Blessing cellphones, laptops

From Engadget

Vicar gives his blessing to cellphones and laptops (but not to their most common uses)

By Joseph L. Flatley posted Jan 11th 2010 at 1:07PM

Not to be outdone by the Catholic Church with its iPod wielding Bishops and text messaging Pontiffs, the Rev. Canon David Parrott blessed mobile phones and laptop computers today at the St. Lawrence Jewry Church in London. The service, he said, was to "remind the capital’s busy office workers that God’s grace can reach them in many ways." Except through novelty bud earphones – those clearly belong to the devil himself.

Good idea?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. patrick_f says:


    Wouldnt one bless the Carpenter’s hammer? There are people who a cell phone or laptop is a tool of their job. I know in my line of work..there are two things I keep close. My netbook, and by bible. Both get me through the day.

  2. A. J. D. S. says:

    Hey, if there’s a prayer for before going on the Internet…!

    What blessing would be appropriate for electronic devices?

  3. AJDS: if there’s a prayer for before going on the Internet

    Hey! Now that you mention it. There is!

  4. TonyLayne says:

    I suppose if you expect a call back on your calling ….

    Seriously: The whole point of blessing an article is to set it aside for a holy, sacramental (small “s”, Father!) purpose. Blessing a cell phone or some other technological gimcrack, unless it’s dedicated to a ministry, looks too much like hocus-pocus. But then, I’m not a theologian; I only play one on TV. You tell me, Father Z: Is this a case of “pearls before swine”?

  5. Theodorus says:

    Will the blessing make these electronic devices sacramentals? How they should be disposed of if they are broken and can no longer be used (I don’t think it is a good idea to bury or burn them, as we usually do to broken and unusable sacramentals)?

  6. ipadre says:

    If you go to the old Roman Ritual, there is literally a blessing for everything. We have our cars blest. I used the blessing of railroads for my home railroad (see: And the blessings go on and on. Everything we use in our lives can be a source of bring God into our lives or, pushing Him away. I like the idea of blessing computers and iPhones, etc… A reminder of Whom we serve with these things.

  7. Denis Crnkovic says:

    I think the problem is that we don’t have a blessing for mobile phones and computers (do we?) In the old days new technology very often generated a new offical blessing. As Fr ipadre has said, the old Roman Ritual has a blessing for nearly everything, including locomotives, dormitories, beer, furnaces, first haircuts, etc. etc. Somewhere we lost the notion that a blessing on something is meant to keep it holy and steadfast in the use for which it is intended, so that no demons overtake its good purpose. And, Theodorus, my house is blessed. Does this mean I can no longer sell it? Or that I need to burn it down when I move?

  8. FrCharles says:

    I have always named my laptops after saints, whose intercession I then seek in the ascetical effort to use the device only for the glory of God and not for distraction or nonsense. I put an image of said saint on the desktop, or place an icon or holy card of the same saint on top when the lid is closed to remind me of the device’s particular intercessor.

    This led to an amusing incident when my previous pastor was setting up a local network. He saw various computers with names like, ‘FrJohnOffice’ and ‘ParishWorkroom,’ but there was one that confused him. “Do we have a Monica in the friary?” he asked.

  9. An American Mother says:

    ipadre, we are model railroaders in a VERY small way (HO setup in the extra bedroom). You’re right that everything can be used for God’s purposes – when a friend was very ill in the hospital, my husband asked her husband over to help run the railroad, and he was able to forget his worries for a little while – and my friend came through surgery with flying colors too, so all was well. It wouldn’t be a bad thing to have that railroad blessed —

    Beautiful choice on the Arcadelt for the blessing ceremony – and beautifully sung!

  10. TonyLayne says:

    I’m more than willing to admit I’m wrong. Alas, I was a product of the ’70s, especially of CCD, and much of what I know now I either learned or re-learned in the last eight years. }:^\

    Actually, now that I think about it, Orthodox and Conservative Jews have over a hundred broches (we’d call them “aspirations”) for all sorts of different occasions. The general format has the person giving thanks to God for allowing him to live to _____ (e.g., wake up, return from a hazardous journey, don a new garment, see a beautiful person or animal, see a king, receive bad news, etc.). It’s just another one of those treasures we can mine from our Jewish roots.

  11. Gwen says:

    I’m trying to get our priest to bless my airplane, with special attention to the GPS and the engine/prop. Does this mean I need to have it unblessed if I sell it? If I crash, it’ll burn, so that takes care of that :)

  12. gambletrainman says:

    Someone sent me an e-mail the other day about a new street-plane. You fly it to the destination airport, then drive it home or wherever. You’ve got to have both, a driver’s license and a flight license. You fold the wings up and it is powered by gasoline. The question is, what kind of blessing would you give it? A car, a plane, or both?

    By the way, ipadre, I’m also a train nut, so I really enjoyed watching your blessing of the railroad.

  13. Agnes says:

    Just watch it with the holy H2O – last I checked, water did not mesh well with electrical devices.

    Commonly, blessed objects need to be disposed of in a particular way (we don’t throw old scapulars into the garbage, we burn or bury them) – so what do we do with blessed planes, trains, and automobiles! Blessed computer recycling must be A-OK, right… Hey, I could start a whole new apostolate for proper disposal of such materials, and request a stipend! ;-)

    Blessing technology devices a good idea? Why not. Anything can be blessed and we need all the blessings we can get.

  14. JohnE says:

    Somewhat reminds me of one of the Pope’s intentions for this month:

    “That young people may learn to use social communication media for their personal growth and in preparation to serve society.”

  15. Prof. Basto says:


    In the blessing of the notebook, is the keyboard sprinkled with Holy Water at the end?


    Prayer before connecting to the internet:

  16. Joan M says:

    To the priests who post here – I would like to find a suitable blessing prayer for my pastor to use to bless prayer shawls and blankets for us before we give them to sick or bereaved people.

    Although this ministry originated, I think, with people that appear to be New Age, and therefore the prayers they share are definitely not the best, this has now spread to many parishes.

    Actually, anyone who posts here are knows of appropriate blessing prayers, please respond.


  17. ppojawa says:

    I would appreciate someone knowledgeable explaining the “constitutive vs. invocative blessing” distinction. This might help avoid unnecessary burning of houses, planes and cars :-)

  18. albizzi says:

    Certainly my home, which is an old house built in the 18th century, was blessed long ago and I personnally renewed this blessing by sprinkling holy water in every room, on each door, each window.
    So the Devil and his evil spirits have a number burning hatches to go through before disturbing me during my sleep.
    I even blessed my dog and my computer (after switching it off of course).
    And I placed my family under the protection of our Blessed Mother, in particular my five kids, 20 years ago. I had no reason to complain about that choice until now.

  19. Mariana says:

    “Will the blessing make these electronic devices sacramentals? How they should be disposed of if they are broken and can no longer be used?”

    Well, exactly! After all, most cell phones last only a few years, and some people have to have the newest model all the time. I’m sure these will NOT be got rid of the proper way. I actually managed to put my rosary through the washing machine and it was completely spoilt, the Ave bead were some sort of resin that melted. My PP said I could not through away any blessed items, just put them aside!

  20. Father S. says:

    I think that blessing them would be just fine, since we have a long custom of blessing objects destined for work purposes. That being said, I think I would tackle someone before I let them put a laptop on the mensa of the altar as above.

  21. Deacon Nathan Allen says:

    And if they’d publish the new Mass translation on Kindle, we wouldn’t need to wait another year and a half. We’ve waited long enough! :-)

  22. An American Mother says:

    This leads to a sort-of-related question:

    My aunt-in-law recently passed away. While cleaning up her house, my mother-in-law found quite a number of rosaries, medals, 3rd class relics, etc., and she gave me a shoebox full (this was 90 years’ worth!) Some of them are in pretty bad shape, others appear salvageable.

    When is a fragment – a few beads, a crucifix with the corpus missing – no longer a sacramental? May unsalvageable fragments be burned, melted down, or buried – or do we simply pass on a box to our children? And when I reassemble a complete rosary from ‘spare parts’, should it be blessed again?

  23. Jack Hughes says:

    quick question – I’ve constructed a home alter (a window sill) complete with a Blessed Missal, a few icons, rosaries and chaplet and a crucifix (which need to be blessed), for the covering I used linen napkins (becuase of the size) is there anyway I could get them blsessed as well? (I’m adding an incesne burner and Holy water font once they arrive through the post)

  24. Re: Jewish people having a prayer/blessing for every activity

    Um, dude. So do we Catholics. In fact, it was against medieval Irish law to see someone making something and not bless them. You could be fined. Seriously.

    So it’s not surprising to see that ordinary Irish and Scottish Catholic life, up until the last century, did indeed include blessings and prayers and sayings for every activity, occasion, and illness. (For every important part of Mass, too, right up to elaborate and diverse greetings to the Lord at the moment of consecration.)

    I grant you that Celts are particularly apt to be creative or obsessive about these things, but folklore across the whole Christian world is full of blessings and prayers for every occasion. The fact that we haven’t learned them and continued them in modern life is a modern life thing, not any proof of our tradition’s discontinuity from Judaism.

  25. TonyLayne says:

    Again I am chastised! :^)=) I beg your forgiveness, Banshee; my religious formation was rather shoddy. In fact, I still don’t know how I managed to learn enough to be Confirmed. (CCD in the Seventies: nuf ced.) The majority of what I know today I learned in the last eight years. I knew that we had a rich cultural and spiritual heritage, but every now and again I run into something else I didn’t know which just makes me pray: “Dear Lord, thank you for letting me be born into a Catholic family!”

  26. Well, most American Catholics don’t know, so it’s not surprising. But you look at prayerbooks from just a few years before or even after Vatican II, and there’s all these prayers and prayers and different ways to say grace for different stuff…. It’s like a fairy tale, how quickly that all vanished, both as modern life arrived and then as Vatican II showed up. It’s possible that the load of cute folk devotions had gotten too heavy or too embarrassing for some, but a lot of it was just humble obedience to some mistaken announcement that this stuff was now wrong.

    (Of course, I should probably clarify that a layperson saying grace or asking God’s blessing is not the same level of blessing as a priest, who has authority to bless with power. The other thread about EMHC blessings talks about that, but for those who show up here late….)

  27. meunke says:

    When having dinner at our house, I got our parish priest to bless my wife and I’s pistols that we carry. (we’re civilian, not police.)

    There are blessing for everything. I must say it’s wonderful to be Catholic.

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