Q: A member of our religious community has tested positive for the virus, and two other sisters have symptoms. We are now in quarantine. That means that we will be having communion services for a while, and we have a question: Can we combine Morning Prayer with a Communion service? We know that it can be combined with Mass, but we weren’t sure if the same regulations in the GILH would apply to a communion service.
Any advice or insight you could offer would be helpful. Also, please say a prayer for a speedy recovery for the sick and protection for those who are still healthy.
A: I’m sorry to hear about the illnesses in your community. I will pray that God will grant you all good health so that you may continue to praise him with new reasons for giving thanks.
The liturgical books do not directly answer your question. As you have indicated, the GILH allows the combination of one of the hours with the Mass, but it never envisioned a situation where a priest would be unable to preside for Mass because of quarantine.
Similarly, if you look at the Rite of Distributing Holy Communion Outside Mass in Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist Outside Mass, it does not directly offer the combination of the Liturgy of the Hours with the distribution of communion.
It does, however, describe the Liturgy of the Word in paragraph 29: “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.” It thus permits some flexibility in how the community mediates on the Word of God before the distribution of communion.
The Catholic Church has been making extraordinary accommodations due to the pandemic. In my view, the combination of an office from the Liturgy of the Hours with a communion service is well within the spirit of both these rituals.
It isn’t ideal, but neither is a pandemic.
Please make the judgments that make the most sense for your community. I’m sure that God will be pleased.