Refusing Communion

May a pastor who has authorized EMHC’s to take *Communion to the Sick *from the tabernacle on days other than Sunday to assisted-living or nusring homes, instruct the EMHC’s to distribute Communion only to residents and withhold Communion from all others including canonically qualified Catholics visitors who are present and request to receive Communion with their sick relative/friend during the visit?

I would think refusing to serve them would be allowed since that person can go to church and receive from the priest. If you start serving bunches of people, it becomes its own service and EMHC are supposed to only be delivering communion to those who cannot come to church.

I would think so because the EMHC is usually only given enough hosts for the people who are supposed to recieve communion and not their family members or other guests.

I’m not saying it is right or wrong, but:

Would Jesus only be concerned with feeding the hungry who came to him, or would he also want to feed the hungry he met everywhere?

Peace and all good!

I believe the pastor would be wrong, and in so instructing, would be going against the norms established in the proper liturgical books.

From " Pastoral Care of the Sick," Catholic Book Publishing 1983: Page 77, describing the giving of Communion to the sick person: “The minister goes to the sick person and, showing the Blessed Sacrament, says: ‘The Body of Christ.’ . . . .Others present who wish to receive Communion then do so in the usual way.”

Based on this it seems clear to me that the norms for the distribution of Communion to the sick and home bound clearly contemplate that others present may receive the Eucharist."

As has been quoted, it is acceptable to give communion to family members who wish to recieve with their infirm loved one. Ideally the EMHC should know how many are going to recieve communion and take the correct number of hosts.

All the best


While I always gave communion to spouses, visitors, and attendants, I also cautioned them that they were still obliged to attend mass if it was Sunday. This is assuming they had not received communion earlier that day.

However, an EMHC is strictly an assistant to the pastor and must follow his rules. While you may not do anything you know is wrong, you cannot do that for which you are authorized.

For example, I was told not to give communion to the members of a certain family. While one member was unable to get to church, the pastor judged that the rest could and should come to mass and not receive at home. That is why he was pastor and I was an EMHC; he made the tough calls.

Are you permitted/instructed to remind the people (the sick, spouses, visitors) that they may only receive if they are in a state of grace?

As far as I know it is permitted. However, I never have; just as I wouldn’t when acting as an EMHC at church.

Has the pastor given permission to physically take the Blessed Sacrament from the tabernacle? At my parish, the priests are the only ones to ever open the tabernacle (We have no deacons.). Even the very involved sacristan never opens it.

Also, when I am at the nursing home to distribute Holy Communion, sometimes people I don’t know ask me if they can receive. I only ask them if they are Catholic. If they say yes, I give them Holy Communion, if they say no, I explain I am not allowed to give to people who aren’t Catholic. However, if my pastor instructed otherwise, I would follow him.

I believe you are correct. In an ideal world the ordinary minister of Holy Communion would distribute Holy Communion during and outside of Mass to only canonically qualified and properly disposed Catholics.

But in the real world three disordered events may occur: 1) the ordinary minister might give Communion to a disordered (canonically unqualified or improperly disposed) communicant, or 2) the ordinary minister might unjustly withhold Communion from a communicant who is properly ordered, or 3) properly ordered Catholics may be denied the Bread of Life because an insufficient number of ordinary ministers are available.

A basic tenet of our Catholic ethic, I think, is that all human needs translate into human rights. All human rights must be respected by others. Those who have the power to provide to others what is needed are obligated to do so. We need the Bread of Life. The power to provide is vested in priest who confects and the ordinary minister who distributes.

In her wisdom, the Church – in her theology of the Eucharist which is both personal and ecclesial, in her canons, and in her liturgical guidelines – clearly thinks events 2 and 3 are the greater evils.

Pray for more vocations.

The Church teaches that the patently and objectively disordered may and, if obstinate and persistent in public, must be refused communion.
Can. 912 Any baptized person not prohibited by law can and **must be admitted **[emphasis mine] to holy communion.

Can. 917 A person who has already received the Most Holy Eucharist can receive it a second time on the same day only within the eucharistic celebration in which the person participates, without prejudice to the prescript of ⇒ can. 921, §2.

Can. 918 It is highly recommended that the faithful receive holy communion during the eucharistic celebration itself. It [Communion] **is to be administered outside the Mass, however, to those who request it for a just cause **[emphasis mine], with the liturgical rites being observed.

The Liturgical Instructions also cohere to the canonical rules:

“The Catholic Handbook for Visiting the Sick and Homebound 2012”
Who May Receive Holy Communion
“Catholic shut-ins, caregivers, or **others who assemble with them **[emphasis mine] may receive Holy Communion … “.(pg. 15).

“Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist Outside Mass (1976)”
“The faithful should be encouraged to receive communion during the Eucharistic celebration itself. **Priests, however, are not to refuse to give communion **[emphasis mine] to the faithful who ask for it even outside Mass.” (No. 14)

Unlike the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, Communion to the Sick has not been restricted to only the sick or homebound.

I couldn’t imagine someone reminding me that I needed to be in a state of grace, when I present myself for Communion. :eek:

I might have been forced to remind them that they are there to distribute Communion, not personally decide if I can receive.

I guess that you would have freaked out yesterday at the Mass that I attended. After a brief homily the priest went through “housekeeping” in regard to rules for communion and he was very clear about being a Catholic, in a state of grace, that observed the fast, that had the proper predisposition and that was ready to receive in a reverent manner. he was pretty detailed about the dos and don’ts of the different aspects (e.g. how to receive on the hand and how to receive on the tongue). The only thing that he glossed over was the details regarding mortal sin where he said to Google for it if unsure. :slight_smile:

As a priest, he is the one to do that. And I applaud him for reminding everyone of their duty.

An EMHC? Not their job.

The pastor decides what their duties are, they are simply to obey the pastor or decline to serve. If they think that they are asked to do something immoral then they have to discuss that with the pastor first and then with the bishop if there is no resolution.

And if they asked, I would remind them that they are not there to personally decide if I am to receive. And if the pastor thinks they are, I would go to the bishop.

I think we have come back to what I originally said. :thumbsup:

I think a general catachesis to the entire assembly on the required canonical qualifications and the proper dispositions for those who would present themselves for communion after the homily is certainly in order. (These instructions are inside the front cover of our missalettes.)

As an EMHC and as a catechist I can tell you that I was very pleased to hear that very basic reminder coming from the priest. My son made fun of me because I was smiling and nodding my head in approval during the whole homily.

One might view the EMHC as being the waiter who serves the meal. Preparing the meal and issuing the invitations is above his pay grade. :smiley:

Luke 12:41 "Then Peter said, “Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?”

Luke 12:48 " … Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more."

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