Monday, August 8, 2011

Practical Thoughts on Distribution of Communion

The biggest crisis in Catholic symbolic praxis today is almost certainly the abomination of communion on the hand. The total collapse of liturgy and tradition is most evident, painfully so, when you see some lay woman in a pant-suit and with her head uncovered putting the Blessed Sacrament into another lay woman's hands. Sometimes this idea that we can all just handle the eucharist now tempts me to throw up my hands and say "the farce is up!" and abandon religion entirely, because the total annihilation of the Sacred is, in this ultimate profanation, so seemingly evident.

But enough bitter ranting about that tragedy. Today, some practical considerations:

First, while I was at Mass today, it again struck me how long it takes them to distribute all the communion plates and cups to the ten EMHCs. This alone takes a good three minutes, even though distribution of communion itself, after that, takes only like ten. So using all those EMHCs takes time too, even if there is a net gain.

Second, it strikes me that people approaching in a line standing is not necessarily the fastest way to distribute. Certainly, having one line per minister makes little sense to me, as then we must always wait for the person who just received to step aside. If we are going to approach standing in lines, I think it would go quicker for each minister to have two lines. Then the minister can alternate lines and be giving communion to the person at the front of one line while the previous person from the other line is moving out of the way (and the next person taking his place, whom you can then immediately distribute to rather than having to wait for him to move up a spot).

Third, I've always found it inefficient how even trad churches distribute communion at the rail. I think the priest walking along the line giving communion could be just-as or even more efficient as the people approaching him in a line, but a lot of time is lost by the the "return trip" back to the beginning of the rail to distribute to the next rank of people.

Given that the people waiting fill-in pretty quickly when the people who have just received get seems to me that, in many churches (depending on the length of the sanctuary), it might just be a more efficient use of time for the priest to simply wait a few seconds at the end of a trip to the left until the last few communicants have been "replaced" by the people behind them, and then start distributing again going down the line to the right starting with these. Wait a few seconds at the end of this trip to the right, and then start distributing again going down the line to the left, and continue to alternate back-and-forth like this.

To me, only distributing in one direction and then trekking back up to the "beginning" after every iteration seems inefficient. Is there any reason my way isn't done??


Hassidic Catholic said...

At least the EMHC you saw was wearing a pantsuit. The one I saw at a parish last week was administering the sacrament in a T-shirt, "Daisy Dukes", (ie: short shorts), and sandals.

Who Am I said...

And this is part of the reason I have a HUGE problem with Altar Servers handling vessels. It was the next logical step.