Q: Good Afternoon Fr. Paul. I’m not certain if this subject has been discussed, on your FB page, during Essentials of Catholic Liturgy – or if I’m dreaming of such a discussion. At any rate, here goes:
Following a recent Celebration of the Eucharist, a group of us were doing our usual “debrief” and a question regarding the pyx arose, which we could not find a suitable answer to.
When people bring the pyx to Mass to take communion to the sick, are they just supposed to open it for the Extraordinary Eucharistic Minister?
Our thoughts are that the pyx needs to be on the Altar at the start of Mass.
I have searched GIRM, Pastoral Care of the Sick: Rites of Anointing and Viaticum, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Redemptionis Sacramentum and its implication for the celebration of the sacrament of Eucharist by Fr. S. Antony Samy, USCCB 30 questions regarding Redemptionis Sacramentum.
We would humbly appreciate your insight into this question.
Thank you so much for your ministry, sharing your knowledge and experiences with the Community. Thank you for your support of NPM, as well.
A: The only place I’ve seen treatment is in the USCCB’s Introduction to the Order of Mass, paragraph 21, the final bullet point. This booklet is meant for guidance, not legislation.
It makes two suggestions: Immediately after communion has been distributed, the priest gives the pyxes to the ministers going to the sick. “Alternatively, they may depart immediately after receiving Communion themselves, or even as part of the concluding procession of ministers.”
Both these suggestions have problems, and neither answers your query about how and when the pyx got into the priest’s hands.
In my view, best liturgical practice is one of the following:
Pyxes filled with appropriate number of hosts are brought in the procession of the gifts with the bread to the altar, whereupon the deacon or priest opens them and sets them on the corporal. Then they are given to the ministers immediately after communion, as IOM 21 suggests.
Or, eucharistic ministers known to the priest (or another minister) enter the line of those receiving communion. Upon reaching the station they open their pyx, the priest or other minister places the hosts in the pyx, the minister to the sick closes the pyx and secures it and then receives communion in the mouth or hand.
Personally, I refuse placing a host in the pyxes of people I do not recognize.
Regarding the IOM’s second suggestion, I don’t like the idea of anyone leaving Mass after communion, especially communion ministers. And communion ministers really have no place in the concluding procession of the Mass.