HCWEOM 13-15: Making The Connection

Leaving the General Introduction of this document aside, we turn to sections 13 through 25 for a brief look at the rites of receiving Communion outside of Mass. Sections 26 through 53 detail Communion to the sick and other circumstances outside of Mass. Ministry to the sick we’ll cover later this year in 1983’s Pastoral Care of the Sick. Also covered then will be Viaticum, which receives treatment in this document, sections 54 through 78.

The usual reason for Communion outside of Mass is to serve sick believers unable to attend Mass. There are other reasons for missing Mass, and the HCWEOM covers rites for those.

What we will cover in depth in HCWEOM is the introduction to Eucharistic Worship outside of Mass (79-111) and the various rituals, prayers, rubrics, and options in the sections that follow. That seems to be of interest in some circles online, especially traditionalist-leaning ones. Cultivating your own awareness of the rubrics and rituals is worthwhile for any aspiring liturgist or parishioner active in that regard.

Enough yapping. Here are sections 13-15, the beginning of the introduction to Holy Communion Outside Mass. Together, they are headed by this title: THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN COMMUNION OUTSIDE MASS AND THE SACRIFICE:

13. Sacramental communion received during Mass is the more perfect participation in the eucharistic celebration. The eucharistic sign is expressed more clearly when the faithful receive the body of the Lord from the same sacrifice after the communion of the priest.(Sacrosanctum Concilium 55) Therefore, recently baked bread, for the communion of the faithful, should ordinarily be consecrated in every eucharistic celebration.

Receiving Communion at Mass: this is the “more perfect” scenario for the faithful. Note the “clarity of the sign” of people receiving what is consecrated at the Mass at which they participate. This is one of the chief bugaboos of the progressive liturgist: when parishes do not take care with planning.

14. The faithful should be encouraged to receive commu­nion during the eucharistic celebration itself.

Priests, however, are not to refuse to give communion to the faithful who ask for it even outside Mass. In fact it is proper that those who are prevented from being present at the community’s celebration should be refreshed with the Eucharist. In this way they may realize that they are united not only with the Lord’s sacrifice but also with the community itself and are supported by the love of their brothers and sisters.

Any Catholic who cannot attend Mass should ask for Communion and be given it by the priest. A significant subset of this group would be the sick, first mentioned here:

Pastors should see that an opportunity to receive the Eucharist is given to the sick and aged, even though not gravely sick or in imminent danger of death, frequently and, if possible, daily, especially during the Easter season.

Note the priority of daily Communion during the Easter season. How many parishes do this? In my small parish, daily Communion was a priority for those in hospice care. We didn’t provide daily Easter Communion, or even really, a stepping up to more frequent Communion.

It is lawful to minister communion under the appearance of wine to those who cannot receive the consecrated bread. (Eucharisticum Mysterium 40-41)

Sensibly Roman approach. It presumes planning, and the close proximity in time of Mass and the celebration of Communion to the sick.

15. The faithful should be instructed carefully that, even when they receive communion outside Mass, they are closely united with the sacrifice that perpetuates the sacrifice of the cross. They are sharers in the sacred banquet in which “through the Commuinion of the Body and blood of the Lord, the people of God share the benefits of the paschal sacrifice, renew the new covenant made once and for all by God in Christ’s blood, and in faith and hope foreshadow and anticipate the eschatological banquet in the Father’s kingdom, as they proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.” (Eucharisticum Mysterium 3)

Any comments on any of the above?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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7 Responses to HCWEOM 13-15: Making The Connection

  1. Freder1ck says:

    I remember that I used to go to a daily Mass in New York and there was one man who always came in during Communion (I think his bus home from his commute got him there at that time) and the priest always made sure the man received Communion…

  2. Tony says:

    The eucharistic sign is expressed more clearly when the faithful receive the body of the Lord from the same sacrifice after the communion of the priest.

    Another bugaboo I encountered was a priest who gathered his “eucharistic ministers” in the sanctuary with him, distributed communion to each of them and 1-2-3 then received at exactly the same time.

  3. Todd says:

    Tony, that’s just the concelebration model. In the old school, that’s the only way it was taught, perhaps.

  4. FrMichael says:

    Somehow I missed the good advice of number 15. I will follow it later today on my travels to the sick.

  5. Frederick illustrates an interesting pastoral dilemma. Suppose the bus could only drop the man off after Mass had ended – would the priest still offer him Communion? In other words: at what point does it become a situation where some folks are simply unable (on account of legitimate schedule difficulties) to attend daily Mass? If Mass has ended and the man from the bus is not ill, under what rubric would he be offered Communion from the tabernacle? What of folks who can only “sneak over to the church” for a few minutes on a coffee break to receive a “quick Communion” and then return to the office? What about folks who could be on time but are often late (far into the Eucharistic prayer)when they arrive? With increasing frequency I experience a kind of “drive-thru” mentality with some parishioners. Any advice out there for a pastor?

  6. Anne says:

    Hopefully a parishioner who does this repeatedly has been told that it is strongly recommended that the faithful receive communion during a Eucharistic celebration. This person should be advised of mass times at all local parishes. However,if it’s truly a legitimate reason he/she should not be refused, anymore than a sick person would be. And…like we would do for the visits to the sick,the proper rites should be followed. I don’t believe it’s good to just offer the host without prayer and a reflection on the Word of the day. That being said, I realize not all priests have the time to do this for anyone who shows up. Maybe a Eucharistic Minister could help you out. In any case, it’s not a good idea and should be discouraged if at all possible. I believe it sends the wrong message.

  7. FrMichael says:


    I have encountered the “drive by” mentality more on Sunday than on weekdays. The few times I’ve been asked to give Communion after the Mass have been from parishioners who I know usually attend the Mass ontime: their occasional tardiness isn’t a sign of disrespect, it’s a sign of a missed bus.

    My 2 cents.

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