Sancta Missa - Rituale Romanum (Roman Ritual) - Visit and care of the sick


1. A pastor must remember above all that the care of the sick is one of the most important duties of his ministry. Immediately upon learning that one of his parishioners is ill, without waiting to be summoned, he ought to visit him of his own accord; and this not only once but frequently throughout the duration of the illness. Moreover, he should request his parishioners to inform him when one of them takes ill, especially if the case is serious.

2. It will be helpful, particularly if the parish is a large one, to have a list of the sick, so that he can keep posted on their condition and readily keep them in mind, in order to be of proper assistance to them.

3. If the pastor himself is legitimately prevented at times from visiting his sick parishioners, for instance if they are numerous, he will arrange to have other priests perform this ministry in his stead, provided he has such assistants in the parish; at least this could be done by some of the devout laity, persons filled with a spirit of Christian charity.

4. When he visits the sick his demeanor should be sincere and dignified, as becoming a priest of the Lord, so that he will edify by word and example, not the sick alone, but the relatives and others as well.

5. Let him give special attention to those that are destitute, who require the charity and help of a kind and providing shepherd. If he is unable to provide such needs for them out of his own resources, let him turn for alms to his fellow men, either to some charitable organization or society, if there is such in the community, or to private sources.

6. But more than anything else, he should undertake the spiritual ministration of the sick, giving all diligence to it, so that he may direct them along the way of eternal salvation, and protect them with weapons of the spirit against the onslaughts of the evil one.

7. Let him be so well prepared when he makes a sick call, that he will always be enabled to speak to the person in convincing terms, using especially examples from the lives of the saints, a practice which proves most beneficial. Moreover, he will admonish the sick to place all confidence in God, to repent of sin, to implore the divine mercy, to bear patiently the pains of illness, believing them to be a fatherly visitation from God and conducive to salvation, a means for reforming his life.

8. Then he ought with becoming prudence and charity to induce the sick person to go to confession, and hear his confession, even if it is the latter's wish to make a general confession.

9. Besides, the priest should manifest real concern that nothing be used or prescribed as a bodily remedy to the sick which would be detrimental to spiritual well-being.

10. Whenever the condition of the sick person becomes critical, the pastor should warn him not to be deceived in any way, whether by the devil's wiles, or by the insincere assurances of the physician or false encouragement of relatives and friends, so as to delay the timely concern for his soul's welfare. On the contrary, he should be urged to receive with due speed and devotion the holy sacraments, while his mind is still sound and his senses intact, casting aside that false and pernicious procrastination which has already brought many to everlasting punishment and daily continues to do so through the illusions of the devil.

11. Should it happen that one who is sick cannot be induced to confess his sins, neither through the encouragement and admonition of the clergy nor the advice of relatives and friends, still there is no reason for total despair. But as long as he remains alive, various effectual exhortations should be repeated to him, both by priests and other pious folk, pointing out for his reflection the perils to his eternal salvation and the horrors of everlasting death, but stressing at the same time the unfathomable mercy of God, who invites him to repentance and who is ever ready to forgive. Likewise, both private and public prayer should be resorted to, in order to implore divine grace for the salvation of this pitiable individual.

12. Moreover, the priest shall be on the lookout for any particular temptations or false attitudes that might beset the sick person, and wisely counteract them with suitable remedies as the case requires.

13. He should see to it that there are placed within sight of the patient a crucifix, an image of the blessed Virgin Mary, and that of a saint for whom he has a special devotion. Then too there should be at hand a vessel with holy water to be used for frequent sprinklings of the sick person.

14. And let the priest recite for him, as his condition allows, some short prayers and pious affections, particularly verses of the psalms, or the Lord's Prayer, the Hail Mary, the Creed. Or the priest may give a meditation on our Lord's passion, or he may dwell on the sufferings of the martyrs and the example of the saints, or the joys of eternal blessedness. This, however, should be done discreetly and only if opportune, so as to prove consoling and not aggravating to the person.

15. He should console the sick person by assuring him of a remembrance in Mass and in his other prayers, mentioning that others will do likewise, and then really fulfill the promise.

16. If the illness is serious and even critical, the priest should advise the patient while he is still fully rational to put all his affairs in good order and to make a will. Should it happen that he has in his possession anything that belongs to another, he should be induced to restore it. And for the good of his soul he ought to be persuaded to bequeath some part of his substance for charitable purposes; yet in suggesting this the priest should guard against any indication of self-seeking.

17. Lastly the priest should admonish him that if he recovers he ought before all else to betake himself to church, there to give thanks to God for being restored in health and to receive holy communion. As a final word let him be exhorted to lead a better life in the future.

18. The priest is at liberty to say or to omit the following prayers, either in whole or in part, depending on the time at disposal or on the condition of the patient.

19. On entering the sick-room the priest says first:

P: God's peace be in this home.

All: And in all who live here.

20. Next he sprinkles with holy water the sick person, the bed, and the room, saying:

Purify me with hyssop, Lord, and I shall be clean of sin. Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Have mercy on me, God, in your great kindness. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

All: As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

P: Purify me with hyssop, Lord, and I shall be clean of sin. Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Then he exercises his ministry toward the sick, according to the directions given above. Having done so, or before he departs, he may pray one of the first four of the penitential psalms (p 323) or psalm 90 (p. 227), adding in conclusion "Glory be to the Father," etc. Then he continues:

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Our Father (the rest inaudibly until:)

P: And lead us not into temptation.

All: But deliver us from evil.

P: Save your servant.

All: Who trusts in you, my God.

P: Lord, send him (her) aid from your holy place.

All: And watch over him (her) from Sion.

P: Let the enemy have no power over him (her).

All: And the son of iniquity be powerless to harm him her).

P: Let him (her) find in you, Lord, a fortified tower.

All: In the face of the enemy.

P: May the Lord console him (her).

All: On his (her) bed of suffering.

P: Lord, heed my prayer.

All: And let my cry be heard by you.

P: The Lord be with you.

All: May He also be with you.

Let us pray.

God, whose nature is ever merciful and forgiving, accept our prayer that we and this servant of yours, who are bound by the fetters of sin, may be pardoned by your loving kindness.

God, the divine healer of human infirmity, come in power to this servant of yours in his (her) affliction, so that aided by your tender mercy he (she) may be restored in perfect health to your Church.

We entreat you, Lord God, grant this servant of yours the enjoyment of lasting health of body and mind; and by the glorious intercession of blessed Mary, ever a Virgin, free him (her) from present sorrow and give him (her) everlasting joy; through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

P: May the blessing of almighty God, Father, Son, + and Holy Spirit, come upon you and remain with you forever.

All: Amen.

He then sprinkles him (her) with holy water.

21. At this time the priest is at liberty to add any of the following psalms, readings from the Gospel, and other prayers, depending on circumstances as well as the devout wishes of the sick person: for example, psalm 6, the first of the penitential psalms, or any of the parts given below.

P: The Lord be with you.

All: May He also be with you.

P: A lesson from the holy Gospel according to St. Matthew.

All: Glory be to you, O Lord.

22. As the priest announces the lesson from the holy Gospel he signs himself on the brow, mouth, and breast in the usual way; and he traces the sign on the sick person in the same way if the person is a man and is unable to do so himself.

23. If the person is a woman she should if possible make the prescribed signs of the cross on herself in the afore-mentioned places while the priest is signing himself. If she is unable to do so another woman should do it for her. And this also applies in the other readings from the Gospel.

Matthew 8.5-13

At that time when He returned to Capharnaum, a centurion approached and appealed to Him in the following words: "Sir, my slave lies sick at home; he is paralyzed and suffers frightfully." Jesus said to him: "Am I to come and cure him?" By way of answer the centurion said: "Sir, I am not fit to have you come under my roof. No, only utter a word, and my slave will be cured. It is the same with me: I am only an inferior officer, but have soldiers under me, and when I say to one, 'March,' he does it." On hearing this, Jesus was struck with admiration, and said to the accompanying crowd: "I tell you frankly, I have never found such lively faith anywhere in Israel! I tell you, crowds of people will arrive from east and west and, in the company of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, will recline at table in the kingdom of heaven, when, at the same time, the born citizens of the realm will be hurled into the outer darkness. There it is that weeping and gnashing of teeth will really be heard." Jesus then said to the centurion: "You may go. In answer to your faith, your wish shall be granted." The slave was cured that same hour.

Let us pray.

Almighty eternal God, everlasting salvation to those who believe in you; graciously hear us on behalf of your sick servant, N., for whom we beg your merciful aid, so that having recovered from his (her) illness he (she) may give thanks to you in your Church; through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.
Psalm 15

P: Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge; * I say to the Lord, "My Lord are you. Apart from you I have no good."

All: How wonderfully has He made me cherish * the holy ones who are in His land!

P: They multiply their sorrows * who court other gods.

All: Blood libations to them I will not pour out, * nor will I take their names upon my lips.

P: O Lord, my allotted portion and my cup, * it is you who hold fast my lot.

All: For me the measuring lines have fallen on pleasant sites; * fair to me indeed is my inheritance.

P: I bless the Lord who counsels me; * even in the night my heart exhorts me.

All: I set the Lord ever before me; * with Him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.

P: Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoicing, * my body, too, abides in confidence;

All: Because you will not abandon my soul to the nether world, * nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption.

P: You will show me the path to life, fullness of joys in your presence, * the delights at your right hand forever.

All: Glory be to the Father.

P: As it was in the beginning.

P: The Lord be with you.

All: May he also be with you.

P: A lesson from the holy Gospel according to St. Mark.

All: Glory be to you, O Lord.

Mark 16.14-18

At that time He appeared directly to the Eleven as they were reclining at table, and reproved them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who had seen Him risen from the dead. He also said to them: "Go into the whole world and preach the gospel to all creation. He that believes and is baptized will be saved; he that does not believe will be condemned. And in the way of proofs of their claims, the following will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will take up serpents in their hands, and if they drink something deadly, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and these will recover."

Let us pray.

God of the heavenly powers, who at a word of command can banish all weakness and infirmity from the human body, may it please you to bend down in pity on N., your servant, so that freed from illness, restored to strength, and fully recovered he (she) may offer praise to your holy name; through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.
Psalm 19

P: The Lord answer you in time of distress; * the name of the God of Jacob defend you!

All: May He send you help from the sanctuary, * from Sion may He sustain you.

P: May He remember all your offerings * and graciously accept your holocaust.

All: May He grant you what is in your heart * and fulfill your every plan.

P: May we shout for joy at your victory and raise the standards in the name of our God. * The Lord grant all your requests!

All: Now I know that the Lord has given victory to His anointed, * that He has answered him from His holy heaven with the strength of His victorious right hand.

P: Some are strong in chariots; some, in horses; * but we are strong in the name of the Lord, our God.

All: Though they bow down and fall, * yet we stand erect and firm.

P: O Lord, grant victory to the king, * and answer us when we call upon you.

All: Glory be to the Father.

P: As it was in the beginning.

P: The Lord be with you.

All: May He also be with you.

P: A lesson from the holy Gospel according to St. Luke:

All: Glory be to you, O Lord.

Luke 4.38-40

After leaving the synagogue, He entered Simon's house. Simon's mother- in-law happened to be suffering from an acute attack of fever, and they appealed to Him in her behalf. So He stood over her and sternly rebuked the fever; and it left her. She rose immediately and waited on them. When the sun went down, everybody interested in persons suffering from various diseases brought them to Him. He laid His hands on each one of them and cured them.

Let us pray.

Holy Lord, almighty Father, everlasting God, who by your gracious outpouring of power can impart strength to the fragile human condition, so that body and mind are made whole by your kind healing; may it please you to be so disposed to this servant of yours, that freed from all distress of bodily suffering he (she) may know once more the blessing of perfect well-being; through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.
Psalm 85

P: Incline your ear, Lord; answer me, * for I am afflicted and poor.

All: Keep my life, for I am devoted to you; * save your servant who trusts in you.

P: You are my God; have pity on me, Lord, * for to you I call all the day.

All: Gladden the soul of your servant, * for to you, Lord, I lift up my soul;

P: For you, Lord, are good and forgiving, * abounding in kindness to all who call upon you.

All: Hearken, Lord, to my prayer * and attend to the sound of my pleading.

P: In the day of my distress I call upon you, * for you will answer me.

All: There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, * and there are no works like yours.

P: All the nations you have made shall come and worship you, Lord, * and glorify your name.

All: For you are great, and you do wondrous deeds; * you alone are God.

P: Teach me, Lord, your way that I may walk in your truth; * direct my heart that it may fear your name.

All: I will give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with all my heart, * and I will glorify your name forever.

P: Great has been your kindness toward me; * you have rescued me from the depths of the nether world.

All: God, the haughty have risen up against me, and the company of fierce men seeks my life, * nor do they set you before their eyes.

P: But you, Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, * slow to anger, abounding in kindness and fidelity.

All: Turn toward me, and have pity on me; * give your strength to your servant, and save the son of your handmaid.

P: Give me a proof of your favor, that my enemies may see, to their confusion, * that you, Lord, have helped and comforted me.

All: Glory be to the Father.

P: As it was in the beginning.

P: The Lord be with you.

All: May He also be with you.

P: A lesson from the holy Gospel according to St. John.

All: Glory be to you, O Lord.

John 5.1-14

At that time there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. There is a pool near the Sheepgate in Jerusalem which in Aramaic is called Bethesda. It has five porticoes. In these a number of bedridden invalids--blind, crippled, haggard people--were always awaiting the motion of the water; for an angel of the Lord would descend into the pool from time to time and stir the water; and the first invalid then to go in after the stirring of the water would get well, no matter with what disease he was afflicted. There was a man there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus caught sight of him lying on his mat, and learned of his long-standing affliction, he said to him: "Would you like to get well?" "Why, sir," replied the invalid, "I have nobody to put me into the pool the moment the water is stirred up, and by the time I get there, someone else has gone down ahead of me." Jesus then said to him: "Stand up; take your mat and walk." Immediately the man got well, took up his mat, and walked. That day was a Sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had been cured: "Today is a Sabbath. You are not allowed to carry the mat." "But," he replied, "He who made me well also told me: 'Take up your mat and walk.'" Then they asked him: "Who is the man who told you to take up your mat and walk?" But the cured man did not know who He was; for, since there was a crowd of people in the place, Jesus had left unnoticed. Later Jesus met him in the temple and said to him: "Listen; you are now well and strong. Do not sin any more, or something worse may happen to you."

Let us pray.

Lord, look with favor on your servant who is weak and failing, and refresh the life you have created. Chastened by suffering, may he (she) know that he (she) has been saved by your healing; through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.
Psalm 90

P: You who dwell in the shelter of the Most High, * who abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

All: Say to the Lord, "My refuge and my fortress, * my God, in whom I trust."

P: For He will rescue you from the snare of the fowler, * from the destroying pestilence.

All: With His pinions He will cover you, and under His wings you shall take refuge; * His faithfulness is a buckler and a shield.

P: You shall not fear the terror of the night * nor the arrow that flies by day;

All: Not the pestilence that roams in darkness * nor the devastating plague at noon.

P: Though a thousand fall at your side, ten thousand at your right side, * it shall not come near you.

All: Rather with your eyes shall you behold * and see the requital of the wicked,

P: Because you have the Lord for your refuge; * you have made the Most High your stronghold.

All: No evil shall befall you, * nor shall affliction come near your tent.

P: For to His Angels He has given command about you, * that they guard you in all your ways.

All: Upon their hands they shall bear you up, * lest you dash your foot against a stone.

P: You shall tread upon the asp and the viper; * you shall trample down the lion and the dragon.

All: Because he clings to me, I will deliver him; * I will set him on high because he acknowledges my name.

P: He shall call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in distress; * I will deliver him and glorify him;

All: With length of days I will gratify him * and will show him my salvation.

P: Glory be to the Father.

All: As it was in the beginning.

Let us pray.

Almighty everlasting God, look down in mercy on the infirmity of your servant, and reach out your majestic right hand to protect him (her); through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

24. On finishing the last prayer the priest lays his hand on the head of the sick person, saying:

They shall lay their hands upon the sick and all will be well with them. May Jesus, Son of Mary, Lord and Savior of the world, through the merits and intercession of His holy apostles Peter and Paul and all His saints, show you favor and mercy.

All: Amen.

P: The Lord be with you.

All: May He also be with you.

P: The beginning of the holy Gospel according to St. John.

All: Glory be to you, O Lord.

John 1.1-14

When time began, the Word was there, and the Word was face to face with God, and the Word was God. This Word, when time began, was face to face with God. All things came into being through Him, and without Him there came to be not one thing that has come to be. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not lay hold of it. There came upon the scene a man, a messenger from God, whose name was John. This man came to give testimony--to testify in behalf of the light--that all might believe through him. He was not himself the light; he only was to testify in behalf of the light. Meanwhile the true light, which illumines every man, was making its entrance into the world. He was in the world, and the world came to be through Him, and the world did not acknowledge Him. He came into His home, and His own people did not welcome Him. But to as many as welcomed Him He gave the power to become children of God--those who believe in His name; who were born not of blood, or of carnal desire, or of man's will; no, they were born of God. (Genuflect here.) And the Word became man and lived among us; and we have looked upon His glory--such a glory as befits the Father's only-begotten Son--full of grace and truth!

All: Thanks be to God.

25. Lastly he blesses the sick person, saying:

May the blessing of almighty God, Father, Son, + and Holy Spirit, come upon you and remain with you forever.

All: Amen.

Then he sprinkles the person with holy water.

26. All the preceding may be abbreviated at the discretion of the priest.

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