The following is excerpted from a July 2018 pastoral guide for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion from Bishop Vasa of Santa Rosa:

The goal of this booklet and other liturgical directives is to assure that we always approach Sacred things with a clear and considered respect. The terms I like to use are: Reverence, Attention and Devotion. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal speaks of “supreme reverence and adoration”. Pope John Paul II in his Encyclical, Ecclesia de Eucharistia notes, “There can be no danger of excess in our care for this mystery”.

REMOTE PREPARATION: There are two types of preparation: Remote and Immediate. By remote preparation we understand two things. First, it entails that general review of our life and lifestyle which calls us to determine whether we are properly disposed to exercise Sacred duties in the Liturgical assembly. There are a variety of Examinations of Conscience which could be used as the basis for this general remote preparation for Ministry

Second, remote preparation refers to that preparation which ought to begin several hours prior to the exercise of our Ministry. All Catholics are reminded that a part of the remote preparation for Holy Communion includes fasting from all food and drink (including coffee) for at least one hour prior to Holy Communion. In my view, it is preferable to begin this fast one hour before the time when Mass is scheduled to begin. It would certainly not be inappropriate for those who are going to handle the Sacred Species to fast for a longer period of time. This assures that we begin to anticipate the role we will fulfill, the significance of that role and the holiness of the things we will touch. It is also good to anticipate our upcoming duties by trying to do some spiritual and reflective preparation, reading the Scripture of the day, reviewing the Mass prayers, coming to Church earlier so that we may have some prayerful time with our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

IMMEDIATE PREPARATION: The Liturgical books call for a period of silence before the beginning of Mass. Whether other members of the Church observe this silence or not those preparing to be Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion must help set the standard and give witness to the reverence and devotion owed to our Lord in the Tabernacle. As Extraordinary Ministers of His Most Holy Body and Blood it is fitting that you set a standard. When Lay Persons set that standard it is particularly effective. Your active and fruitful participation at Mass, your attentiveness to the prayers and responses, your reverence whether standing or kneeling, your interior devotion and single heartedness each give marvelous witness to our Faith in the Lord’s Real Presence. In the older Confirmation epiclesis prayer the Bishop would say: “Fill them with a Spirit of wonder and awe in your Presence!” Fill yourselves with a spirit of wonder and awe in God’s Presence and inspire your fellow parishioners to do likewise.


DRESS: The first three rules of dress are modesty, modesty, modesty. While I wish I could simply say, modest, clean, neat, and respectful and be confident that we all envision the same standard it is not likely to be the case. Unfortunately these seem to be a very relative terms and need to be more clearly delineated. At the risk of offending I will try to be specific. I believe that anyone coming to Church should always be modestly and appropriately attired unless it is simply not possible to do so. Those who exercise Ministerial roles should strive to set an even higher standard even when not serving in this capacity. Slacks or dresses should not be too casual, not too tight, not too loose, not too long and not too short. Thus excluded would be shorts of any type for both men and women, dresses above the knee, or slit up the side significantly above the knee, petal pushers, baggy or ripped jeans, low rise slacks, spandex, and the like.

While jeans are not recommended, it is recognized that in some communities jeans are common Sunday wear. For Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, even in these rural communities, it is recommended that they dress ‘up’. Shirts or blouses or sweaters must also be modest. T-shirts, tube and tank tops are absolutely inappropriate. Shirts with messages of any kind are discouraged. Bare shoulders for men or women are not commensurate with the dignity of the duty to be undertaken. Sleeveless shirts, blouses or dresses, even in the summertime lack a certain appropriateness and are strongly discouraged. Shirts or blouses should normally be buttoned to the collarbone but need not necessarily be buttoned to the neck. Bare midriff attire is forbidden. Dresses with necklines below the collar bone are forbidden.

EXCESS: Just as being too casual can be distracting to the Christian faithful and even disrespectful to our Lord so also being too elaborate in dress can likewise be distracting. Excessive worldliness in style, multiple rings on fingers, toe rings, excessive jewelry, spike heels and the like do not give suitable witness to a detachment from the things of this world. These things do not edify the Faithful. Simplicity is a virtue and this does not conflict with modest, clean, neat and respectful.

DEMEANOR: The manner in which you enter Church, approach the altar, genuflect and bow testifies to your recognition of the sacredness of the place you are entering and the task you are undertaking. These must be done reverently, devoutly, and attentively. These are times the devil works the hardest to distract us from our appointed duties. Maintaining a reverent silence in the Church, especially if others do not, can give great testimony.

Full story at Diocese of Santa Rosa website.