Altar of Sacrifice in a different way to ours. It is as if we are their sponsors – acting on their behalf in the communal gathering until they have their own encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist. (Glory to you, O Christ, you are the Word of God)

Representative of the Eucharistic Community
After the Communion Prayer we are invited to come forward and to be formally sent out to bring the Eucharist to the sick and housebound. We are not acting on our own initiative. In the finest tradition of our Church we are reaching out to those who cannot be present at the Mass as servants of the community and servants of the Eucharist. We carry with us not only the Eucharist but also the affection and prayers of the parish community. (Will you let me be your servant..)

Bless this House
On our way we are conscious that we are carrying the Eucharist in a pyx and we go directly on our way without any deviation except for the polite greeting of others on our journey. When we arrive at our destination as arranged in advance we greet everyone present and particularly those who will receive the Eucharist. A gentle reverent presence is a wonderful gift. It is a blessing to the all who are present. The unhurried way we greet, we pray, we share the Eucharist and give thanks is itself an expression of communion in the real sense. Some talk and genuine listening can also be a wonderful bonus on such a visit. (Come and listen to me…)

In some circumstances, we may be asked to bring Holy Communion to a person who is nearing the time of death. This is a sensitive time not only for the person who is dying but also for family and friends who are gathered. The celebration of the Eucharist as viaticum, food for the passage through death to eternal life, is the sacrament proper to the dying Christian. If the person is very ill a simple form of words after communion is appropriate – such as ‘May the Lord Jesus Christ protect you and lead you in to eternal life.’ (Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom)

If possible it is good to give thanks for the grace and privilege of bringing Jesus to others in the Eucharist. A visit to the Oratory or Church if practicable or at least some quiet time wonderfully rounds off this time of grace. (Glory be to God the Father…)

Some General Guidelines for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion

Bishops, priests and deacons are the ordinary ministers of Holy Communion. However, help is regularly be needed in the majority of parishes. This assistance is given by Ministers of Holy Communion. These ministers serve Christ present in the assembly by ministering his Body and Blood to their brothers and sisters. They may also serve the unity of the worshipping community by taking Communion to those members who are prevented by sickness, old age, or other cause from taking part in the gathering for Mass. In accord with an ancient tradition, it is appropriate for Communion to be taken directly from the Sunday Eucharist to the sick and to those unable to leave their homes. Celebrating the Mass (CTM) Articles 44-46

Your willingness to serve as a Minister of Holy Communion, reflects not only response to your Baptismal call to serve the people of God, but a commitment to Christ as you share in the preaching, teaching and leading aspects of the church. You offer the Eucharist, recognize the Body of Christ in those to whom you offer Eucharist and ultimately you act as the Body of Christ by fully participating in the life of the parish and the wider community.

Each minister should have one function at a liturgical celebration. Therefore, the person who is a Minister of Holy Communion should not read, collect baskets or have another “job”. In this way, each minister can be truly present to serving God and the Body of Christ in their particular ministry.

If any parish requires information on the formation of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, please contact the Liturgy Resource Centre and we will be happy to offer advice and

Some questions for Parishes Each parish group of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, together with their priests, should draw up guidelines for their particular situation. The following are some questions that could be addressed:

– For how long should a Minister of Holy Communion serve? – When should ministers approach the Sanctuary? – How many ministers are needed at each Celebration of the Eucharist? Are different numbers needed depending on the Mass or the Feast? – Who will prepare the rota? How often will the rota be reviewed? – What should a minister do if he/she cannot attend the Mass for which they are rostered? – Will Holy Communion be brought to the sick and housebound after Sunday Eucharist? Who will arrange this?

Preparation In preparing yourself for service as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion
– Look at the readings and prayers of the Mass and use them for your prayer. – Reflect on the people you will be ministering to, those at church, and the sick and housebound. Recall how, with you, they are members of the Body of Christ. – Ensure that you will be at church in good time to carry out any necessary preparations before Mass begins. – Follow the guidelines of your Parish concerning where you should sit and from where you should distribute Holy Communion – Remember to take your time through-out, so that you are truly present.

The following are available in the Download section of this website:

  • The information in this section
  • Some Prayers and Reflections for Extraordinary Ministers
  • Some information on distributing Holy Communion under both kinds
  • Prayer Leaflet for bringing Holy Communion to the Sick and Housebound
  • Prayer Leaflet for bringing holy Communion as Viaticum
  • A commissioning ceremony for Special Ministers

Gathering of Eucharistic Ministers – Opening Prayer 20 March 2014

Opening Song O Sacrament Most Holy (Arr. Ian Callanan)
All sing: O Sacrament most holy, O sacrament divine.
All praise and all thanksgiving be every moment thine.

Opening Prayer Let us pray,
All say: God of love and compassion,
Bless our gathering this evening:
Inspire us through your Word of Life
Deepen our understanding of the Eucharist
Renew us in our commitment to service
We ask this through Christ, our Lord, Amen.

Reading 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
This is what I received from the Lord and in turn passed on to you; that on the same night he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread, and thanked God for it and broke it, and he said, “this is my body, which is for you; do this as a memorial of me..” In the same way he took the cup after supper, and said, “this cup is the new covenant in my blood. Until the Lord comes, therefore, every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are proclaiming his death.

Instrumental Bí ‘Íosa im Chroíse (Traditional)

Reflection God’s Smile
‘When we draw near with tender love to those in need of care, we bring hope and God’s smile to the contradictions of the world. When generous devotion to others becomes the hallmark of our actions, we give way to the Heart of Christ and bask in its warmth, and thus contribute to the coming of God’s Kingdom.’ (Message of Pope Francis – 22nd World Day of the Sick – February 2014)

Song My New Commandment (Ephrem Feeley)
All sing: This is my new commandment to love one another,
Just as I have loved you, just as I have loved you.

Reflection Extraordinary Love
‘We are not called by God to do extraordinary things, but to do ordinary things with extraordinary love.’ (Jean Vanier)

Song Tantum Ergo (Gabriel Fauré)

Praying with those who bring the Eucharist to the Sick and Housebound

Song Eat This Bread (Taizé)
All sing: Eat this bread, drink this cup, come to me and never be hungry. Eat this bread, drink this cup,
Trust in me and you will not thirst.

Prayer Let us pray,
All say: God of strength and nourishment,
Give us your graces to bring to those who are confined:
Grant us compassion and genuine empathy
Fill us with patience and understanding
Put words of consolation and hope into our mouths
We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Reading John 14:27
Jesus says:
‘Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you,
a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.’

Song Jesus Be The Centre (Michael Frye)
All sing: Jesus be the centre, be my source, be my guide, Jesus.
Jesus be the centre, be my hope, be my song, Jesus.
Jesus be my vision, be my path, be my guide, Jesus.

Reflection Praying for the Sick
This relationship between prayer and healing remains a mystery. The lack of physical or emotional healing is not a sign that one’s prayer is in vain or that one’s faith is insufficient. It is simply a way of putting one’s ultimate hope in the Lord. This is why the Christian community has never ceased to ask the Lord for the health of the sick. In her ministry, liturgy and the Anointing of the Sick especially, the prayer of the Church is both trusting and emphatic: “Heal them, O Lord, in body, in soul, and in spirit, and deliver them from every affliction.

(Let Us Go Forward in Hope – Catholic Health Ministry in Canada)

Song Lúireach Phádraig (Marie Dunne CHF)
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me …in every ear that listens to me …

Reflection Pope Francis
‘We go with joy because He accompanies us, He is with us…and the Lord Jesus, even in our personal lives, accompanies us with the Sacraments. The Sacrament is not a magic rite: it is an encounter with Jesus Christ; we encounter the Lord – it is He who is beside us and accompanies us.’

Prayer of Sending Out

Song Servant Song (Richard Gillard)
All sing: Will you let me be your servant, let me be as Christ to you,
pray that I may have the grace to let you be my servant too.

We are pilgrims on a journey, we are travellers on the road,
we are here to help each other walk the mile and bear the load.

I will hold the Christ-light for you, in the night-time of your fear,
I will hold my hand out to you, speak the peace you long to hear.

I will weep when you are weeping, when you laugh I’ll laugh with you.
I will share your joy and sorrow ‘til we’ve seen this journey through.

When we sing to God in heaven, we shall find such harmony.
Born of all we’ve known together of Christ’s love and agony.

Will you let me be your servant, let me be as Christ to you,
pray that I may have the grace to let you be my servant too.

Reading John 15:5
Jesus says:
‘I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty; for cut off from me you can do nothing.’

Instrumental A Íosa Mhic Mhuire (Traditional)

Reflection Pope Francis (Corpus Christi 2013)
‘Once again this evening, Jesus gives himself to us in the Eucharist, shares our journey and, in fact, makes himself the food that sustains our lives, even when the road gets rough and obstacles slow our steps … the Lord leads us to follow his path — that of service, sharing and giving; and that little that we have, the little that we are, if shared, becomes a treasure because the power of God, who is love, descends to our poverty and transforms it.’

Reflection Saint Theresa of Calcutta
‘Their eyes were opened and they recognised him at the breaking of bread. We are called to recognise Christ: in the Eucharist, the gift of his life to us; in each other, the community who are called to be his body now: in the broken lives around us, that we are called to serve. Jesus once said “You received without charge, give without charge.” We pray that we may be generous.’

A Prayer of Dedication
All say: Jesus, bless these hands you have chosen as your tools.
Jesus, always keep us aware and in awe of our sacred mission.
Jesus, make us worthy of this great ministry we have humbly accepted.
Jesus, send us out into the world to distribute your love.

Final Song Go Make A Difference (Steve Angrisano)
All sing: Go make a difference, we can make a difference
Go make a difference in the world.
Go make a difference, we can make a difference
Go make a difference in the world