Communion outside Mass

Today there was no Mass in our parish, not even a liturgical service. Yet, one extraordinary minister of the Eucharist, opened the tabernacle and gave communion to someone who came up to her. Is this right? I don’t think so, but I need to know the particular Canon Law that says it isn’t right. If it is right, that means anyone who has access to the tabernacle key can help themselves to communion anytime, just like getting cookies from the pantry.

Please help so that I can inform this person. Or should I contact the parish priest and mention the incident? I am new to the parish.

River City

Welcome to Catholic Answers, and God bless you. :slight_smile:
You will find that the Code of Canon Law, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, are available in full on the internet, so that hopefully you will always be able to check these sources for any questions that may arise regarding Canon Law.

A link for Canon Law regarding the Blessed Sacrament.

The EMHC had absolutely no business doing that. Inform your parish priest and if worse comes to worse, write a letter informing the bishop of your diocese.

I can’t find anything in the COCL about this, but use common sense.

I really recommend you ask the EMHC who did it if you want to get some answers. We have NO way of knowing what was going on. Please speak with the person themselves before you go over them to a priest or bishop.

The EMHC may have been giving the person Holy Communion to take a sick or homebound person. However, it strikes me as inappropriate that it was the EMHC and not the priest to open the tabernacle and give the Eucharist.

I am sacristan at my parish and this is something that should be brought to the attention of the Pastor. Please contact him directly.

Do you know why he gave Communion to the person? There maybe a good reason the person was given Communion.

Can. 911 §1 The duty and right to bring the blessed Eucharist to the sick as Viaticum belongs to the parish priest, to assistant priests, to chaplains and, in respect of all who are in the house, to the community Superior in clerical religious institutes or societies of apostolic life.

§2 In a case of necessity, or with the permission at least presumed of the parish priest, chaplain or Superior, who must subsequently be notified, any priest or other minister of holy communion must do this.

If the person receiving the communion claimed that he is sick, the action was legal according to the book, the event had to be reported to .the pastor.

Communion outside the mass (before the Eucharistic service was invented) was frequent in the good old times between two Masses for those who were not able to finish confession before the regular communion time (usually there were 4-5 priests hearing confessions in Advent and Lent)

Right. But because we don’t know the reason the Eucharist was given to the person, we can’t say if what happened is correct or wrong.

It’s likely ok, as any extraordinary minister of the Eucharist (as you say) would be a person trained and formally commissioned in your parish according to your diocesan rules.

If you have any questions, though, the best place to go is your pastor.

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