Instruct the Uninformed – 7QT, Volume 54

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Have you ever been an Extraordinary Minister? What we used to call “Eucharistic Ministers,” we should now call “Extraordinary Ministers.” That is my first instruction in this 7 Quick Takes version of this week’s Bright Maiden’s topic on the first Spiritual Work of Mercy, “Instruct the Uninformed.”

This is a tough task to ask of people trying to attract others to the Faith. To “instruct the uninformed” or to “instruct the ignorant,” as it is often stated, sounds arrogant. As if we must bless others with the knowledge we have and they go without. But how often do we welcome instruction when we really need it?

Isn’t that what all of those college loans are for? Aren’t you glad to learn the tips and tricks you find on how to make life easier on Pinterest? When you’re unsure about something, don’t you wish someone would just set the record straight?

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This is where we come in. Extraordinary Ministers hold the great position of distributing the Eucharist to His people. We actually give Jesus to hundreds of people.

“This is the Body of Christ” — Words of true weight pass our lips for fifteen minutes.

So what do you do when someone approaches you and obviously doesn’t know what you’re about to give them?

In most situations (ie, apathetic teens), we can only instruct with “This is the Body of Christ,” saying it with purpose. However, when someone is chewing gum, they are obviously ignorant of what they’re doing and unprepared to receive the Eucharist.

A fellow EM of mine says that when a parishioner approaches him with gum showing in the corners of their mouth, he leans down and says, “I can’t serve you with gum in your mouth. Go spit it out and then get back in line, please.”

It sounds harsh, but those who chew gum moments before receiving the Eucharist really shouldn’t receive at all. They haven’t prepared for it. However, that moment is a moment wherein this person could completely turn away from the Church out of embarrassment or recognize that this EM is giving them a second chance.

Then they work out the rest with God.

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One of my biggest pet peeves as an EM is a silly little ritual many parishioners at my church go through and I would love your input on how to handle it. Several married couples will approach me together, wait for me to give them both the Eucharist, and then receive it together.

ARGH! I should be concentrating on ministering, and I usually snap back into it. Quite frankly, when they stand side-by-side, I think, “Y’all are consuming the Eucharist! You’re in full Communion with EVERYONE who has ever consumed the Eucharist! You’re in full Communion with Christ! Why do you feel you have to add this extra bit of ‘specialness?'”

I’ve settled on the decision to just administer to the Eucharist to these folks rather than whispering, “I’ll serve you, one at a time.” What do you think we should do in this case, Extraordinary Ministers out there? Is this silly to you or are you ready to throw a punch at me?

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A friend once went to Mass and sat behind a young boy who, upon returning from the Eucharist line, proceeded to rip the Eucharist wafer into little pieces and tossing them into the air. He caught the pieces and threw them up in the air again.

Horrified, my friend’s husband asked the boy if he was going to consume the Eucharist, while the boy’s mom sat a few feet away.

It made no disturbance in the pew, my friend held out his hand as the boy poured the pieces into his hand, and he consumed it.

This is instructing the ignorant.

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On twitter the other day, a self-proclaimed “holiday Catholic” said he was going to get the “crackers and wine” and he needed to find a place to get them and ashes.

Because Twitter is a great e-vangelizing forum, even if our efforts there only plant seeds, I decided to reach out. My first thought on this one was, “Why do you care to go at all if you think they’re crackers and wine?” I corrected him and wished him good fortune in finding a place he liked. These are easy ways to instruct the uninformed because we don’t have the direct confrontation.

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Another Twitter encounter occurred the other day between me, Kate, Karianna, and “Feminist Breeder.” You can see some of those points here and here.

The Catholic Church is not anti-gay, as Feminist Breeder was saying, and we wanted to set her straight. Karianna said, “Anti-gay not fair. Catholicism calls for all singles to remain chaste, gay or not.” Kate followed up with, “And sin is sin, we’re all equally sinful – Church is anti-sin, not anti-gay.”


We need to inform those who think poorly of the Catholic Church as well as those who are tossing pieces of Jesus into the air at Mass.

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I don’t know whether or not my roommate thinks poorly of the Catholic Church, but I don’t think she was familiar with Natural Family Planning methods. The other day, I told my new roommate that I am interested in using NFP as a wife and she said, “Is that like biorhythms?”

Thanks to folks like Katie, I got to explain to her, no, NFP is not like the rhythm method anymore. I explained that the rhythm method was used back in the 1930s and that we know a lot more about how best to avoid or to achieve pregnancy while keeping God in our bedrooms.

I also used the opportunity to explain that most of the methods are at least 97% effective when used properly (which relies on married couples communicating — another benefit), which is far more promising than something like condoms. The error margin of condom use increases exponentially with every use (statisticians, help me learn how best to explain this, please!), while NFP methods remain effective as long as couples chart and communicate.

Every little conversation plants a seed and every little bit of ignorance we can rub out of the world leaves more opportunities for the Lord to work. This is our calling!