Called to minister

Do you have a ministry? While some are called to spend their whole lives in service in holy orders, all Christians are called to minister.

According to Merriam-Webster, one of the definitions of minister is ‘to give aid or service.’ Aid seems to be a very appropriate part of the definition, as it implies that a person receiving it is in need of help or assistance. The Beatitudes and the named works of mercy call us to be open to opportunities to help others in their need. Sometimes we are called look deeper and provide help in ways we may not have expected.

An Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion is a lay person who has been granted the privilege to distribute Holy Communion during Mass and/or immediately following to those who are unable to attend due to sickness or circumstance. On the surface, it seems quite simple in the Mass setting. As an individual approaches, the minister says, “The Body of Christ” when offering the host, or “The Blood of Christ” for the chalice. The recipient says, “Amen” and the sacrament is given. But in that moment, the recipient is coming to the Lord for His sustenance. One can look at an extraordinary minister as just a vehicle used to dispense the sacrament or an active participant in the exchange.

Being an extraordinary minister, I can’t say I’m totally comfortable giving out Communion and I hope I never will be, for when it becomes comfortable will be when I feel I don’t have appropriate respect for the Eucharist. I approach it with a mixture of awe, knowing I’m unworthy, and a bit of fear of messing up (like spilling the ciborium).

Recently I was asked to substitute at a Mass I normally attend. There were many faces I recognized and various attitudes of those receiving. However as one woman received, she seemed troubled. I did not recall her from the past and I can’t say it was one thing in particular, but rather the whole act of receiving that formed the “troubled” thought in my mind. Immediately another thought followed that I should pray for her. I don’t know who she was or what help she needed, but if through my prayers she could receive the aid she needed, then I felt obliged to pray for her. Perhaps other extraordinary ministers routinely pray for those who receive from their hands. For me though, it was a defining moment that the ministry can go deeper than what is expected if I am open to God’s will. 

We are all called to serve God in many ways, but even the simplest and most obvious can be deeper if we remain open to God’s call. Our yes to God is never a once-and-done response, but a continual call. How are you called to serve or go deeper?

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