PCS 237-238: Intro to the Continuous Rite, Continued

Keeping the sacraments untangled, celebrated with dignity, is the point of these particular instructions for the clergy. Also, the rite provides choices for adaptation. A priest must be aware of not only the substance of the pastoral care rites, but also the theory behind each rite. An ability to judge where to shorted or adapt is essential if people are to be served and the dignity of the sacraments maintained in emergency situations.

237. The priest should be guided by the condition of the dying person in deciding how much of this rite should be celebrated and where it should be appropriately shortened or adapted. If the dying person wishes to celebrate the sacrament of penance, this should take place before the anointing and reception of communion as viaticum. If necessary, the dying person may confess at the beginning of the celebration, before the anointing. Otherwise the penitential rite should be celebrated.

The priority: viaticum, then anointing, then penance, even thought he ordering in the continuous rite is exactly the opposite:

If the danger of death is imminent, the priest should anoint immediately with a single anointing and then give viaticum. If the circumstances are extreme, he should give viaticum immediately (see PCS 30), without the anointing. The “Rite for Emergencies” has been designed for this situation. Christians in danger of death are bound by the precept of receiving communion so that in their passage from this life, they may be strengthened by the body of Christ, the pledge of the resurrection.

We read again that in celebrating the Eucharist for the sick the stress is on the sacrament as food for the journey. This doesn’t negate the notion of Eucharist as sacrifice. Far from it. Instead, one of the most important aspects of Communion is drawn out in the rite and texts for the pastoral and spiritual benefit of the dying person. One might say that many dying people are very much aware of the notion of sacrifice.

A practical note about confirmation:

238. It is preferable not to celebrate the sacrament of confirmation and the sacrament of anointing of the sick in a continuous rite. The two anointings can cause some confusion between the two sacraments. However, if the dying person has not been confirmed this sacrament may be celebrated immediately before the blessing of the oil of the sick. In this case, the imposition of hands which is part of the liturgy of anointing is omitted.

I suppose it is conceivable that four sacraments would be celebrated in a single rite: penance, confirmation, anointing, and viaticum–in that order. Any priest reading here ever done this? Anybody ever seen or heard of it?



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.

One Response to PCS 237-238: Intro to the Continuous Rite, Continued

  1. FrMichael says:

    I’ve administered all four sacraments a couple times in my priesthood: both times with dying children. Indeed, one of the cases was a Baptism, Confirmation, First Holy Communion, and Anointing. Happily enough, the child in question ended up surviving his fatal diagnosis and as far as I know (I transferred from that parish years ago) is doing fine to this day. Deo gratias!

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