Gathering – Ministers of the Eucharist

20 March 2014 

Carrying the Eucharist to the Sick and the Housebound 

‘When we draw near with tender love to those in need of care, we bring hope and God’s smile to the contradictions of the world.

Those who are privileged to bring the Eucharist to the sick and the housebound are invited to reflect on that short piece from the message of Pope Francis for World Day of the Sick 2014. What a beautiful mission to have – to bring hope and God’s smile with us on that journey of love and service. This blessed task inspires us to prepare as best we can to carry Christ’s presence in the Eucharist and to be Christ to those we meet whether it is the one who is expecting us, their family or their carers.

Inner Preparation

We begin with our own relationship with Jesus in prayer. Try to spend some time in quiet adoration and prayer in a spirit of openness. There is no agenda. There is nothing to be achieved. All that is asked is the gift of our presence in an encounter with the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. This will require us to go to our ‘quiet room’ wherever that may be – in the church or oratory. Time spent in quiet contemplation is time well spent. It is in these precious moments that we realise that it is not about us or how good we are to be involved in this ministry. It is the place where ‘heart speaks to heart’. If we can let go of the many thoughts and concerns we may have ourselves we will find a precious oasis where we can simply be who we are called to be. We will also fill ourselves with the spirit of Jesus which we will carry with us on our journey. (Come adore this wondrous presence…)

The Word of God

Often we are invited to bring communion to the sick and housebound after Mass in their homes, in the hospital or a nursing home.  Let us also carry the gift of some words of scripture with us on our journey. Following the principle that ‘less is more’ look for one phrase from the readings of the day for example next Sunday’s readings. The Psalm Response – O that today you would listen to his voice: ‘Harden not your hearts’  or the Second Reading – ‘the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given us’ or from the Gospel – ‘give me some of that water, so that I may never get thirsty’. Choose a phrase that you will remember and pray it like a mantra on your Eucharistic journey. Then share that phrase in your prayer time with the one or with those who will receive the Eucharist. Invite some prayer around that phrase but nothing forced – a natural response to the gift of the Word is all that is called for. (O that today you would listen to his voice, harden not your hearts)

Sharing in the Eucharist

As one who will carry the Eucharist from the parish celebration, participate as much as you can in that Mass almost as if every prayer, gesture or reflection is being done in the name of those who you will later visit. Bringing them so carefully to mind is an acknowledgement of their presence at the Altar of Sacrifice in a different way to ours. It is as if we are their sponsors – acting on their behalf in the communal gathering until they have their own encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist. (Glory to you, O Christ, you are the Word of God) 

A Representative of the Eucharistic Community

After the Communion Prayer we are invited to come forward and to be formally sent out to bring the Eucharist to the sick and housebound. We are not acting on our own initiative. In the finest tradition of our Church we are reaching out to those who cannot be present at the Mass as servants of the community and servants of the Eucharist. We carry with us not only the Eucharist but also the affection and prayers of the parish community. (Will you let me be your servant..) 

Bless this House

On our way we are conscious that we are carrying the Eucharist in a pyx and we go directly on our way without any deviation except for the polite greeting of others on our journey. When we arrive at our destination as arranged in advance we greet everyone present and particularly those who will receive the Eucharist. A gentle reverent presence is a wonderful gift. It is a blessing to the all who are present. The unhurried way we greet, we pray, we share the Eucharist and give thanks is itself an expression of communion in the real sense. Some talk and genuine listening can also be a wonderful bonus on such a visit. (Come and listen to me…)


In some circumstances, we may be asked to bring Holy Communion to a person who is nearing the time of death. This is a sensitive time not only for the person who is dying but also for family and friends who are gathered. The celebration of the Eucharist as viaticum, food for the passage through death to eternal life, is the sacrament proper to the dying Christian. If the person is very ill a simple form of words after communion is appropriate – such as ‘May the Lord Jesus Christ protect you and lead you in to eternal life.’ (Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom)


If possible it is good to give thanks for the grace and privilege of bringing Jesus to others in the Eucharist. A visit to the Oratory or Church if practicable or at least some quiet time wonderfully rounds off this time of grace. (Glory be to God the Father…)