We continue with the Rites of Pastoral Care of the Sick, and its introduction to the celebration of Viaticum:
176. Priests and other ministers entrusted with the spiritual care of the sick should do everything they can to ensure that those in proximate danger of death receive the body and blood of Christ as viaticum. At the earliest opportunity, the necessary preparations should be given to the dying person, family, and others who may take part.
Catholic liturgy is much more than the actual rites. For a regular celebration of Mass, Sunday or daily, it is presumed the preparation for the laity is adequate. Many Catholics still fail to articulate the guideline of anointing at the beginning of illness, viaticum at the end of life. In addition, there are the needful spiritual preparations for the faith community–not just the dying person.
Pastoral care ministers have an important duty of formation. PCS 176 suggests this preparation begin “at the earliest opportunity,” which means when a terminal illness is diagnosed and confirmed.