Yesterday I had this dialogue with a communicant:
Charles: The Body of Christ
Random Soul: Thank you
C: The response is 'Amen.'
RS: I'm sorry, Father, it's my first time.
C: (surprised) You're first time ever?
RS: (apologetically) No, but the first time in a long time.
C: (relieved) O.k.; The Body of Christ.
Then, seeing his thumb and forefinger set in the dreaded "pincers" gesture, ready to grab the host from me, I motioned it towards his mouth. He got the idea and received on the tongue.
It's funny; in my growing up in religious life I have often detected an indirect and largely unspoken doctrine that pastoral ministry is supposed to make you more loose about rules and less concerned about church teachings and procedures. In the place of these, you become more "pastoral." For whatever reason, this hasn't happened to me. Besides, I find this colloquial meaning of "pastoral" somewhat offensive.
My role as ordinary Eucharistic minister is a good example. My experience as a parish priest has made me more aware and strict about how I minister the host at Mass.
If someone does not respond to the address, 'The Body of Christ' with the 'Amen,' I don't give it to them until they do. I do not accept common alternative forms of the 'Amen,' such as "Thank you," and "Yes, Sir."
If someone does not present their hands at least above their navel, I act like I don't see them and try to communicate them on the tongue. I do the same thing when people present the "pincers," ready to grab the host from me. As one of my very first (and best) friar teachers liked to say, "Sacraments are given and received from one member of the Body of Christ to another. They are not grabbed, taken, or passed around in a circle."
I do not hesitate to leave my station and follow people if I don't observe some indication that they have consumed the host. I enjoy being known for my willingness to do this, and I hope it encourages people to consume the host promptly. After all, we are supposed to consume the host before we even turn around!
Apart from all these trials and difficulties, I continue to find this ministry nearly overwhelming in its depth and beauty. To look into someone's eyes and proclaim them the Body of Christ is an intense act of reverence and intimate regard. As I have written about before, I feel intensely privileged to be given the ministry of reverencing and offering to God all of the stories of joy and pain I see in each set of eyes and each pair of hands.