Liturgy & Liturgical Law Forum: Communion Services
Communion Services QUESTION from Alexander James Franco September 19, 2001
What are the Church's regulations regarding such services? My points: When are they permitted? Who is to be the monister or Presider' at them? Are their specific 'forms for such services? Should a layperson prside when an ordained minister is available? Thanki you in advance for your wonderful; service. God bless! Alexander James Franco.
ANSWER by Mr. Jacob Slavek on September 16, 2001
Dear Mr. Franco,
Communion services are permitted when there is a need or just cause for them. Local bishops determine if the need exists in their diocese.
It is highly recommended that the faithful receive holy communion during the eucharistic celebration itself. It is to be administered outside the Mass, however, to those who request it for a just cause, with the liturgical rites being observed. (Canon 918) The liturgical rites are found in the 1973 document, Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist Outside Mass. Inside the document, you will find two rites for what has become known as a Communion service: a long rite with the Celebration of the Word, and a shorter rite which is used when there are only one or two receiving communion. One of these rites MUST be used when distributing the Eucharist outside of Mass. (Except in administration to the sick.)
The priest and deacon are the ordinary presiders at a Communion service, if they are not available, an acolyte may preside, if no acolyte, a special minister may be used, given the faculty by the local bishop. These ministers should be instituted for service of the altar and word. If no such ministers are available, laymen, both men and women, may be appointed in virtue of their baptism and confirmation.
There exists the Directory for Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest. It is a response of the Holy See from conferences of bishops. It is the responsibility of the pastor to determine if such services are needed, and to seek permission from the bishop if so. This service is similar to a communion service, and may or may not include communion. Deacons are the ordinary minister of this service, and if none are available, laymen, both men and women, may be used.
If there are any other questions about Communion services, ask. I am happy to answer.
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