ASK FATHER: Blessings by lay people at Communion

juggernautFrom a reader…

QUAERITUR:

I’ve been a Catholic for 12 years. Ever since I was baptized, extra-ordinary ministers of communion (in addition to the priest or deacon) have given blessings to those who are not receiving the Body of Christ. The most common one I have heard is “May God bless you and keep you safe”. A priest friend of mine recently commented that this was actually a liturgical abuse, although widespread and “accepted”. I guess the question boils down to are lay persons permitted to give blessings and is giving this blessing during Communion appropriate?

In the Indian subcontinent, annual festivals are held in honor of the god Vishnu and  his avatar Krishna. Great, massive wooden carts are built, and an image of Krisha is transported from one temple to another in the city of Puri. Similar processions are made elsewhere. There is competition among shrines as to who can build the biggest and most impressive float for transporting the idol. Sometimes, these floats are so large and the frenzy of the celebration so great, that hapless devotees fall on the street and are overrun by these massive carts. In this festival, Vishnu is referred to by the title “Jaganath,” meaning “Lord of the Universe.” It is from these festivals that the word “juggernaut” entered into the English language. A juggernaut is a force that seems to be unstoppable and crushes anything put before it with dispassionate cruelty.

No, I am not talking about the upcoming Synod.

On to the topic of the question.

The notion of giving blessings at the time of Holy Communion originated No-One-Knows-Where. Perhaps it was a well-intentioned priest giving a kind blessing to a baby in the arms of his mother. Perhaps it happened when someone whom the priest knew was not Catholic, unwittingly came forward at Communion time and the priest, rather than embarrass the poor misguided soul, gave him a quick blessing and sent him back to his pew.

Then it became expected.

The rubrics of the Mass do not make any provision for blessings at the time of the distribution of Holy Communion.

On the grand scale of liturgical abuses, something like this ranks far below using invalid matter for the Eucharist, or giving the last blessing whilst dressed as Barney the Dinosaur, but it still needs to be recognized as something that ought not be done.

Further complicating the issue is the presence of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion who have been improperly instructed to “give blessings” at this moment to those who come forward with their hands crossed across their chest.

The blessing “May God bless and keep you,” is more of a kind wish than a blessing. It so may be given by anyone (without any accompanying sign of the cross).  Then again, the rubrics do not make any call for a blessing or a kind wish at this point of the Holy Mass.

There is a blessing at the end of Mass.  You can also ask the priest for a blessing outside of Mass.  And you should!

 

 

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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31 Responses to ASK FATHER: Blessings by lay people at Communion

  1. optiksguy says:

    As Fr. Z suggests, a priest blessing my children during Communion is pretty low on my list of things to get worked up about. An abuse, yes, but not something that bothers me as much as many other things. However, having lay EMHC doing anything other than distributing Communion really bothers me (I’d prefer they not even do that, but that’s another issue). Even if it is just a wish, I think that difference is lost on most people and they think it is a blessing. Especially in situations such as one of the fellows at our parish laying his hand on the kid’s head (without a sign of the Cross at least).

    Parents need to remember they have a natural right to bless their children (a real, actual blessing) which is many times more salutary than the good intentioned wish of a EMHC.

    If you really want to get me going, as me about lay EMHC “blessing” throats for Feast of St. Blaise at our parish.

  2. Packrraat says:

    If this is going on in our parish, should we be saying anything about it to our relatively new pastor? Or should we wait and see what other changes he makes before bringing it up privately (if ever)? There is one older couple (70’s) in some kind of irregular marriage, who come to daily Mass, who ALWAYS are in the communion line for a blessing. It’s been going on for all of the 10 years we have been in this parish. I’m sure their FEELINGS would be hurt, but is that even something that should be considered?

  3. Geoffrey says:

    As an instituted acolyte / extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, when someone presents themselves to me with arms crossed expecting a “blessing”, I give the traditional Christian greeting: “Praised be Jesus Christ”. No mess, no fuss.

  4. L. says:

    This subject always makes me think of my mother, who especially disliked the practice of many of our Priests of putting a hand on the greasy heads of children to impart a blessing, and then using the same hand to continue to distribute communion.

  5. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Also, in some Rites everybody receiving Communion has their hands/arms crossed; and some EMHCs and priests assume crossed arms by a disabled person are a symptom of their disability and attempt to give Communion to any disabled person not actively covering their mouths (while others do not remember them at all).

    That is a confusing gesture.

  6. DetJohn says:

    In many cases, an EMHC will use a hand sanitizer so as not to soil the Communion Host. Then turn around and place their hand on the head of the person requesting a blessing, thus soiling their hand with who knows what from the blessed person’s head then transferred it to the Communion Host.

    Is there no parish priest or official of the Catholic Church that sees the profanation of the Body of Christ?

  7. sirlouis says:

    I’m not certain about this, but I think the Episcopalians have had this custom for a long time. Maybe it was imported from them?

    Very distressing when I approach with my hands folded (not across my chest) with the result that the priest or EMHC is confused. I’ve had them look down, apparently wondering where my hands are, then start to give me a blessing, at last getting wise when they see my tongue sticking out.

    We hare come so far.

  8. benedictgal says:

    I think that someone forgot to reference to 2008 letter from the Congregation for Divine Worship that would seem to put the kibosh on all of this nonsense.

    “This dicastery wishes to limit itself to the following observations:

    1. The liturgical blessing of the Holy Mass is properly given to each and to all at the conclusion of the Mass, just a few moments subsequent to the distribution of Holy Communion.

    2. Lay people, within the context of Holy Mass, are unable to confer blessings. These blessings, rather, are the competence of the priest (cf. Ecclesia de Mysterio, Notitiae 34 (15 Aug. 1997), art. 6, § 2; Canon 1169, § 2; and Roman Ritual De Benedictionibus (1985), n. 18).

    3. Furthermore, the laying on of a hand or hands — which has its own sacramental significance, inappropriate here — by those distributing Holy Communion, in substitution for its reception, is to be explicitly discouraged.

    4. The Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio n. 84, “forbids any pastor, for whatever reason to pretext even of a pastoral nature, to perform ceremonies of any kind for divorced people who remarry”. To be feared is that any form of blessing in substitution for communion would give the impression that the divorced and remarried have been returned, in some sense, to the status of Catholics in good standing.

    5. In a similar way, for others who are not to be admitted to Holy Communion in accord with the norm of law, the Church’s discipline has already made clear that they should not approach Holy Communion nor receive a blessing. This would include non-Catholics and those envisaged in can. 915 (i.e., those under the penalty of excommunication or interdict, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin). ”

    Even though the letter, Protocol No. 930/08/L was written in response to a private query sent by two laymen, it does quote what is already in the books.

    The short answer would be that EMHCs should refrain from doing this. My parochial vicar stopped blessing when he read the letter. One pastor down here did the same thing.

    We cannot invent things and insert them into the Mass at will. This is an abuse. We form a line to receive SOMEONE, Jesus in the Eucharist, NOT something, a blessing, that EVERYONE will receive at the end of the Mass.

  9. Grabski says:

    Perhaps better yet could be May God bless us and keep us?

  10. aquinasadmirer says:

    A few years back, I was attending daily Mass at a Benedictine monastery with my wife and daughter. My daughter had not yet made her first holy communion, and followed Mom in line with her arms crossed. The monks use a very crumbly pita-like bread (not totally sure it’s licit, but that’s another deal) for Mass. I noticed that after the priest put his hand on my daughter’s head to impart a blessing, and there were crumbs of the Blessed Sacrament on her head. Lord have mercy.

    Incidents like this make me wonder if some priests actually believes in the real presence.

  11. iamlucky13 says:

    “The blessing “May God bless and keep you,” is more of a kind wish than a blessing. “

    It seems to me that’s understating it. It’s a prayer of petition for a blessing, although it’s non-specific and grammatically lazy. The main difference between a prayer of petition and a wish is faith in God’s ability and wise discretion to fulfill the petition, as opposed to a vacant desire for something.

    That this petition for God’s blessing is inappropriate to the liturgy doesn’t make it a mere wish.

    “In many cases, an EMHC will use a hand sanitizer so as not to soil the Communion Host.”

    It’s charming that you assume such a noble motive. Not that it would be effective. Hand sanitizer does not clean hands. It may move dirt around on your hands, but the main thing it does is kill microbes.

    I’m entirely certain that in the overwhelming majority of cases, the Rite of Purell is incorporated into the Mass to placate the hypochondriacs who are convinced they can catch numerous and terrible diseases from the distribution of Communion.

  12. jacobi says:

    There is a simple solution to this dilemma. Receive only from the anointed hands of a priest or deacon.

    Lay distributors who do not have any authority to give a blessing (priests and deacons might , I’ m not sure but it certainly is not necessary), so the problem does not arise, and if they, the lay distributors, step out of line and offer one, you can have a quiet but firm word with them after wards and tell them not to.

  13. VeritasVereVincet says:

    I am of the opinion that the folded arms work best when someone A) has not made their First Communion, but looks to be of an age where it might be assumed they have, or B) is in a situation where it is both usually expected to receive and impossible to use physical avoidance.

    For an example of A, if a family brings up their six-year-old in the line, the distributor may not know whether the child is receiving or not. Crossing the arms makes it clear, though naturally the need would ideally be avoided by leaving the child in the pew. For an example of B, at my old church Father would distribute Communion first to the EMHCs (who came up to the side of the altar during the Agnus Dei) and the altar servers. As we were all standing in a line at altarside, at certain times it was expedient for me to cross my arms so Father would skip me without a word being exchanged.

    I guess my point is that there are a very few times when it is good to have a silent sign that unambiguously means “Do not give me Communion”. But most other times the need for a sign can be avoided by simply…not leaving the pew. And in no case ought the sign to occasion a blessing instead.

  14. Nun2OCDS says:

    Simply remember : it is a Communion line not a blessing line. Better still, kneeling at the Communion rail is for Communion.

  15. fan312 says:

    “3. Furthermore, the laying on of a hand or hands — which has its own sacramental significance, inappropriate here — by those distributing Holy Communion, in substitution for its reception, is to be explicitly discouraged.” @benedictgal
    I didn’t know that at all. That may or may not happen at my parish…

  16. JabbaPapa says:

    First, from the American Book of Blessings :

    III. BLESSINGS OF CATECHUMENS (See endnote 20)

    INTRODUCTION

    519 The blessings of the catechumens are a sign of God’s love and of the Church’s tender care. They are bestowed on the catechumens so that, even though they do not as yet have the grace of the sacraments, they may still receive from the Church courage, joy, and peace as they proceed along the difficult journey they have begun (se endnote 21).

    520 The blessings may be given by a priest, a deacon, or a qualified catechist appointed by the bishop. The blessings are usually given at the end of a celebration of the word; they may also be given at the end of a meeting for catechesis. When there is some special need, the blessings may be given privately to individual catechumens (see endnote 22).

    So in this case at least, it is not an abuse, but has been authoritatively decreed by your Bishops. [BTW…Just because bishops approve something, that doesn’t make it good.]

    There’s a very good pro et contra article on the more general aspects of the question here : https://www.ewtn.com/library/Liturgy/zlitur81.htm (though the article predates that 2008 letter from the Congregation for Divine Worship).

  17. Markus says:

    This practice appears to be a symptom of today’s society, thus permeating into the Church/Liturgy.
    Everyone wants to be “special.”

    Many appear to not want to “serve” at Mass, they want to share the POWER of ordination. Some seem to (even deacons, along with many EMHCs I have seen in action) want to be mini-priests. Humility, especially in action, are out the window. Sad and disturbing.

  18. Isn’t it true that a blessing is not given in the presence of the Eucharist? God is RIGHT there, at that point a priest, and to a much lesser extent a layman, is secondary. This illustrates to me the abject ignorance of exactly what the Eucharist means to priests and laity alike.

    Y’know how the priest does not give the end-of-Mass blessing if the Eucharist is exposed in a monstrance? Y’know how the priest covers his hands with the stole when he raises the exposed Eucharist in the monstrance at Benediction? The reason that the priest’s hands are covered is to demonstrate that God is blessing us, not the priest. Shouldn’t this same logic apply at Holy Communion when God is right there in front of our face? It is as if the priest, deacon, layman is stating that their blessing is more important than the very presence of God.

    Yes of course blessings are terribly important…but not right then at Communion in the physical and near presence of the Almighty.

    May God heal our unbelief.

  19. The practice appears to go back further than most of us realize. I’ve posted on this in the past, and dismissed it as a new-fangled innovation.

    But evidently I’m wrong.

    I had one priest in New York City, now in his 60s, who wrote to say he could remember children receiving blessings this way at the altar rail back when he was a boy.

  20. bsjy says:

    In many parishes the flow from the pews toward the communion stations is, for lack of a better word, a juggernaut. If you don’t get up and get moving, the ushers or the people behind you will simply roll over you. So you might find yourself in front of a priest or a deacon or an extraordinary minister of holy communion without any intention on your part to be there. Perhaps our current custom is nothing more than Storkism*.

    *In the classic movie, “Animal House”, the character Stork asks the renegade leader of the befuddled Deltas, “Well, what we supposed to do, ya big moron?”

  21. marthajerome says:

    Serious inquiry, Father. please be patient with me. Hard to put this idea out and not sound arrogant, but I’d really like your response to help me understand where my thinking is wrong. I understand the logic and truth of what you have said (even share some of the sentiments associated with the logic) but–is it possible that this desire for blessings at mass stems out of a real need of the faithful and should be, somehow, recognized and met in some way? Here’s what I see: especially in recent years, we have (rightly) emphasized the incredible, exquisite blessing of receiving the Eucharist. At the same time, we are seeing increasing numbers of folks who cannot receive for a variety of reasons: not received yet from Protestant denominations or in irregular marriages, waiting, sometimes a very, very long time for annulments, for example. While I realize the latter group has a way to resolve the issue by changing living status, that can be very, very difficult and sometimes even imprudent even if the will is there. I am most certainly not not arguing for receptions of communion in violation of Church teaching but I do think it is very possible that some folks have a hunger to approach Jesus as closely as they can within their own limitations. Given that adoration is not a universal practice and can be hard to get to for working folks, approaching at communion comes as close as they can. I do understand that communion is for communion, but is there at least a bit of merit in what I see too? Perhaps this widespread practice is something coming out of the body of the faithful that deserves some attention. Yes, there is a blessing after mass, yes, it’s for everyone, but it’s in a way much less personal even when one understands the theology. And from experience I know how hard it can be to not receive when everyone else does and rely on spiritual communion when Jesus is RIGHT THERE in front of you–rather like the woman who only wanted to touch the fringes of Jesus’ garment (And yes, I do understand that this difficulty can be offered up.) Isn’t there a little room to rethink this? By the proper authorities of course…not me!

  22. Mike says:

    Fr. Z writes: You can also ask the priest for a blessing outside of Mass. And you should!

    Fr. Z has, in fact, been writing this for quite a while, but it only took hold in my case about a year ago. (Call me Duns.) Because I travel frequently, this and the advice to confess often are directions of which I especially need to be heedful. Thus I try to remember to ask for a blessing at the outset of every journey. Priests occasionally react with mild surprise, but more often with a wry smile, perhaps because they are asked so seldom — and I’ve yet to be turned down.

  23. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    I’ve been writing against this practice for some time. Will try to find my post about it.

  24. JabbaPapa says:

    To misuse these blessings as some kind of substitution for the Sacrament or even just the sacramental is clearly wrong, though I personally cannot remember seeing such blessings except for children and catechumens or reverts/candidates for Confirmation not yet having the faculty or disposition to take the Eucharist materially.

    But the internet also provides such wrongful opinions as “only a priest may provide a blessing”. Which is implicitly absurd, because of all priests, only the High Priest can actually do so. Blessings are legitimately given from God by any of the Faithful, and it’s only certain types of blessings that are reserved to the clergy during Holy Mass.

    Where the blessing is a sacramental, only a priest can be the agent of that blessing in the name of the Church, with the exceptions of baptism by a deacon (or in the past, deaconess) or lay person (where anyone may use the word “I” in persona Christi, assuming the presence of Faithful Intent and Canonical Right — as shown in St John’s Baptism of the Christ), and possibly in a very technical manner in the Vows of Matrimony before the altar.

  25. robtbrown says:

    sirlouis says:

    I’m not certain about this, but I think the Episcopalians have had this custom for a long time. Maybe it was imported from them?

    This was the practice when I was an Episcopalian many years ago. One kneels with arms folded in a cross.

    I assume it was implemented out of respect for the Real Absence.

  26. Colorado Catholic says:

    A priest from Spain, who was also in canon law, told me privately that, at least in Spain the only person who could legitimately bless a child was his or her own father, whether during the Mass or at any time…thus lending scandal to EMHC’s and priest’s blessing of children who came forward but who did not receive holy communion.

    Just a few days ago one of the emhc’s blessed someone in line. Our pastor, I know, has tried to get them to stop!

  27. benedictgal says:

    I wrote this on my own blog almost five years ago. Please pardon the length, but, it does offer some good reasons why this practice should not be done:

    Why We Form a Line

    For the better part of two years, there has been an interesting discussion brewing in the Catholic Answers Forums regarding the appropriateness and licitness of imparting a blessing in lieu of distributing Holy Communion. Back in August 2008, two forum members submitted a letter to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments asking if such action was permissible.

    The CDWDS issued this response on November 22, 2008 (Protocol No. 930/08/L):

    1. The liturgical blessing of the Holy Mass is properly given to each and to all at the conclusion of the Mass, just a few moments subsequent to the distribution of Holy Communion.
    2. Lay people, within the context of Holy Mass, are unable to confer blessings. These blessings, rather, are the competence of the priest (cf. Ecclesia de Mysterio, Notitiae 34 (15 Aug. 1997), art. 6, § 2; Canon 1169, § 2; and Roman Ritual De Benedictionibus (1985), n. 18).
    3. Furthermore, the laying on of a hand or hands — which has its own sacramental significance, inappropriate here — by those distributing Holy Communion, in substitution for its reception, is to be explicitly discouraged.
    4. The Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio n. 84, “forbids any pastor, for whatever reason to pretext even of a pastoral nature, to perform ceremonies of any kind for divorced people who remarry”. To be feared is that any form of blessing in substitution for communion would give the impression that the divorced and remarried have been returned, in some sense, to the status of Catholics in good standing.
    5. In a similar way, for others who are not to be admitted to Holy Communion in accord with the norm of law, the Church’s discipline has already made clear that they should not approach Holy Communion nor receive a blessing. This would include non-Catholics and those envisaged in can. 915 (i.e., those under the penalty of excommunication or interdict, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin).

    While the CDWDS indicated that they were studying the matter, their response bears a lot of weight here because they have given guidelines as to how to best proceed in these cases.

    Sadly, this practice has spread like wildfire throughout the United States. In a well-intended, but, misguided attempt at inclusivity, folks who are not yet eligible to receive Holy Communion either because they are not yet Catholic or have a particular issue, are invited and encouraged to come forward during the time reserved for the distribution of Holy Communion to receive a blessing as a substitute. This particular “ritual” appears nowhere in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, let alone the Roman Missal, nor does it show up in Redemptionis Sacramentum.

    When the celebrant holds the Sacred Host over either the paten or the chalice, he recites this inviation: “Behold, the Lamb of God, behold Him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb” (taken from the coming revised Roman Missal). The invitation is to come forward to receive Our Lord in Holy Communion, not a blessing. This is not to say that the Church is being exclusive in this matter nor unwelcoming to those who cannot receive Holy Communion for whatever circumstance. We form a line to receive Someone, Jesus Christ, in his full Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, not something, a blessing.

    The blessing, actually, is the most inclusive part of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass because everyone can receive it. One does not have to be Catholic, let alone Christian, to receive this blessing. But, it should be imparted at its proper place, the end of the Holy Sacrifice, as the response from the CDWDS indicates.

    The CDWDS states that such blessings are explicitly discouraged. It is not that the CDWDS is trying to be uncharitable towards those who cannot receive Holy Commuion. However, as stated before, such a ritual appears nowhere in the approved liturgical books of the Church. In fact, a person, on his own authority, cannot invent a ritual and insert into the Mass. According to Sacrosanctum Concilium:

    Therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the Liturgy on his own authority.

    Redemptionis Sacramentum reaffirms this statement when it notes that:

    [11.] The Mystery of the Eucharist “is too great for anyone to permit himself to treat it according to his own whim, so that its sacredness and its universal ordering would be obscured”.27 On the contrary, anyone who acts thus by giving free rein to his own inclinations, even if he is a Priest, injures the substantial unity of the Roman Rite, which ought to be vigorously preserved,28 and becomes responsible for actions that are in no way consistent with the hunger and thirst for the living God that is experienced by the people today.

    Some on the Catholic Answers Forums, particularly in the Liturgy and Sacraments division, have argued that the bishop can grant permission for these blessings to occur. However, proponents of this stance might have forgotten one huge detail. According to the GIRM:

    387. The Diocesan Bishop, who is to be regarded as the high priest of his flock, and from whom the life in Christ of the faithful under his care in a certain sense derives and upon whom it depends,148 must promote, regulate, and be vigilant over the liturgical life in his diocese. It is to him that in this Instruction is entrusted the regulating of the discipline of concelebration (cf. above, nos. 202, 374) and the establishing of norms regarding the function of serving the priest at the altar (cf. above, no. 107), the distribution of Holy Communion under both kinds (cf. above, no. 283), and the construction and ordering of churches (cf. above, no. 291). With him lies responsibility above all for fostering the spirit of the Sacred Liturgy in the priests, deacons, and faithful.
    These are the responsibitlities of the bishop. Now, in the event that a bishop may want to address a particular issue such as adding something to the GIRM in the form of an adaptation, then, the competency shifts from the bishop to the national episcopal conference to which he belongs (in our case, it would fall to the USCCB). According to the GIRM:

    390. It is up to the Conferences of Bishops to decide on the adaptations indicated in this General Instruction and in the Order of Mass and, once their decisions have been accorded the recognitio of the Apostolic See, to introduce them into the Missal itself. These adaptations include
    •The gestures and posture of the faithful (cf. no. 43 above);
    •The gestures of veneration toward the altar and the Book of the Gospels (cf. no. 273 above);
    •The texts of the chants at the entrance, at the presentation of the gifts, and at Communion (cf. nos. 48, 74, 87 above);
    •The readings from Sacred Scripture to be used in special circumstances (cf. no. 362 above);
    •The form of the gesture of peace (cf. no. 82 above);
    •The manner of receiving Holy Communion (cf. nos. 160, 283 above);
    •The materials for the altar and sacred furnishings, especially the sacred vessels, and also the materials, form, and color of the liturgical vestments (cf. nos. 301, 326, 329, 339, 342-346 above).
    Directories or pastoral instructions that the Conferences of Bishops judge useful may, with the prior recognitio of the Apostolic See, be included in the Roman Missal at an appropriate place.
    A bishop, or bishops, may propose something in the form of an adapation of the GIRM to the USCCB, but, 2/3 of the Latin-Rite bishops must approve it in order for the change to be submitted to Rome for the necessary recognitio from the CDWDS. At this point, the CDWDS could grant or deny the recognitio.

    There are others who have made the argument that this practice is one of pastoral necessity. However, the term “pastoral” has been used on not a few occasions to justify questionable liturgical practices. “Pastoral”, as I see it, does not necessarily mean that one has “carte blanche” to do with the liturgy as he or she pleases. While certainly sensitivities can and should be taken into account, these should be used to help people understand the Church’s reasonsings why things can or cannot be done, rather than make adjustments on one’s own authority.

    The proper solution to this situation revolves around giving the faithful the appropriate catechesis on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and why the Church restricts Holy Communion only to those who are properly disposed to receive this most august Sacrament. It is not about discriminating against certain segments. It is about the integrity of the rites. Furthermore, a truly pastoral approach, in this case, would include encouraging those who cannot receive Holy Communion to make a spiritual communion. They remain in their pews during Communion time and, either kneeling or sitting down, as Jesus to come into their hearts spiritually and to strengthen them until such time as they will one day receive Him in Holy Communion. This is a practice that many of the saints have advocated down through the centuries and something that the Church has taught for generations. Sadly, it is something that is rarely heard of today.

    Another question arises where children are concerned. Granted, small children should not be left alone in the pews. However, if we teach children that getting a blessing is a substitute for receiving Holy Communion, then, we are not really teaching them the importance of why we are forming a line in the first place. What one prudent pastor has done in South Texas is to have the children reverence the Holy Sacrament by either a bow of the head or some other small act. Thus, the children are taught that they are forming a line to come into the presence of Jesus while their parents are awaiting to receive Him. Now, that is a truly pastoral approach.

  28. Worm-120 says:

    In my previous parish we did have laypeople giving “blessings” in the same manner as priests, our bishop retired and our pastor in conjunction with the new bishop moved the tabernacle back into the middle and did several weeks of explaining why the blessings were inappropriate and retraining the emhc’s , so now they ask God to bless you. Father doesn’t lay his hand on you when he blesses you he makes the sight of the cross over you ushualy with the Holy Eucharist. My mother blesses all of us kids by tracing the sign of the cross on our forehead, saying “God bless my (insert one of six)”, when father stared his chatechethis she was unsure if that was something she should be doing. Is it a different kettle of fish if it’s a mother and child as apposed to two strangers in a communion line.

  29. Fr. Hamilton says:

    I’ve been having numerous and multi-day log in problems since this post went up. Thus I was not able to add my words in a timely fashion. Likely now, no one will see them but… for what it may be worth. In my parish I stopped the practice of Communion line blessings a few years ago. I am attaching here a link to my parish website where I explained to my parishioners some reasons for stopping the practice. Today I might refine some of my reasons some and I might even change my original immediate solution to the phase-out period of blessings, but all in all I think my words might assist another priest who wants to address the novelty of Communion line blessings replacing sacramental Communion. http://www.stmonica-edmond.org/_blog/Homilies_and_Remarks/post/Blessings/

  30. Luvadoxi says:

    Father–As a grandparent, is my blessing of my grandchildren a true blessing, as that of a parent to a child? Thank you for considering my question.

  31. Genna says:

    I’ve always crossed my hands in front of my heart for two reasons. It reminds me that I am protecting something very special when I have received Christ and it means the priest can get closer to administer the Sacrament if I’m kneeling. That seemed fine until the day the celebrant mistook the sign and started to give a blessing. It was the server holding the communion plate who realised it was going wrong, probably because I raised my head to receive, and the situation was retrieved. Close call.