Exposition and "Healing Service" during Mass?


We went to a different parish this morning instead of our regular parish. Maybe this was supposed to be a Healing Mass? Can anyone explain to me what I just experienced?

It was a normal Mass, to my knowledge, and just prior to Mass the Pastor announced that we would also have a Healing Service (maybe he said Healing Mass, I can’t recall) during Mass.

Mass proceeded as usual for this parish up to the Gospel reading. Then it was announced that in lieu of a homily, we would have adoration of the Sacrament and a healing service. The Monstrance was brought out and set upon the altar and we all knelt in our pews for adoration of Christ.

Then, the Priest calls us all to come up front toward the altar, hold hands, and he led the congregation in prayer. The prayer seemed to be “official”…it didn’t sound like something he would have just made up. Then he went through a brief examination of conscience, asking forgiveness, etc… (the congregation was silent while he prayed).

As he prays, he mentions the words from James 5:14-15 (Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.")

That’s when I really started to get concerned. I’ve never been to a “Healing Mass”, so at this point I’m thinking he’s about to administer Anointing of the Sick. (It turns out there was a young man there who was just diagnosed with cancer, and I think this was done on his behalf.)
Okay, so lo and behold, here comes the oil. He asks everyone to process for anointing on the forehead and hands. This is where I just went and knelt back down in my pew, because I didn’t feel properly disposed to receive Anointing of the Sick.

After this, the Monstrance is placed back in the chapel and Mass continues as usual with the profession of faith.

**What just happened? **I feel guilty for having gone up to the altar at all, holding hands during this prayer service, but I’m also more of a “traddy” so I don’t know if this is just my personal bias talking to me, or if I just participated in something completely illicit and witnessed an invalid Anointing of the Sick.


We have an annual; “Healing Mass” at the start of our Patron’ Saint Novena. People get up and are anointed after the homily. Makes the Mass about 30 minutes longer than usual.
No exposition. I don’t know why exposition would be DURING Mass.
That would be my only question. :shrug:


The celebration of Mass is prohibited within the body of the church during exposition of the Blessed Sacrament . . . If exposition of the Blessed Sacrament goes on for a day or for several successive days, it should be interrupted during the celebration of Mass, unless it is celebrated in a chapel separate from the area of exposition and at least some of the faithful remain in adoration . . . (Eucharisticum Mysterium: Instructions on Worship of the Eucharistic Mystery 61).


The above post said it better than me, but nope there is never any good reason to include actual Eucharistic Adoration in the Mass. I once complained to the Chancery about a Priest who did exactly this. He would complete the Eucharistic Prayer and then place a Host in the Monstrance, position it on the Altar and then call us up to receive Communion. Then we were supposed to go back to our pews and pray and in addition, this innovation included incensing and prayers without ever ending the Mass. It was a mess. He got corrected, but hated me for it for a long, long time.

If you ever watched EWTN, you’d have seen them both place and remove a little yellow satin covering over the Blessed Sacrament that was up over the Altar on the wall between the main congregation and where the Sisters were in their choir. Adoration there is perpetual and only gets interrupted for Mass. I loved it once when one of the cameras actually caught a glimpse on one of the Sisters prostrate before our Lord in Adoration before receiving. It was a little glimpse of the love that us mere mortals get to show for God in this life. It was really neat.



Interestingly, we had a healing service during the Mass yesterday (it was the Vigil mass for Sunday). The priest just announced it at the homily and right after his talk, he went into the anointing. This was a very nice thing, I thought.


I’m not sure about exposition but the Church allows the celebration of all sacraments except penance within the context of the Mass. Here are some details…

Vestments should be white.

The sacred oils should be touched by no one but a priest. Small bowls should be prepared (pyrex custard bowl works well) on a tray so that the server does not have to touch the bowls and accidentally get oil on himself. Cotton balls with lemon juice or a small bowl with soapy water and a hand towel should be available for the priests. Anything with oil on it after the Mass needs to be stored securely and burned at the next opportunity.

The Greeting of the Sick occurs right after the opening greeting.

The rite starts after the Homily and is as follows…
*]**Litany **- always done at the beginning of the rite in the US but may be done before the concluding prayer of the rite in other parts of the world. The litany replaces the general intercessions.
*]Laying on of Hands
*]Thanksgiving over blessed Oil or Blessing of the Oil by the Bishop
*]Anointing on both the forehead and hands. The form should be said aloud at least once at the beginning and then a hymn may be sung during anointing of several sick.
*]Concluding prayer

The Mass then continues as usual with the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Depending on what day of the Church calendar it is there may be special prefaces and Eucharistic prayers specific to the sacrament of anointing.

This is how it is supposed to be done. I have been a server at many such Masses.

Healing Mass and Funeral Masses are my favorite. The healing Mass is absolutely straight out of the Bible. People come to Healing Mass looking for miracles and it is an honor and privilege to be able to serve these people and pray for them.



Thank you all for the responses. I learned quite a bit from this.

So, from what I am reading here, this was a Healing Mass, the Anointing which took place exactly as TimothyH listed it out was perfectly licit, except for the fact that they retained the purple vestments. The questionable part was holding hands up at the altar and EVERYONE receiving the Sacrament (or is this the norm?) and the exposition of the Sacrament for Adoration while this was all going on (since it was during the Mass).

Is that about right?


No, it is not the norm. People who are healthy should not be receiving Anointing. This is why I never go to so-called healing Masses.


It may have been incorrect to say that the vestments should “always” be white. Please check this.

Not everyone should receive the sacrament. It is for people who are very ill. Illness can including psychological conditions.

Just because everyone gets it at a particular Church isn’t a reason to stay away. It is a very ancient ritual, extremely beautiful and straight out of the Bible. I know a Charismatic Pentecostal who got really exited when he found out the Catholic Church had healing oils. He drove to a Catholic Church, walked in and asked to see the oils. The priest came out of his office, unlocked the church and showed him the Sacred Oils and explained them. My friend was blown away and he eventually became Catholic. Everyone should witness anointing.

A Church here in town across the street from the hospital does it every Wednesday at the noon Mass and it is humbling to see dozens of people in wheelchairs, on crutches, no hair because of chemotherapy, all coming to be anointed. I sometimes go to remind myself that some day I am going to be one of those people.

That’s why I altar serve at funerals, to remind myself that eventually I am going to be in the casket.



They are probably more common in hospital chapels and the like.


Everyone does not get it. Only people who have physical or mental issues. The rest of us remain seated and prayer fro them either privately, or in song.


That all depends on the parish. The one time I attended I was the only one who stayed in my pew. My friend insisted that her teenaged daughter go up for the anointing, even though she didn’t want to and protested that she wasn’t sick. Even a non-Catholic woman went up to be anointed. This was done monthly in my parish, at a specific weekday Mass. The same 8-9 people received the anointing monthly.


I’ve personally seen everyone, absolutely everyone (except me) go up to receive anointing! That is why I avoid these Masses.


Do you also avoid Masses where nearly everyone receives the Blessed Sacrament?


You’re comparing oranges to cabbages. We are invited to receive Communion frequently. The Sacrament of the Sick is reserved for those who are, surprise!, sick.
Can. 1004 §1. The anointing of the sick can be administered to a member of the faithful who, having reached the use of reason, begins to be in danger due to sickness or old age.
§2. This sacrament can be repeated if the sick person, having recovered, again becomes gravely ill or if the condition becomes more grave during the same illness.


I asked a yes or no question. I offered no comparison. I am sorry if you felt I was asking you to defend your actions.


Hello Phemie.

Healing Masses don’t always include the Anointing of the Sick. I went to a bunch of them when I was a new Catholic and sometimes there was no real Mass at all, just a healing service that gave an opportunity for the Priest to pray over folks and these were basically charismatic stuff. Some were very tastefully done, but as for whether or no there were any actual Liturgical abuses or out right deliberate errors or misrepresentations of Sacraments, I couldn’t say for sure simply because as a new Catholic, I really had no clue about all the rubrical requirements for validity etc. and what was and wasn’t allowed. They don’t teach that stuff in RCIA. In hindsight, I’m sure there were and to me the only thing I noticed was that they were a little weird so I didn’t go back. Healing Masses were all over the place when I was a new Catholic and my explorations of all things Catholic took me to many of them. It was an awesome time in my life and I experienced some rather telling things at some of those Masses. I watched a Sister get “slain in the spirit” on night while another fell into what I was told was the “gift of laughter” and he simply laid down on the ground and laughed for about five minutes. It was really an odd night.

But if the actual Sacrament is being given I now know it can be done, but it should be stated at the beginning of the Mass and in the notices that is it meant for the ill and distressed and not as a superstitious means of gaining grace or winning God’s favor or stuff like that. The actual guidelines for this are available in various places and should be followed.

Oh well, I’ve said too much again. Have patience with me. I mean well.



ooops one other thing I should say. It is possible to be anointed with Holy Oil or Exorcised Oil in a service outside of Mass or even individually when asked for. The actual Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick isn’t usually done IN Mass. In fact, I keep Holy Oil in my home of several types and use them frequently for different reasons. They are wonderful and should be in everyone’s home like Holy Water. You don’t need to be in danger of death to use Holy Oil or to be prayed over and anointed by a Priest or Religious. The sacramentals should be a regular part of everyone’s life.



Glenda makes a good point.

A Mass where other sacraments are celebrated is called a Ritual Mass. The document “Pastoral Care of the Sick” outlines rubrics for Anointing of the Sick within Mass. I’m sure it is mentioned in the GIRM but have not looked.

Sometimes what is advertised as a “Healing Mass” however, is not a Ritual Mass but an ordinary Mass where healing prayers or other activities have been added. These might include exposition of the Blessed Sacrament prior to the final blessing and an invitation for people to come forward for prayer. Confession might be offered throughout the evening, etc.
I have no idea whether these activities are allowed or not.

I’m not even sure if “Healing Mass” is an actual term used by the Church so caveat emptor if you are going to a Healing Mass and hope for the sacrament of anointing.



Why in the world would you avoid a blessing? An Anointing?
Do you think God will be angry of you get anointed?
Makes no sense to me. If a priest invites me to be anointed, I’ll take it!
Of course people can abuse this, but in the context of an invitation to come forward to all?
I don’t think I’d think ill of the priest’s directive. The only thing is that these Masses tend to last a really long time.

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