Communion to the Sick and Viaticum are treated in the Church’s documents on Pastoral Care of the Sick. I’ll just mention that when an ordinary minister (priest or deacon) is unavailable, an acolyte or lay minister may tend to the dying person as well as the sick person. In the next post in this series, we’ll take a brief look at how Viaticum is administered by a lay minister.
54. A priest or deacon administers communion or viaticum to the sick in the manner prescribed by the Rite of Anointing and Pastoral Care of the Sick. When an acolyte or an extraordinary minister, duly appointed, gives communion to the sick, the rite here described is followed.
55. Those who cannot receive communion in the form of bread may receive it in the form of wine. The precious blood must be carried to the sick person in a vessel so secured as to eliminate all danger of spilling. The sacrament should be administered with due regard to the individual concerned, and the rite for giving communion under both kinds provides a choice of methods. If all the precious blood is not consumed, the minister himself must consume it and then wash the vessel as required.
The ordinary form for Communion to the Sick is similar to the other rites for Communion. It looks a lot like the short form on which I just reported. The Introductory rites cover a liturgical greeting (56) and a penitential rite (57). A brief passage from Scripture (58) follows, not necessarily a Gospel reading. The Communion Rite includes the Lord’s Prayer (59) through a post-Communion prayer (62), and a concluding rite invoking God’s blessing in the third person form customary for non-clergy (63).
There is an even shorter rite “used when communion is given in different rooms of the same building, such as a hospital.” To answer my earlier concern about quick visits, the rite does allow for the addition of “elements taken from the ordinary rite.” (64)
Sections 65-67 describe the rubrics for the “Short Rite of Communion of the Sick,” a brief antiphon, the distribution of the Sacrament, and a concluding prayer. Starting with the ordinary form of Communion outside of Mass, and working down to the “short rite” for the sick, one can see the framers’ priorities in liturgical elements.