ROME, 18 MAY 2004 (ZENIT)
Answered by Father Edward McNamara, professor
of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University.
Q: Would canon law allow for a ministry for homebound young mothers to
receive Holy Communion in their homes during the week for spiritual
strength? Difficult pregnancies, sick infants, lack of transportation,
etc., could prevent a young, overly stressed mother, much in need of
spiritual strength to live her vocation, from attending weekday Masses.
Several young mothers have approached me for this answer.
A: Such a ministry would fall under the more general concept of ministry
to the sick and so there should be no canonical objections to bringing
Communion to these mothers.
Certainly, pregnancy is not an illness but a blessing. However, it is
certain that, especially in the later stages, many mothers are unable to
Their situation would be analogous to that of otherwise healthy elderly
people who normally attend Mass, even on a daily basis, but may find the
winter cold or summer heat too much to bear.
Such a ministry could be carried out on the parish level by the priests or
other authorized ministers who usually attend the sick and shut-ins by
simply adding another call to their rounds.
A specific ministry, especially dedicated to bringing the Eucharist to
young mothers, would require greater coordination.
If this ministry were to be carried out within the confines of a parish,
then the pastor could coordinate the initiative, although if the minister
is not a priest, he or she would require the usual authorization from the
bishop to act as an extraordinary minister.
If such a ministry were to be promoted on a diocesan level, then the
details would have to be worked out with the bishop. He could grant the
necessary authorization and suggest ways to coordinate this initiative so
that it harmonizes with the usual pastoral services carried out on the
Pregnant mothers or mothers with infants should not underestimate the
importance of the positive testimony conveyed by their presence at Mass as
a sign of hope and joy for many Catholics, and so should always strive to
However, when circumstances prevent this, the initiative proposed by our
correspondent would respond to a real need and impart many spiritual