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Mary Schoefield wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • If an individual is a prisoner of war, can he receive Holy Communion by blessing a small piece of bread?
  • Since there is no Priest available, would this be an acceptable form of transubstantiation?
  • Would this person need to say some basic words that he remembers from Mass?

Thank you,

Mary

  { If an individual is a prisoner of war, can he receive Holy Communion by blessing some bread? }

Mike replied:

Hi, Mary —

Thanks for the question.

No. In order to receive the Blessed Sacrament their has to:

  • be a priest to celebrate Mass for those who are prisoners of war, or
  • the country with who they are at combat with should, based on human rights and basic decency, allow prisoners of war to receive Holy Communion from either a:
    • priest
    • nun, or
    • Extraordinary Ministry of the Eucharist

If prisoners of war cannot receive the Blessed Sacrament, what they can do is say a Spiritual Communion which goes like this:

My Jesus, I believe that you are present in the most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. I love You above all things and I long to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot now receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace myself entirely to You, and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.

It would also be a good habit to say an Act of Contrition before saying this Spiritual Communion.

Act of Contrition

O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who art all-good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace to confess my sins, to do penance and to amend my life. Amen.

In this Act of Contrition, when it says: to confess my sins, it is understood to be a private confession, until and if, the person has an opportunity to confess his sins to a priest.

For those who are in the unfortunate situation of being a prisoner of war, they can also say the Rosary, by means of a Rosary-less Rosary — just use your the fingers of your hand to count the Hail Marys and Our Fathers. Here is a posting that spells out the exact prayers and the order which to pray them.

I hope this helps,

Mike

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