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
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.
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