for EXTRAORDINARY MINISTERS
of the SACRED LITURGY
Particular Norms in Accord with
The General Instruction of The Roman Missal
Third Typical Edition, 2010
ISSUED & REVISED SEPTEMBER 2016
Thank You for discerning a call to serve in a special role within the sacred liturgical rites of our parishes. It is a great privilege to assist the clergy as they offer worship to God on behalf of the souls of the people in their care.
In a concrete way, your service in or near the sanctuary helps Jesus to reach out and minister to His people.
Definition of Minister
The Catholic Church makes several distinctions when using the word minister, both of which are connected to The Sacrament of Baptism and the triple office of Jesus Christ: namely that of priest, prophet and king.
The Second Vatican Council Decree on the Life of the Laity, Apostolicam Actuositatem, states that all of the baptized share in the mission of Jesus in The Church – namely, the salvation of souls:
The mission of the Church pertains to the salvation of men, which is to be achieved by belief in Christ and by His grace. The apostolate of the Church and of all its members is primarily designed to manifest Christ's message by words and deeds and to communicate His grace to the world. This is done mainly through the ministry of the Word and the sacraments, entrusted in a special way to the clergy, wherein the laity also have their very important roles to fulfill if they are to be "fellow workers for the truth" (3 John 8). It is especially on this level that the apostolate of the laity and the pastoral ministry are mutually complementary.
(Apostolicam Actuositatem, 6.)
Our common baptismal call sends us into the Church and the world. The different fields into which we bring the Gospel is known as the apostolate:
The Church was founded for the purpose of spreading the kingdom of Christ throughout the earth for the glory of God the Father, to enable all men to share in His saving redemption, and that through them the whole world might enter into a relationship with Christ. All activity of the Mystical Body directed to the attainment of this goal is called the apostolate, which the Church carries on in various ways through all her members. For the Christian vocation by its very nature is also a vocation to the apostolate.(Apostolicam Actuositatem, 2.)
The council fathers suggest that the parish church is the first best place to exercise this common vocation, though ministry in the church building is not the extent of our baptismal vocation:
The parish offers an obvious example of the apostolate on the community level inasmuch as it brings together the many human differences within its boundaries and merges them into the universality of the Church. The laity should accustom themselves to working in the parish in union with their priests, bringing to the Church community their own and the world's problems as well as questions concerning human salvation, all of which they should examine and resolve by deliberating in common. As far as possible the laity ought to provide helpful collaboration for every apostolic and missionary undertaking sponsored by their local parish. (Apostolicam Actuositatem, 10.)
A minister is anyone who undertakes the work of the apostolate in an official capacity, often with some form of theological, liturgical, or other training. All work within the apostolate done by a minister, whether ordained or in the lay state, must be mandated by the Church. In short, there are no “free agents,” but rather the Church calls forth from the many talents of her members, those needed to fulfill tasks related to announcing the Kingdom of God and winning souls for Christ.
From Where Does This Information Come?
The Roman Missal
Much of the information contained in this manual comes from a document called “The General Instruction of The Roman Missal” located in the front of The Roman Missal, the red book that the priest uses for the celebration of the Mass. It contains a step by step guide for the priest and other ministers in the liturgy. It also has directives on music, vesture, architecture, and other information related to the celebration of The Mass.
The Code of Canon Law
The Code of Canon Law, revised in 1983, provides the legal norms of legislation for the entire Roman Catholic Church. In the same way that people who live in a certain country observe a civil law that keeps order and promotes the common good, all Catholics (clergy and laity) are governed by the Codex Iuris Canonici, in matters spiritual, moral, and temporal.
In 2004, Pope St. John Paul II issued a document called Redemptionis Sacramentum (The Sacraments of Redemption), which is “on certain matters to be observed or to be avoided regarding the Most Holy Eucharist.” In it, The Holy Father clarified some of the actions and postures clergy and laity alike should undertake, explaining the deeper level of liturgical norms in the light of recent abuses of liturgical law throughout the world:
For the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial or hierarchical Priesthood, though they differ in essence and not only in degree, are ordered to one another, for both partake, each in its own way, of the one Priesthood of Christ.( Lumen Gentium, 10.)
… the participation of the lay faithful too in the Eucharist and in the other celebrations of the Church’s rites cannot be equated with mere presence, and still less with a passive one, but is rather to be regarded as a true exercise of faith and of the baptismal dignity. ( Redemptionis Sacramentum, 37.)
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
The Bishops’ Conference of the United States occasionally issue guidelines for use in the dioceses of our country. These guidelines aim to bring clarity to the universal liturgical law of the Church, contained in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal.
The Norms for the Distribution of Holy Communion Under Both Kinds
One such document from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops includes the special permission (called an indult) given to the dioceses of the United States of America to allow the faithful to receive Holy Communion under both species. While this indult in expired in 2005 and has not been renewed by The Holy See, the presumption in our diocese is that this permission is still given by the diocesan bishop.