Appropriate protocol for receiving Holy Communion at home or hospital

If one is home bound and can not go to Mass, they have the option of having Jesus brought to them in the Eucharist. But what is the proper protocol for receiving Communion at home or in the hospital? Are there specific prayers or actions that are taken? How does it usually happen?

I’m not in need of this, but I’m curious to know how one receives Communion outside the structure of any Mass or service.


The EMHC, priest or deacon will contact you if it is a home visit. Anything they may need special they should tell you on the phone, but usually there is nothing special required.

If you are homebound for non-dietary reasons it would be a good idea not to eat for an hour before receiving but for medical reasons the 1 hour fast can be waived. Also it would be a good idea to turn off any TVs or radios right before they get there. If you want you can pray a little to yourself, watch EWTN, etc. to “put yourself in the mood.”

If you are hospital bound the 1 hour fast doesn’t necessarily apply due to the fact that the “rounds” may not correspond well with meal times and your illness may not allow fasting.

The person will have the entire rite with them, nothing special is required from you other then normal answer and prayers that you should already know (i.e. the Lord’s Prayer.)

You should contact the local parish or your parish to arrange for this. Some hospitals will assign people to visit you if you ask for it on your admission forms, but don’t assume that especially if in a non-Catholic hospital.

That is excellent and very helpful! Thank you!

So that is what I was interested to know - there IS a specific rite that is followed for reception of Communion in that circumstance.

Very interesting! :smiley: You learning something new every day! I love that!


Yes there is a small book that contains the entire rites. There are several versions of the rite. There is a longer rite for if the person is only visiting one person, there are shorter rites if the person is visiting multiple people like in a hospital or nursing home.

Obviously there are different things that a priest can do versus a deacon versus an EMHC.

one should call the parish and ask for someone to bring communion, also let them know if the person is gravely ill, facing surgery if you need the priest for confession and anointing of the sick. When you are admitted to the hospital check the “Catholic” box and note if you want the chaplain to visit you and bring communion. There is a proper rite, the minister will know it and be prepared. Make sure the person is physically able to receive, have water handy etc… It can be done with a liturgy of the Word, especially in a hospital or nursing home setting where there are several recipients, or with shorter scripture readings and some prayers. Ideally the person carrying the Body of Christ should be accompanied with an attendant carrying a candle, but that would not be permitted in many hospitals in any case. Due reverence on the part of the patient and those present should be observed.

One liturgical book with the ceremony is “Holy Communion and the Worship of the Eucharist Outside of Mass”. It has:

54. A priest or deacon administers communion or viaticum to the sick in the manner prescribed by the Rite of Anointing and Pastoral Care of the Sick. When an acolyte or an extraordinary minister, duly appointed, gives communion to the sick, the rite here described is followed.”

This second liturgical book that can be used in this situation, has the English title: “Pastoral Care of the Sick: Rites of Anointing and Viaticum”.

Both these liturgical books are in The Rites Volume One, Liturgical Press, 1990, ISBN: 0-8146-6015-0.

There are actually different procedures for different circumstances. There is a book Pastoral Care of the Sick which has them outlined in it. If at all possible the person should participate in a full Communion service, including the Readings of the day. However it is also known that some people may not be able to do this because of treatments or pain and a shortened version is used. This is why the EMHC who visits homebound and the sick must know their situation before visiting with the Eucharist. The EMHC should make a visit and get to know the person first without the Eucharist.

Thanks to everyone! This has been very interesting!


Maybe the appropriate protocol is for the Extraordinary Minister to bring a Crucifix, a candle, a purificator, Holy Water…

When entering the home, light the candle( provided sick person does not use oxygen), place purificator on little table, place pix on purificator, set Crucifix, Holy Water… and begin the rite by asking sick to dip fingers in holy water and sign themselves as minister does also… then proceed…

I have heard when some minister do not have some kind of Light when bringing Holy Communion… Is this right?

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