QUAERITUR: Deacons, blessings and the older Roman Ritual

From a reader:

The Code of Canon Law (1169.3) restricts deacons to only giving blessings expressly permitted by law. The current Book of Blessings reserves very few blessing to priests only. My question: what blessings, if any, would a deacon be able to give in the former Roman Ritual.

 

Hmmm… good question.

My first inclination is to say you cannot use it at all… on your own.

Let’s see what Summorum Pontificum says:

Art. 9, § 1. Parochus item, omnibus bene perpensis, licentiam concedere potest utendi rituali antiquiore in administrandis sacramentis Baptismatis, Matrimonii, Poenitentiae et Unctionis Infirmorum, bono animarum id suadente.

Art. 9, § 1.  Similarly, a pastor, everything having been well thought out, can grant permission for using the older Ritual in the administration of  the sacraments of Baptism, Matrimony, Penance and Anointing of the Sick, as the good of souls suggests.

So… it a pastor of a parish tells you to use the Rituale for the sacraments, you can use it.  Keep in mind that deacons weren’t regularly baptizing or marrying in those days, and they can’t anoint at any time, of course, regardless of the book they would want to use.

I think the same would have to go for blessings as well.  But then again, deacons probably shouldn’t be doing much of that if there are priests around.

It would be nice if this were clarified by the PCED and Holy Father in the upcoming document.

In the old days, deacons could bless very few things indeed.  Now I think they can use the "Book of Blessings" for more things.  But remember that the Book of Blessings is essentially useless for blessing things.  There is a real clash of theology between the older Rituale and the new, revised book De Benedictionibus.

Your best course of action in this regard might in inaction, until you are ordained a priest.

 

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11 Responses to QUAERITUR: Deacons, blessings and the older Roman Ritual

  1. “There is a real clash of theology between the older Rituale and the new, revised book De Benedictionibus.”

    Could you expand on this one, please?

  2. Dan O says:

    I remember a story told in my youth by a priest about his time as a deacon. He was out dressed in clericals and a lady approached him to bless a rosary. He explained that he was a deacon, not yet a priest, and could not bless objects. She would have none of that, since he looked like a priest. She continued to insist that he bless the rosary. He complied with the following, “Nemo dat quod non habet, In nomine Patris, et Filio…….”

  3. Jeff says:

    Another course might be to consult the diocesan faculty sheet. Usual one is given for Pastors, one for Parochial Vicars, one for other Priests, and one for Deacons. The ones I have seen expressly grants Deacons the ability to impart all blessing, except those reserved to the Pope or Bishops.

  4. Mitch says:

    If the theology is so vastly different and it seems that the new book is disliked by so many why not return completely to the Rituale? Is this something that has been discussed or even the suppression of the newer Book of Blessings? An insider would best be able to give us a tip? Hint…Hint..Father??

  5. Michael Garner says:

    FYI…I have faxed several questions (this being one of them) to PCED for a
    response. Below are the questions presented:

    1. Since priests are granted the faculty to confirm individuals by virtue of universal law or by special grant of the competent authority, may they use the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite for said Sacrament?
    2. Since deacons are now ordinary ministers of administering Holy Communion, may they administer Holy Communion outside of Mass using the Extraordinary Form? May they also assist in distributing Holy Communion during a Mass of the Extraordinary Form, and if so, do they use the same form while giving Holy Communion as a priest? (i.e., making the sign of the cross while saying, “Corpus Domini Nostri Jesu Christi, etc.”)
    3. Since deacons are now ordinary ministers of Baptism, may they make use of the Extraordinary Form? If so, are they to use previously blessed water and salt, or may they bless water and salt using the Extraordinary Form?
    4. Since deacons may now bless certain items and persons in the ordinary form according to De Benedictionibus, may they also bless these same items and persons using the Extraordinary Form?
    5. Since deacons, when delegated to do so, may assist at marriages, may they make use of the Extraordinary Form, and if so, may they give the nuptial blessing?

    I will alert Fr. Z once I receive the answers.

  6. wsxyz says:

    2.Since deacons are now ordinary ministers of administering Holy Communion, may they administer Holy Communion outside of Mass using the Extraordinary Form? May they also assist in distributing Holy Communion during a Mass of the Extraordinary Form, and if so, do they use the same form while giving Holy Communion as a priest? (i.e., making the sign of the cross while saying, “Corpus Domini Nostri Jesu Christi, etc.”)

    I have seen an FSSP transitional deacon distributing Holy Communion at an FSSP Mass (i.e., Extraordinary Form).

  7. Charles Collins says:

    “So… it a pastor of a parish tells you to use the Rituale for the sacraments, you can use it. Keep in mind that deacons weren’t regularly baptizing or marrying in those days, and they can’t anoint at any time, of course, regardless of the book they would want to use.

    I think the same would have to go for blessings as well. But then again, deacons probably shouldn’t be doing much of that if there are priests around.”

    But isn’t speaking about “those days” making the liturgy an historic document. The fact is, deacons are now ordinary ministers. The use of the old Missal does not change Canon Law.

    And I will trust the Church when she says something is blessed, even if the new book of blessings does not use the language I prefer.

  8. Charles Collins: The problem with what you say is that the Church says what she says in her texts. The texts in that book don’t use the language of blessing.

  9. Philip-Michael says:

    Let me just begin to say that I agree with Fr Z when he says that the PCED and our Holy Father really need to clarify a good many things. One thing for a right interpretation of Summorum Pontificum is that we must not forget that the canonical developments that have occurred over the past 40 years in regards the faculties of a deacon or priest cannot all of a sudden be lost due to the usage of a previous liturgical ritual. Although the liturgical norms for that rite are maintained the Pio-Benedictine Code of Canon Law is not.

    I would question the functions of a permanent deacon compared to a transitional deacon. Why? Because a transitional deacon could gain the pastoral training in regards saying bringing Holy Communion to the infirmed and homebound for their expected priesthood. I feel in this type of situation a transitional deacon should be able to use the Rituale without any restrictions.

    We should also give consideration to the fact that many of the deacons who would make just usage of the Rituale are transitional few permanent deacons are in any way attached to the Traditional Latin Liturgy in my experience. Should then these transitional deacons who are attached to the Traditional Liturgy and have yearned for the day to be able to exercise their ministries with the beauty of the Traditional Roman liturgy, which is expected of them by their bishop and/or seminary, have to be restricted from using the Rituale and be forced to use only the newer liturgical rites while a deacon?

  10. TerryC says:

    Isn’t the guiding principle that Canon Law specifies both that deacons are empowered to give blessings and are ordinary ministers of communion. Since we now operate under the 1983 Code not the 1917 Code as was effect when the Rituale was the only source for blessings?
    I also agree with Fr. Z that all of this needs to be clarified by the Vatican. In a perfect world this would have been worked out before Summorum Pontificum was released. We alas do not live in a perfect world and now many points of law and practice must be decided and Rome, as is usual, is in no great hurry to decide matters that will, one must admit, probably hold sway for decades, perhaps centuries, into the future. That makes living in this transitional time frustrating, but I have every confidence that eventually all this will be settled.