A Minister of Communion distributes Holy Communion, as a minister of the host, or minister of the cup either at Mass, or carries the host to the sick, homebound, or hospitalized.
On January 29, 1973, Pope Paul VI issued an instruction Immense Caritatis (of Immense Love) on “Facilitating Sacramental Communion in particular circumstances.” In his instruction, Paul VI lists the qualities which, ideally, should be present in the minister of communion.
“The person who has been appointed… must be duly instructed and should distinguish himself by Christian life, faith, and morals, striving to be worthy of this great office, cultivating devotion to the Holy Eucharistic and acting as an example to the other faithful by peity and reverence for this most holy sacrament of the altar. Let no one be chosen whose selection may cause scandal among the faithful.”
The invitation to be a special minister of communion is extended to the man or woman who is following the way of Christian life, faith and morals. There are circumstances in which it would be inappropriate for a person to assume the ministry, such as the following:
- persons who are not validly married in the church (married with the “Catholic form” of marriage)
- persons living together before marriage
- persons having a problem involving alcohol or drugs
- persons whose work or other activities are not in keeping with Christian values or Christian morality
The church well understands human weakness. It recognizes that we all sometimes fall short in our efforts to follow short in our efforts to follow the Lord. Yet the church calls those who would serve in this special ministry to be persons recognized for their Christian life, faith, and morals in the words of the instruction, “Let not one be chosen whose selection may cause scandal among the faithful.” The minister of communion is called to be “an example to the other faithful by peity and reverence for the most holy sacrament of the altar.”
Special ministers of the body and blood of Christ are to help, by their service and example. To build up the Eucharistic worship of the church. Their service is given to the sacrament “of immense love” which Christ has given to the whole church.