The Ritual for Communion Services in the Catholic Church

Written by patricia glaeser
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The Ritual for Communion Services in the Catholic Church
Communion services are conducted when mass is not possible. (Digital Vision/Photodisc/Getty Images)

The Catholic Church allows communion services outside of mass when mass is impossible due a shortage of priests or the incapacity of a celebrant. On these occasions, usually a deacon of the church will conduct a communion service to distribute consecrated hosts to those who wish to partake of the sacrament of Holy Communion.

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Opening Prayer

Just as with a Catholic mass, the facilitator of the service, usually a deacon or nun, will open the communion service with the sign of the cross and opening prayers. The facilitator will welcome those in attendance and offer prayers for the community and the parish. Those attending will actively participate while reciting prayers with the facilitator. Since the services is a devotional, opening prayers may vary depending on the person facilitating.

Scripture Readings

During a Catholic communion service, the person facilitating the services will lead the scripture readings by reading them himself or having members of the community read from the scripture. In the Catholic Church, the scripture is read according to the liturgical calendar, meaning there are prescribed readings for every day of the year. The first and second readings are typically read during the communion service while the facilitator may also choose to read the day's Gospel, too.

Distribution of the Eucharist

After the reading of the scripture, the community recites the Lord's Prayer. Then the facilitator distributes the hosts, which were consecrated during an earlier mass and kept in the church's tabernacle. In the Catholic Church, it is important to understand that the consecrated hosts are believed to be the body of Jesus, transformed from bread during the consecration.

The facilitator typically places the host in the recipient's left hand. The recipient then lifts the host with the right hand to his mouth.


The communion service concludes with closing prayers offered by the facilitator or the participants. Before closing the services, all unused consecrated hosts are returned to the church's tabernacle. A blessing is offered to those in attendance and announcements important to the church community are shared before the conclusion of the service.

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