How do you use the Sacramentary?

We must begin presenting a formal Communion Service when we have no priest. We have books for all the readings, years A,B,C readings, etc. However, how is the Sacramentary we received used? How does it differ from the Daily Readings, gospels book?:confused:

Where are you? Canada and the US have developed specific rites for this. Canada’s book is called “Sunday Celebration of the Word and Hours” and the US’s is “Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest”. I’m rather confused by your use of the term “Sacramentary”. We wouldn’t use that for a Celebration of the Word with Communion.

You would use the regular readings for the day – I presume you are doing this on Sunday.

To clairfy some terms: “Sacramentary” is another word for “Roman Missal”. It is only used for Mass, not a Communion Service.
The book with the readings is called the “Lectionary”.
The book used for a Communion Service is “Holy Communion and the Worship of the Eucharist Outside of Mass”. This has the ceremonies in Chapter 1, a long rite and a short rite.
For the long rite, about the readings it has:
“29. The Liturgy of the Word now takes place as at Mass. Texts are chosen for the occasion either from the Mass of the day or from the votive Masses of the Holy Eucharist or the Precious Blood, the readings from which are in the Lectionary. A list of these passages can be found in nos. 113-153 of this Ritual. The Lectionary offers a wide range of readings which may be drawn upon for particular needs, such as the votive Mass of the Sacred Heart. See nos. 154-158 below.
There may be one or more readings, the first being followed by a psalm or some other chant or by a period of silent prayer.
The celebration of the word ends with the general intercessions.”
(The Rites Volume One, Liturgical Press, 1990, ISBN: 0-8146-6015-0, pages 650-651).


Who is “we” – is there a Deacon in your parish? Or will your Diocese send someone to train and moderate those designated to lead these services?

This should not be done “on your own.” It must be done in communion with – and under the direction of – your bishop.

Demand this kind of support from your Church. It is vital.


I agree. If you are being asked to conduct these services you must be properly trained and be very familiar with the rite. As was stated, the Sacramentary is not used. It is basically a Liturgy of the Word followed by distribution of Communion.

BTW in our diocese the only time communion services are allowed is in hospitals, nursing homes or prisons. They are no longer allowed in parishes.

You’re lucky enough to have Mass in every parish on Sundays? We have many parishes that only see a priest once a month, if that, so it’s a lay-led Liturgy of the Word with Communion for them on the other Sundays.

Thank you one and all for your supportive replies and edification re: The Sacramentary. Let me explain:
I have served as Lector in many parishes and both my husband and I are Eucharistic Ministers as well. “We” refers to he and I. My husband runs a national group known as “Handicapables” which brings a full meal, a Mass said by a priest and live music to folks in need. All our clients have physical or mental handicaps and many cannot access their parish church in wheel chairs, here in CA where we live.

The shortage of priests in the Archdiocese of San Francisco is painfully diminishing the many priests who came to the meeting residence to say Mass monthly for us. Our Pastor then gave us the following so we can continue to serve this ministry. "Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest"is the book that guides us as to the format we must use. We have Lectionaries for weekday Masses I, II & III as our celebrations are held on Saturdays, not Sundays. Iunderstand how to use these.

The 5th book, title is simply, “Sacramentary” puzzles us. It provides the order of the Mass for Sundays in years A, B & C. Our pastor says it contains shorter prayers of the day such as “Opening Prayer” Eucharistic Prayer," and other prayers used for Sundays. As a Lector, I generally carry this book as we process in for Mass but the priest is the only person who uses it, not our Deacons.

I am wondering why we have it as it is expensive and the tabbed sections totally perplex me such as "R2, R1, C3, C1, IV, III, II,
Right now, one of our priests is attending the required week retreat for all priests of the archdiocese and the other is up to his eyebrows in saying all the Masses alone and serving our entire parish. He does not have further time to discuss this with us given that we will be doing the celebrations, Sat., June 28 so time is short. Our deacon is too busy to help us out as well. The church next door on the property provides us with consecrated hosts and from there we are on our own. It seems to me that I don’t need to use the Sacramentary but wanted the views of other Catholics who serve in ministries as we do. Hope that helps all of you understand my question. I look forward to your support as my husband and I continue to serve the most needy Catholics in our county even without a priest.
Blessings to all,

Sylvia Ann

I can only assume you are not doing this as the Vigil celebration on Saturday evening. The “Sunday Celebrations In The Absence Of A Priest” is designed for use on Sundays only and in a parish setting where there is no Priest available.

Locate and get (a quality Catholic bookstore should have one readily available) a copy of “Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist Outside Mass” by Catholic Book Publishing. It has the entire rite of a communion service in it, save two things. It does not have the opening prayer (you need the Sacramentary) and the General Intercessions (you can use what your parish has, or compose your own).

When you begin the Communion Service, it is always with the sign of our faith (In the name of the Father, the…) , greet the people (pg 19 in the book I just referenced),do the penitennial rite (per the book) and then the opening prayer (from the Sacramentary) after "May Almighty God have mercy on us…). For use of the Sacramentary, simply find the week you are in (on the 28th of June it would still be the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time) and use either of the opening prayers listed there. The readings are the readings of the day from the Lectionary. If there is no Deacon or Priest to lead the service, there should be no homily.

The closing prayers are found in the Holy Communion book I mentioned.

You are in my prayers, and God Bless you for stepping up to fill a need in a time of void!

Lay Ministers are properly authorized to perform Communion Services. Granted there should be training. But to say to “Demand” this of your Church is somewhat unrealistic at times, in this day and time. OP already stated there is no Priest available. She should be commended for taking on the responsibility for taking Jesus to the people in a situation where they cannot go to Mass. There are times when a Priest or Deacon is just not available.

Let me clarify a point or two.
It is the main responsibility of the Priest or Deacon to to minister Holy Communion to the faithful (para 17 Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist Outside Mass, pg 14). Next it would fall to a properly instituted acolyte when the priest or deacon are absent. Next “The Local Ordinary (Bishop) may give other special ministers the faculty to give communion whenever it seems necessary for the pastoral benefit of the faithful and a priest, deacon or acolyte is not available”

Is it preferable for a priest or deacon to conduct a communion service? Absolutely. Are they always available? No.

I would encourage you to have your priest follow through with proper training and the permission of your local Ordinary to continue this ministry.

I still applaud you for accepting the challenge and wanting to learn how to “do it right.”!

First of all, is there not a Mass that people can attend on Sunday, June 29th? Not only is this a Sunday Mass, but, it is also the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, and a HUGE feast of the Church. Inasmuch as there is a priest shortage, the parish should try to make every effort to get hold of a priest to celebrate this very important feast.

Furthermore, the provision for Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest is designed to cover just that Sunday.

Please consider what Redemptionis Sacramentum has to say on the matter:

163.] All Priests, to whom the Priesthood and the Eucharist are entrusted for the sake of others,267 should remember that they are enjoined to provide the faithful with the opportunity to satisfy the obligation of participating at Mass on Sundays.268 For their part, the lay faithful have the right, barring a case of real impossibility, that no Priest should ever refuse either to celebrate Mass for the people or to have it celebrated by another Priest if the people otherwise would not be able to satisfy the obligation of participating at Mass on Sunday or the other days of precept.

[164.] “If participation at the celebration of the Eucharist is impossible on account of the absence of a sacred minister or for some other grave cause”,269 then it is the Christian people’s right that the diocesan Bishop should provide as far as he is able for some celebration to be held on Sundays for that community under his authority and according to the Church’s norms. Sunday celebrations of this specific kind, however, are to be considered altogether extraordinary. All Deacons or lay members of Christ’s faithful who are assigned a part in such celebrations by the diocesan Bishop should strive “to keep alive in the community a genuine ‘hunger’ for the Eucharist, so that no opportunity for the celebration of Mass will ever be missed, also taking advantage of the occasional presence of a Priest who is not impeded by Church law from celebrating Mass”.270

[165.] It is necessary to avoid any sort of confusion between this type of gathering and the celebration of theEucharist.271 The diocesan Bishops, therefore, should prudently discern whether Holy Communion ought to be distributed in these gatherings. The matter would appropriately be determined in view of a more ample co-ordination in the Bishops’ Conference, to be put into effect after the recognitio of the acts by the Apostolic See through the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. It will be preferable, moreover, when both a Priest and a Deacon are absent, that the various parts be distributed among several faithful rather than having a single lay member of the faithful direct the whole celebration alone. Nor is it ever appropriate to refer to any member of the lay faithful as “presiding” over the celebration.

I don’t mean to sound harsh, but, surely there must be some relgious community who can provide a priest (like a monastery).

Now, as far as the C1, C2 and R1 and R2, these are the Eucharistic Prayers for Children and Reconciliation.

Now one other clarification needs to be made. You and your husband are not Eucharistic Ministers. Only the priest and bishop are Eucharistic Ministers because they are the sole clergy who can confect the Eucharist. The ordinary ministers of Holy Communion are the Deacon, the Priest and the Bishop by virture of their ordinations. You are an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion.

As far as procesing in with the Sacramentary, that is supposed to be left at the chair for the priest. It is not carried in during the entrance procession. The only book that is carried in is the Book of the Gospels.


I’m sorry I was a little curt with you. It’s just that Sunday is so very important and a priest should be present to celebrate Mass. Surely there has got to be a retired priest in the area who can travel out to your county.

Now, one caveat to the lay-led Communion services is that you should not seat yourself where the celebrant sits during the Mass.

I offer you one other document to read:

The document is called:



and it came out in 1997. It is still in force today.

This instruction should give you additional information on how to best exercise your duties.

Benedictgal is correct in stressing the first priority is to attend Mass, especially on days like the 29th. I know in our parish, we have many senior citizens who live in retirement centers and no longer drive who cannot make Mass. Those places are where we hold communion services for them. But we also have a volunteer corps who offer to drive to the centers and pick people up and bring them to Mass and then return them to the centers. It makes for a great ministry and keeps the person to person connection alive with a segment of the parish that could be easily overlooked or forgotten.

I have seen the Sacramentary processed in at times. It is usually done so that “everyone has something to carry”. That does not make it right, but I have seen it done. The Book of Gospels holds a special place and that is why it is processed in.

Actually, the only items processed in are:

Processional Cross
Candle on either side
Book of the Gospels

I wouldn’t have an entrance procession for a Communion service, since there needs to be a distinctino between this particular liturgy and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

It’s very possible that these people do have a way to attend Sunday Mass. But whether or not this is the case, I don’t think that is what Sylvia and her husband are responsible for.

Her focus comes from the perspective of the Handicapables organization which would mean a Saturday liturgy followed by a social function. It’s my understanding that in most areas Handicapable functions are held once a month on Saturdays and each month a different parish in the local chapter area hosts the event. (I know that for my parish, the annual luncheon for our chapter of Handicapables is put on the parish calendar a whole year in advance of the event. It’s so high priority I suspect it would take a visit from the Pope or a major natural disaster to bump it.)

It’s not clear from her post whether this Handicapables event takes place at a parish or at some other kind of facility. It seems like it may be the latter. In any case it seems Sylvia was told that the the Sunday Sacramentary has some prayers that will needed for a liturgy done according to *Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest.

*While considering her particular case she has begun to wonder about the broader of usage of her parish’s set of liturgical books.

That, I can understand. However, why wouldn’t a deacon be able to do this? Sylvia’s efforts are laudable; however, especially when there is a Solemnity attached to a Sunday, as is the case this weekend, surely a priest should be available. Now, if, from her post, Sylvia and her husband are in charge of the Handicapables, then they would be responsible for trying to get a priest.

One alternative would be to have a retired priest come and celebrate Mass. Somone from the organization could give hm a ride to the site. I just believe that all options should be explored and exhausted before going the route of a lay-led Communion service.

My guess is that this particular weekend the problem is the annual priests’ retreat. All the retired priests, deacons, religious priests, etc are busy filling in for the parish priests and are refusing to add yet another item to their schedules. Since it is summer most priests assigned to seminaries and educational facilities take off and don’t come back until autumn.

But yes, it would be useful for Sylvia and her husband to develop an expanded list of priests to call for special events. (I’m wondering what our parish does now when we need a “fill in” since the woman who seemed to have all the “priest connections” is now retired. She knew all the secret cell phone numbers, email addresses, etc. I think even our pastor relied on her.)

**We have used retired priests for years but they are all pressed now to say Sunday Masses at parish churches and can’t seem to get to us any longer.Our deacons are too busy to come. Now, you see our dilemma. Thanks for all ideas and suggestions but we have exhausted all of these. :frowning: **



I am a Catholic deacon. I know about situations where a priest or deacon is just not available. Before I was ordained I conducted Communion services and wake and burial services, when that was needed.

I did not say that a priest or deacon alone could conduct a Communion Service. What I did urge the OP to do was to **insist that she get the necessary support **so that she could conduct the service properly, with grace and dignity.

Part of that support is training, not merely being handed a stack of books.

Part of that support may also be seeking a mandate from the bishop, particularly if she is going to give a reflection on the readings at the Communion service.

She is being sent on a mission: it is incumbent upon those who send her to see that she is appropriately equipped.

Deacon Joe

Deacon Joe:
I obviously misunderstood your message, and I apologize. I agree that it is vital to get the training and learn to do a communion service correctly.

I have always believed that God does not call the equippd, rather He equips those He calls!

By the way, thank you for your service as a Deacon. May God bless your ministry richly.