Administering Holy Communion

Administering Holy Communion

My church often only has one priest on a Sunday (like many others).
However we have always had two Communion "stations". At the second station we (lay administrators) have been advised that we can give a blessing to those who do not wish to receive by placing The Host over the recipients head.

One or two of us feel extremely uncomfortable about this. Please may I have your views?


REPLIES

David Rumsby - 29/10/08

I certainly do not think a lay person should give a Blessing, this should be left only to the priest. Some years ago on about two occasions at my church the previous incumbent allowed a lay person put their hand on the shoulder saying 'May God Bless you', but this would not be a priestly Blessing.
David Rumsby
Chapter of the Epiphany
Croydon

Fr. David Moore - 29/10/08

I am not sure that lay persons ought to administer the host......I know it happens in some parishes....quite a different matter administering the Precious Blood (the chalice).

Fr. Moore

G.S.S.Warden. 

Christine Hewitt - 30/10/08

At my church when this situation arises the congregation still form two lines going up to the priest who administers the host and gives a blessing to those not confirmed. but wishing to receive this. They then go to a person on either side of the priest to receive the wine, which is administered by those licensed to do this. We have never been instructed to give blessings as I thought that only an ordained person was authorised to do this.

Hope this helps

Best Wishes

Christine Hewitt

Derek Albert - 30/10/08

Several servers in our Church have been licensed by the Bishop to administer the Chalice at Mass, and, when needed, to take Holy Communion, taken from the reserved Sacrament held in the Tabernacle, to a sick member of our congregation who is unable to attend Mass. Giving a Blessing?...never. I wouldn't dare to presume that I would be worthy enough to do such a thing.
Derek Albert
Chapter of St Osyth - Buckinghamshire

David Jones - 30/10/08

Dear GSS,

I had faced a similar dilemma at our church in the USA, when, as a Lay Chalice Bearer, I was asked - at the Communion Rail - by a mother, to bless her child, who did not receive Communion. The Precious Body had already been administered by a licensed Lay Eucharistic Minister, one who had special authority for this.

I, too, felt uncomfortable with this, so I asked my Rector about it afterwords. I told him that I had placed my hand on the head of the child and said "May the Lord Bless you, in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost". Like David Rumsby, I did not consider it to be a "proper" "priestly" blessing because I am not a priest. However, my Rector said that it was the correct thing to do, in the circumstances of the moment. I was relieved at this, because, as I had told him, I took my duties in the sanctuary very seriously and do not wish to disobey or dishonour either our Church Rubrics or my obligation of obedience to our Rector and clergy.

On reflection, it seems that the Lord would have been calling me to "Suffer the little children to come unto me." This, especially so, as my supplication for God's blessing was, at that place and time, being offered and asked for, as a direct substitute for (one part of) the Blessed Sacrament. Therefore, as I am licensed to administer the one, I am, by implication, licensed to offer, or to ask for, the other. Which is the "greater" or "lesser" of the two is for God, only, to determine. Not I.

The Peace of the Lord be Always With You.

With Universal Love, Support and Respect,

David C. Jones (Age 73)
Lay Eucharistic Minister, Lector and Intercessor
Church of the Good Shepherd
Burke, Virginia. USA.

Peter Graham - 30/10/08

As the number of priests decline the laity will have to take more responsibility for administering the sacraments.

I would not be surprised if in 50 years time lay celebration of the Mass was normal I am not sure I will feel comfortable about that but I expect I will be long dead by then!

Good wishes

Peter Graham

Terry Delaney - 30/10/08

Maybe I am rather old fashioned but one does not believe that lay persons should administer any part of the Blessed Sacrament in either element.

Blessings in church or chapel with a Bishop/priest is present he is the only one to administer a Blessing. However at home within the family it is common practice to give a blessing to children or a sick person even to administering Holy Oils in extreme unction to give that sick member of the family strength from Our Lord and not to send them on their way as many people think!

It is quite common for one to say God Bless in general conversation or as a farewell and should not be confused, which is another way of saying "Goodbye" which is an abbreviation of "God be with you!".

Regards
Terry Delaney
Suffolk

Thank you - 30/10/08

Many thanks for your helpful replies. Particularly to Fr Moore who restates in simple truth what I have been taught. Thank you.

Peter Hooper - 30/10/08

Sorry but I see no difference in administering the host or the blood, both are the body of Christ. I am a Reader as well as a GSS member, and I regularly bless children during administering communion.

Peter Hooper 

Andrew Mays - 31/10/08

I like many others am licensed to assist the Priest by administering the Chalice at the Holy Mass.

When there was a Priest present I would NEVER consider it correct for me to administer the Host at a separate station, nor would I consider it correct for me to administer the
Chalice if another Priest was present in the Sanctuary.

However if, as occasionally can happen, a Priest cannot be present at an advertised Mass/ Holy Communion I would willingly administer the Most Holy and Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, from the Tabernacle, to those who are present if they wish.

I believe that as I have been considered worthy to administer the Chalice I am also worthy in such circumstances to administer the Body of Christ to those in need.

Andrew R Mays
Past Group Councillor PG 21

 1/11/08

The reception of the Host in the hand has been responsible for the attitude that prevails that anyone licensed to administer the chalice can also touch the Sacred Body of our Lord. Once upon a time only the priest handled the Host, the Sacrament being placed onto the tongue of the communicant.

Peter, no Deacon, Reader or chalice assistant has the authority to give a blessing. This is reserved for the Sacerdotal Priesthood, in spite of abuses that have crept in. The office of Reader is a lay function, although many who exercise this office tend to forget the fact and their yearning for a chasuble is barely disguised.

 5/11/08 - Eddie Bestwick

The Church may need to adapt as there becomes a greater shortage of priests. Our Reader at the end of a service she takes says the Grace or asks God's blessing but both of these on 'us' not 'you'. Regarding blessing at the altar rail when administering the chalice, surely the blessing is coming from the Divine Presence, whoever pronounces the words.
On a similar subject I remember at a Deanery synod some years ago an Evangelical colleague calling for Lay Presidency of the Communion. A Priest there countered by making, in my view, a good observation .. that that is what the Church does already ...it takes a lay person and ordains them a priest.
Eddie Bestwick, Leicestershire.

 6/11/08 - Geoff Peckham

Without getting in the general debate on the giving of a blessing, I was very sorry to read the anonymous answer posted on 1/11/08.

Firstly as a Reader of 10 years standing I am sorry to see the old comment on Readers of "The office of Reader is a lay function although many who exercise this office tend to forget the fact and their yearning for a chasuble is barely disguised."

As A member of the GSS and also involved with Readers at Diocesan level I wish this old chestnut was laid to rest. Yes there are some Readers who yearn to a priest but these are few in number and the few who truly and earnestly want to serve God as a priest are very sincere about their vocation, I am more concerned about lay people who have no formal training and are invited by ordained ministers to act like a Reader and even a 'quasi' priest. Readers have spent several years training and are not lightly licensed by the Bishop. So please do not churn out the old and quite often incorrect adage that Readers are priests in training or similar.

As Eddie quite rightly points out a Reader is allowed to 'ask' for God's blessing not only on the congregation but also on themselves.

Yours in Christ,

Geoff Peckham
Member -Chapter of the Holy Resurrection (Brighton)

 7/11/08 - Peter Hooper

I too was sorry to read the reply from Mr No-One. As a Reader I can give a form of Absolution at either Matins or Evensong both of which I am allowed by Licence to conduct. Giving the Blessing I do not use the words 'you' but 'us'. At communion I say' Bless this thy son/daughter, keep him/her safe in eternal life. Amen'

Peter Hooper

 7/6/11

I am sorry to disagree with the warden, but my Reader's license specifically states that I can administer the sacrament in either 'kind'. The same is true for eucharistic ministers licensed by the bishop.

I frequently administer the host when one of our clergy celebrates because he has a seriously bad back and suffers far more if he has communicated people kneeling. Since there is an aversion by many to receiving standing, this is the best solution. I also frequently administer the host when I take the reserved sacrament to the housebound - indeed, this is commonplace for Roman Catholic 'extraordinary Eucharistic ministers'.

When children are presented for blessing, I say something like, 'MAY Almighty God bless you' and have a host already in my hand in readiness for the next communicate and regard the host as giving the blessing rather than me (though that could open up a new can of worms on the lines of 'Can lay people conduct Benediction of ther blessed Sacrament?'! - the answer is no but I have conducted 'Devotions')

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