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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. 1. During lay ministry services, are the Eucharistic Ministry permitted to distribute Holy Communion? It is my understanding that the Holy Communion can only be distributed during Holy Mass.

A. 1. In Canon Law # 917, we read that while you are allowed to receive Holy Communion twice a day, such is only within the Holy Mass. Consequently, it is understood that if you receive Communion only once during the day, such must be during the Holy Mass.

How does this relate to lay ministry services? Communion services, also known as lay ministry services, are strictly intended to be a means of providing Communion to those who are unable for serious reason to attend Mass. As one person said, "Communion can be received outside of Mass (with the approval of the local Bishop,) but a Communion service should not be seen as an "alternative" to Mass. It is an accommodation in serious circumstances, nothing more." If you lived in the North Pole, this rule would apply to you because priests are few and rare.

In most cases in North America, there are so many Churches available that should one Church be without a priest on a particular Sunday, the parishioners can drive to another Church that is just minutes away. Under such circumstances, they do not qualify to participate in a Communion service. They are required to attend Sunday Mass under the penalty of a mortal sin if they do not. And, should they commit that mortal sin, they cannot receive Holy Communion until such time as that sin has been forgiven through the Sacrament of Confession.

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