Not all priests keep sick call kits in the church sacristy, so you may not have had to clean or pack linens and supplies for a sick call kit as part of altar guild regular duties. Still it is good to know how to do so if ever the need arises. The usual traveling or home Mass kit or sick call case contains miniature linens (purificator, lavabo and corporal), a cross or crucifix, small candles which will fit into spaces on either side of the crucifix, a small chalice and ciborium, paten, water, wine, wafers, a small, short purple stole, cotton balls, and anointing oil, and in some cases a small spoon if the individual receiving the Sacrament is an invalid who may have difficulties. The fittings may be very elaborate and costly or very simple and plain.
Viaticum can be referring to the sacrament given to the dying, or even to the vessel which holds the consecrated elements. I have seen a most remarkable viaticum at St. John’s Newport which is a cylinder of crystal with a cone-shaped threaded screw top which holds a consecrated wafer. The crystal tube is for wine. This was made in Scotland in 1906. There are other styles for the portable viaticum container such as the one pictured to the left on sale in a popular church supply catalogue. This one features a compartment for wine and one for wafers.
The priest nearly always prepares the home Mass, sick call kit, or viaticum provisions personally, but the altar guild may well be required to wash and iron linens for the kit, and from time to time may be asked to clean and polish the vessels . If you are asked to wash up after a home communion, or sick call, all the usual rules apply to handling consecrated elements- with water and wine residue from the chalice being put down a piscina or into the earth. The small linens (corporal and purificator) should be blessed. The lavabo towel does not require it, although frequently whole sets are blessed as a unit. If you must dispose of worn linen, it must be burned if it has been blessed.
n. pl. vi·at·i·ca (-k)
or vi·at·i·cums 1. Ecclesiastical
The Eucharist given to a dying person or one in danger of death.2.
Supplies for a journey.
[Late Latin viticum
, from Latin, traveling provisions
, from neuter of viticus
; see viatical
The photo above shows a pocket pyx. We have already discussed pyxes on the site at great length under the Metalware catagory. The pocket pyx is the form which looks a lot like a pocket watch and is generally the style used for emergency trips to deliver consecrated wafer(s). It may fit into the home Mass kit, or more often it is worn around the neck of the priest in a small pyx burse of silk or kid leather on a cord. Burse (boursa) means pouch or small pocket.
If you have worn fair linens or larger small linens which still have areas of good fabric, think about recycling these into small linens for the home Communion kit- a good summer project.