PCS 149-153: Anointing in a Hospital or Institution

Form 3 for anointing is an abbreviated rite that takes place in a hospital or similar facility. The introduction, posted in its entirety here, is five sections long, and in the next post, we’ll cover the rite itself (PCS 154-160)

The rite states the ideal, naturally the celebration of the full rites either outside of Mass or during Mass. Obviously, that’s not always possible or pastoral:

149. Although the sacrament of anointing should be celebrated whenever possible in accordance with the full rites already given, the special circumstances of hospital ministry often make it necessary to abbreviate the rite. The rite which follows is a simplification of the anointing rite and preserves its central elements, It is intended for those occasions when only the priest and sick person are present and the complete rite cannot be celebrated.

Form 3 acknowledges special circumstances. Ordinarily, this form would be celebrated individually with the priest. I can foresee some instances in which this form would not be an urgency. In this case, the priest should involve the sick person in planning: 

150. The priest should inquire beforehand about the physical and spiritual condition of the sick person in order to plan the celebration properly and choose the appropriate prayers. If possible he should involve the sick person in this preparation, and should explain the significance of the sacrament.

The previous two sections point to the fact that the choice to celebrate this third form is not done at the whim of the priest. It’s not his choice, in other words. The circumstances of the individual, the location, and other pastoral concerns dictate the use of this form. The spiritual and catechetical obligations of the priest remain, no matter what form of the sacrament is used.

Roman practicality alert ahead. The preference is not to load another sacrament into an already “special” situation, but the priest may hear a confession and give absolution, again, if necessary:

151. If the sick person wishes to celebrate the sacrament of penance, it is preferable that the priest make himself available for this during a previous visit. If it is necessary, this may take place during the introductory rites.

Some hospital locations should be avoided, or considered carefully:

152. The circumstances of an emergency room or casualty ward of a hospital may make the proper celebration of the sacrament difficult. If the condition of the sick person does not make anointing urgent, the priest may find it better to wait for a more appropriate time to celebrate the sacrament.

Frequent communion is called for as part of the follow-up pastoral care of the sick believer: 

153. The priest should arrange for the continued pastoral care of the sick person, especially for frequent opportunities to receive communion.




About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, 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.

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