Q: Thank you for sharing your knowledge and expertise with us, it is truly a blessing.
We have a new pastor who instructed all 7 of the parishes under him to provide an ablution bowl next to the tabernacles. My understanding of the use of ablution bowls is everything that touches the Body of Christ must be purified afterwards and this includes the hands of the priest. If lay Extraordinary Eucharistic ministers assist with the distribution of the Body of Christ do they also purify their hands afterwards?
A: You’re welcome.
All of us priests have certain preferences with regard to matters that the rubrics do not cover. As you probably know, I generally feel that if something has been does not appear in the rubrics, then it does not appear with good reason, and it’s not a good idea for an individual to introduce it.
The missal makes no mention of an ablution bowl by the tabernacle. For that reason, I do not advocate for them.
GIRM 278 says this: “Whenever a fragment of the host adheres to his fingers, especially after the fraction or after the Communion of the faithful, the Priest should wipe his fingers over the paten or, if necessary, wash them. Likewise, he should also gather any fragments that may have fallen outside the paten.”
I read this to mean that fragments on fingers do not happen every day, and when they do, the first process is for the priest to rub his fingers together over the paten. Then, only “if necessary,” does he wash his fingers. The missal has a reasonable concern about particles, but not an obsessive one.
There is no mention of a similar procedure for extraordinary ministers, but I advise them after distributing communion to rub their fingers over the vessel. That should take care of the concern.