Distribution of Communion from the High Altar normally requires all three sacred ministers, so two additional clergy or servers are required if Communion is to be distributed at All Saints’ Chapel for persons who are unable to manage the steps to the high altar. On days when large attendance is expected, there may be a communion station in the Lady Chapel as well.
Clergy not serving as sacred ministers will be assigned by the MC to administer Communion at one of these locations.
Lay people may be appointed to assist with the distribution of communion on those days when there are insufficient clergy to administer the Sacrament. Chalice ministers, or Lay Eucharistic Ministers (LEM), to use the canonical title, are licensed by the bishop at the recommendation of the rector, vicar, or priest-in-charge. They may assist at any Sunday or weekday Mass as needed. In the event that no licensed person is available and it would be a hardship for the priest alone to administer both species, at the discretion of the clergy an unlicensed person may be appointed, for that Mass only, to administer a chalice.
Assisting ministers vest in black cassock and surplice. Clergy wear stoles according to their order. The customary rules of liturgical etiquette apply. LEMs assist with set-up and clean-up along with other servers. They may help the clergy to remove vestments in the baptistery at the end of Mass.
Assisting clergy and LEMs follow the verger in procession in hierarchical order. Lay people enter first, followed by choir deacons, and then choir priests. If there are two LEMs, they walk together, and clergy in the same orders should also walk in pairs. They go to their assigned places in choir and remain facing east until the genuflection and then face across. They sit after the collect and stand when the choir stands for the gradual verse. They face the Gospel Book during the reading of the Gospel, facing across again when the altar party returns to the chancel. They face east for the Creed and face across again for the prayers.
At the Agnus Dei, they rise, go to center (together if more than one is present) and proceed to the east end of the choir, where they wait for thurifer and torches to exit. They then proceed to the altar rail and genuflect together. They then go to the north end of the altar and ascend to the third step at the side. The celebrant communicates them and then gives them vessels. Normally, the cleric will administer the Host and the second cleric or LEM will have the chalice, but it is permissible in the absence of a sufficient number of clergy that a licensed lay person may administer the paten.
When the celebrant gives the Invitation to Communion and the bell has been rung, the CMs proceed to All Saints’ Chapel. The chalice minister removes the pall from the chalice and places it top down on the altar to prevent staining of the fair linen. They communicate the crucifer who is appointed to count communions and then the people, beginning at the south end of the rail and working north.
Communion is administered with the traditional words of administration:
Host: The Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life. Take and eat this in remembrance that Christ died for thee, and feed on him in thy heart by faith, and with thanksgiving.
Chalice: The Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which was shed for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life. Drink this in remembrance that Christ’s Blood was shed for thee, and be thankful.
(Short form—may be used at weekday Low Masses)
Host: The Body of Christ, the Bread of Heaven or The Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ keep you in everlasting life.
Chalice: The Blood of Christ, the Cup of Salvation or The Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ keep you in everlasting life.
Normally, four people may be given Hosts and two people each the chalice each time the words are repeated. The chalice minister will wipe the rim of the chalice with the purificator to clean the rim of lipstick and germs. If the chalice minister should run out of consecrated wine, he/she returns to the altar and pours from the flagon. All pouring must be done at the altar. Never try to pour from the chalice of another minister while at the rail. The celebrant may transfer Hosts to or from another ciborium, but this should be done discreetly while facing away from the people.
For those who wish to receive by intinction (dipping the Host in the chalice), the chalice minister shifts the chalice to the left hand and takes the Host from the communicant with the thumb and index finger (or first two fingers) of the right, curling the other fingers into the palm. The chalice minister dips the Host in the chalice and places it on the communicant’s tongue, then wipes his/her fingers on the purificator before moving to the next communicant. Some communicants may wish to dip the Host themselves. While we discourage this practice, it is even more unseemly to get into a tug-of-war at the altar rail. If the communicant does not surrender the Host to the chalice minister, lower the chalice to a comfortable level so the communicant can dip it.
The chalice minister should never let the chalice out of his/her hands. This can be a challenge if the minister is communicating a standing person taller than him/herself. The communicant should not touch the chalice except to help guide it to his/her lips; if a standing communicant should be taller than the chalice minister, the communicant should bow from the shoulders enough to facilitate reception of the chalice.
If a Host is dropped the minister should pick It up and quickly consume It and administer a new Host. If consecrated wine is spilled, place the purificator over the spot and the MC or an acolyte will bring a clean one. No special purification of the spot need be performed after Mass. Wine-soaked linens are rinsed carefully in the piscina after Mass.
When all have communicated in the All Saints Chapel, the chalice minister retrieves the pall and the Choir Ministers return to the high altar, where the paten minister may assist at the Gospel-side end of the rail. The chalice minister places the chalice on the corporal, genuflects, and returns to his/her place in choir. When leaving the altar, walk sidewise (“crab walk”) down the steps so as not to turn one’s back to the Sacrament.
The paten minister finishes administering and then places the ciborium on the corporal and waits for the celebrant to place all unconsumed hosts in the ciborium. S/he then returns the veiled ciborium to the Sacrament House, genuflects, and then closes the door and the veil. S/he returns to his or her seat in choir.
After the dismissal, ALL rise, face east for the genuflection, and proceed out in the order in which they came.
If the Lady Chapel is used as a communion station, the assisting ministers will go the Epistle end of the High Altar to receive Communion and their vessels. An acolyte is then appointed to count communions.
If the only clergy present are the Celebrant and Deacon, the Deacon will administer Hosts at All Saints’ and a second LEM will take the Gospel end of the rail, while the Subdeacon takes the Epistle end