Self Communicating


I did a through search and could not find this question I have on this subject. Do Bishops give permission to hermitages (females), to keep the Blessed Sacrament available to them within a tabernacle, so that they may self communicate if a priest is not available?

Thanks, Richard


Well, if there is a fixed Church or chapel, the priest can, when he says Mass, consecrate enough Hosts to last until the next time. Leaving them reserved in the Tabernacle so that the parishioners can have Communion Services on the Sundays Father isn’t there. I don’t think any permission is needed for this.

Otherwise, it’s normally against Canon Law to reserve the Eucharist for any length of time anywhere other than a Church. There are probably some exceptions to this, but to do so risks unsafe and improper handling and keeping of the Eucharist, so permission would be rarely granted.


For Communion Service, I understand. However, I am speaking about a hermitage of one as an example. Can she keep the Eucharist within a tabernacle and take communion at her own hands?


No. She is just like every other unordained person - obliged to attend Mass if she can, and can attend a Communion service if one is being celebrated. Otherwise if possible to have a priest or someone bring Eucharist to her home . She can’t keep it in her home and self-communicate :nope:


Boy, I think that would either be up to the local Ordinary or the hermit’s religious superior.

In the Western world, we really don’t live in an age where religious hermits are unable to get to Mass like we did in the early period of the Church. Back then, this was allowed. Now… I don’t know.

If this is for scholarly research, I would recommend you contact your diocesesan office.


We have a hermit in our diocese. She goes to Mass.


The answer is no. It is not allowed. I’m not saying that it doesn’t happen, but it is not right or supposed to be allowed.


Where there can be a tabernacle is discussed in the Code of Canon Law, canons 934-944 (which are at ).

Some extracts from this:
"Can. 934 §1. The Most Holy Eucharist:

1/ must be reserved in the cathedral church or its equivalent, in every parish church, and in a church or oratory connected to the house of a religious institute or society of apostolic life;

2/ can be reserved in the chapel of the bishop and, with the permission of the local ordinary, in other churches, oratories, and chapels.

§2. In sacred places where the Most Holy Eucharist is reserved, there must always be someone responsible for it and, insofar as possible, a priest is to celebrate Mass there at least twice a month. …

Can. 936 In the house of a religious institute or some other pious house, the Most Holy Eucharist is to be reserved only in the church or principal oratory attached to the house. For a just cause, however, the ordinary can also permit it to be reserved in another oratory of the same house."

Can there be the “Rite of Distributing Holy Communion Outside of Mass” with just one person? At the beginning of the “The Short Rite With the Celebration of the Word” it has:
“42. This form of service is used when the longer, more elaborate form is unsuitable, especially when there are only one or two for communion and a true community celebration is impossible.”

But the ceremony includes roles for the minster and the people. For Mass the Code of Canon Law, has in canon 906:
“Can. 906 Except for a just and reasonable cause, a priest is not to celebrate the eucharistic sacrifice without the participation of at least some member of the faithful.” (From ). But there is no such permission for the ceremony “Rite of Distributing Holy Communion Outside of Mass”.


I sincerely appreciate the replies I have received from all of you. I guess I am just a little bit dense, still. I have read the Canons some have suggested, and still do not see exactly what I was wondering. I have been told this by someone who is a hermit in her diocese and lives alone. She states that she is allowed to keep the Blessed Sacrament in a tabernacle in her home. She further states that she has permission to open the tabernacle, open the ciborium, and partake of the Eucharist at her own hands. I have always thought that this was forbidden for the laity. I could understand if there was another person there to give her communion as an EEM in an Eucharistic Service.


kaimpls: I sincerely appreciate the replies I have received from all of you. I guess I am just a little bit dense, still. I have read the Canons some have suggested, and still do not see exactly what I was wondering. I have been told this by someone who is a hermit in her diocese and lives alone. She states that she is allowed to keep the Blessed Sacrament in a tabernacle in her home. She further states that she has permission to open the tabernacle, open the ciborium, and partake of the Eucharist at her own hands. I have always thought that this was forbidden for the laity. I could understand if there was another person there to give her communion as an EEM in an Eucharistic Service.

Hi kaimpls,
This woman may indeed have permission from her pastor to do this. This doesn’t mean he has the right to give her this permission. I think you should report this abuse to the bishop.


From the OP it sounds like it may have been the bishop who gave her the permission.

Also, forgive me for asking, you sure both she and whoever gave her permission are Catholic, and Latin Rite Catholic, AND in union with Rome at that? Eastern Catholics have their own Code of Canon Law which may say differently about way the Eucharist is handled. And lots of churches call themselves ‘independent’ Catholic or some such nonsense but, not being in union with Rome, aren’t bound by the code of Canon Law.


Again, I thank all of you. Yes, she insists that she is in fully communion with Rome. I don’t know. I have been made to feel so foolish in the discussion with her and her friends. I have this intense devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, and find it so hard to believe that this is happening today. Something tells me to drop the discussion with her; and yet, I feel that in doing so, I am compromising my faith in the matter.


Who gave her permission to keep the Blessed Sacrament in her home? The way I read the Canons on reserving the Sacrament, the Ordinary (Bishop) has the authority to do so, and norms for the reception of Holy Communion are left to his jurisdiction.


Well, that may answer my question. I guessed that the Ordinary had the authority as to where a tabernacle could be. But, I did not know that he also had the authority to allow a lay person to self-communicate whenever he or she desired. But, I would assume the permission would be permitted in extraordinary circumstances. However, I thank you very much.



What you are speaking of is of great interest to me. I have only recently become aware of the great power that bishops are granted. They have great “economia”. I would say they can do whatever they want to…but…it’s not quite that far…hahahaha.

In the Eastern Orthodox Church and in the teaching of the Church Fathers which undergirds the theology of that Church, economy (Greek: οικονόμια, economia ) has several meanings.[1] The basic meaning of the word is “handling” or disposition" or “management” of a thing – usually assuming or implying good or prudent handling (as opposed to poor handling) of the matter at hand.

As such, the word “economy”, and the concept attaching to it, are utilized especially with regard to two types of “handling”: (a) divine economy, that is, God’s “handling” or “management” of the fallen state of the world and of mankind – the arrangements he made in order to bring about man’s salvation after the fall; and (b) what might be termed pastoral economy (or) ecclesiastical economy, that is, the Church’s “handling” or “management” of various pastoral and disciplinary questions, problems, and issues that have arisen through the centuries of Church history.

In one sense, ecclesiastical economy refers to the discretionary power given to the Church by Christ himself, in order to manage and govern the Church. Christ referred to this when he gave the apostles the authority to “bind and to loose” (Matthew 16:19, 18:18), and this authority in turn was transmitted to the bishops who came after the apostles.

In this sense “economy” means, as already noted, “handling”, “management”, “disposition”. In general then, “economy” refers to pastoral handling or discretion or management in a neutral sense.

But it also can take two specific forms: it can be “exact” (“precise”, “strict”), which means the usual or general rule is followed precisely; or it can be “lenient” (a loosening or modification of that usual or general rule). The former is called “economy according to strictness (exactness)” and the latter, “economy according to leniency.” Economy according to leniency – a modification in the application of the usual rule – has always been done when, in the judgment of the Church, guided by the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 15:28, “it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us”) this would result in the wider salvation of souls through the extension of God’s mercy.

on page 62 #236 of the “Catechism of the Catholic Church” you can read that this is legitimate.


To Richard and those interested in the matter,

  I am the diocesan hermit being discussed here  (I received an email from another diocesan hermit which said, "Listen to what is being said about this poor hermit!. . ."; She didn't know I was the one being referred to!!). As Richard should know from my comments, and my plan of life (approved by my local Ordinary, and the pertinent section of which Richard has read), I have the right to reserve Eucharist and ALSO to celebrate a Communion service (including a penitential rite, Liturgy of the Word, etc) with all due reverence and receive/take Communion IN THAT CONTEXT on whatever days I do not get to Mass (which I manage about 5-6 times a week, ordinarily). However, circumstances sometimes mean I cannot get to Mass, occasionally for several days running. On those days I do indeed celebrate a Communion service accompanied by a half hour or more of adoration. Eucharist is not kept for more than a week at a time to make sure the connection with Mass is never lost, and I serve as an EEM for a local seniors complex as well. When the Eucharist is not fully consumed at the end of the week, I return it to the parish Church and receive more after Mass.

  Let me be clear, no one is talking about opening up the tabernacle and taking Communion any old time as though one were opening up a bag of potato chips and munching away (a characterization provided by one of Richard's discussion partners regarding this arrangement, by the way, and one which I resent)!    

    I will remind Richard (KAIMPLS) that he is speaking about hermits, who quite often live a solitude which precludes daily Mass, and yet, who require daily Communion. Bishops do indeed give permission for this accomodation, and have done since Canon 603 became law in 1983. Consecrated Virgins also ordinarily have oratories where Eucharist is reserved and can receive in a similar way. Obviously the same is true of small houses of religious men and women. Of course, I find the addition of "(female)" in Richard's initial post on the matter suggestive, and I wonder if this would have been quite the issue for him if I had been a MALE hermit. 

   My thanks to all who posted sections from relevant canons and rubrics for Communion services (not to mention a reference to the concept of oikononia). The phrase "when a true community cannot be present" is significant here. In any case, the accomodation is a long standing one with the approval of two different Bishops and the perusal of at least four or five canonists (different dioceses and regions of the country), several Vicars of religious or consecrated life, etc. It is not something I take lightly, and never without due reverence and care.

   Richard, a public personal note to you: I have explained the situation at length to you before, and I know you have access to my Plan of Life which (for the most part) is also online, so I believe that bringing the discussion here without even notifying me, is a bit cowardly and also has misrepresented the situation. My "home" is a diocesan hermitage and, as was also noted, ordinarily these are ALSO blessed and consecrated appropriately (as I noted to you before, the ritual for this is rather impressive), so I would appreciate it if you were to take a bit more care with the details.

Sister Laurel
Stillsong Hermitage

P.S., if you wish to continue the discussion of this matter, I will not likely see it, so please do not expect responses, especially to inquisitorial types of questions! I wish you all Christ’s peace.


On the one hand, this thread has been a great learning experience (I hope) for all who read it and posted here. On the other hand, however, I find myself asking the question, “Why was this thread even started?”


I have no wish to be offensively inquisitorial - but your circumstances are a little unclear. When you say ‘communion service’ do you mean people other than yourself are present? :confused:

And what does it mean when you say hermits ‘require daily communion’? To my knowledge no-one requires daily (or weekly or monthly for that matter) communion apart from a priest who is obliged to celebrate Mass (and take communion in so doing) daily.


I have followed this thread with interest because my brother is also a hermit attached to an order or association of hermits, with a spiritual director and lifeplan approved by the local bishop. He has not requested the accommodation permitted in this story because until now he has not needed it, living fairly close to the local parish. however I do visit another hermitage in my area where this special permission is granted during times when a priest is not in residence, because there are some laypersons who live there as hermits fulltime (with all the orthodox permissions and so forth).

I have not commented because the entire tone has been so legalistic and uncharitable, and to me, has become the perfect textbook example of this forum’s greatest failing: the tendency to answer questions by a collection of random quotes from Church documents.

that the hermit in question should have first been troubled by this unwarranted interference in her life, and second be forced to defend herself, is shocking, and I applaud her graciousness and humility in giving the explanation she has, which is an education, I am sure, for everyone here, about a little-known aspect of spiritual life.

May I suggest to forum members myself included, as a rule for future discussions, unless you are in a capacity to be an expert in the field you are discussing do not issue blanket declarations about Church teaching and discipline. Yes, by all means, quote sources whenever possible, but do not presume, because you were able to navigate a document and find a relevant paragraph, that makes you an expert on the topic.

For instance, if you are not in charge of or responsible for the conduct of liturgical rites in your parish or diocese, you are not an expert, and reading the GIRM does not make you one.

If you are not a liturgical musician, you are not an expert.

If you have not been involved in RCIA, been instructed in the rites and their preparation, and in the catechetical process, you are not an expert.

If you are not yourself spiritually mature and under direction, you are not qualified to give spiritual counsel to others, except in the way of sharing your own experience humbly or quoting wisdom of spiritual directors.

Just because you read an article critiquing this or that scripture translation, you are not an expert. If that is not your area of academic and professional concentration, do not presume to be one.


It is entirely possible that daily Communion is one of the requirements of this hermit’s Plan of Life, and thus she would need an accomodation allowing her to celebrate a Communion Service on the days she could not make it to Mass.

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