QUAERITUR: Can I take Communion home for my sick wife?

From a reader:

Am I allowed to take home communion for my sick wife & in what.

You are to be commended for wanting to help your wife benefit from the Eucharist.  I hope she is better soon.

The short answer is, No, you can’t take a Host home for your sick wife…. not on your own.

Please get in touch with your parish’s office and arrange for Holy Communion to be brought, if not by the priest or a deacon, then perhaps by some lay person who has been given an official deputation to do so, and with the proper sort of container.

The very best option is to have a home visit from the priest, who can also hear a confession if necessary.

In any event, no one can simply take the Eucharist, a consecrated Host, home. That would be Very Wrong. Not just Wrong, but Very Wrong.

Also, if your wife has a very serious condition, you should let the parish priest know so that, if necessary, he can give her the Sacrament of Anointing.  Only bishops and priests can confer that sacrament, not deacons or lay people.

Thanks for asking instead of just doing it.


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  1. AnnAsher says:

    Last week, a girl Altar Boy was skipped over in the distribution around the altar. Her mother approached the Priest, received into her hand, covered the Sacred Species with one hand, walked up onto the sanctuary and administered Communion to her daughter. What say you? [I think that was a probabl well-meaning, but bad thing to do. She received the Eucharist not for the purpose of receiving Communion and she was not authorized to distribute it to anyone else.]
    Also – what exactly is the Canonical rule about EMHC’s and whether and when they can be women? [The law permits women to be EMHCs.]

  2. Sam DiPiazza says:

    I am a member of the Legion of Mary at my parish, and we bring communion to the sick and homebound. However, I (nor anyone else, as far as I know) was not officially “deputized” by the pastor to do this I just went along with one of the others until I saw enough of how it was done. We use a “Communion of the Sick” handbook and a pyx. Is there a special ceremony that we’re supposed to undergo?

    [Each diocese will have its own polices on this. However, if you have been following your pastor’s instructions, you can be at ease. It is his responsibility to make sure everything is done properly.]

  3. Titus says:

    And if you are an EMHC officially deputized to take the Blessed Sacrament to the home-bound, be sure to stay up-to-date on the SOPs [Standard Operating Procedures] in your parish! A good friend of ours got a serious upbraiding when her parish got a new priest who regarded the prior practice for distributing the Sacrament to such a person as Highly Inappropriate.

  4. Patrick L. says:

    “In any event, no one can simply take the Eucharist, a consecrated Host, home. That would be Very Wrong. Not just Wrong, but Very Wrong.”

    I believe I’ve attend at least one parish in the past in which this is done every week. There would be an announcement at the end of mass, “Does anyone need to take Communion to the sick?” And more often than not (when I had been there), at least one person would approach the altar and take a consecrated Host, which he would take with him when he left.

    Because of this, I had assumed it was normal and acceptable. Thanks for the lesson.

    [It could be that those people who come forward are actually appointed as EMHCs.]

  5. frjim4321 says:

    This does bring up the interesting point of the provision that in the case of necessity the priest may delegate a person to serve on a single-instance basis. Obviously the same requirements (practicing Catholic, regular marriage, appropriately instructed, etc.) would apply.

    Another reason that it could be preferable for the parish priest to make a visit on such an occasion is that sometimes questions come up about funeral planning if the person is very sick, and I have found it very, very helpful to discuss funeral plans and procedures with a family many days or weeks before death has occurred.

    For instance here we encourage visitation/viewing here at the church, if not on the evening before at least for one hour before the beginning of the funeral. In most instances this has been discussed with the family during a pastoral visit (by the priest) prior to the death. If a EM was the only person to take communion this would not have been possible.

    Also, as mentioned, the priest can provide other sacraments.

    All this having been said, since most places have only one (or a half of a) priest, involving the EMs in this ministry is extremely worthwhile because the homebound will be able to receive more frequently, and the EM (most of our home communion EM’s are retired) may have more time available to linger and visit.

  6. silicasandra says:

    @Patrick: Something similar happens at our parish, but our pastor says something like, “Could the extraordinary ministers assigned to bring Holy Communion to the sick now come forward?” He then gives a blessing and they leave. The wording, at least, makes clear that it isn’t a free-for-all.

  7. smad0142 says:

    For a regular situation like this it often helps ease the burden on the Priest/lay volunteers if a family member can become deputized by the Pastor. Other sacramental needs can be set up by appointment, so instead of coming around every week maybe the Pastor can come by once a month for things like Confession. With the shortage the way it is it is nice to step up whenever possible.

  8. ray from mn says:

    I have been deputized to be an Extraordinary Minister at my Veterans Hospital. I visit patients in their rooms there. Not any VA hospital or my parish or any other parish. Just my VA hospital and not the Veterans home a mile distant from it.

    I would imagine that means that all EM’s are enrolled for a particular parish or ministry.

  9. Bender says:

    From Redemptionis Sacramentum —

    “155. In addition to the ordinary ministers there is the formally instituted acolyte, who by virtue of his institution is an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion even outside the celebration of Mass. If, moreover, reasons of real necessity prompt it, another lay member of Christ’s faithful may also be delegated by the diocesan Bishop, in accordance with the norm of law,256 for one occasion or for a specified time, and an appropriate formula of blessing may be used for the occasion. This act of appointment, however, does not necessarily take a liturgical form, nor, if it does take a liturgical form, should it resemble sacred Ordination in any way. Finally, in special cases of an unforeseen nature, permission can be given for a single occasion by the Priest who presides at the celebration of the Eucharist.257″
    n. 256. Cf. Code of Canon Law, can. 230 §3.
    n. 257. Cf. S. Congregation for the Discipline of the Sacraments, Instruction, Immensae caritatis, prooemium: AAS 65 (1973) p. 264; Pope Paul VI, Apostolic Letter (Motu Proprio), Ministeria quaedam, 15 August 1972: AAS 64 (1972) p. 532; Missale Romanum, Appendix III: Ritus ad deputandum ministrum sacrae Communionis ad actum distribuendae, p. 1253; Congregation for the Clergy et al., Instruction, Ecclesiae de mysterio, Practical Provisions, article 8 §1: AAS 89 (1997) p. 871.

  10. AnnAsher says:

    Fr Z thanks for answering my questions and for all of your posts and for your Service to the Church.

  11. MPSchneiderLC says:

    If you are active and you know what you are doing. You could offer to accept oficial deputation in this case when you speak to the pastor. (Make sure he gives you a little training on Eucharist outside of mass and cleaning the vessels before you accept.)

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