Planning ahead for home communion after surgery


#1

I will be having spine surgery sometime in the next several weeks, and will be in a back brace for four to six weeks postoperatively. My neurosurgeon told me that I should limit any car travel (including as a passenger) to medical appointments, until the brace comes off.

I wish to have the Eucharist brought to me while I’m unable to make it to Mass, and have been told by my pastor that this is possible. He didn’t mention anything about any “protocol” for pastoral or Eucharistic visits, however.

The only time I recall a priest visiting the house was way back in the olden days, when an uncle of mine was dying, and I remember the sick call set, etc. I’m not going to be receiving the Sacrament of the Sick, since other than a badly slipped disc, I’m as healthy as a horse. So I really don’t know what the “protocol” is nowadays. Can someone help me out here? If I’m supposed to have a crucifix, candles, cloth covered table, I can make arrangements to get those things before I go in for my operation. I’m also assuming here that a clean sweat suit will be appropriate to wear (since I won’t be able to get much of anything else on over that brace!)

I think that if I am going to have the Sacrament of Reconciliation, it should be in privacy, so I’m assuming it will be okay if I ask my caregiver to go in the kitchen (or wherever.) I also understand that any Catholic caregiver or family/friends who are in a state of grace will be permitted to receive the Eucharist as well as me.

Do I have “all the bases covered?”

Boy, am I getting hung up on some fine points here! Naturally, your prayers for my recovery are appreciated!


#2

[quote="odile53, post:1, topic:302352"]
I will be having spine surgery sometime in the next several weeks, and will be in a back brace for four to six weeks postoperatively. My neurosurgeon told me that I should limit any car travel to medical appointments, until the brace comes off.

I wish to have the Eucharist brought to me while I'm unable to make it to Mass, and have been told by my pastor that this is possible. He didn't mention anything about any "protocol" for pastoral or Eucharistic visits, however.

The only time I recall a priest visiting the house was way back in the olden days, when an uncle of mine was dying, and I remember the sick call set, etc. I'm not going to be receiving the Sacrament of the Sick, since other than a badly slipped disc, I'm as healthy as a horse. So I really don't know what the "protocol" is nowadays. Can someone help me out here?

[/quote]

The Church will send someone to your home to give you the Eucharist. It does not have to be a priest that does it. Don't be afraid to ask your priest about the procedure. Good Luck in your surgery.


#3

Are you going under anesthesia for your surgery? If that's the case, you might be able to receive anointing of the sick beforehand. If your surgery has even a slight chance of death, many priests will administer the sacrament, even for people who aren't on their death bed. I know a priest who administered it for someone who was going under anesthesia for wisdom teeth removal. These days, the Church gives that sacrament much more liberally than they used to.

As to when you receive a visit in your home, there's nothing special you need to do. It might be wise to have a small table or TV tray cleared off in case they want to use it. But the priest or EMHC will bring everything necessary. I don't THINK they bring candles, but if you want to light one in praise of Christ's sacramental presence, it's a nice option.

As to caretakers or other receiving Holy Communion as well, it is allowed. But some on this site some have said that their pastors have a policy against it, so it seems that is at the discretion of the pastor.

Also, if you are unable to fast for medical reasons or other circumstances, it's okay. I run into that a lot in my nursing home visits. The people in those places are at the mercy of the facility's mealtimes and med. schedules, and I'm at the mercy of when my pastor sends me out. Some of those old ladies really take that seriously, and if I happen to get there right after they took their meds, they won't receive. I try to tell them that they are excused from fasting, and sometimes I manage to convince them. And no special clothes are required. Wear what is comfortable, especially if you have a brace.

Best of luck for your surgery! I hope you heal fast.


#4

The giving of the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick often depends on the priest. The older concept of "extreme unction" only given to those close to death has gone. Nevertheless, the sacrament isn't simply for anyone who is ill. This fact is sometimes poorly understood because some priests give it in circumstances that is not envisaged by the rite. This sacrament is intended for those whose illness is likely to lead to their death. I think it would be debatable whether general anaesthesia would be covered by this provision. Every general anaesthetic administered carries risk. I don't think priests would be administering this sacrament to every one about to undergone general anaesthesia.

I think it important to inform your priest what you require. If you want to receive holy communion that may be brought to you by an EMHC. If you want to confess then that must be to a priest. It would be necessary to ensure that no one else could hear what you and the priest say.

If you would like to be visited other than to receive communion or confession perhaps you could raise this issue too. Maybe the priest will visit you. Your parish may have a ministry where lay volunteers visit the sick.

I wish you every success with your operation. My mother-in-law had similar surgery. She found wearing the brace for six weeks to be a nuisance but now she is very happy with the outcome. Her pain has gone and she is a much happier person.


#5

Yes you have covered everything

As said before it may be the priest himself or someone in your parish may bring you communion. You can have confession anywhere so if you have a careworker there at that time its perfectly okay to dispatch them even to the corner shop though it only fair of you to say that because you want a confession with the priest and they will perfectly understand. But yes to the kitchen if you're happy of not being overheard. Make sure the priest knows if you want a confession though.

I had home communion for about six weeks after had septic shock and its, well, it was okay but I missed church too at that time because you don't get the social ness of it or the sermon. perhaps your priest be good and print of the sermon for you too if you want to keep up with things? Though whenver I have asked our current priest if he would email it me - he has always said yes, but not happend yet and all he got to do it hit send because he types them anyway. Though he may be thinking I might over analyze them if I had my own copy and wouldn't be far wrong. I wouldn't mean to but he would get lots of questions back, not criticisms at all. Genuine questions but he would get them at times.

Have you had your name included onto the parish prayer/Intercession list? Not everyone likes this, I don't. But it is an option for you to think about and I don't know if you have a space on your church newsheet where you could put the date of your operation on and ask people to remember you in your prayers? We have a candle in church and can buy the space on the church newssheet for £5 and have the candle lit or anniversaries etc and am sure the date of an operation be an acceptable purpose. You can ask the priest anyway?

All the best with the operation and recovery. When is it by the way


#6

I was pretty sure that the Sacrament of the Sick was pretty much reserved for those who are sick enough that it’s life-threatening, and to be honest, I don’t fall into that category, so I felt like a bit of a diva to request it. This is, after all, basically, a sports injury!

I know that if I can’t make it to Mass because of illness (and my mobility restrictions would fall into that category,) that that is a valid reason to miss Mass. On a few occasions I had to stay home this summer simply because I was in too much pain to sit through Mass! (sitting seems to be the worst, and I had my husband move the computer to the breakfast bar so I could stand and type.)

I plan on receiving the sacraments anyways before I go in for surgery, and I don’t think that I’d be in much of a position to commit any mortal sins for a few days afterwards (I’ll be too groggy from painkillers to do much of anything or even think much of anything voluntarily!) But I did want to be able to receive communion while I’m housebound. If I decide to confess after I’m starting to recover, I’ll just call the rectory and let them know.

Thanks, folks. You pretty much confirmed what I thought in the first place. And I do appreciate your prayers.


#7

Sacrament of sick is for anyone who thinks themselves sick and sick. I have accessed it once with this new priest. He did say we could say our intention if we wanted. So I emailed him my intention and when there didn't say anything and he was okay about that. You don't have to be poorly sick and dying as you refer to. I have now worked out my own objection to it but thats a totally different thing. If you find yourself going through a painful time in recovery, you know that it is available and will give you hope. Its nothing to be feared.
In the Anglican church, or at least He used just a simple oil which with the specific service which is very short, he does the sign of the cross with it on your forehead.And says a prayer. I went away too quick I think because was nervous and first in line and didn't know what to do but he was fine. Done at home or when you are in hospital the Priest will guide you bit better and it is much quicker than confession even. Its there if you want it I guess. I slept well that night and didn't really expect to because of going on a mini break next day on my own. But slept really well that night and all the trains connected so smoothly.


#8

[quote="englishredrose, post:7, topic:302352"]
Sacrament of sick is for anyone who thinks themselves sick and sick.

[/quote]

I'm afraid that is not correct. Even if a priest has given you the sacrament in those circumstances it does not make it right. I am a little confused because you appear to talk about receiving anointing of the sick in the Anglican church. The Catholic rite requires the person (and I don't claim to be quoting the exact words) to be in danger of death. Obviously, that is open to interpretation. If I had a cold I would not warrant the sacrament. If I was about to undergo triple coronary artery bypass surgery I think that might be cause to receive it.


#9

[quote="Matthew_Holford, post:8, topic:302352"]
I'm afraid that is not correct. Even if a priest has given you the sacrament in those circumstances it does not make it right. I am a little confused because you appear to talk about receiving anointing of the sick in the Anglican church. The Catholic rite requires the person (and I don't claim to be quoting the exact words) to be in danger of death. Obviously, that is open to interpretation. If I had a cold I would not warrant the sacrament. If I was about to undergo triple coronary artery bypass surgery I think that might be cause to receive it.

[/quote]

Well, in one sense, we're all in danger of death, yes? But more to the point, the "danger of death" standard is at best elastic and certainly unclear. Anointing masses for the ill and infirm are somewhat common around here, as are periodic anointings at nursing homes for the very elderly who are not necessarily stricken with a specific illness. Similarly, I have been anointed prior to surgeries which involved general anesthesia but not bodily organs as critical as the heart.


#10

[quote="Tarpeian_Rock, post:9, topic:302352"]
Well, in one sense, we're all in danger of death, yes? But more to the point, the "danger of death" standard is at best elastic and certainly unclear. Anointing masses for the ill and infirm are somewhat common around here, as are periodic anointings at nursing homes for the very elderly who are not necessarily stricken with a specific illness. Similarly, I have been anointed prior to surgeries which involved general anesthesia but not bodily organs as critical as the heart.

[/quote]

I don't deny it happens. What appears to have happened is that we've gone from one extreme to the other. Prior to the Church's liturgies being revised following Vatican II people were often only anointed if they were close to death. The sacrament was never reserved for such people. Now, it has gone to the other extreme: people are given the sacrament on occasions when it is not appropriate. The Church does not intend its use for every type of pathology or for use before every medical intervention. Of course, we are all going to die but that isn't what "in danger of death" means in relation to this sacrament.


#11

[quote="Matthew_Holford, post:8, topic:302352"]
I'm afraid that is not correct. Even if a priest has given you the sacrament in those circumstances it does not make it right. I am a little confused because you appear to talk about receiving anointing of the sick in the Anglican church. The Catholic rite requires the person (and I don't claim to be quoting the exact words) to be in danger of death. Obviously, that is open to interpretation. If I had a cold I would not warrant the sacrament. If I was about to undergo triple coronary artery bypass surgery I think that might be cause to receive it.

[/quote]

Englishredrose is indeed Anglican, but often posts views without making it clear that she is speaking of the Anglican church. Obviously, there is overlap sometimes, but she has been asked before not to keep giving judgments on Catholic issues as if she is Catholic, as it can confuse people into thinking she is giving authentic Catholic teaching and practice.


#12

[quote="paperwight66, post:11, topic:302352"]
Englishredrose is indeed Anglican, but often posts views without making it clear that she is speaking of the Anglican church. Obviously, there is overlap sometimes, but she has been asked before not to keep giving judgments on Catholic issues as if she is Catholic, as it can confuse people into thinking she is giving authentic Catholic teaching and practice.

[/quote]

Indeed, that is not appropriate. Her comments on Anointing the Sick, then, are invalid. IIRC Anglicans only consider there to be two sacraments: Baptism and Eucharist. Consequently, any form of anointing in Anglicanism would be analogous to a sacramental, not a sacrament.


#13

Odile,

I’ll certainly keep you in my prayers. As has been pointed out, receiving the Eucharist at home may or may not involve a priest, and there is little " pomp" required.

For those interested in the requirements for receiving Anointing of the Sick:

ewtn.com/expert/answers/anointing_of_the_sick.htm


#14

Regarding Anointing of the Sick, it is not reserved only for those who are dying but for anyone with a serious illness and it recommended for anyone going in for surgery. General anesthesia can be life threatening, My BIL died less than a minute after going under and his surgery was minor. I received the sacrament before going in for ambulatory surgery. My pastor insisted that I receive it. It is also recommended for the aged or when someone discovers they have a serious illness,like diabetes for example, and can be repeated if the illness gets worse. The idea that it is only for those who are close to dying is simply not true and keeps many people from receiving the sacrament who could benefit from it.


#15

Joanne, I’m sorry about what happened with your brother-in-law. Despite what is said for legal purposes, my own private review of the literature shows that general anesthesia is pretty safe nowadays, and the monitoring involved looks like the kind of monitoring NASA does for a rocket launch. I’m not all that concerned about dying on the operating table, and since I plan to confess the day before surgery (one of the stops on my pre-op checklist route, including laying in enough frozen meals to last me a few weeks,) as the song says, que sera, sera. I’m at peace with all of that, and honestly, my neuro symptoms of this herniated disc might take off some purgatory time for me!

And yes, every one of us is in danger of death at any time from whatever cause. That point was most dramatically hammered home to me on September 11, 2001 because I was still living in New York at the time. You can be as healthy as a horse, in the prime of your life, and be struck down by a random act of violence. But that’s not the purpose of the Sacrament of the Sick.

I’m concerned primarily about my postop recovery time at home, and am relieved that I can receive communion, and if necessary, confession while I’m immobilized. I’ve gone through orthopedic surgery before (shoulder and hip) with prolonged recovery times, and vaguely recall sitting in front of EWTN back in the early nineties, with my arm in an immobilizer (like a sling on steroids,) stoned up to my eyeballs on Dilaudid that they gave me for a few days postop, and getting into an argument with Mother Angelica’s show while I was sitting in the recliner (I didn’t call in, I was just yelling at the TV for some unknown reason!) I also recall hallucinating that a deer had gotten into the living room (which was funny, since I lived in a third floor loft in Chelsea at the time, and didn’t even have a living room to speak of,) and screaming at my roommates to lure the deer outside with carrots and we had to have some in the refrigerator. Nuts, absolutely nuts! I don’t handle early postop very well, I’m afraid, especially when heavy-duty pain medication is involved.

An old friend of mine who is a priest in New York brought the sacraments to me for a couple of weeks until I was off the heavy duty medication and could take a taxi to Mass. Fr. Greg couldn’t care less that I was wearing a tank top, some capri sweats, and was swaddled with an Indian blanket when he brought the Eucharist to me, and my Catholic roommate was permitted to receive communion as well. Once I was okay to get to Mass, obviously, communion didn’t present much of an issue.

Anyways, it will be a few weeks before I’m going into the hospital. I’m looking forward to getting this taken care of properly. And yes, I’ve modified my diet to include more protein, more iron, and more vitamin D, cut way back on my smoking (hopefully, I’ll be able to quit altogether by then,) and am doing my assigned home physical therapy exercises with all the discipline that I used to rehearse when I was performing.

I appreciate everyone’s prayers and good wishes.

And now, when my TENS session is over, I have to go to the pool and do what swans do best: Swim. I’m doing laps, primarily the backstroke, three days a week, as well as walking a mile twice a day. The doctors want me active, not just laying around.

If you have your health, thank God every day for it. It is one of the blessings that we so often take for granted.


#16

[quote="Joannm, post:14, topic:302352"]
Regarding Anointing of the Sick, it is not reserved only for those who are dying but for anyone with a serious illness and it recommended for anyone going in for surgery. General anesthesia can be life threatening, My BIL died less than a minute after going under and his surgery was minor. I received the sacrament before going in for ambulatory surgery. My pastor insisted that I receive it. It is also recommended for the aged or when someone discovers they have a serious illness,like diabetes for example, and can be repeated if the illness gets worse. The idea that it is only for those who are close to dying is simply not true and keeps many people from receiving the sacrament who could benefit from it.

[/quote]

I am sorry to hear about your BIL. For those who may fear general anaesthesia (GA) it is important to bear in mind that death under GA is rare these days.

Obviously, death is a possible complication of GA for everyone. I do not think it would be even practical to anoint everyone who is going to undergo GA.

IMO doctors could have a role to play as they can advise on the particular risks for a named patient.

It is clearly stated in the Rite of Anointing the Sick that it is for those in danger of death. I accept that "in danger of death" is subjective and there are no objective criteria against which to determine this.

At one time the Rite was very often only received by those who were close to death. That was not what the sacrament was for. Unfortunately, I suspect many missed out on the sacrament because the priest was sent for too late. Nowadays, we have moved too far to the opposite end of the spectrum. Some priests will administer the sacrament in circumstances that the Rite does not envisage.

I have read the Rite and the Church's teachings on this Rite. That is why I am making the points I have. Before indicating the circumstances in which it can be used have you read the Rite?

I won't disagree with your term serious illnesss. That, too, is a sujective term and it could mean those for whom their illness has the serious risk of death.


#17

Odile,

Let me guess... you started smoking while dancing as a weight control measure? I've seen this so often with the guest artists who come to town to perform with our ballet company.

I'll add a prayer that you are able to quit entirely... tough thing to do.


#18

Dixie, in the mid nineties, about one third of the dancers started quitting smoking. I've quit a few times myself, only to go back to it, sometimes years later. When I was the RCIA sponsor for my old coworker Roz, she came up with the brilliant idea that the two of us should give up smoking for Lent that year, and we ended up assembling a cuss jar for the foul humor that it put us both into. We'd dump the week's collection into the poor box at church after Saturday night Mass, and I'm sure the pastor at St. Malachy's was happy about it.

I'd say to this day that ballet dancers still smoke to a higher degree than the general population, because of the weight control. Actually, I started in high school with the other little rapscallions, and kept it up on and off through my ballet career.

Obviously, my neurosurgeon would be happiest if I simply quit, but most likely that won't happen without a lot of stress on my part. So I'm going to stay cut-back, with an eye toward quitting. Yes, it would be a good thing if I could manage to do so. Your prayers in that direction are most appreciated.

Well, I had a great swim this afternoon, took a nap when I got home, and then went to a Bible study at our local church. This evening Father took a different tack, which I was delighted about: Instead of verbally dissecting next week's Gospel, we engaged in a "construction of place" meditation, which I was of course familiar with because of having done the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Simply speaking, you put yourself in the scene from the gospel passage, and relate to the people, the place, the times, and so forth. Then you repeat the reading, with your new insights on the passage. It's a wonderful way of getting to know Jesus better.

Well, I didn't notice this, but it is nearly 3 AM, and I suppose I ought to go to bed.


#19

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