Communion of the Sick
This differs from ordinary Communion as to the class of persons to whom it is administered, as to the dispositions with which it may be received, and as to the place and ceremonies of administration. In her anxious solicitude for the spiritual welfare of her children the Church earnestly desires that those who are unable through illness to receive the Blessed Eucharist in the usual way at the altar, should not be deprived of the consolations of this sacrament, and, accordingly, she exhorts her pastors to satisfy always the pious desires, not only of all who are stricken with a dangerous sickness and require strength to prepare them for the final struggle, but also of those who may wish to comply with the paschal precept and cannot do so in church. When Communion is administered to persons in danger of death and likely to receive it for the last time it is called Viaticum. This article is concerned with Communion which is given to persons in their own houses who, though not dangerously ill, yet are so physically indisposed that they cannot without very grave inconvenience go to church to receive in the ordinary way. In the first place, then, the pastor is bound to minister Communion in their homes to such as have to fulfil their paschal duty and cannot do so in church owing to illness. The pastor's obligation in the matter is not, of course, purely personal, and hence it can be discharged vicariously. Again he is bound, though not so strictly, to satisfy the reasonable desires of all sick persons who are confined to their homes by infirmity of any kind and who wish to receive the Blessed Eucharist. The Roman Ritual observes that these pious wishes should be especially gratified on the occasion of a solemn festival or other celebration of the kind (Tit. IV, cap. iv).
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