PCS 75-80: Sacraments

The rites of pastoral care call for foresight on the part of the confessor:

75. If the sick wish to celebrate the sacrament of penance, it is preferable that the priest make himself available for this during a previous visit.

The only time when the sacrament of penance can be adjoined to Mass:


76. If it is necessary to celebrate the sacrament of penance during the rite of communion, it takes the place of the penitential rite.

Under the heading of “Communion in Ordinary Circumstances,” we read that the home Mass is the preferred way to give Communion to the sick:


77. If possible, provision should be made to celebrate Mass in the homes of the sick, with their families and friends gathered around them. The Ordinary determines the conditions and requirements for such celebrations.

What are we to make of this? It seems like a significant investment of a priest’s ministry. What do the priests among us think? Is this realistic? The provision of Mass includes not only family, but friends. As a liturgist, I can tell you that for these Masses to be well-celebrated in a home setting would require significant planning and effort.

Next we have three brief sections on “Communion in a Hospital or Institution.” First some pragmatic considerations:


78. There will be situations, particularly in large institutions with many communicants, when the minister should consider alternative means so that the rite of communion of the sick is not diminished to the absolute minimum. In such cases the following alternatives should be considered: (a) where possible, the residents or patients may be gathered in groups in one or more areas; (b) additional ministers of communion may assist.

I remember with great fondness a friend in rural Iowa who, when someone was scheduled to bring Sunday Communion to her nursing home, would take it upon herself to gather the other three Catholics ladies in residence in her room for a communal service. Her practical instinct was very liturgical.


When it is not possible to celebrate the full rite, the rite for communion in a hospital or institution may be used. If it is convenient, however, the minister may add elements from the rite for ordinary circumstances, for example, a Scripture reading.

A reminder that the modern pastoral care rite allows for more than all (Mass) or just a Communion service. A judgment call is required of the minister.


79. The rite begins with the recitation of the eucharistic antiphon in the church, the hospital chapel, or the first room visited. Then the minister gives communion to the sick in their individual rooms.

This prescription and the next one, strike me as being rather awkward. I don’t have a pragmatic alternative, but obviously, doing an entire rite in each room would be preferred.


80. The concluding prayer may be said in the church, the hospital chapel, or the last room visited. No blessing is given.

Comments anyone?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Pastoral Care of the Sick, post-conciliar liturgy documents, Rites. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to PCS 75-80: Sacraments

  1. Chase says:

    In regards to Mass being celebrated in the home of the sick, if the priest has the time to do it, I think it should be done.

    I know that in many rural areas, priests sometimes have to “look for things to do” as there are few pastoral responsibilities outside of weekend Masses and Reconciliation – though this may take place at 3 or even 4 different parishes.

    As far as the “Home Mass” needing to be well planned – I think the most important part is gathering the sick individual’s family and friends around the altar of Eucharist and the altar of suffering.

    I’ve attended such Masses, and I have to say that there is something very striking about celebrating the Liturgy with “the bare essentials” – no singing, no fancy vestments nor vessels – it is very intimate and touching. For me, it conjures up images of what it may have been like for the very first Christians. Ah, the timelessness of the Sacraments!

  2. Michael says:

    While I’m obviously late in commenting on this article, the Mass celebrated in makeshift circumstances need not require the level of planning and prior arrangements the author might think. In the Marine Corps, our beloved Naval chaplains who are Catholic priests, are able to celebrate Mass in the middle of nowhere with whatever is on hand. Using their travel Mass kits, I’ve seen Catholic military chaplains celebrate Mass atop a stretcher, inside a tent, and even atop a stack of cardboard boxes filled with MRE’s (food). These priest chaplains make good use of what is available and enable us Marines to have Mass where it otherwise wouldn’t be possible. Much like Marines out in the middle of nowhere, people’s homes are similarly situated in that they lack a proper altar. But a well-stocked travel Mass kit should bring everything else necessary for a faithful celebration, meaning Mass is well possible (and far easier than the author may imagine) to be celebrated wherever the pastoral need demands.

  3. Todd says:

    Thanks for commenting Michael. My parents were both Marines. I got the idea that a structured culture like that (or like my childhood home) would be a little more amenable to what you describe. For the priest coming to a home, a little thought on readings, ministers, and homily planning time–all would be good investments of time, even if just pondered on the drive to Mass.

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