Question: I fell away from the Church some years ago and now I am in jail for a brief time. I have thought of becoming an extraordinary minister of holy Communion. Am I unworthy?
— Darren J. Raffner, Ebensburg, Pa.
Answer: The fact is we are all unworthy — whether we are ordinary ministers or extraordinary. The fact that St. Peter and St. Paul spent time in prison provides some perspective here.
I see no reason you could not be an extraordinary minister — even in jail. You could be a sign of hope to your fellow inmates. And, if I were your pastor, I would welcome you into this role in the parish — unless I heard anything else that would be prohibitive.
Sanitizer in sanctuary
Question: As a priest, I have noticed the widespread use of hand sanitizer in the sanctuary by extraordinary ministers and priests before Communion. This seems to be a ritual distraction. I realize what they are trying to accomplish, but I find it distracting and unnecessary. Please comment.
— Name and city withheld, Massachusetts
Answer: There is a need for some education here. Priests, people and extraordinary ministers of Communion need to know that the giving and receiving Communion are not unsanitary. If it is, then we are all in trouble. The fact is going to church and breathing the same air and giving the sign of peace are more unsanitary.
What you describe is often done before giving the chalice to the people. This sends a wrong message and discourages people from receiving the chalice. As I mentioned before, studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and one commissioned by the archbishop of Canterbury show that the chalice poses no extraordinary risk.
Gesture during Confiteor
Question: In the new Missal, I find myself worrying about a lack of specificity in the matter of the Confiteor. I am old enough to remember the threefold striking of the breast in pre-Conciliar days. What is your position on this?
—J. K., Murray, Utah
Answer: I find that one naturally strikes one’s breast three times with the three-fold phrase, “Through my fault, thought my fault, through my most grievous fault.” Don’t get hung up on numbers. God knows what is in your heart.
EWTN and Catholic radio
Question: Please comment on EWTN and local Catholic radio in Utah. I find myself becoming scrupulous in confession after I listen to local Catholic radio. It makes me think that I should not go to Communion so often.
— J.B. Sandy, Utah
Answer: I admit that I have been critical of EWTN in the past, but now I watch it regularly, and I find most of the programming very helpful. I think Raymond Arroyo is an excellent news analyst and commentator.
Catholic radio is another matter. I am sure there are many good things about it, but from what you say there are reasons to be concerned. Becoming scrupulous and avoiding Communion is not generally a good result. The bishop is the final arbiter of what is preached within his diocese.
Msgr. M. Francis Mannion is a priest and theologian of the Diocese of Salt Lake City. Send your questions to Pastoral Answers, Our Sunday Visitor, 200 Noll Plaza, Huntington, IN 46750 or to firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters must be signed, but anonymity may be requested.