From a reader:
Today I attended a mass at my university and had a difficult experience with one of the Eucharistic ministers. I approached with my hands folded in order to receive a blessing (no communion for me this time), and she refused to offer it. She simply went on saying "The Body of Christ", expecting me to receive. I was not in the appropriate state of grace to do so, so I was forced to simply walk away. Do you think that there is some local custom that I’m unaware of with regards to blessings, or is this the case of an improperly trained minister?
There are a few issues here which must be unsnarled.
First, lay people who are helping to distribute Communion have no business giving blessings. Therefore, I am glad that the person didn’t attempt to bless you in the manner of a priest. Yours is a good example why lay ministers of Communion should never make the gesture of blessing in the manner of a priest. Such a practice confuses people, just as you were confused in the moment you described.
Second, it is a matter of debate whether blessings should be given at the Communion rail at all. I am of the opinion that they should not be. Holy Mass has its moment for a blessing: at the end. The time of Holy Communion is the time for Holy Communion, not for blessings even if they are from the deacon or priest.
Third, it strikes me that this whole blessing thing at Communion time evolved from a overly sentimental notion that no one should be excluded from being able to go forward.
Fourth, a great deal of psychological pressure is placed on people who for one reason or another have no reason to go forward at Communion time. The practice of row by row Communion increases the psychological pressure. In my opinion it should be slowly by surely eliminated.
Fifth, I think the shortened Eucharist fast also played its part in putting undue psychological pressure on people to go forward at Communion time. In the past, if a person was in the state of sin, it was possible for people assume that she had eaten something rather than that she had committed some black and unspeakable delict.
Sixth, if you know you are not in the state of grace, then I recommend that you make a spiritual communion while remaining in your pew. You may not have ever heard of "making a spiritual communion". I am sure that the readers will chime in about this in the combox, below.
Seventh, we must help people shake the idea that they are obliged to got forward, on the one hand, or that, on the other, they have the right to receive even if they know they are not in the state of grace.
Let Communion time be for Communions, whether actual or spiritual.