Particularly on Maundy Thursday evening and Easter morning, bishops and priests may wish to celebrate Holy Communion in their homes – including in chapels or oratories, in other rooms, or (on Easter morning) in their own gardens. If they do so, they should make clear that this is in intention an expression of the shared life of the Body of Christ, not the offering of an individual.
Other bishops and clergy may choose to abstain from celebration of the sacrament of Holy Communion for such time as this is not physically accessible to lay people. They may choose to follow this course of action intentionally for the duration of the present emergency.
Recognising that they do so in real but separated company with those for whom they have spiritual care, some bishops and priests may choose to stream celebrations of Holy Communion. If so, those participating remotely should be encouraged to use the Act of Spiritual Communion on the Church of England website. As the introduction to that liturgical material explains:
The Book of Common Prayer instructs us that if we offer ourselves in penitence and faith, giving thanks for the redemption won by Christ crucified, we may truly ‘eat and drink the Body and Blood of our Saviour Christ’, although we cannot receive the sacrament physically in ourselves. Making a Spiritual Communion is particularly fitting for those who cannot receive the sacrament at the great feasts of the Church, and it fulfils the duty of receiving Holy Communion ‘regularly, and especially at the festivals of Christmas, Easter and Whitsun or Pentecost’ (Canon B 15).
Participants in a streamed service of Holy Communion should not be encouraged to place bread and wine before their screens. Joining together to share in the one bread and the one cup as those physically present to one another is integral to the service of Holy Communion; this is not possible under the current restrictions, and it is not helpful to suggest otherwise. Any idea of the ‘remote consecration’ of the bread and wine should be avoided.
Bishops should assure priests that their homes are proper places for the celebration of Holy Communion, and remind them that, needless to say, the same reverence should naturally be accorded to the sacrament in the home as in church. In particular, if the sacrament is reserved in a priest’s home for ministry to the sick, it should be stored in a ‘seemly and reverent’ manner in a suitable and secure place.
Bishops may wish to give authorisation to those priests who seek it to celebrate services of Holy Communion at which other participants are not physically present. It should be made clear that such authorisation will not extend beyond the period of the current Corona-virus related restrictions.