I got a question by e-mail:
I’m a new subscriber to your blog, so naturally I thought of you after a recent conversation with our parochial vicar. He does not give blessings to children during communion. When my 3 year old asked why he didn’t receive a blessing Fr. M said (and I’m paraphrasing), that by not touching him, he "does not get host crumbs on your skin." I can respect the rationale behind his decision.
But when I asked, "why not just motion the sign of the cross and bless them?" He claimed that, "technically priests are not supposed to give multiple blessings during mass – that the blessing at dismissal should be the only one." This brought my next question, "then why do you place the host in parishioners hands (our family receives by mouth, but we are the minority), since the crumbs are bound to spill – not to mention all of the disastrous possibilities of giving someone the host?" He replied, "I know, and I feel strongly that people should receive in the mouth."
I felt a bit let down. I’m not sure if I should be offended – he won’t bless kids but he’ll place the host in someone’s hands. Why not stand up then and insist that parishioners at his mass receive only by mouth (since he’s calling the shots anyway). I probably wouldn’t be all worked up about it if it wasn’t for our other pastor and eucharistic ministers who DO bless the children.
What is your take on blessing children?
First, the people who help distribute Communion are not "Eucharistic Ministers". They are "Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion". But let’s move on.
The priest is correct is saying that the moment for blessing people, other than the deacon about the read the Gospel, is at the end of Holy Mass. You yourself referred to this moment saying: "He does not give blessings to children during communion".
Communion time is for just that… Communion.
I wonder sometimes about this practice.
Perhaps it evolved because people were going forward who knew they shouldn’t receive, but were embarassed not to go foward. Getting rid of row by row Communion would help with that, as would reviving the three hour Eucharistic fast.
Perhaps it evolved because children fussed that "they didn’t get something too". So, people came up with something for them to get. That of course would have come from parents always bringing all their children forward.
Once upon a time it might have been that many people could more easily get to Mass even by walking, and mom could watch the kids while dad went to Mass, and vice versa. So.. there weren’t as many small children at Mass. With the advent of travelling across town to a Mass you "like", parents have to bring their children along… everyone goes to Mass and… well… you see.
I think people should ask priests for blessings… outside of Holy Mass. Holy Mass ends with the priest’s blessing, in the proper moment.
Let Communion time be Communion time.
Finally, I think the priest’s argument was not very good: I don’t bless because of particles of the Host… etc.. But then he gives Communion in the hand.
Two things. First, it is an unhappy fact that the law allows people to receive in the hand. Father may not deny them Communion simply because they stick their hands out, unless there is danger of profanation.
However, nothing in the rubrics of Mass or the Church’s laws say that priests should give a blessing at Communion.