What being an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion means to me

Back in February, I was mandated as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion (EMHC, otherwise known as Eucharistic Minister).  I decided to participate in this ministry after much prayer and after reading the book Eucharistic Miracles by Joan Carroll Cruz.  The book outlines miraculous occurrences surrounding the Blessed Sacrament, but the section of the book that I found most moving described the role of the Eucharist in the lives of the saints.  The true devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and the fervent reverence shown by various saints are ultimately what moved me to action.  It was only a few short weeks after I finished the book that the Time and Talent sheets got circulated around the parish, and before I knew it I was signing up to find out more information.

A few weeks later, I was mandated by our priest and trained by another EMHC.  During the mandating and the blessing, the priest remarked that I would be required to help distribute the Blessed Sacrament when needed at the parish and I may be asked to distribute to the homebound or infirmed of the parish.  In extreme circumstances, I may even be called upon to administer Viaticum (Eucharist to the dying).  Fair enough.  The priest joked with me after the mandating was complete that most people don’t know that they sign up for all of that, but not to worry… all of it is voluntary.

Fast forward a few months, and I find myself taking the Eucharist to the homebound of our parish.

Two weeks ago was our annual training meeting, where we get together and work through the logistics of arranging ourselves around the altar when it was time for Communion and the like.  Our priest took a few minutes to speak to us about the important privilege that we have to be able to announce to the communicant that what we bring to them actually is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord, and that when we elevate the host and say the words “The Body of Christ” we are not only informing them of that fact but also reminding them that they comprise the Mystical Body of Christ as well.  As EMHC’s, we get to proclaim and remind them of both of these profound mysteries.

When I think back through the accounts provided in Eucharistic Miracles, I am constantly reminded of the prayer “I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof…” because frankly, I’m not worthy.  When I take the Eucharist to the homebound, I see reflections of this saintly reverence on the faces of the communicants and I go through the prayers and bring the Lord to them.  I see the relief and thanks in their eyes when the service is over.  Getting to experience the Eucharist through the eyes of these people, some of whom have been suffering with illness or loss for years, has brought me closer to the Lord as well.  I get to see the grace that these people receive, the relief they experience, and how truly important the Lord is during their time of need.  It has taught me to respect the Eucharist in a new and quite profound way, and to not take it for granted.

I consider it an extreme honor to be trusted with this responsibility.  I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to serve the Church in this way.  The experience of being an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion has been a wellspring of grace for me, and as the Year of Faith continues I will share a few additional stories in some detail.

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