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Sick communions

07 July 2017

Write, if you have an answer to the questions listed at the end of this section, or to add to the answers given below


Your answers


What is the current law regarding the administration of holy com­mun­ion to a sick person? Given the Sacrament Act 1547 and Article XXX in the Thirty-Nine Articles, can a sick person insist on receiving in both kinds either by means of a celebration of the eucharist at the sick person’s location, or from the Sacrament reserved in both kinds? Many years ago, my father told me that in hospital he had received holy communion from an Anglican chaplain, and that it had taken the form of a consecrated wafer that had been previously dipped in con­secrated wine. Is that form of Res­ervation still practised?


I suggest that a sick person should expect and be expected to receive in both kinds, but circumstances may make this impossible. A key phrase in the Sacrament Act 1547 is “excepte necessitie otherwise require”.

The rubrics to the Communion of the Sick in the BCP make it clear that if the sick person cannot receive the Sacrament by mouth, neverthe­less with due instruction the sick person is assured that he or she may spiritually receive the bread and wine and partake of the benefits of communion.

The notes to the equivalent Com­mon Worship service say that com­munion should normally be re-
ceived in both kinds separately, but where necessary may be received in one kind, whether of bread or, where the communicant cannot receive solid food, wine; and again repeats the assurance in the BCP where a person cannot physically receive. I have known of the form of Reserva­tion mentioned in the question.

(The Revd) Tim Barnard

Amersham with Coleshill


In this day and age, I would doubt the questioner’s wis­dom in insisting legalistically on anything other than communion for a sick person in the form that it is the local tradi­tion to provide, for fear of delaying its ad­­ministra­tion; he or she may have to make repeated requests even for that.

Under my parish’s last incum­bent, sick visiting and communions were a low priority: the young were of interest, not pastoral care for elderly people who had been weekly com­municants until they became frail; and I have good reason to think that he was not the only priest with that outlook.

If there is Reservation in one kind, and a Reader or other author­ised person able and willing to bring the Sacrament promptly to the patient, be thankful and just go for it, while praying for those trapped in parishes where that part of the faith is no longer taught. The Church holds that Christ cannot be divided and is, therefore, fully present under each kind, after all.

Name & address supplied


Your questions


The Catholic Herald has lately re­­ported the revived “Extraordinary Form” ordinations (i.e. under the old Latin rite) in St Mary’s, War­ring­ton, with an array of photos that show the RC Archbishop of Liver­pool wearing a long purple train, but also the newly ordained priests with their chasubles pinned up at the back. What is the origin of these customs, and does anyone recall wit­nessing them followed in an Anglo-Catholic context before the liturgical reforms of the 1960s? A. M.


Address for answers and more questions: Out of the Question, Church Times, 3rd floor, Invicta House, 108-114 Golden Lane, London EC1Y 0TG. questions@churchtimes.co.uk

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