PCS 164: Viaticum, Two Forms

We’ll take the introduction in small bites daily from here for the next week or so.

164. A rite for viaticum within Mass and another for viaticum outside of Mass are provided. If possible, and with the permission of the Ordinary, viaticum should take place within the full eucharistic celebration, with the family, friends, and other members of the Christian community taking part. The rite for viaticum outside Mass is used when the full eucharistic celebration cannot take place. Again, if it is possible, others should take part.


As with many of the other rites with the sick, two forms are given in the PCS. Your first choice is viaticum within Mass, and with the celebration of family members, friends, and the faith community.

I can’t say I’ve ever been exposed to a parish Mass in which viaticum was celebrated. I know I’ve never been invited to provide liturgical assistance for a viaticum Mass in a home or care facility. Do clergy use this option, or does the celebration get bounced to the “outside Mass” option?

How much does the American/North American/Western privacy around dying and death hamper the Church’s desire that these rites be public celebrations, even outside the circle of family and friends?


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.

3 Responses to PCS 164: Viaticum, Two Forms

  1. FrMichael says:

    Never done a bedside Viaticum Mass. Didn’t even know that option existed. I’ll offer it as an option to the family the next time I have a devout Catholic on his/her deathbed.

  2. kaythegardener says:

    How will you have the extended time for a serious Mass at the bedside???

    It took weeks for me to arrange for the Parish priest to make a final home visit for the Last Rites for my elderly mom —
    He was the sole priest for a parish of over 1500 registered families & in his mid 70s himself!
    He wished to personally send off a long-time parishioner,but didn’t know how much longer he would be able to continue, since he could only drive during the daylight hours, due to impaired eyesight.

    Even the lay Eucharistic ministers who visit the nursing homes have several places in their circuit, with several Catholics in each home to minister to.

    So finding a priestly chaplain on call in a Catholic hospital is even rarer these days…

    Getting the sacraments to the elderly & sick is like a true missionary field, even here in the USA.

    “The harvest is great, but the laborers are few”.

  3. FrMichael says:


    The vocations situation is different among US dioceses. Plus priests have varying ability to manage time. However, there is no excuse for a several week delay for Last Rites: there is not a diocese in the US with that severe a shortage of priests.

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