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.