Liturgical Norms and Guidelines

Communion During the Cold and Flu Season

The Office of Liturgy offers the following suggestions regarding the Sign of Peace and Communion from the Cup or Chalice during the cold and flu season.

The Office of Liturgy offers the following suggestions regarding the Sign of Peace and Communion from the Cup or Chalice during the cold and flu season.

The Rite of Peace

The Rite of Peace is part of the Roman Catholic Mass. According to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM):

82. The Rite of peace follows [the Lord’s Prayer], by which the Church asks for peace and unity for herself and for the whole human family, and the faithful express to each other their ecclesial communion and mutual charity before communicating in the Sacrament.

While the Order of Mass uses the term “if appropriate” regarding the invitation to exchange the sign of peace, this rubric seems to pale when taking into account the historic nature of the first Christians exchanging the sign of peace at the Eucharist as well as other sections of the GIRM that suppose or imply the sign of peace will be given. (C.f. 82, 239) The invitation to offer a sign that is meant to express “ecclesial communion and mutual charity” (GIRM 82) could hardly be seen as inappropriate except in extreme circumstances. In such extreme instances there are still options available that would preclude the omission of the exchange of peace.

Since the General Instruction of the Roman Missal does not specify a particular manner of offering a sign of peace, and since even under ordinary circumstances some people are not able to shake hands due to medical conditions, one might choose among a number of other options instead of shaking hands to:

  • Make a reverential bow of the head to the people around you and say, “Peace be with you.”
  • Simply say “Peace be with you” without any gesture.

Distribution of Communion Under Both Kinds

Pastors are strongly encouraged to continue to offer Holy Communion in its “fuller form” (GIRM 281) of consecrated bread and wine.

  1. If the Priest celebrant’s health is compromised by cold or flu, then the priest’s chalice should be restricted to him only and not used to distribute the Precious Blood to other ministers or the assembly.  Additional chalices should be used for common distribution.
  2. It is the decision of each individual communicant to receive the Precious Blood.  Always keep in mind that some communicants may ONLY receive from the cup because of particular medical conditions. Those who suspect symptoms that may signal impending flu or cold should refrain from receiving the Precious Blood and receive only the Body of Christ in the species of the consecrated host until the person is well again.
  3. Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion should practice good hygiene before leaving their seat to minister communion. It is not recommended for EMHCs to ritualize the act of hand washing or sanitizing at the credence table or in the sanctuary since it is distracting and unsightly. EMHCs could carry a small alcohol-based hand gel and use it at their seat immediately following the Sign of Peace before they approach the altar to perform their ministry.
  4. Sacristans and others who hygienically wash the vessels after the have been ritually purified should be sure to use soap and hot water to wash the vessels.

Personal prudence and responsibility should always prevail when individuals are experiencing illness or a compromised immune system.

The following are the most current liturgical norms and guidelines:

Baccalaureate Guidelines

Celebration and Reception of First Communion

Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion

Normas para los Ministros Extraordinarios de la Sagrada Comunión

Guidelines for Marriage

Guidelines for Projection

Guidelines for Sacristans

Ministry of Altar Server

Ministry of Reader

Order of Christian Funerals

Norms for Deacons Serving at Mass

Celebration of the Eucharist at which the Bishop Presides

Liturgical Notes

Celebration of the Eucharist at which a Bishop Presides

We read in the Ceremonial of Bishops: “The bishop himself is the chief steward of the mysteries of God and the overseer, promoter, and guardian of all liturgical life in the particular church entrusted to his care”.  Therefore, the preeminent manifestation of the local Church is present when the bishop celebrates the Eucharist, surrounded by his presbyters and ministers, and with the full, active participation of all God’s holy people.  Thus a Eucharistic liturgy at which a bishop is the principal celebrant takes on a special character and dignity.

Use of Ordinary and Extra-Ordinary Ministers of Holy Communion

Just a simple reminder that Extra-Ordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (EMHC) should only be used when there are not sufficient priests and deacons (Ordinary Ministers of Holy Communion) present at the Mass. (GIRM 162) Priests, distributing the Body of Christ, and deacons, distributing the Blood of Christ, take precedence over all EMHC in the distribution of Holy Communion.

Holy Communion under Both Kinds

Holy Communion (in the Dioceses of the United States) can and should be offered under both kinds at any celebration of the Mass. The faithful should receive Holy Communion from hosts consecrated at the celebration of the Eucharist at which they participate (GIRM 85).

Five Questions on the Distribution of Holy Communion from the Tabernacle

Questions on Distribution

Over the years, the Office of Liturgy has addressed the question of the distribution of Holy Communion from the tabernacle on numerous occasions. In the light of the more recent urgings of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal and the instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum, the following questions and answers are provided as a resource to our readers.

  1. How is the participation of the faithful more clearly expressed by the reception of hosts consecrated at the same Mass?Should Holy Communion be regularly distributed from the tabernacle?
    No. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) makes clear that “it is most desirable that the faithful, just as the priest himself is bound to do, receive the Lord’s Body from hosts consecrated at the same Mass and that, in the instances when it is permitted, they partake of the chalice, (2) so that even by means of the signs Communion will stand out more clearly as a participation in the sacrifice actually being celebrated.”

  2. How is the participation of the faithful more clearly expressed by the reception of hosts consecrated at the same Mass?
    This participation is manifested in the two great processions of the faithful at Mass. In the presentation of the gifts first, the faithful present the bread and wine for the sacrifice. Along with the gift of their very lives. The very same bread and wine which they have offered is them consecrated by the action of the Priest and returned to them as the Body and Blood of their Lord when they come forward in procession to receive Holy Communion.
  3. What is the primary purpose of reserving consecrated hosts in the tabernacle?
    Consecrated hosts are reserved in the tabernacle for the administration of viaticum, the communion of the sick and adoration of the Most Holy Eucharist outside Mass.
  4. What are the roots of the preference for the distribution of hosts consecrated at the same Mass?
    In 1742, Pope Benedict XIV urging the promotion of frequent reception of Holy Communion, highlights the reception of Holy Communion consecrated at the same Mass when “one and the same sacrifice is shared” by the priest and the faithful. This teaching was echoed by Pope Pius XII in his 1947 encyclical on the liturgy, commending those who “when present at Mass, receive hosts consecrated at the same Mass, so that it is actually verified, ‘that as many of us, as, at this altar, shall partake of and receive the most holy body and blood of thy Son, may be filled with every heavenly blessing and grace’ (Encyclical letter Mediator Dei, no. 121). The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council thus taught: “that more complete form of participation in the Mass by which the faithful, after the priest’s communion, receive the Lord’s body from the sacrifice, is strongly endorsed.”

    Cf. GIRM, no. 283; Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion Under Both Kinds in theDioceses of the United States of America.
    GIRM, no. 85; cf. Eucharisticum Mysterium, nos. 31, 32, and Immensae Caritatis, pp. 267-268.
    -Cf. GIRM, no. 44
    Cf. Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist Outside Mass (HCWEOM), no. 7, Eucharisticum Mysterium #49
    Certiores Effecti, no. 7
    Sacrosanctum Concilium, no. 44

  5. How can this goal be practically achieved?
    Pastors who have implemented this provision advise that the first step is the acceptance of the ideal of enabling the faithful to receive hosts consecrated in the same Mass.8 The training of sacristans, ushers, greeters and other ministers in determining the approximate size of the congregation has also been helpful in this regard.

The Use of Mustum and Low-Gluten Hosts at Mass

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments have been trying to resolve the difficulties that some of the faithful encounter in receiving Holy Communion when for various reasons they are unable to consume normal bread and wine. New norms have recently been issued regarding the use of mustum (grape juice in which fermentation has begun) and low-gluten hosts (made solely of wheat with only enough gluten to effect the confection of bread).

The congregation reminds the faithful that those who are unable to receive Holy Communion under the species of “bread” may receive Holy Communion under the species of “wine” alone. This is an important reason that Holy Communion be offered under both species at all Masses celebrated. While it had previously been only under the authority of the local bishop to permit the use of mustum and low gluten-hosts, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has granted that the provision of this may now be granted to pastors (Canon 137.1).

There is a distinction made between clergy and the faithful in the use of mustum and low-gluten hosts. The documentation for this is found in the November 2003 edition of the BCL Newsletter which may be found either at the USCCB website or on request from the Office of Liturgy.

The use of Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest:

The use of this ritual text is solely at the direction of the Bishop (#8, 10 and 14). Before the use of this ritual, permission must be given by the Bishop or one of the Vicars General.

Mass Stipends and Mass Intentions:

Only a single paid and published Mass intention can be made for a Celebration of the Eucharist. Please refer to Canons 946, 947 and 948. Separate Masses are to be applied for each offering. At a concelebrated Mass there may be intentions equal to the number of concelebrating priests.

Liturgical Books in Spanish:

The use of the Mexican translations of the Misal Romano and the Leccionario are properly used in the United States for the Celebration of Mass. These books, published by the Mexican Conference of Bishops, are available through Liturgical Press.